Rick Scott's 2012? Surprisingly Awesome. Why He Deserves a Little Credit
Several weeks ago, we made a terrible mistake, one that warranted immediate regret. We asked to start receiving Gov. Rick Scott's news releases.
And then came a deluge of good news. If we hadn't known any better, we would have thought Rick Scott was doing something, well, not evil.
Which brought about some fierce cognitive dissonance.
How did Lord Voldemort do it? Despite dismal approval ratings, how did he bring about the sharpest decline in unemployment in the nation? It's now at 8 percent, and while critics contend this drop is the work of forces beyond Scott's world -- namely, Barack Obama, federal stimulus, and the incipient housing recover -- there's more to it than that.
Since Scott's taken office in January of 2011, the state's jobless rate, which was at a 35-year high of 11.1 percent, has plummeted with the addition of 174,000 jobs. (In fairness, Scott also cut 25,000 public jobs.) Part of this success has been circumstances -- the rest of the country feels better, and that has meant more tourism dollars and summer homes in the Sunshine State.
But part of this is also Scott.
He's never going to be popular. He's never going to be charming. But he does hustle. He's led the way on the dredging project at the Port of Miami, which may damage Biscayne Bay but could also add 33,000 new jobs. He's also strongly supported widening the Panama Canal in 2015, which will attract more shipments away from Long Island and Savannah, Georgia, and could make Florida the highest-exporting state in the nation.
So let's give credit where it's due. He's done some things.
Just not as much as he said he would. When he took office, he promised us 700,000 additional jobs by 2017 -- on top of the 1 million jobs the state was expected to generate anyhow. So Scott, who would have needed to create 100,000 every year to meet that goal, hasn't brought about the milk and honey he said he would.
But that may change.
With the fiscal cliff narrowly avoided, consumer confidence may gather more headwinds, and housing prices are expected to climb as well. This portends a strong 2013. Stronger than 2012, which was better than 2011, and better still than 2010.
Still, Scott will probably profit very little. He's purely incapable of marketing success or doing anything but giving voters the heebie-jeebies. And so it seems no matter how well the state does, the last person to get credit will be him.
Follow the writer @terrence_mccoy.
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