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Rick Scott offers a timely example of post-policy politics

When it comes to the supply chain, Florida Sen. Rick Scott seems to be a fan of the "someone should figure something out" approach to governing.

With over a thousand miles in coastline, Florida is home to one of the nation's largest port networks, with nearly a dozen cargo ports, which handle over 107 million tons of cargo. With this in mind, it stands to reason that leading Florida officials — say, a former two-term governor of the state who now represents Floridians in the U.S. Senate — would have a fairly detailed understanding of supply chain issues, especially related to backups at U.S. ports.

With this in mind, Fox News' Chris Wallace spoke to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg yesterday about the stressed supply chain system, and the host soon after sought a response from Republican Sen. Rick Scott. The Floridian said:

"[I]f the secretary of transportation wanted to solve the port issue, you'd fly out to the port, you'd sit down with everybody and find out what the problem is and then you go solve it. Typically, the problem is caused by some government regulation or some government red tape."

The first part of the answer is part of a phenomenon I like to call the "someone should figure something out" approach to governing. Scott apparently didn't have anything meaningful to contribute to the policy discussion, so he described a scenario in which Buttigieg would simply fly to a port, have some conversations, and then "go solve" the problem.

It's the kind of policy prescription that sounds appealing to those who don't take much of an interest in policy prescriptions. In reality, there are global supply chain bottlenecks affecting international manufacturers for a great many reasons, nearly all of which relate to uneven pandemic recoveries and dramatic shifts in consumer demand.

The idea that a cabinet secretary can "go solve" these challenges with conversations at a port is folly. (It's also an example of the kind of post-policy politics I described in my book.)

The second part of Scott's answer wasn't much better. The Republican believes that problems like these are "typically" caused by "some government regulation or some government red tape." Or put another way, the senator didn't brush up on the relevant details before the interview, so he blamed government for supply chain backups — just because.

He then quickly changed the subject.

The Fox host proceeded to ask Scott about his opposition to the bipartisan infrastructure package, which received support from 19 Senate Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Floridian defended his position by arguing, "I am not going to bankrupt this country. This country has almost $30 trillion worth of debt."

First, the idea that the bipartisan Senate infrastructure package would bankrupt the United States is plainly silly. Second, when Donald Trump added nearly $8 trillion to the national debt in just four years, we didn't hear much in the way of complaints from the former president's pal in Florida.

And third, as Wallace added, "You talk about living within your means, you talk about debt, you talk about deficits, the Trump tax cuts — which were passed in 2017, the year before you were elected to the Senate — is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that it will increase the budget deficit by over $2 trillion. So should the Trump tax cuts be repealed?"

Of course not. "I am not raising anybody's taxes," Scott replied. "I want lower taxes. I want to watch how we spend our money."

The Washington Post's James Downie explained:

First, it's bold for someone who got rich overseeing massive Medicare fraud to complain about how the government spends its money. Second, the debt is such a big issue that Scott had no choice but to oppose fixing thousands of miles of his home state's highways — but not so big a problem to prevent him from supporting millions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans? And how do we solve infrastructure spending if the money has to come from other vital programs? That's your problem, according to Scott.

Scott's "someone should figure something out" approach to governing strikes again.