November 08, 2013

Crist to see Obama today in Miami, says "I don't think so" when asked if president lied


The Republican Party of Florida is noting former Gov. Charlie Crist's flip-floppery over Obamacare (hated it as a Republican, loves it as a Democrat) and his response to this question in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, who asked if the president got "caught in a lie" by saying those who like their health-insurance could keep it under the Affordable Care Act:

"I don't know. I don't think so. I know him to being an honorable and a decent man. He's actually in the Sunshine State later today. I look forward to seeing him. And I worked hard for his reelection because I believe in his heart and his grace," Crist said.

A sample of the RPOF clip job showing Crist wasn't always such a believer in Obama or Obamacare:

As Independent Candidate For Senate, Crist Bashed Obamacare, Attacked Obama For Not Working Towards Bipartisanship. "Crist, who lost much of his Republican support by appearing with Obama at a rally to push for the passage of the $787 billion stimulus, referred a couple of times to 'Obamacare' as a slight to the health care overhaul the president signed into law. 'Obamacare was off the charts, was wrong. It taxed too much, has mandates that are probably unconstitutional, and it's not the way to go. And it was rammed through,' said Crist, who has previously said both that he would support a repeal of the law and that he would seek to fix, but not repeal it, because it has some good things. And in another attempt to put a gap between himself and the president, Crist also criticized Obama for not following through on his promise of working with both parties. 'The president started out originally saying I'm going to work across the aisle 'I'm going to reach across the aisle and make sure that we get everybody involved in the solutions that matter to the people of America,' Crist said. 'It hasn't happened. It needs to happen.'" (Brendan Farrington, "Fla.'s Crist Tries To Distance Himself From Obama," The Associated Press, 10/20/2010)


November 07, 2013

Decoding Diaz-Balart and immigration reform's struggle in the House


It’s all but guaranteed: Immigration reform is dead for 2013.

The Republican-controlled House has refused to take up the bipartisan Democratic-controlled Senate bill that passed earlier this year. And now time has essentially run out.

“I don’t see the math. There are only 16 days, legislative days, for the floor,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a leading Republican immigration-reformer in the House.

“Unless someone has some magic potion," he said. "I don’t see how there’s time to go through the committee process and through the floor with what could ultimately be six or nine bills.”

Continue reading "Decoding Diaz-Balart and immigration reform's struggle in the House" »

Three fundraisers, one metropolis: More details of Obama's Miami trip surface


President Obama isn't merely coming to Miami Friday for a fundraiser. He's coming for three, one hosted by the Democratic National Committee and two for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And, of course, the president is expected to play golf but that's not yet confirmed.

There are no public events scheduled as of yet. So most if not all details about the fundraisers will come from the White House. So far it looks like the fundraisers are being held by:

Leslie Miller Saiontz (DSCC), a philanthropist/real-estate and building businesswoman who contributed $57,300 in 2012 to various candidates and committees.

Jorge Mas Santos (DSCC), a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec who contributed $5,000 last year to Rep. Joe Garcia.

Ralph G. Patino (DNC), a top personal-injury attorney who contributed $88,800 last year to various committees and candidates.

Patino's Coral Gables fundraiser sounds a little different from your standard fundraiser. Patino says it'll be more of a roundtable with about 30 donors-business leaders to talk about the topic of the day and year. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will attend (Sen. Bill Nelson is expected at the DSCC events).

"It's an open forum," Patino said. "There's not one particular goal."

Patino emerged last year as a key fundraiser in the Hispanic community for the Obama campaign's Futuro Fund. The money (along with the Obama campaign's know-how) helped the president win the Hispanic vote in Florida and the nation. Obama also came close to winning the Cuban-American vote, once solidly Republican.

Patino said he recently started up a 501c4 called ACT, an abbreviation for "Americano Como Tú" ("American Like You") to improve Hispanic political participation. While unabashedly progressive, Patino said Republicans could receive ACT's support as well for supporting things like immigration reform or farmworker rights.

