Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Koch brothers go after Florida millennials with free beer

"An unlikely demographic is the latest group to be wooed in Republicans’ efforts to de-fund the Affordable Care Act — millennials."

As the battle over the healthcare law grinds on — Republicans no closer to victory than when they forced the government shutdown — a different fight was rising on a recent Saturday from inside Sharkey’s, a bar near the campus of Virginia Tech, 260 miles away.

Lured by free beer, gift cards and the chance to win an iPad, 100 students heard a pitch from the young staffers of a group named Generation Opportunity: Obamacare is a bad deal, and you should opt out.

With enrollment in the insurance marketplaces under way, and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on a public-awareness campaign, critics are aiming a provocative counter-effort at a critical population: millennials, age 18 to 29, who may not feel the need or have the money for insurance.

Because if too few young, healthy people sign up, Obamacare will be denied the financial blood to support older, more needy participants. So the race is on for the attention of 2.7 million people deemed necessary to enroll in the first year for Obamacare to be successful.

Generation Opportunity, which formed in 2011 and gets funding in part from the conservative Koch brothers, is about to embark on a tour of 20 college towns nationally, including a Nov. 9 stop at the University of Miami. The pitch is that you shouldn’t feel compelled by the government to buy insurance, and that it may be cheaper outside the marketplaces.

A blueprint for an upcoming tailgate calls for games such as beer pong and cornhole, free Taco Bell and beer. Pictures of people signing petitions to opt out would be sent over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"Young are being recruited to help gut Obamacare".

Putnam's raw political courage

"Speaking at the Florida Energy Summit in Orlando, Putnam says he will propose a $250 million reduction in sales taxes that businesses pay for energy. And he says revenue from the other half of the tax would go to the Public Education Capital Outlay Fund, which pays for school construction and maintenance programs but has been strapped for revenue in recent years." "Putnam calls for energy tax cut, outlines other legislative proposals".

"Scott the recipient of money from a deep pool of political insiders"

"Gov. Rick Scott already has raised a whopping $18.5 million in pursuit of a second term."

Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work, is a magnet for big-money donations from a variety of special interests seeking favors or an audience with the governor's office. Scott's incumbency and reliably pro-business positions make him a safe bet for donors.

With nearly 2,600 donors to date, Scott's re-election fundraising strategy is a stark contrast to his 2010 campaign, when he ran as an outsider, was shunned by the Republican Party network and financed his effort with more than $70 million of his money. This time, Scott is the recipient of money from a deep pool of political insiders, and with the election still more than a year away, he runs a lean operation, having spent about 10 cents of every dollar raised.

"Rick Scott's fundraising haul: $18.5M and climbing".

"Free market warriors like Gov. Rick Scott are howling"

Fred Grimm: "Here in Florida, we’re dead set against subsidized deficit-laden government-run insurance programs."

Except for that one.

No, no. Not Obama’s government-subsidized insurance program. Not the one supposed to underwrite insurance policies for the state’s 3.8 million citizens with no medical insurance. Hell, no. That stuff for poor people — that’s godless socialism. That’s un-American.

But when it comes to federal flood insurance, to hell with that free-market stuff. We want our damn subsidies back.

A new law designed to gradually wean flood insurance policy holders off their federal subsidies, and discourage development in flood-prone areas, comes with some daunting rate increases. Buyers interested in some 268,000 Florida homes in flood-prone areas will be saddled with higher, sometimes much higher, rates.

The new law has gummed up real estate sales in coastal areas, particularly the barrier islands and the Florida Keys. Suddenly, free market warriors like Gov. Rick Scott are howling for a return to government support. Scott may hate government deficits, but when it comes to the flood insurance program’s $24 million worth of red ink — not so much.

"A federal subsidy Gov. Scott likes".

Bradshaw walks

"Bradshaw resigns from State Board of Education".

Luv 4 sale

"The Rubin Group is one of the smallest lobbying firms on SSN’s list with only three lobbyists. Despite its size, the firm still plays a pivotal role in lobbying throughout Florida and ranks No. 4 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in Florida." "Rubin Group Lobbying Home to Health Care Powerhouses".

Rubio bows to "conservative blowback"

Marc Caputo: "Obamacare has unexpected boosters: the politicians who hate Obamacare."

The more Washington Republicans have fought the unpopular Affordable Care Act, the more popular it has paradoxically become, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll last week.

The partial government shutdown — precipitated by the GOP over Obamacare — and the DC brinksmanship over the nation’s debt limit has started to damage Republicans much more than Democrats.

