Meet Governor Rick Scott and find out how he realized the American Dream
If anyone has lived the American dream, it’s Rick Scott, Governor of Florida. In his youth, GoverCredit: Dreamstimenor Scott joined the U.S. Navy and served as a radar man on the USS Glover. He attended law school through the GI Bill and became a major player in the healthcare system in the United States. Today, he’s the governor of one of America’s most influential states.
I interviewed Governor Scott on the Goldstein on Gelt show and I have also included my interview with him in my new book, The Best of the Goldstein on Gelt Show, 2012. You’ll also enjoy reading the transcript of this interview below. For the video of the interview, scroll a little further down the page.
Douglas Goldstein: As the governor of Florida, how would you describe the current relationship between the U.S. and Israel?
Governor Rick Scott: Clearly, Israel is probably our most important partner in the world in defending global freedom. I think every American is unbelievably impressed with the tenacity of Israelis and their commitment to defending and building their country, and Americans are very supportive of Israel. In Florida, we have 750,000 Jews who are very supportive of Israel, and the trade between the state of Florida and Israel is very important. One of my goals is to do everything I can to increase trade for exports and imports from Israel and to try to build the relationship.
Douglas Goldstein: There are many Americans who have moved to Israel, and they’ve felt that in the past year or two, the U.S. view on Israel might’ve gotten a little bit chillier than it’s been in the past. Do you sense that? Do you see where we’re going in this relationship?
Governor Rick Scott: I believe that Americans are very supportive of Israel. I think this current administration could be more supportive, but I believe that if you talk to Americans and anybody on the street, everybody would say that Israel’s relationship with America is very important to America. Americans are very respectful and admire what Israel has done to build their country and their tenacity in all the issues they deal with in the Middle East.
Douglas Goldstein: There are a lot of people in politics who are calling for a major government reform in the U.S., such as changing the tax system, massive budget cuts, and huge changes. Do you think this is necessary, and do you think that we might see such changes that will help to really boost the U.S. economy?
Governor Rick Scott: We’re having a real discussion in America about the size of government. Americans are reviewing all their taxes at the federal level, state level, and local level, and they’re saying, “What return am I getting for all these tax dollars?” I think Americans are starting to say that we cannot put ourselves at an economic disadvantage by having higher income taxes or higher business taxes, or more regulation or litigation than in other parts in the world, or American companies will do poorly.
When I ran for office for the first time, I’d been in the business all my life, and I think the issue that everybody in Florida and in the United States worries about is how to keep their job or to get one. We have much higher unemployment than we historically used to have, and people are disappointed with how our federal government has handled it. They don’t believe we should have the deficits we have. We cannot run a country with a trillion dollar deficit. They are concerned about the debt load of our country and they are concerned about the intrusion into our individual lives.
There’s a healthcare bill that passed a couple of years ago, and 26 or so states have sued and declared that they are uncomfortable with it. The bill basically tells us that we have to buy health care and exactly what type of health care we have to buy. Where does that end? Can they tell us to eat broccoli and buy American cars? Where’s the limit?
Douglas Goldstein: How do people feel about taxes? Obviously no one likes paying taxes, but there is a certain need. Would you say that Florida is a more tax-friendly state than other states?
Governor Rick Scott: It’s probably the most tax-friendly state. We don’t have a personal income tax. We have a very low business tax, which I’m in the process of phasing out. It’s not a significant portion of our state budget. Over the next seven years, I’ll be able to phase that out, I believe, as long as our economy does well. Our state is a state that knows that for us to have jobs, we have to make sure that businesses do well, so we want to keep their taxes as low as possible. We want to make it easier to get permits to expand. We make sure we don’t have regulation that basically just kills jobs, and we want to make sure that there’s employment there.
Douglas Goldstein: One of the big concerns that people have on the federal level is that social security is going to have a real problem. Do you think that the Americans who’ve left the United States are going to be the first target to have their benefits cut?
Governor Rick Scott: I have not heard anything to suggest that. I don’t think that would be fair. I think the big concern we have is that the federal government, the state government, and local government that’s around the country have overpromised retirement. We’ve not put the money away to really pay for retirement. As you know, social security is going to run out of money in a few years. I believe pension plan programs around the country are not funded, partly at the state level and the local level, and so we’re starting to see significant changes. Young people who get out and understand the obligations that they’re going to have to pay for say, “Enough’s enough. I’m not ever going to see that benefit,” so we’re going to have to change that benefit because that generation is not going to be willing to pay for a generation that didn’t put enough money away.
Douglas Goldstein: Can we really count on the population to save for their own retirement properly?
Governor Rick Scott: I think people will. One thing we know is that government dependency does not work anywhere. It’s never worked anywhere. The more we rely on individual responsibility, the better off people are, so I believe that people will save for their retirement as long as they know that they need to. I think we’re going to be very careful not to overpromise because families will take care of their parents. It is one thing to take care of your parents, but it’s another thing to take care of people which you don’t know, and I think what we have now is a system that was not prefunded by the generation that rely on these benefits. I think the younger generation is saying that “enough’s enough.”
Douglas Goldstein: In Florida, you seem to have a rather aging population. How does your economy manage if there are so many more retirees than actual taxpaying workers?
Governor Rick Scott: We have a slightly higher member of retirees and workers, but we have a fast-growing state, and just to share as an example, we’ve generated over 100,000 jobs already this year, and people are moving into our state. All generations are moving into our state because they know that Florida is still a frontier and a place where you can build your business and do well, because Florida companies do well due to our tax regulations and things like that. We have to continue to live within our means, which we do at the state level. We balance our budget here in Florida. We also are paying down our state debt. We have a higher credit rating than our federal government has now. They have an AAA credit rating. We’ll be paying down some of our debt this year, and while I’m governor, we’ll continue to do that to make sure we’re in the position that if you’re a retiree in our system in Florida, you’ll be able to continue to get paid.
Douglas Goldstein: One of the big concerns a lot of Americans living in Israel have is the Jonathan Pollard issue. Do you think this is ever going to change, or is he going to end up dying in prison?
Governor Rick Scott: I’ve read something about that, and none of the facts that are out there make me understand why he’s not been released. When there’s something like that, you always assume that there’s more to it than maybe what they’ve released.
Douglas Goldstein: So I guess we’ll wait for a little more information, though it certainly is a pressing issue for Americans living in Israel, as well as in the United States. Will we be interviewing you sometime in the future, when you’re making a run for the U.S. Presidency?
Governor Rick Scott: I like being governor. As you know, I’ve lived the American dream. I began in public housing, and I was able to gain an education and was in the service. I was in the Navy during the Yom Kippur war in 1973, and my ship was over in the Mediterranean at the time, and there was some talk that we would possibly end up involved in that, but it didn’t end up happening.
I’ve been in business, and this is the first time I’ve run for office. I ran because I want to get our state and our country back to work, but I’m very optimistic that this is going to happen. We’re going to a presidential race right now, and we’ll see what happens there. My goal is just get our state back to work and make sure we live within our means.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for investment advice that takes into account each individual’s special position and needs. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.