November 05, 2013

Miami Dolphins bullying issue makes it to the White House press briefing room

@lesleyclark @MarcACaputo

After repeating and repeating the same types of questions concerning President Obama's misleading statements about Obamacare, a reporter in the White House press briefing room today had enough.

Time to talk football.

Specifically: The Miami Dolphins bullying imbroglio involving Jonathan Martin who claimed fellow lineman Richie Incognito caused extreme mental abuse, including the use of the term "half-n---r."

White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked if President Obama was aware of it, considering the president hosted a 2011 bullying prevention conference at the White House.

"It's important to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage," Obama said at the time.

The president still "strongly believes that" as does the first lady and the vice president and Dr. Biden, Carney said.

But he said, he hadn't talked with Obama about the Dolphins, so couldn't say what he thought about it.

"I'm confident he's aware of it, but I just don't have a response from the president on it," Carney said.

MostreadA few ways to look at this: Why on earth waste the time of the president's spokesman on something like this? But then, why not? Carney has been ducking and dodging questions of substance for some time, so it makes sense that a bored reporter would change the subject to something that, while it might seem frivolous from a policy perspective, would elicit an actual answer. And let's face it: People are talking about this. Four of the top five most-read stories in The Herald today are about the Martin-Incognito situation (number 5 is a horrid story about a teen's gang rape, and my Charlie Crist story didn't make the cut). 


October 29, 2013

U.S. Senate panel takes on Stand Your Ground controversy

Statements made during a U.S. Senate hearing that Stand Your Ground laws actually benefit African Americans are “ludicrous,” Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee said after attending Tuesday’s panel in Washington, D.C.

Williams, chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, is aiming to repeal the law in Florida and will be pushing the effort during a House hearing Nov. 7th.

“The argument that a number of crimes are committed in minority communities and African Americans should appreciate that Stand Your Ground has allowed them to get off or not be prosecuted for committing murder is embarrassing,” said Williams, referring to comments made by the law's supporters during the packed U.S. Senate hearing.

Legislators, criminal justice experts, advocates and the mothers of two sons slain in the name of self-defense gave widely different interpretations of the laws, their racial ramifications and the need for changes during the panel.

Continue reading "U.S. Senate panel takes on Stand Your Ground controversy" »

October 06, 2013

Obamacare's new antagonist: The Obamacare sign-up website


Obamacare has a new antagonist: The Obamacare sign-up website.

Over the weekend, was pulled down for maintenance at off-peak hours because of persistent glitches people encountered once the site went, er, “live” on Tuesday.

The computer snafu was like a gift to Republicans, who have suffered in the polls since precipitating a partial-government shutdown over Obamacare that happened to coincide with the website’s launch.

With each reported website woe, it’s easier for Republicans to draw a line between a possible computer programming failure and a government program failure. Unlike the government shutdown, Republicans bear no discernable blame for the online shutdown.

In damage control, President Barack Obama and his administration urged patience and understanding. They’ve released web-traffic numbers, but refuse to disclose enrollment figures.

Continue reading "Obamacare's new antagonist: The Obamacare sign-up website" »

October 02, 2013

Mario Diaz-Balart on his House CR no-vote, and Obama's wavering "red lines"


Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart was always in favor of defunding, delaying and degrading Obamacare.

But on Monday night, he joined 11 other Republicans to oppose the budget plan targeting Obamacare for a simple reason: It wasn’t going to work, and the government was about to go into partial shutdown.

“I’ve voted against Obamacare 42 times,” Diaz-Balart said.

“When they brought the idea of defunding Obamacare, House Republicans were told we could get Democratic votes. So I voted for it. But it didn’t happen,” he said. “Then we tried again. And it didn’t work. The third time, it was like: Look, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”

Continue reading "Mario Diaz-Balart on his House CR no-vote, and Obama's wavering "red lines"" »

October 01, 2013

Scott blames Obama for congressional inaction on flood insurance

Gov. Rick Scott used the onset of flood insurance rate hikes Tuesday to call attention to the impact a federal law could have on thousands of homeowners who could be locked into their homes because of soaring flood insurance rates.

