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4 posts from May 19, 2013

May 19, 2013

Congress vs. IRS: The do-littles vs. the do-wrongs.


Congress vs. IRS: The do-littles vs. the do-wrongs.

With 79 percent of Americans disapproving of its performance, Congress finally found a government group that’s probably more disliked than the politicians: the tax bureaucrats.

The U.S. House's tax-agency inquests that began Thursday and run through this week are bad American government on display.

At the least, the hearings make clear that the IRS does a bad job enforcing bad law. And those laws are written by Congress.

And that’s not only the case when it comes to the way the IRS unfairly profiled and delayed the formation of 298 tea party and other groups applying for nonprofit political status.

Just last month, on tax-filing day, as many as 1.5 million American citizens learned that their tax IDs had been stolen.

It happens every year. Especially here. Nine of the top 10 metropolitan areas hardest hit by this crime are in Florida, from Miami-Fort Lauderdale (1) to Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (10).

Yet the IRS and Congress do relatively little to stop it.

Continue reading "Congress vs. IRS: The do-littles vs. the do-wrongs." »

Heavy-hitters back school board's Carlos Curbelo to unseat U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia


Carlos Curbelo, a Miami-Dade school board member and Republican consultant, today announced a congressional exploratory committee and finance team in a possible bid to take on U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in District 26, which stretches from SW 8th Street all the way to Key West's Southernmost Point.

Garcia is no easy target. He won his district by 11 percentage points against scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. David Rivera; and President Obama carried it by about 7.

But in some models, the district leans Republican or is a toss-up.

Curbelo brings political savvy, an emerging name in politics and a heavy-hitting finance team to the race. If Curbelo runs, it'll be tough to see how Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall can win the GOP primary.

Some names to watch for: Cesar Alvarez (Chairman of Greenberg Traurig), Armando Codina (Jeb Bush friend, developer; American Airlines and Home Depot Board of Directors), Remedios Diaz-Oliver (President of All American Containers and Director of US Cuba Democracy PAC), Tirso del Junco (past chairman of the California GOP and of the US Postal Board of Governors); media/political figure Justin Sayfie (founder of the Sayfie Review, former Bush spokesman), George LeMieux (former U.S. Senator), Kathleen Shanahan (businesswoman, Bush insider), Dean Cannon (lobbyist, past Florida House Speaker), Stanley Tate (Republican financier).

One name stands from the rest: Fred Estrada. He's a frequent Democratic contributor. And he's on the Republican's side.

The press release:

Continue reading "Heavy-hitters back school board's Carlos Curbelo to unseat U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia" »

Gov. Rick Scott will sign budget, veto tuition increase Monday

During Monday's budget signing, Gov. Rick Scott will veto a 3-percent tuition increase for state colleges and universities, the Associated Press is reporting.

In his letter explaining the tuition veto, Scott will say Florida's low tuition is a point of pride and he doesn't want to saddle students and families with more debt, the AP said.

Scott has hinted all along that he would veto the tuition increase, which the House insisted on including in the budget. He never wavered from his standard response -- "I do not believe in any tuition increase" -- when asked about the possibility of striking it from the budget.

Hoping to build the case for a veto, the governor's office asked state university presidents to sign a letter saying they do not want more tuition revenue this year. The university presidents held a conference call Friday to discuss the request but collectively decided not to sign the letter.

Universities never planned on receiving the additional tuition revenue in the budget, worth about $18 million. According to state law, tuition will now automatically rise 1.7 percent to keep in line with inflation, or about $10 million.

Read more here.

Nan Rich questions Will Weatherford's manhood


Bearing the subject line "Is there a man in the House?" here's a press release from former state Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich, a candidate for governor:

Two weeks have passed since ceremonial handkerchiefs signaled the end of the legislative session.  But not one signal yet that the Governor will call a special session to pressure House Speaker Weatherford into passing Medicaid expansion.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million Floridians are left without healthcare coverage.

Clearly there’s no urgency on the part of the Speaker or the Governor to take action.  Maybe, just maybe, that’s because both of them are covered by great health insurance plans – plans that are heavily subsidized by the taxpayers.

In fact, Speaker Weatherford and members of the House only have to pay $8.34 a month for their personal coverage and a piddling $30 a month to cover their entire family.

What’s really outrageous is that the plan Speaker Weatherford supported in lieu of Medicaid expansion would have required the poorest Floridians to pay 3 times as much for less healthcare coverage than he pays for his healthcare coverage!

Florida is 50th (worst in the nation) in the ranking of uninsured adults and 48th in the ranking of uninsured children. That’s unconscionable.

And now, as a result of the stubbornness and shortsightedness of Speaker Weatherford and the lack of leadership of Governor Scott, Florida may lose $51 billion of Federal funds (our tax dollars) that are available for the expansion of Medicaid.

Mr. Weatherford, it’s time for you to “man up” and do the right thing!  Put your Tea-Party politics aside long enough to serve the needs of over 1 million uninsured Floridians.  Pass Medicaid expansion – as it is meant to be – according to the Affordable Care Act – the law of the land.

As Governor, I would immediately call the legislature back into Special Session and keep them there until they passed a bill that adequately addressed Medicaid expansion.

Click here to support Nan’s campaign

We can do better.  We must do better.