November 12, 2013

GOP seizes on Clinton's criticisms of Obamacare rollout


Republicans couldn't help but react with glee to former president Bill Clinton's remarks Tuesday that the Obama administration ought to accept a change in the law that would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance plan.

In an interview published on Ozy, a web magazine, Clinton said Obama should honor his the promise that he has been making for years: If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.

“I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got,” Clinton said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, applauded Clinton for joining a bipartisan call for Obama to act.

"These comments signify a growing recognition that Americans were misled when they were promised that they could keep their coverage under President Obama’s health care law," Boehner said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama agrees with Clinton and said he has asked aides to devise a way to accomodate those people losing their plans. But he declined to outline the possible fixes, or even a timetable for action.

“The president has tasked his team with looking at a range of options, as he said, to make sure that nobody is put in a position where their plans have been canceled and they can’t afford a better plan, even though they’d like to have a better plan,” Carney said.

Lawmakers from both parties have introduced bills to allow Americans to keep their plans, but the White House has not endorsed any proposal.

November 10, 2013

What Obama should have said: If you like your political dysfunction, you can keep it.


If you like your political dysfunction, you can keep it.

Too bad President Obama didn’t promise that. It would have been accurate.

Instead, he had to say three dozen or so times that you could keep the insurance plan you like under his Affordable Care Act.

“Period,” the president said for added emphasis.

But it wasn’t true for many. So finally he made an apology of sorts last week.

And then he was off to fundraise in Miami, where he headlined three Friday events. On Saturday, Obama golfed with former basketball star Alonzo Mourning at the exclusive Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, site of the classic 1980 comedy movie Caddyshack. Then it was back to Washington.

Thus the political cycle churns: Wash with money. Spin. Repeat.

This was Obama’s third fundraising trip to Florida, and Miami-Dade, this year. Last year there was an election. So he came to Florida 15 times, often holding public events so the broadcast media would cover his remarks and so that taxpayers could help underwrite more of the bill for presidential travel and security.

The three Miami fundraisers Friday were all private, though reporters were allowed limited access.

Obama made sure to rebut Republican critics, like those in Florida, who have raised a fuss about people without insurance while simultaneously refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That denies the possibility of coverage to as many as 848,000 Floridians.

“More people could have healthcare via Medicaid,” Obama said. “But that’s not happening because of politics.”

Republican Gov. Rick Scott ducked the issue in a written statement.

“The President’s healthcare law is causing hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their health insurance plans. The White House should focus on helping these families, not Medicaid, which our state just recently reformed to be more flexible, accessible and cost-conscious,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, the White House’s politics of deflection and distraction won’t give anyone their healthcare back, even after the president promised that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.”

Scott’s comments are also laden with deflection, distraction and misleading opinion.

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November 09, 2013

Obama hits the links with Alonzo Mourning in Fort Lauderdale

Caddyshack golf course@LesleyClark

President Obama is closing out a fundraising trip to South Florida by hitting the links at a golf club -- made famous in the 1980 classic Caddyshack.

The White House pool arrived at the Grande Oaks Golf Club in Fort Lauderdale to see Obama, wearing a blue polo shirt, tan slacks and a tan/khaki ball cap, greeting people and shaking hands and at one point, posing for pictures.

According to its website, Grande Oaks is a private club that was featured in the 1980 Bill Murray film, Caddyshack, and "offers members an exclusive atmosphere with some of south Florida's foremost socialites."

The club's "Raymond Floyd re-designed 18-hole championship course, 40-acre practice facility and southern plantation style clubhouse provides sanctuary, serenity and the utmost in service," the website promises.

Its gift shop boasts a number of Caddyshack-themed gifts, including golf club covers in the form of a gopher -- an homage to the starring role a destructive rodent plays in the movie.

Obama's partners include former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, ambassador Ron Kirk and Cyrus Walker, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett's cousin. At one point, the White House pool caught a glimpse of Obama driving a golf cart as he pulled away from a tee, with Mourning in the passenger seat.

Obama wrapped up a trio of fundraisers in Miami late Friday, including one event where he told two of Cuba's leading dissidents in South Florida that he admires their sacrifices, a rare White House recognition of the peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island.

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November 08, 2013

Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest

Segovia Tower Coral GablesPresident Obama arrived in Miami Friday afternoon to headline three Democratic Party fundraisers hosted by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Florida’s newest high-profile Democrat, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was spotted at the Segovia Tower in Coral Gables at a $32,000-a-head fundraiser hosted by personal injury attorney Ralph G. Patino.

Obama moved next to a fundraiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos, a Cuban American National Foundation leader and CEO of MasTec There, the president thanked Mas Santos, who stood next to him, and singled out U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Mike Bennet of Colorado. 

Continue reading "Obama raises cash in Miami -- with Crist as guest" »

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" »