July 14, 2015

Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal


The big news of the day in politics and the federal government is the announcement that a group of countries, led by the U.S., negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program have reached an agreement. 

Some Florida Republicans had harsh words for President Obama's administration over the deal, and at least a couple of Democrats sounded skeptical. Here are their statements:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

First thing is to not tear down this agreement before the ink is even dry, before we even read it. Congress has a role now, by law, and it's to thoroughly scrutinize the details of the agreement. We're not going to approve something that doesn't keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and doesn't give us the ability to inspect and verify that Iran abides by all the terms.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

It was announced today that a final agreement with Iran has been reached.  Unfortunately, it appears that all key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will remain in place. Preliminary information suggests that the agreement not only fails to completely prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities, but it also strengthens the regime’s ability to support terror in the region, both militarily and financially. In addition to the many troubling aspects of what looks like a weak deal that gives Iran undeserved concessions, it’s important to note that Iran still holds American hostages. 

Protecting the security interests of the United States and our allies is of the utmost importance.  While Congress will carefully review the details, the initial reports do not give me confidence that an acceptable deal has been reached.

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July 08, 2015

WaPo: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, budding healthy-foods cook

From the Washington Post:

An hour before midnight on a recent Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was carefully positioning roasted Brussels sprouts, fresh pomegranate seeds and sauteed portobello chunks on a fluffy sea of quinoa.

Then, aiming her iPad straight down, she began shooting pictures. By dawn, a tempting photo and the recipe would appear on Instagram. By noon, the dish that her husband and two of their three children back home in Florida would never have eaten would be savored by co-workers here, along with a second cook’s offering: also quinoa, but with a Mexican accent.

Since December, 15 Democratic National Committee staffers and Wasserman Schultz, their chairwoman, have nourished one another Mondays through Thursdays when Congress is in session. In the Vegetarian Lunch Club, they strive to share good food, save money on restaurants and maybe drop a few pounds, with each person cooking just twice a month.

More here.

June 30, 2015

Jeb Bush to release 33 years of tax returns today. Will that be a record?

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will release 33 years of tax returns later this afternoon or early evening on his campaign website.

"This is more than any presidential candidate in the history of the United States," said a  campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger. "This display of transparency is consistent with the high level of disclosure he has practiced during his life in public office."

When Bush ran for governor, he released his tax returns dating back to 1981. Bush was governor from January 1999 through January 2007 so the new information in today's release will cover the period since he left office.

So when he releases 33 years of returns will that be a record?

In 2012, PolitiFact Florida fact-checked a claim by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, that "Mitt Romney is the first major party candidate for president of the United States in modern times not to release at least 12 years of tax returns." We rated the claim by the Democratic National Committee chair False.

Here were our findings at the time:

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June 26, 2015

Florida politicians react to SCOTUS legalizing same-sex marriage


The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states Friday. Here's how Florida politicians reacted to the 5-4 ruling, updated as they come in:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida and 2016 Republican presidential candidate

I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman. People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

The next president and all in public office must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage. This is a constitutional duty, not a political opinion. Our nation was founded on the human right of religious freedom, and our elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is compelled by law to violate their conscience.

I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, 2016 Republican presidential candidate

Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage.  I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision.  I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.  In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.  It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

Today's ruling reaffirms one of the paramount principles of America that we're all created equal and have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

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June 25, 2015

Florida politicians react to SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare


The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, allowing Obamacare to continue as it exists today. Here's the reaction from Florida politicians, updated as they come in:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida (also 2016 presidential candidate)

I disagree with the Court’s ruling and believe they have once again erred in trying to correct the mistakes made by President Obama and Congress in forcing Obamacare on the American people.

Despite the Court’s decision, ObamaCare is still a bad law that is having a negative impact on our country and on millions of Americans. I remain committed to repealing this bad law and replacing it with my consumer-centered plan that puts patients and families back in control of their health care decisions. We need Consumer Care, not ObamaCare.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, 2016 Republican presidential candidate (also released a video statement)

I am disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling in the King v. Burwell case. But this decision is not the end of the fight against Obamacare.

