- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2008

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is on John McCain’s vice-presidential short list. Talk-radio host Glenn Beck has predicted that Mr. McCain would tap Mr. Crist.

Mr. McCain would be hard pressed to make a worse choice.

True, Mr. McCain won Florida’s primary on the wave of Mr. Crist’s late endorsement, which Mr. McCain rode to shore as the Republican presidential candidate. The Florida governor is especially popular in the state’s liberal precincts, and he likely would deliver the Sunshine State in November.

But this would spell victory for big-government Republicanism, and a definitive departure from the virtues of small government and personal responsibility. Mr. Crist and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are the bookend faces of the new Republican Party. Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater’s pictures on the grand old mantle have been turned to the wall.

Mr. Crist is the RINO poster boy. He’s a Republican in name only. He’s as politically calculating as the Clintons, and equally enamored of power. That explains why he’s been flying around the country on the Arizona senator’s left wing, vying for the vice presidency as his state’s economy sinks.

Rumors about Mr. Crist’s vice-presidential aspirations emerged quickly after he moved into the governor’s mansion only 17 months ago. He promptly signed a bill requiring paper receipts on electronic voting machines that included a provision permitting state officeholders to run for federal office without resigning. So, now, Mr. Crist does not have to step down to join a McCain ticket. How’s that for planning ahead? After Florida said goodbye to former Gov. Jeb Bush because of term limits, Mr. Crist campaigned to lower property taxes and property insurance rates, and to stimulate the economy.

But consider what Mr. Crist has done in Tallahassee.

He called global warming the definitive issue of our time, and he’s determined to save the world, starting with Florida. He signed aggressive executive orders last summer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would slash CO2 emissions to 1902 levels, according to Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute.

Mr. Crist neglects to tell people how much this measure will cost while he exaggerates the benefits. These regulations will boost utility costs, trigger job cuts, and chase away employers. The Florida Chamber of Commerce warns, “Florida will lose 251,000 jobs if we don’t change course.” Mr. Crist also supports America’s Climate Security Act, which more accurately should be dubbed the Cost of Living Increase Act. The Heritage Foundation points out the hidden tax on nearly every facet of American life: a cumulative GDP loss of $4.8 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars by 2030.

He rushed to socialize Florida’s insurance market by making the government-run Citizens Property and Insurance Corporation the largest insurer in the state and the fourth-largest in the nation.

Former Gov. Bush was disappointed that the new Republican governor would promote “Cuban economics,” as the Wall Street Journal editorial board called it. Mr. Bush explained, “When the government assumes the risk of these catastrophic events, they are putting at risk the livelihoods and quality of life of the taxpayers and citizens they serve.” The WSJ editorial board argued that Mr. Crist put Florida on the path to financial ruin just three months after taking office. “His campaign to socialize Florida’s insurance market has placed the Sunshine State one big hurricane away from financial disaster.” Mr. Crist has been trying to push his hurricane politics onto America with a national catastrophic insurance fund designed to make premiums more affordable in high-risk states at the expense of others. That’s unfair, and it encourages risky property development in disaster-prone areas.

He declared, “Lawyers are back,” soon after taking office. The trial bar pumped millions into his campaign and its investment paid off handsomely, scoring multiple victories during this year’s legislative session. The Senate already has killed one effort to cap contingency fees.

An overly litigious Florida already has sent doctors fleeing. The state estimated that 50,000 physicians practiced here, but a study last year found the number closer to 34,000. A 13 percent drop is expected over the next five years. You still can move to Florida to ease your arthritis, but you may need to travel to another state to see a doctor.

And he proposes to spur economic growth through public works projects by speeding construction of highways, ports, homes, and schools. Florida is suffering from a housing bust, a retail slump, high property taxes and insurance premiums. So the governor turns to Keynesian economics: government spending to create consumer demand. History has shown it’s hard to spend your way into prosperity.

In less than 18 months, Mr. Crist has socialized Florida’s insurance market, hamstrung businesses with climate regulations, invigorated trial lawyers, and launched costly public-works projects to stimulate the economy.

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