The Florida governor’s race has becomes a battle of competing ideologies. On the left, Andrew Gillum has been endorsed by Democratic socialist leader Bernie Sanders and mirrors his progressive agenda. On the right, underdog Ron DeSantis won the Republican primary with little establishment backing but strong support from President Donald Trump.
A central issue in the fight for Florida will be health care, and this election could set the stage for the next Congress’s conversation on the issue.
Gillum, who supports a plan for Medicare for all, has repeatedly advocated that “health care is a right”. At the end of last month, he extended this rhetoric into policy propositions when he announced his support for an amendment to the Florida constitution that would declare health care to be a fundamental right to all Floridians. The proposed constitutional amendment would require new legislation to make healthcare a priority within the state budget.
This is socialized medicine writ large.
Gillum has also vocally supported initiatives at the state level which mirror the policy implemented under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Gillum noted in a press release, “It’s time for Florida to finally enshrine healthcare as a right for all. There is a public trust for the government to care for its citizens, and our state can no longer be ambiguous about that moral obligation. When healthcare is under attack in Washington, we’re going to lean into the challenge of healthcare in the Sunshine State and live our values.”
At the same time, Gillum has acknowledged that a “Medicare for all” proposal – like what Bernie Sanders has proposed – would be economically unfeasible; however, Gillum has said he “would work to bring a number of the larger states into a conversation around how it is together we might be able to negotiate prices and access healthcare to cover more people.”
Conversely, DeSantis has slammed Obamacare for increasing premiums 15 to 20 percent while limiting consumer choice.
DeSantis has said he would seek a waiver for Florida to exempt Florida citizens from the costs of the program. Instead, DeSantis has urged focus onto “patient-centered, market based” solutions that “protect people with pre-existing conditions”, according to statements given to Christine Sexton of Orlando Weekly.
During his tenure in Congress, Rep. DeSantis introduced an amendment to the American Health Care Act that would have eliminated taxpayer subsidies for members of Congress.
DeSantis has consistently worked to cut costs, while Gillum has admitted that tax hikes will be necessary to pay for his vision. Gillum has mentioned that he would increase Florida’s corporate tax rate to 7.75 percent from 5.5 percent. This would be disastrous considering the significant gains the Florida economy has made due to tax cuts.
Bob McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute, explained in the Naples Daily News that, as a result of the Congressional tax cuts that DeSantis voted for, the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers provided their employees with raises ranging from five to 10 percent. Similarly, JP Morgan Chase, with its southern U.S. and Latin America offices based in Orlando, announced a $20 billion long term investment into their employees, branch expansion, and local growth in Florida. The stories of corporate give backs to companies go on and on thanks to tax cuts.
This election will be closely watched, as it could set the stage for the health care conversation in Congress in 2019 and the presidential election of 2020. Ultimately, November will tell if Florida citizens are swayed by the promises of democratic socialism offered by Gillum or remain true to the conservative agenda of DeSantis, backed by President Trump.
Natalia Castro is the multimedia manager at Americans for Limited Government.