Who is Ron Rushing?
Ignoring the fact that one of his selling points is that he is a "fervent Christian," Ron Rushing seems to throw around all the standard right-wing rhetoric but when you get past the surface he is nothing more than an ignorant fundamentalist who has nothing better to do than run for office.
First, let's take a look at the "principles" that will guide Rushing when he is up in Tallahassee pushing pencils.
I am a common sense conservative that believes in a Limited Government, Fiscal Responsibility, Individual Liberty, Free Market Capitalism, Strong National Defense, and Preserving Traditional Family values. We need to elect candidates that rely on a decision making process based on principle & not any specific issue. Issues change and we will always have a variety of issues to resolve. The common sense conservative way to solve these issues is via principle (right & wrong). I believe as a conservative there is no option to compromise when the choice is right or wrong. I have listed a few of the issues that need our immediate attention as we focus on establishing Florida as the model State that other States will respect, honor, and follow.When I looked at Rushing's pamphlet that was at my door I took one look at it and laughed.
The main reason is because after reading some of Rushing's goals I quickly realized that he has no idea what his "principles" really mean. For instance, on his flyer Rushing states that one of his "principled goals" is that he is for eliminating "tolls on Central FL expressways to offload traffic congestion on I-4 & eliminate spending planned for the I-4 expansion." He also indicated on his website that he is for the end to the Sun Rail (a proposed commuter rail that would link Poinciana to DeLand, Passing through downtown Orlando and the I-4 corridor).
Rushing thinks the elimination of tolls and mass transit is the solution but he doesn't seem to realize that ending what he perceives to be a problem will only create more problems.
For instance, Rushing wants to relieve congestion on one of Central Florida's busiest highways (Interstate 4) by getting rid of tolls from other Central Florida roads in an effort to "offload" traffic from I-4. Three toll roads in Central Florida that connect to I-4 come to mind - state roads 408(a.k.a. the Spessard L. Holland East-West Expressway), 417, and 528.
Anyone who has traveled anywhere in Orlando during rush-hour traffic would realize that I-4 isn't the only road congested. All of these roads can get backed up for miles. Eliminating the tolls would create mutually assured congestion. Not only that but how does Rushing plan on funding the maintenance of these highways once tolls are gone?
And stop me if I am wrong, but wouldn't toll roads be the capitalistic free-market approach to traffic control?
What Rushing is proposing is socialism. Under the toll booth system, commuters would have the choice to either drive on the free taxpayer-funded I-4 or take an alternate route using a toll road, where each commuter must pay their own way.
Rushing's opposition to the Sun Rail and the proposed I-4 expansion is also borderline heresy.
Just look at his comments regarding Sun Rail:
No one believes that the Sun Rail project can make a profit or even achieve a break-even financial position.When was the last time I-4 turned a profit?
Not only that but the Sun Rail would also help achieve Rushing's "principled goal" of alleviating congestion on I-4 - the Sun Rail pretty much travels through the entire I-4 corridor and connects some of the hardest hit areas (the areas stretching between Poinciana to Maitland).
And the I-4 expansion? The idea is that the Department of Transportation would widen I-4 in areas and create toll lanes to help reduce overall congestion. Personally I think this is a bad idea. I think I-4 should be widened without any toll lanes but Rushing doesn't even offer that as a solution. He is only against ideas, which is funny since his whole website talks about competition and creativity.
Rushing's views are also very reactionary. He doesn't seem to care about the cause for all the congestion, which one of the major contributing factors is unfettered growth - especially during the housing boom. Everyone was trying to get a piece of the pie from land speculators and developers to real estate agents to the government, which was banking on impact fees and increased tax revenues. Even Rushing wanted to get in on the housing market - he formed a realty company in 2007 that is still active today (he probably got excited when $300k home more than doubled in value by 2006). All that growth put a strain on the local infrastructure that could not grow as fast as the surrounding areas.
