Byrd Preaches To The Subverted

Give Johnnie Byrd, the speaker of the Florida House, some credit — something not often ladled out his way these days. As the point man for the Dada convention that passes for a state legislature, he gets his share of blame.

By accepting a recent invitation to address the left-leaning Tiger Bay Club of Tampa, he might have expected a metaphorical lynching rather than a luncheon. It was not a Kumbaya crowd, except for Republican gadfly-activist Ralph Hughes. More like preaching to the subverted.

So, credit the Byrd Man of Plant City, platitudes and evasive answers notwithstanding, for showing up to show the flag of smaller government to the infidels.

So much for credit.

Byrd’s world is a nuance-free duality. It is partitioned between optimists and pessimists. Norman Vincent Peale vs. Chicken Little. The optimists, including the Speaker himself, believe Florida’s economy is essentially healthy; the pessimists believe “Armageddon will happen.”

“There’s a war going on in Tallahassee,” explained Byrd. The optimists, he said, are proud that the government is “living within its means” and are philosophically committed to “growing our way out” of a recession. The pessimists believe “the sky is falling” and don’t understand that you can’t “tax your way out of a recession.”

Presumably, pessimists also see an antiquated sales tax system being incapable of accommodating an influx of some 300,000 new residents a year when the economy is not going gangbusters.

Presumably, they see trust funds being raided and fees and tuition being increased — even as the more blatant, special-interest, service-sector sales tax exemptions remain in a lock box.

Presumably, they can foresee some local governments forced to raise property taxes, while being told such scenarios are “urban myths.”

Presumably, they’ve noticed the outrage of Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon, the next Senate president, who characterized the $53-billion budget as one “put together with band aids and paper clips and ignores the realities of long term problems.”

Presumably, that’s why they’re pessimists.

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