Republicans are furious that Florida’s broken unemployment system was working exactly as former Gov. Rick Scott intended — and it could help kill President Donald Trump’s re-election chances.
The coronavirus outbreak has sent thousands of suddenly unemployed workers to the state’s byzantine system to apply for help, and Republicans privately admit the $77.9 million system was designed to discourage jobless claims to keep numbers low after the great recession, reported Politico.
“It’s a sh*t sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one advisor to Gov. Ron DeSantis. “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.”
Jobless Floridians are encountering dropped calls and busy signals in the Department of Economic Opportunity’s “Connect” system, and even those who get through are finding they’ll get just $275 a week for a maximum of 12 weeks.
“Everyone we talk to in that office when we ask them what happened tells us, ‘the system was designed to fail,’” one DeSantis adviser told Politico. “That’s not a problem when unemployment is 2.8 percent, but it’s a problem now, and no system we have can handle 25,000 people a day.”
The system was implemented on the promise that it would lower unemployment taxes for Florida businesses, and a 2011 analysis by the state legislature estimated the changes would save business owners more than $2.3 billion between 2011 and 2020 — but the COVID-19 outbreak has exposed its deficiencies and made it a political liability.
“This is horrible for people, I don’t want to minimize that,” the DeSantis adviser said. “But if we have to look past the crisis, it’s bad for the president and it’s bad for the governor.”