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224 posts from June 2012

June 30, 2012

Gov. Scott says Florida will not implement with 'Obamacare'

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that he will not support implementing federal health care reform in Florida, making up his mind roughly 36 hours after the Supreme Court ruling to uphold to law.

"We're not going to implement Obamacare in Florida," Scott told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren late Friday night. "We're not going to expand Medicaid because we're going to do the right thing. We're not going to do the exchange."

As late as Friday afternoon, Scott was telling Florida media that he had not yet made up his mind about whether or not to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But he continued to pan the law, which he opposed even before he was elected. And he said the Medicaid program as it exists now is already too costly.

Because the Legislature sets the budget, it will ultimately decide whether or not to allocate money to implement provisions of the law. So far, leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate have not said whether or not they agree with Scott.


June 29, 2012

UPDATED Marco Rubio on highway bill: "Spends too much" and "relies on accounting gimmicks"

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was the lone Gulf State senator to vote against the two-year re-authorization of a transportation bill that also addresses student loan interest rates and directs billions of dollars in BP oil spill fines to Florida and other states harmed by the spill.

The bill passed Friday in the Senate 74-19; it passed 373-52 in the House and is on its way to the president.

All the other Republican senators from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi supported it, and Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., voted for it. "This is going to send billions of dollars in fines against BP directly to Florida and the other Gulf Coast states that were harmed by the oil spill," Nelson said.

As has become customary, Rubio offers a lengthy explanation for his "no" vote. He says he opposed it because it lumps in "a wide range of unrelated ideas into one giant bill."

"As a result, I voted against final passage because, while it contains some policies I support and that are good for Florida and our nation, as a whole, the bill spends too much and relies on budget gimmicks as spending offsets that will ultimately lead to a federal bailout down the road," he said.

UPDATE: Five Florida House Republicans, including Senate candidate Connie Mack, voted against the bill. They are Reps. Sandy Adams, Dennis Ross, Rich Nugent and Bill Posey.

Scott appoints new DMS head

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Craig J. Nichols as the new secretary for the Department of Management Services, the state's administrative arm.

“As we work during the next two years to launch major productivity and efficiency initiatives, Craig will bring to the agency a combination of large-organization experience, strong operational and strategic focus, and executive leadership,” Scott said in a press release. “I am confident his corporate experience will ensure state government remains focused on making Florida the best state for the private sector to grow and create jobs.”

Nichols replaces Jack Miles, who resigned in February.

Continue reading "Scott appoints new DMS head" »

Report: Florida ranks 4th in child welfare

Florida's child welfare system is among the best in the country for reducing abuse in foster care and responding quickly to abuse allegations, according to a free-market think tank report released today.

The state, which delivers foster care and related services through private community agencies, was ranked as the country's 4th best child welfare system overall, says the report, which uses federal data compiled by the Foundation for Government Accountability.

"Child welfare is a very emotional business, by definition, but it's also important to run it like a business," said David Wilkins, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families. "Because you have to have accountability, you have to have metrics, and you have to measure those metrics and always demand improved and better performance."

Continue reading "Report: Florida ranks 4th in child welfare" »

June 28, 2012

South Florida Democrats support walk out on Holder contempt vote


Members of the Congressional Black Caucus were joined by many fellow Democrats Thursday in walking out on a House Republican-led vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the Fast and Furious controversy.

Among those supporting the walk out from South Florida: Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston; Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar; and Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. Here are their statements:

Wasserman Schultz: "Today I opposed the latest act of overt political theater staged by House Republican lawmakers who have made it clear that they would rather cast votes aimed at damaging the president instead of helping the American people. I joined my colleagues in walking off the House Floor to strongly oppose Republican lawmakers’ outrageous attempt to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. This is just the latest effort to distract and delay from the task at hand - creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.
"The Republican leadership has acknowledged that there is no evidence to suggest the Attorney General authorized, condoned, or knew about gun walking or engaged in a cover-up and as such, today’s vote was both unwarranted and unprecedented.
"Despite Democratic efforts to hold a real investigation, Chairman Darrell Issa has refused 10 separate Democratic requests for a hearing with Ken Melson, the former director of the agency in charge, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He has also refused to grant a single Democratic witness request during the entire 16-month investigation. This flawed investigation is yet another example of political theater and prevents concrete action to create jobs and build an economy built to last."

Hastings: “It is contemptuous that Republicans decided to cast a stain on this institution by finding the United States Attorney General in contempt of Congress.  No Cabinet official in the history of this country has ever been held in contempt.  I warned yesterday that if we did this, history will judge us harshly.  And it will.

“Brian Terry, a U.S. law enforcement agent, was killed. That is a terrible tragedy for his family and our country. I am eternally grateful to those law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line to protect the nation. However, this vote today was not about what happened to Agent Terry.  It was political, plain and simple. 

