March 27, 2017

Democrats launch first video ads against Curbelo and Diaz-Balart over healthcare votes in committee

@PatriciaMazzei

Republicans failed last week to pass an Affordable Care Act replacement -- but not before two GOP lawmakers from South Florida voted for the proposed American Health Care Act in congressional committees.

Those votes by Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart will be highlighted in a new digital ad campaign -- the first of the 2018 election cycle -- by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which says it's spending five figures to roll videos against 14 vulnerable Republicans who also voted in committee for the doomed legislation.

"You deserve better," the ads say. 

The ads, geographically targeted and set to pre-roll ahead of videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are geared at "swing voters 35 years and older, grassroots activists in the districts, and those that have engaged with the topic of 'healthcare' on social media," the DCCC said. 

The party will be spending more in Curbelo's swing 26th district than in any other district in the country -- six times more, to be exact -- in order to test which voters might be more persuaded by healthcare attack.

Curbelo voted for the AHCA in the Ways and Means Committee but later said he was undecided on the final bill; Diaz-Balart voted in the Budget Committee and ultimately said he'd vote for the legislation. It never came to a vote because Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew it, knowing he didn't have enough Republican support.

"This targeted ad campaign makes clear that Representatives Curbelo and Diaz-Balart’s vote for this devastating Republican repeal bill will not be forgotten," DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. "Curbelo and Diaz-Balart knowingly voted for a bill to raise premiums and deductibles, slap an age tax on older folks, and rip insurance away from 24 million hardworking Americans."

The National Republican Congressional Committee came to Curbelo and Diaz-Balart's defense, particularly noting Curbelo's ambivalence toward the final bill.

"Congressman Curbelo and Congressman Diaz-Balart promised to reform health care, and were committed to moving proposals forward to continue the debate," NRCC spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said in a statement. "For his part, Curbelo never came out in support of the bill because he was working to secure changes would be made to in the Senate to protect his most vulnerable constituents, and that the Administration would rectify Obama's disastrous funding cuts to Florida's Low Income Pool."

This post has been updated.

Curbelo, Rutherford played it safe on health care

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON — Some of their responses came slowly, others right away. But each Republican member of Congress from Florida indicated their stance on the Obamacare replacement that imploded Friday.

Except two.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami and Rep. John Rutherford of Jacksonville refused to give a position.

Curbelo’s spokeswoman later said he was undecided. “He had not made a final decision because he was working with Senate offices to get assurances on increased tax credits for lower income Americans and with administration officials on restoration of Florida’s Low Income Pool funding. It was clear to him the bill needed improvement and he was fairly certain that we would not be voting today.”

Curbelo voted to advance the bill in the Ways & Means Committee, before the legislation faced a damaging assessment from the Congressional Budget Office. The details then changed to appease conservatives.

Rutherford would not answer a simple yes or no question on the bill.

“Maintaining a status quo is not an option,” he said after it was pulled from the floor. “There is a widespread consensus that President Obama’s signature health care law is broken and unsustainable. I remain committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare to improve and protect Americans’ access to quality, affordable health coverage.”

His reticence stands out because Rutherford had appeared with Vice President Mike Pence at a Jacksonville event designed to sell the Obamacare replacement.

Trump reportedly wanted a vote, even if the bill would die, so that he could see who was on his side — a feeling shared by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

“Today the Republican controlled House of Representatives let down President Trump and, more importantly, the American people,” Gaetz said. “We did so in the most cowardly, craven way possible by failing to  vote on the repeal of Obamacare. … We should know who was willing to stand with President Trump and who wasn’t. Now we never will."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

March 23, 2017

Miami Republicans will have to make up their minds on health care today

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@PatriciaMazzei

With a vote looming Thursday evening on House Republicans' healthcare bill, two of three Miami lawmakers whose districts have among the highest number of Affordable Care Act enrollees have yet to announce their support or opposition.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart have been undecided -- with Curbelo leaning "Yes" and Diaz-Balart leaning "No" -- since both voted for the American Health Care Act in different House committees.

Curbelo helped move the law out of the Ways and Means Committee before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that 14 million Americans would drop or lose their insurance coverage in 2018 under the law; Diaz-Balart helped break a tie to pass the legislation out of the Budget Committee, despite saying he had concerns with it.