Caputo explains the dynamic, as
the far right has become more emboldened despite President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential win and the calls for Republican leaders to play smarter politics. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio appeared to heed the call when it came to backing comprehensive immigration reform. But the conservative blowback was significant.

Rubio this July started talking less about immigration and more about defunding Obamacare or not voting for a debt-ceiling increase without a balanced-budget plan.

Rubio joined a Republican filibuster Saturday to block a so-called “clean” debt ceiling increase.

“I opposed Senate Democrats’ latest attempt to raise the debt limit by $1.1 trillion because it fails to address our real debt crisis, reform spending, encourage economic growth and do the necessary things to protect the American dream,” Rubio said.

But Democrats are making the case that failing to increase the debt limit could crash the economy and thereby ruin the American dream quickly. Also, Rubio did relatively little as a state House member and Florida House speaker to grapple with rising health insurance costs in a state with one of the highest rates of the uninsured.

There’s also a measure of irony in Rubio’s criticisms of the lack of certainty caused by Obamacare and current tax-and-spending policy: The Republican-precipitated budget-and-debt fights have led to economic uncertainty.

Some Republicans, like newly elected Gainesville U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, are part of a vocal but still-small group that are being branded “debt deniers” when it comes to their opposition to lifting the debt ceiling. “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke,” Yoho told the Washington Post. “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”

The overwhelming number of business leaders, economists and nonpartisan analysts say failure to lift the debt ceiling (set to be reached Oct. 17 or so) would eventually cause serious economic problems.

But Yoho and company say they’re not convinced. They say the Treasury Department, unable to fund government at current levels without a debt-limit increase, could prioritize payments to ensure there was no debt default and make sure that Social Security and Medicare payments are properly prioritized by the administration.

"GOP gives Obamacare some public-relations help".

House District 36 special election

"Special election under way for House District 36 seat in Pasco".

Sink is well-positioned to take Bill Young's seat

Jeff Henderson: "Weeks after closing the door to running again for governor, Alex Sink could be on the verge of a political comeback. While she hasn’t officially jumped in, Sink is well-positioned to enter the contest for the Tampa Bay congressional seat left open by Bill Young’s retirement." "Alex Sink Goes to Washington?"

Meanwhile, "Republican former state Rep. Larry Crow has announced his candidacy for the congressional seat being vacated by C.W. Bill Young." "Former state Rep. Larry Crow announces for Young seat".

Puffing Putnam

Nancy Smith writes that "It's Easy to See Why Adam Putnam Wins Elections".

Campaign to Fix the Debt comes to Florida

Kevin Derby: "The Campaign to Fix the Debt, led by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, will be hitting the airwaves in Florida, looking to get voters’ attention on the national debt." "'Campaign to Fix the Debt' Hits Florida Airwaves".

"Five Questions for Mark Pafford"

"Five Questions for Mark Pafford".

"Is Scott running for governor — or a well-tipped maitre d'?"

Daniel Ruth: "Scott's Let Get To Perks racket has pulled in $2.5 million from health care interests (including $637,500 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida), $1.2 million from real estate companies, $1.1 million from the "gaming" (read: gambling) industry, $980,000 from agricultural concerns, $911,000 from the insurance business, $865,000 from other political action committee bag men, $760,000 from developers and $729,000 from state-regulated utilities."

And this is only as of Sept. 20. We still have 13 months to go before the 2014 gubernatorial election, when you have to believe the ultimate tally of legalized baksheesh will top the $70 million Scott spent of his own money in 2010 to buy the governorship as if it was a charm bracelet trinket.
Ruth continues, writing that it is "reasonable to ask why so many people and special interest groups would pony up $18.5 million in support of a sitting governor whose approval ratings lag behind the Florida Swamp Ape, Florida Marlins owner Jeff Loria and jellyfish."
And as political figures go, Scott exudes all the joie de vivre of It's a Wonderful Life's Mr. Potter.

At the same time $18.5 million can buy a great deal of air time, transforming the governor's personality into an action hero. It buys an awful lot of access, too.

Up in Washington, government has ground to a virtual standstill.

But as Scott has demonstrated, the governor's office is wide open for business if you have the financial wherewithal to pay the cover charge.

It's an open question ,though. Is Scott running for governor — or a well-tipped maitre d'?

"Government for the people (with cash)".

Common Core

"Florida's debate over Common Core will play out in public this week. The Association of District School Superintendents will call on the State Board of Education to continue with its implementation and the board will hold three public hearings on the proposed standards for English and math." "Florida talks Common Core".