But at a press conference in Clearwater today, Scott refrained from placing the blame on Congress, which has failed to halt the Oct. 1 effective date of a key provision of the Biggett Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, despite widesperad acknowledgement from the law's supporters that an unintended consequence is harming the real esate recovery. Instead, Scott turned to a familiar line and blamed President Barack Obama.

“We are calling on President Obama to take immediate action to prevent these flood insurance rate hikes on Florida’s families, and families across the state,'' Scott said, according to a press release from his office. "This is unfair and could devastate the Tampa Bay area’s real estate market. The buck ultimately stops with the President. The time for leadership is now.”

Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, called Scott's blaming of Obama "a publicity stunt." Within the hour, Nelson is joining U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), David Vitter (R-La.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D) at a press conference to discuss national flood insurance reform. Rubio has rejected calls for a delay but has said he opposes the rate hikes. 

“Sens. Nelson and Landrieu have succeeded in getting a bipartisan group together that is working on a legislative fix right now,'' McLaughlin said. "We have told Gov. Scott it would be less of a distraction, and more of a help, if he would contact members of his own political party that are blocking action in Washington.  His request of the president should be seen for what it is – a publicity stunt.” 



September 30, 2013

Rick Scott attacks Barack Obama's leadership over likely government shutdown


Gov. Rick Scott accused President Barack Obama today of not showing enough leadership to end Congress's impasse over the budget and avoid a government shutdown. Scott is siding with Republican members of the U.S. House, who say the president refused to negotiate with them to resolve the deadlock.

Of course what the GOP wants is something Obama is unwilling to do: agree to further delays to the Affordable Care Act.

Reading Scott's criticism of Obama gave us a bit of déjà vu. Isn't Scott criticizing Obama in much the same way he was criticized earlier this year?

After announcing in February that he supported Medicaid expansion, Scott seemed to show very little leadership in actually persuading House Republicans to get it done. In fact, lawmakers who wanted the state to expand Medicaid said Scott refused to play a more active and public role during the height of debate. Remember, the "Health Care for Florida Families" sticker he refused to wear on the House floor?

He refused to hold Republican leaders' budget priorities hostage and later declined to call a special session to iron out a compromise. That's what Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, did successfully.

Just like Obama, the governor was plenty vocal about what he thought the Legislature should do. Anytime he was asked, he said he favored Medicaid expansion and an alternative plan by the Senate that would use $51 billion in federal funding to reduce the number of uninsured. 

But he also made it clear that he had bigger priorities during the session and that, ultimately, the decision was up to the Legislature. The issue ended in stalemate (déjà vu, again) and roughly 1 million Floridians remain uninsured as a result.

We've asked Scott's office to explain how he showed any more leadership on that issue than Obama has now in the face of a government shutdown. We also asked why Obama being vocal on the importance of averting a shutdown wasn't enough in the governor's eyes. We'll update the post when we receive a response.

Here is Scott's full statement about the budget stalement and pending federal shutdown:

Continue reading "Rick Scott attacks Barack Obama's leadership over likely government shutdown" »

September 22, 2013

'Socialism,' Obamacare and fickle Florida voters


In a poor state like Florida, it seemed like a no-brainer for a U.S. Senate candidate to back a plan so that “every man or woman gainfully employed could pay for and get the health insurance they need.”

He lost, his plan bashed as part of “the socialist state.”

Sound like the 2010 fight over Obamacare? Sure.

But this happened 60 years earlier in Florida in the Democratic race between incumbent Claude Pepper and the man who tarred him as a red, George Smathers, the Miami congressman who won the U.S. Senate that year.

Continue reading "'Socialism,' Obamacare and fickle Florida voters" »