The White House has been wooing Diaz-Balart and other ambivalent Republicans all week. Curbelo was among the group of moderates who met Wednesday night with House Speaker Paul Ryan. They reached no broad agreement.

The third Miami Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was the first Florida member of Congress to oppose the bill -- and she still does, she said Thursday.

"After studying the impact of this legislation on my constituents, I will vote no on this bill because it does not provide adequate solutions for the working poor, disabled, and elderly in South Florida," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "Too many of my constituents will be left paying more for coverage and many will be left without coverage at all. The cuts and changes to Medicaid will make it more difficult to effectively care for uninsured patients as well as individuals with high costs of coverage due to special needs or chronic diseases. Additionally, costs for seniors will increase significantly as insurance companies will charge older Americans exorbitantly high premiums and fees which many cannot afford."

Later, Ros-Lehtinen said in an interview on WIOD-AM (510) that any of the proposed cuts to "essential" healthcare benefits to appease the most conservative members of the GOP caucus would amount to a "humongous concession."

"Oh my gosh -- why have insurance?" she told host Fernand Amandi, who is also a Democratic pollster.

Amandi asked if the White House had tried to entice Ros-Lehtinen to change her mind. She said she'd gotten overtures from "people who never even knew I existed."

"I did get invited to bowl at the White House. Yaaaay!" she said. "But I turned that down."

Spokeswomen for Curbelo and Diaz-Balart said Thursday morning the lawmakers are in negotiation meetings over the bill all day.

A national Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed 56 percent of respondents oppose the AHCA, and only 17 percent support it.

This post has been updated.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, el Nuevo Herald

March 21, 2017

Latino group pushes Curbelo, Diaz-Balart to vote against GOP health plan

@PatriciaMazzei

A liberal Latino group has become the latest organization to release ads to pressure Miami Republicans to oppose the House plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

NCLR Action Fund -- as in the National Council of La Raza -- issued a "call to action" Tuesday asking lawmakers in key districts to vote against the American Health Care Act on Thursday. Among the targeted legislators: Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart.

"The Affordable Care Act has provided over 4 million Latinos health insurance and millions more have gained greater access to quality health care," NCLRAF's political director, Rafael Collazo, said in a statement. "Latino voters want their federal officials to protect those gains. Voting for the AHCA would be an immense setback for Latinos."

The organization plans radio and digital ads in seven districts with significant Latino populations. The other five districts are represented by Will Hurd of Texas, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Jeff Denham of California, David Valadao of California and Darrell Issa of California.

March 20, 2017

Labor union targets Curbelo on 'Trumpcare'

@PatriciaMazzei

A liberal labor organization has begun a web campaign urging Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo to oppose the House GOP's healthcare legislation.

UNITE HERE is going after 15 Republicans in moderate districts with its "Don't Tax Our Health Care" campaign, which includes web ads, direct mail, neighborhood canvassing and protests outside lawmakers' offices, according to the organization.

“Trumpcare is a disaster for working people,”UNITE HERE President D. Taylor said in a statement. “It fulfills none of the promises that Trump and the Republicans ran on. Where’s the better coverage at lower costs? How does this rein in out-of-pocket and prescription drug costs? The truth is Trumpcare isn’t about fixing the ACA with ‘insurance for everybody’ that would be ‘much less expensive and much better,’ as President Trump promised. It’s about destroying it with a half a trillion-dollar tax cut for the rich on the backs of the poor, the sick, and the vast majority of Americans who get coverage through work.”

Curbelo is getting hit from all sides on the healthcare plan, which is scheduled for a House vote on Thursday. A political committee affiliated with Speaker Paul Ryan is imploring the congressman to back the legislation. Curbelo already voted for it once, on the Ways and Means Committee, but has since noted he has "concerns" after the Congressional Budget Office found millions of Americans would drop or lose insurance coverage.

 

New batch of digital ads pressure Curbelo, Ros-Lehtinen to back GOP health plan

@PatriciaMazzei

Ahead of this week's expected House vote on the Republican healthcare plan, a political group linked to Speaker Paul Ryan is putting out a new batch of digital ads meant to nudge two South Florida members of Congress to vote in favor.