“We need to address the doubling of student loan interest rates in this country, and yet, Republicans have made it their priority to pass a measure that does nothing to help struggling Americans. Our nation’s transportation infrastructure is in serious need of repair, and yet, we have not passed a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill.   Americans need jobs to pay their bills, provide for their families, and keep their homes.  And yet, House Republicans believe that our time is better spent playing politics with this contempt vote, rather than actually creating jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work. 

“Today’s vote was nothing more than a partisan political circus and House Republicans should be ashamed of themselves."

Marco Rubio threatens long arm of the IRS in wake of health care decision

Following today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., threatened a downturn in the economy and a world where the IRS would "chase you around" for payment if you don't buy health insurance.

"Guess who you have to prove to that you have insurance? Your neighborhood, friendly IRS. Millions of Americans now have an IRS problem, because they don't have health insurance," Rubio said on the Senate floor Thursday.

He cited examples of people who would be fined $1,100 if they didn't buy a $1,600 insurance policy.

"My friends, this is a middle class tax increase," Rubio said of the mandate that the court upheld Thursday. "And millions of Americans now have an IRS problem. You will now have to for the first time in American history prove that you have health insurance or you will have to deal with the IRS.

Here's a helpful chart explaining how the mandate works and who would be penalized if they don't buy health insurance.

Rubio also acknowledged that the greater problem is the affordability and availability of health insurance, particularly for people who don't have access to it through their workplace. He said he wished more Americans could get health insurance the way Congress does. "You get to choose. Most Americans don't have that choice."

PolitiFact looks back at health care claims by Allen West, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and more

Florida politicians have used the health care law to make claims that range from declaring it the "biggest tax increase ever" to containing a slush fund to spay pets as part of an anti-obesity effort.

As the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on the 2010 Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2012, PolitFact Florida reviewed some of our most interesting claims by Florida politicians and groups about the law. Florida, with its large senior population and crucial role in the presidential election, has played a significant role in the health care law debate. (To peruse all of PolitiFact Florida’s health care claims click here.)

Read PolitiFact's article with links to previous claims.



Atwater's staff snagged in errant CNN and Fox News report

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s press shop got snagged in an embarrassing retraction Thursday after an errant CNN and Fox News report that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act had been overturned. 

As Atwater was meeting with Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi in a quarterly clemency meeting, his communications office pressed the button at 10:10 a.m. on the wrong press release that had been prepared in advance.

“Today’s landmark ruling by the Supreme Court upholds two distinctly American principles outlined in our Constitution—individual freedom and limited government,’’ Atwater was quoted as saying.

Four minutes later, they sent out a new one: “Please regard previous healthcare statement.”

Alexis Lambert, spokeswoman for Atwater, said the CFO didn’t know any of it was happening.

“We reacted to the initial report from CNN and Fox News and then recalled it within a minute,’’ Lambert said.

Scott reacts to SCOTUS ruling: 'judicially mandated tax'

Gov. Rick Scott issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today on the Affordable Care Act:

 “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is simply disappointing. 

"The tax question was repeatedly refuted by members of Congress who helped pass this health care takeover.  The Justices have declared that the central provision of ObamaCare is a judicially mandated tax.  A new tax pure and simple.  This is just another burden the federal government has put on American families and small businesses. 

 “With the national economy struggling to recover, now is not the time to implement a massive social program that injects nothing but uncertainty and doubt into our economic system.  By doing so, they have put up yet another major roadblock to efforts to get people back to work and forced the government into the important relationship between patients and their doctors.

 “I stand with Justice Kennedy that the entire act should have been held invalid.”

Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) predicted the ruling will leave people with less insurance, not more, but gave no indication what role Florida is likely to go on Medicaid reform. Here is his statement:

Continue reading "Scott reacts to SCOTUS ruling: 'judicially mandated tax'" »

Rubio predicts backlash as 'millions of Americans now have an IRS problem'

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN on Thursday that the SCOTUS ruling on health care reform is  "a loss for America." He conceded that the Supreme Court's role wasn't to determine if it was a good idea, rather if it was constitutional.

But because it's constitutional, he said, "millions of Americans may now have an IRS problem because of this ruling."

He also suggested that becuase there will be differences between the states, "if you don’t like the policies of a state you could easily go to another state."

He suggested "this has turned the IRS into an enforcement mechanism for Obamacare."

Rubio also told CNN that because this is now considered a tax, it is a broken promise by President Obama, who said he wasn't going to raise taxes on the middle class.  

"This law is the culmination of a series of broken promises,'' he said. "Just wait until Americans start realizing they have to prove to the IRS that they have health insurance or they are going to get hit with an IRS fine…you’re going to see those numbers move really quick."

"A tax penaltiy enforced by the IRS…is not good for our economy,'' he said. "We desparately do need to confront the health insurance problem in America. This is just the wrong way to do it."