Image Credits: AP.

Rick Scott is a U.S. Senator representing Florida, but he was the state’s governor from 2011 to 2019. He wasn’t serving in that position when the Great Recession hit, but he had to deal with some of the aftermath. One thing he did was make the state’s unemployment services harder to access. In theory, this saved the state money since they had to pay out less in benefits, although there are hidden costs to having a bunch of people running around short on cash. It also gave him better statistics to trumpet as he argued for his own reelection.

But now that hundreds of thousands of people are out of work and seeking benefits, Scott’s “reforms” are infuriating Floridians.

Already anxious about Trump’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state, Republicans now are dealing with thousands of unemployed workers unable to navigate the Florida system to apply for help. And the blowback is directed straight at Trump’s top allies in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.

Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.

“It’s a sh– sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”

This is what happens when you elect people who don’t care about you. I’m sure New York State will wish that Andrew Cuomo had been a more people-first governor, too, but it’s easy to see that he still takes his job of protecting New Yorkers seriously despite his record of knocking heads with the progressive wing of his party. His popularity is surging because he’s visibly working his ass off to solve problems.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Friday giving New York State the right to seize ventilators and send them to hospitals in novel coronavirus hot spots.

The National Guard will be deployed to remove and redistribute ventilators and personal protection equipment from institutions determined not to have as great a need, Cuomo said at a news conference.

“I apologize to the hardship for those institutions,” Cuomo said. “I’m not going to let people die.”

Those institutions will either have the ventilators returned or be financially reimbursed, Cuomo said.

He’s listening to experts and spending his days trying to manage a problem of unprecedented seriousness and magnitude. He’s thinking about the whole country, too, and how we can pool and allocate our resources in an efficient and logical way.

The contrast to Florida’s Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis could not be starker, and that’s reflected in how the people are responding to their leadership. A month ago, Cuomo was on progressives’ short list of most infuriating Democrats in the country, but in recent days I’ve seen some calling for him to replace Joe Biden on the ticket. This is solely due to the way he’s impressed even ideological enemies with his approach to the pandemic.

That’s not going to happen, but Joe Biden will be very happy to campaign anywhere in the country with Cuomo. Chances are, Trump won’t want to be seen within a country mile of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis.

Part of this is just that Cuomo isn’t ideologically rigid. If this pandemic reveals some error in his previous thinking, he doesn’t let that keep him from doing what needs to be done now. Republicans are afraid to contradict the president. They don’t believe in generous unemployment benefits. Their opposition to Obamacare (and Medicaid) hasn’t wavered even as millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance. They’ve spent their whole lives trying to tear down the things we built to deal with the Great Depression, and now that those kinds of things are really needed, they have trouble accepting that fact and acting accordingly.

I hope Joe Biden is watching Cuomo closely and seeing how people respond to him. He needs to be flexible, too, and not let prior positions become an obstacle to embracing what makes the most sense right now. If he becomes president, he’s going to inherent the same kind of mess that Franklin Roosevelt inherited, and policies that were politically impossible a month ago will be requirements by next January.

Living in the recent past is not the place to be. We can’t go back to the 1930’s either, but we do need to understand what we can take from that era since otherwise we could waste time reinventing the wheel.

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