This fatally-flawed law imposes job-killing mandates, causes spending in Washington to skyrocket by $1.7 trillion, raises taxes by $1 trillion and drives up health care costs.  Instead of fixing our health care system, it made the problems worse.

As President of the United States, I would make fixing our broken health care system one of my top priorities.   I will work with Congress to repeal and replace this flawed law with conservative reforms that empower consumers with more choices and control over their health care decisions.

Here is what I believe:  We need to put patients in charge of their own decisions and health care reform should actually lower costs.  Entrepreneurs should be freed to lower costs and improve access to care – just like American ingenuity does in other sectors of the economy. 

Americans deserve leadership that can actually fix our broken health care system, and they are certainly not getting it now from Washington, DC.  

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June 15, 2015

DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz: 'King Jeb' wrong for America


Hours before Jeb Bush will formally announce his candidacy for U.S. president at Miami Dade College, the Democratic National Committee launched a preemptive strike Monday morning at Florida International University.

Flanked by members of South Florida's Hispanic caucuses and LGBT activists, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz ripped the former Florida governor as an "extremist," criticized his track record in and out of office and attempted to lump him in with the GOP field, as well as his brother and father. In front of a small gaggle of media, she and others criticized Bush, calling his policies pro-Jeb and anti-Hispanic, anti-middle class, anti-woman, and anti-LGBT.

"Jeb Bush only looks out for himself and people like him," said Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. "He never has and never will fight for middle class families. Maybe that's why we used to call him King Jeb here in Florida."

Wasserman Schultz gave a seven-minute speech from prepared remarks at 11 a.m. in FIU's Graham Center auditorium in Sweetwater. She started off by criticizing his brother George W. Bush's tenure as president, noting that the housing market burst and the auto industry was on "the verge of collapse."

"We're still digging out of that hole," she said.

She ripped his two terms as governor, saying he opposed a popular class-size amendment, and launched a $500 million boondoggle to generate 50,000 jobs by bringing Scripps Research Institute to the state to build a biomedical hub. Reuters reported in March that only 1,365 jobs were created.

Once out of office, Bush, she said, "created a multi-million dollar fund that operates like an offshore tax haven," "sat on the board of a company that was found to have defrauded investors out of millions of dollars, " and "managed to leverage his family name to reap profits for himself, cashing in on Wall Street while many Americans were hit by the financial crisis."

Wasserman Schultz also reached back to the 1990s, before Bush was elected as Florida's governor, and ripped his book, Profiles in Character, for a chapter she said advocated shaming women who have children out of wedlock and rely on government assistance.

Bush won statewide Florida races for governor twice in 1998 and 2002, helped grow Florida's Republican party into a powerhouse, and speaks Spanish, giving him a leg-up with the state's Hispanic voters. But Wasserman Schultz said he's no different than the rest of the GOP file, and dismissed his clout with Florida.

"He hasn't been on the ballot since 2002. So, that's a lifetime, an eternity in politics. There wasn't an iPhone in 2002. There wasn't almost any social media. The entire campaign, as you've seen from his fledgling, floundering campaign, he's not exactly had an easy go of the return to the campaign trail. I expect as time goes by Americans are going to have an opportunity to see the results of Jeb's policies as they were in Florida.... At the end of the day, Americans aren't going to sign up for a third Bush presidency."

April 08, 2015

Rand Paul, Debbie Wasserman Schultz spar over abortion


On his first day as a declared 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, declined to say in an interview which exceptions he would support, if any, should abortions be banned.

The Associated Press reported:

"The thing is about abortion — and about a lot of things — is that I think people get tied up in all these details of, sort of, you're this or this or that, or you're hard and fast (on) one thing or the other," Paul said.

In the past, Paul has supported legislation that would ban abortion with exceptions, while at other times, he's backed bills seeking a broader bar on abortion.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, Paul told the AP that it's his conviction that "life is special and deserves protection."


