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Bi-partisan federal debt opponents target Florida with new television ads


As debt ceiling and government shutdown talks continue to lumber slowly forward in Washington, the bi-partisan organization aimed at calling attention to the nation's debt crisis has launched a national ad campaign and is targeting Florida.

"For crying out loud, who isn't fed up with what's going on in Washington,'' says former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican in the ad, to former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat.

"These politicians are playing games, jerking our country around from crisis to crisis,'' Bowles replies.

The pair are authors of the Simpson-Bowles plan, also known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and co-chairs of President Obama’s Deficit Commission. The wide-ranging plan offered Washington a blueprint for reducing the federal deficit by cutting more than $2.5 trillion over 10 years by cutting spending, imposing user fees, raising the retirement age and reforming taxes. 

The commission was conceived as a way to force a bi-partisan compromise even before Washington imploded into bipartisan dysfunction. It was also was roundly ignored -- by Obama, and by Republicans. 

But pieces of it have been embraced by both sides and any resolution, if it emerges this week, could contain essential elements of the plan. 

Meanwhile, Simpson and Bowles want the public engaged in the fight. The ad campaign, airing now in Tampa and Tallahassee markets, calls on the public to keep the pressure on and go to their web site:  

“It’s going to take some real political courage for folks to begin working together -- and it's going to take a push from all of you out there,'' Bowles says.

Leaders who are on-board with the effort in Florida include:

* University of Miami President Donna Shalala, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration as serves as the chair of the Florida chapter;

* former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republiucan from Orlando and former chairman of the Republican National Committee

* Mary Mulhern, Tampa City councilwoman, a Democrat; 

* Chip LaMarca, Broward County Commissioner, a Republican;

* Paul Stebbins, the executive chairman of World Fuel Services Corp.;

* former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, a Tampa Democrat;

*Justin Sayfie, a lawyer and web site owner, a Fort Lauderdale Republican;

* former U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat;

* former state Sen. Ron Silver, a Miami Democrat;

* former Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw, a Democrat running for a Floridia House district in Tampa;

* Libertarian gubernatorial hopeful Adrian Wylie.