Starting Monday, American Action Network's web campaign will target 29 Republican lawmakers, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, both of Miami, whose Democratic-leaning districts have among the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the country.

"Tell Congress it's time for better health care," the display ads say. There will also be video ads.

Ros-Lehtinen has said she won't vote for the American Health Care Act as written because it would leave too many people uninsured. Curbelo, who voted for it in committee, late last week expressed some concerns and said he would work with Ryan and other House leaders to improve the legislation. American Action Network had already backed Curbelo with TV ads to bolster his position.

A vote is planned for Thursday,

March 17, 2017

Curbelo says report on GOP health plan raises 'serious concerns'

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@amysherman1

Miami Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo says that a report about his party's health care plan "raised some serious concerns" but he didn't provide any specifics.

The report by the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 14 million Americans will lose their health care plan if the American Health Care Act is enacted. That number would rise to 21 million in 2010. More than 1.7 million Floridians have signed up for coverage under the current Affordable Care Act, more than any other state.

Last week, before the CBO released the report, Curbelo voted in the House Ways and Means Committee to move the bill forward.

Here is Curbelo's statement to the Miami Herald Friday: “The CBO report issued earlier this week raised some serious concerns, and I have been working with colleagues in both chambers to strengthen and improve this legislation. The status quo under the Affordable Care Act is not an option. I refuse to condemn my community and the country to a health care system burdened by ever-increasing costs, fewer options, government threats and fines against citizens, rampant fraud, inefficiency, and mismanagement. My goal is to assist the most vulnerable Americans and I remain confident there is potential for the Bettercare proposal to do just that.”

The three Miami GOP members in Congress have taken somewhat different approaches to the GOP health care plan offering varying degrees of criticism.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been the most critical: she has said she won't vote for the GOP health care plan.

“After studying the impact of this proposed legislation on my district and speaking with many of my constituents, I have decided to vote no on the bill as currently written," she said in a statement to the Miami Herald. "The bill’s consequences for South Florida are clear: too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there will be less funds to help the poor and elderly with their healthcare."

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said Thursday he had "serious concerns" with the bill but he voted for it in committee:

“Today’s vote was merely a procedural advancement of the bill from the Budget Committee to the Rules Committee, where legislative changes can and must take place. My committee vote does not mean I will support final passage of this legislation as it presently reads. I have clearly stated that I have some serious concerns with the bill in its current form. This isn’t the end of the road, but rather, one step of a long process that will include conference with the Senate.

“It is well known the Affordable Care Act is collapsing; out-of-pocket costs and premiums have skyrocketed, insurance companies are leaving the exchanges, and state marketplaces have fewer choices. In Florida’s 25th District, the impact of Obamacare is significant. Residents in two of the three counties I represent, Collier and Hendry, only have one insurance provider, resulting in no choice or competition. I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure the replacement addresses the varying health insurance needs of our country, lowers costs, and bolsters the economy.”

Nationally, one-third of counties only have one insurer on the federal exchange. The CBO concluded that under the health care plan premiums will rise 15 to 20 percent in 2018 but by 2026 would be 10 percent lower.

This post has been updated to include that Curbelo voted to move the bill forward in committee

March 16, 2017

American Bridge launches ads against Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen about Trump and Russia

AmbridgeCurbeloTrump

@amysherman1

The liberal group American Bridge is targeting two Miami GOP members of Congress -- Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- related to President Donald Trump's ties to Russia.

The digital ads lead viewers to a website which encourages voters to contact members of Congress to ask them to demand a special prosecutor to investigate Trump. Similar digital ads nationwide target 27 Republicans who won districts that Hillary Clinton won in November. The ads will air in Florida and other states for a week and coincide with the March 20th House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's role in the United States' presidential election.

Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen have made some past written statements showing support for an investigation.

Ros-Lehtinen responded in a written statement about whether she supports an investigation:

"The Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian activities, which includes Russian interference in our elections, began before the current administration took office and is ongoing. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I'm committed to helping ensure a truly bipartisan and complete investigation is conducted. It is important that, when completed, our Intelligence Committee’s Russia report become public so that the American people can fully comprehend the desperate and dangerous attempts of Russia to influence our political institutions." 