Later in the day, when asked after a campaign stop in Milford about the interview, which the Democratic National Committee had sent reporters, Paul said, "Why don't we ask the DNC: Is it OK to kill a 7-pound baby in the uterus?"

"You go back and go ask (DNC head) Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she's OK with killing a 7-pound baby that's just not born yet," Paul said. "Ask her when life begins, and ask Debbie when she's willing to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me."

That prompted Wasserman Schultz, a Weston congresswoman, to issue this statement through the DNC:

"Here's an answer. I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul. We know you want to allow government officials like yourself to make this decision for women — but do you stand by your opposition to any exceptions, even when it comes to rape, incest, or life of the mother? Or do we just have different definitions of 'personal liberty'?  And I'd appreciate it if you could respond without 'shushing' me."

(The "shushing" referred to a February interview Paul gave a CNBC reporter.)

Wasserman Schultz's statement essentially calling on no abortion restrictions prompted this response from Republican National Committee Press Secretary Allison Moore:

"Today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made clear her extreme position on the issue of life. It's disturbing to know that the Chairwoman of the DNC supports zero protections for the life of an unborn child, not even in the final days before birth. We should be willing to protect the innocent. Do her fellow Democrats share their party chair's position, which is out-of-step with the majority of American women?"

March 17, 2015

No U.S. Senate run for Debbie Wasserman Schultz


There will be no Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Senate campaign, the Weston Democrat said Tuesday, adding that she will instead seek reelection to her congressional seat in 2016.

A day earlier, Wasserman Schultz wouldn't reveal her plans, though she sounded less than interested in a statewide race.

Wasserman Schultz's announcement, which she made on CNN, comes the day after former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist also said he won't run for Senate. The two decisions pave the way for U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter to launch his campaign. He's expected to do so next week.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio appears ready to forgo reelection to run for president.

March 16, 2015

Debbie Wasserman Schultz still won't say if she's thinking of running for Senate


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat and the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, spoke to reporters in her district Monday but was careful not to make any news regarding her potential interest in making a 2016 Senate run. 

"My focus right now is on serving my constituents in the 23rd congressional district and chairing the Democratic National Committee to help elect the 45th president of the United States of America," she said at Andover Academy in Plantation, where she held a news conference to call for child-resistant packaging for products containing liquid nicotine.

Later in the day, former Gov. Charlie Crist, whose name had also been bandied about as a possible candidate, announced he won't be running for office next year.

Wasserman Schultz is said to have been considering a Senate run if, as expected, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio runs for president and not for reelection. But talk about Wasserman Schultz's interest waned after a public feud with Orlando trial attorney John Morgan over his push to legalize medical marijuana. Last month, Wasserman Schultz denied Morgan's claim that her office had offered to support a tweaked medical pot constitutional amendment if Morgan stopped criticizing the congresswoman.

She said Monday that she has still not met or had any discussions with Morgan on the subject.

"I didn't have any conversations with them to begin with," she said.

March 10, 2015

Mason-Dixon poll: Marco Rubio leads Democrats if he runs for Senate reelection


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would be favored to win if he were to seek reelection next year rather than run for president, a new Florida poll has found.

The survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows the Republican with ample leads over two potential Democratic challengers, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston (53-36 percent) and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter (50-38 percent).

While Rubio's advantage is hardly surprising -- he is a well-known incumbent -- it's interesting to note that Murphy polled better than the better known Wasserman Schultz. Thirty-six percent of respondents viewed the congresswoman and Democratic National Committee chair unfavorably and 19 percent unfavorably. Murphy's unfavorable number was only 3 percent.

While Murphy has indicated he plans to run regardless of whether Rubio seeks the presidency, Wasserman Schultz has not.

Should Rubio leave the Senate seat, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater would lead the GOP race 45-35 percent over Wasserman Schultz and 46-32 percent of Murphy. 

The poll did not include any other possible Republican candidates, though several are said to be mulling runs if the seat opens. The telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted from March 3-5. It has an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.