For example, look at East Orlando. Thousands of homes sprung up in just a short period of time. Those homes would then impact surrounding roads like Alafaya Trail, Semoran Boulevard, SR 551 (Goldenrod Road, which leads to SR 528), SR 50, and the previously mentioned State Roads 408 and 417, which all flow into I-4 and SR 528. Little history fact - SR 408 was designed in part to relieve traffic on SR 50. If you consider all the development in the last decade and the lack of sufficient improvements for the local transportation system, you have a recipe for disaster. That road that was once put into place to relieve traffic is now losing its value as a resource because planning fell by the wayside.
Instead of erasing tolls and hoping traffic miraculously gets better, Rushing should instead focus on investing in the existing infrastructure and finding creative ways to solve today's problems. I-4 west of Sand Lake Road heading to Disney used to be a nightmare but expansion projects leading up to Haines City helped alleviate a great percentage of those problems. Orlando installed variable speed signs along I-4 through downtown to help traffic control. In my opinion they don't appear to work because drivers ignore the signs when they lower from 60 mph to 50 or 35 mph and police hardly enforce the adjusted limit, but the idea was different and creative - something Rushing claims to be for.
One other thing that seems to put a dent into Rushing's free market credentials - his hard-line stance on immigration reform. Rushing cites the Federation for American Immigration Reform - a designated "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center - as proof that illegal immigration costs the state of Florida an estimated $5 billion dollars annually. Rushing seems to ignore the fact that Florida's second largest industry is agriculture, which is heavily aided by a certain demographic Rushing wants to crack down against. Rushing wants to emulate the tough policies being implemented in other states, but as reports are beginning to show, such harsh laws are having a negative impact on the ability of farms to find willing laborers.
There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today. However, trends are shifting dramatically. Legal and illegal immigration from Mexico, which boomed over the past 40 years, flattened in 2005 and now seems to be decreasing, according to a 2012 report released by the Pew Research Center. Decreasing migration rates coupled with tougher state immigration laws are hurting America’s farmers, who rely on the labor.What else does free market economics wizard Ron Rushing have to offer?
Many farmers want to hire local workers, but it is increasingly difficult to find U.S. natives with the proper skills . Few are willing or able to perform the physically taxing and low paying labor which requires them to move with the crops, even with wages of $15-$20 an hour. Georgia recently experimented with creating a program that allowed parolees to work as farm laborers, but it was unsuccessful when they wouldn’t — or couldn’t — endure the grueling days.
Another one of those "principled goals" Rushing touts is the deregulation of Florida's utilities industry but again, the facts are not in Rushing's court. A report from 2007 showed that deregulated states saw on average a larger increase in energy prices than regulated state. Figures also show that after Florida deregulated it's natural gas industry, prices have increased in par with the national average.
Should I even address Rushing's desire to reduce state university costs, especially at a time when for the past five years the Republican-controlled state legislature have been slashing university funding?
Simple economics would tell you that cutting budgets and reducing revenue generators is a recipe for disaster. What was it that Rushing said about negative cash flows again?
And shall we forget that the Florida legislature decided to raise tuition rates on citizens of Florida by tying residency requirements for student to their parent's citizenship status?
My guess Rushing is the kind of person who would be for reducing tuition for only some of Florida's citizens.
I could go on but that would take all night and I want to enjoy my delicious shandy before bed.
To sum up my little review of Florida State Senate candidate Ron Rushing, while he mentions some things that I support, for the most part he is full of empty promises and typical right-wing rhetoric. While I am certain if elected many of the proposals Rushing proposes would have a good chance of making it through the conservative chambers of Florida government, I have no doubt that Rushing does not have a firm grasp on the very issues he claims to hold near and dear to his precious "traditional family values" heart. He promises to be a free market warrior but proposes socialist solutions. He promises to aid businesses but advocates policies that would be detrimental. He proposes cuts first without a clear plan on finding the necessary funds to operate important state institutions.
To put it simply, Ron Rushing is an ambitious ignorant hypocrite.