It is clear that Putin’s regime has sought to undermine our nation’s interest and I have led the push for sanctions on human rights violators by leading the effort to ensure the Sergei Magnitsky Act became law. I’ve also called for sanctions against those who poisoned my friend, Vladimir Kara-Muza, and those who murdered Boris Nemtsov. I have also cosponsored legislation which calls for the full implementation of sanctions against those in Russia who are harmful to democracy, human rights, and our nation’s interests.”

Curbelo's office responded in a written statement:

“It’s sickening that extreme liberal operatives would resort to their tried and failed tactic of lying to the people of South Florida. The Congressman has been a vocal critic of Putin and his thugs the entirety of his time in Congress. Most recently, he has consistently supported the ongoing bipartisan congressional investigations in both the House and the Senate, and called for their scope to include any and all possible contacts between campaign and government officials and the Russian government or its intelligence services. Once the investigations are complete, Congressman Curbelo will demand that anyone and everyone in our government who may have violated the law is held fully accountable.”

Democrats have targeted Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen because they are Miami-Dade Republicans who represent left-leaning districts. But both are tough targets for Democrats in 2018 because they easily won re-election in November and have been willing to break with party ranks at times and criticize members of their own party. Earlier this week, Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen led the GOP criticism of the white nationalist tweet by U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa

Curbelo has been a GOP leader talking about climate change while Ros-Lehtinen has said she won't support the GOP health care plan -- although she wants Obamacare repealed.

This post has been updated to include statements from Ros-Lehtinen and Curbelo. 

March 14, 2017

UPDATED Miami Republicans remain conspicuously silent on CBO analysis of GOP healthcare plan

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@PatriciaMazzei @learyreports

Miami's three Republican lawmakers in Congress have said nothing about the GOP's plan to replace the Affordable Care Act since the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded Monday that some 14 million people would drop or lose insurance coverage in 2018.

The legislation is the biggest policy proposal in the House right now. And the districts represented by Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have among the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the country. Yet none of the legislators' offices responded Tuesday afternoon to requests for comment.

UPDATE: Ros-Lehtinen has now said she opposes the replacement plan. And a spokeswoman for Diaz-Balart said he is still reviewing the legislation and CBO report. "He has concerns about the legislation, and is looking into those," Katrina Valdes said in an email.

Only Curbelo has had to cast a vote on the proposal so far, last week on the House Ways and Means committee. He then defended his support for the law -- and on Monday, a group linked to House Speaker Paul Ryan started airing TV ads on Curbelo's behalf in Miami.

A slew of Florida lawmakers have issued statements or answered questions about the proposal. Democrats are universally opposed:

Continue reading "UPDATED Miami Republicans remain conspicuously silent on CBO analysis of GOP healthcare plan" »

Curbelo gets TV cover to back GOP healthcare plan

 


@PatriciaMazzei

National Republicans are coming to the aid of Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo to support the House GOP's healthcare plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

American Action Network, a group affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan, on Tuesday kicked off a $1.5 million, two-week TV ad campaign in 15 congressional district, including Curbelo's. He represents Florida's swing 26th district, which spans Westchester to Key West and has one of the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the country.

"Republicans are keeping their promise with a new plan for better health care," the ad says. "More choices and lowers costs. Putting doctors and patients in charge again. No more big government penalties or job-killing mandates. New tax credits to make insurance cheaper. And real protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

"Thank Congressman Carlos Curbelo for keeping his promise, and replacing the Affordable Care Act with the better health care you deserve."

Curbelo voted to advance the legislation last week on the Ways and Means Committee, and immediately got bashed by Democrats, who consider him a top target for the 2018 elections. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that some 14 million people would lose or drop insurance coverage in the first year of the House replacement plan.

In earlier ads airing in solidly conservative districts, including for Florida Reps. Ron DeSantis, Bill Posey and Ted Yoho, American Action Network used different language, urging the congressmen to "vote with President Trump." There's no mention of Trump in the spot airing in Curbelo's far more moderate district, which voted handily for Hillary Clinton.