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Bill Nelson on hurricane politics, taxes and Barack Obama’s “mistakes”

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Democrat elected statewide, held a press conference this morning outside the National Hurricane Center and scored a few political points by bashing House Republicans for cutting hurricane-forecasting and research money. But when it came to specifics about how to restore the money and what else to cut in the budget, Nelson wasn’t as voluble.

“The House of Representatives cuts to hurricane forecasting – that’s like cutting off your nose to cut your face,” Belson said. “The folks at the NHC are so good with the tools that they have…. Now these guys (House Republicans) want to cut NOAA’s budget for hurricane forecasting? That’s what they’ve passed out of the house appropriations committee. So we’re going to have to clean this up in the senate, and we will. But why do we have to keep going through these kinds of battles?

He said defense department cuts to their C-130 hurricane-hunter planes would “be like flying blind” for the hurricane center.

“Rather than me talking about cuts, we’ve got to be talking about reality. And that is saving lives and trying to lessen property damage. And that means keep this program going,” Nelson said.

But the reality in Washington is that the nation has a projected debt of $14 trillion, and Republicans have been gaining political traction with their call to cut government – not increase spending.

So what should be cut?

“Whenever the nation’s safety is at stake, I have never known someone to hold an emergency appropriation hostage and that is what’s being suggested at the moment,” Nelson said.

“I’ve never known emergency preparations and emergency response to be budgeted that way. And as far as this senator is concerned, it won’t be.”

So how about raising taxes, letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire?

Nelson said that probably wouldn’t be necessary because he is “very optimistic that we are at a moment in time (for) tax reform” by what’s known as the “Super Committee,” the group of six lawmakers who will be tasked with a debt-reduction package that Congress must approve in an up-or-down vote. Nelson said that eliminating 10-15 percent of the so-called “tax loopholes” or preference would help boost tax collections, lower and flatten income tax rates and “stir up the engine of growth.”

“If you did that and you came to our committee under our normal procedures, the finance committee would be pecked to death from all the special interests,” Nelson said.

Nelson wouldn’t comment on the recent controversy over the claim by Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) that the tea party is full of racists. “My attitude is just try to do my job and not get involved with all these other things,” Nelson said.

Part of Nelson’s job is to get re-elected, and the leader of his party’s ticket, President Obama, is doing horribly in the polls. Why and will Nelson campaign with him? Nelson didn’t quite answer.

The president and vice president are my friends. They’re my former colleagues. Clearly, the president has made some mistakes. The American people are tired of the excessive partisanship and the excessive ideological rigidity where you can’t get anything done. The people have had enough. They want their government to work like it’s supposed to work…..”

What mistakes? Alas, we couldn’t follow up. The last question of the press conference went to a television reporter who asked if Obama made the right decision in rescheduling his speech so that it didn’t conflict with next week’s Republican presidential debate. (You can invariably rely on some TV reporters to stop a good line of questioning).

Nelson said “there are so many angles to that story” about the speech because of “technical details” over how to schedule an appearance before Congress. “There are different sides to that question,” he said.

Comments

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Tipper_Top

“The House of Representatives cuts to hurricane forecasting – that’s like cutting off your nose to cut your face,” Belson said.

LMAO - that's about as much stroke Nelson has in the Senate. Hey Billy - it's 'cut your nose off to spite your face'. What a git.

The man, even though he blames Republicans for cutting Hurricane funding, forgets that they upped FEMA's budget by a billion. Sadly, that bill sits waiting for the Senate to actually do SOMETHING.

Who's been voting right along with the do-nothing Senate - why that would be Bill Nelson - the man who needs to leave ASAP which is Nov 2012.

"So we’re going to have to clean this up in the senate, and we will."

Sure Bill, sure. (roll eyes and sigh)

Charity

Bill Nelson will be defeated in 2012! He always counts on votes from unimformed voters. This time is different! We the People will show Floridians your record and all your smiles and nice little chats won't help. Nelson is one of the most liberal Senators but he pretends in public to be a moderate. During the debate on Obamacare Nelson never listened to those of us opposed to it. He thought he could ignore us. He is a pathetic do-nothing, arrogant egotistical liberal who needs to be replaced asap.

Julie Delegal

Nitpicking at domestic spending won't help the debt. We need real structural reform (defense and entitlements)AND real investment in our economy now. It's a moneymaker. I'll bet on the American people any day.

DannyK

You want to cut something? Cut the tax breaks for the wealthy that caused these problems.

Joe

There are no Democrats left in Congress. They are all Socialists and Marxists and we have to fumigate our government of this infestation quickly. I think Bill Nelson and his kind will find out just how ticked off we are in 2012. I and millions of others that have never been involved in politics before will work night and day to get these scum suckers out of our government.

Margaret

Every time I wrote to Bill Nelon, I got a statement about why he thinks we need whatever agenda is being rammed down our throats. I will not vote for him again, not ever. I would even select the candidate named "Not Nelson"!

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