Friday, July 03, 2015

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

"Bush essentially is an employee of his wealthy donors"

From Washington Post: Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country’s more prominent politicians."

Shortly after Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, he established his own firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, designed to maximize his earning potential as one of the country’s more prominent politicians.

Tax returns disclosed this week by the Republican’s presidential campaign revealed that the business not only made him rich but also provided a steady income for his wife and one of his sons. . . .

The returns show that the company set up a generous and well-funded pension plan now rare in corporate America, allowing Bush to take large tax deductions while he and his wife built up their retirement portfolio. . . .

[A] review of the filings shows that more than a third of his company’s income was from sources that his campaign has largely declined to disclose. . . .

The full scope of Bush’s clientele remains shielded from public view.

"How Jeb Bush’s firm made him rich — and created a nest egg for his family."

The Sun Sentinel's Jac Wilder VerSteeg writes that Jeb Bush "released tax records showing that he has earned about $29 million since leaving office, mostly from speaking and consulting fees."

Wilder VerSteeg points out that "Bush is neither a scintillating speaker nor a business genius. Bush commands those high fees because of his family's longtime links to government — federal and state."

"Wealthy and privileged folks didn't pay to hear and consult with Bush, they paid to stroke the president's son, the president's brother and a potential presidential candidate."

As he released his tax returns, Bush attempted to compare his situation with that of a regular taxpayer. "I paid the government more than one in three dollars that I earned in my career," he said. "Astounding. I think I speak for everyone, no matter your tax rate: We need to get more money back in your pocket and less in the federal kitty."

Poor Jeb. The government only let Bush keep about $19 million that very rich and privileged people paid him. And he vows to overturn the policies of President Obama, who used government to save jobs during the Great Recession and now wants to use government [via changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act] to literally put more overtime money into exploited workers' pockets.

You'd think Bush would be grateful to government for the leg up it has given him. But Bush essentially is an employee of his wealthy donors. They — not middle class Americans — will command his loyalty and gratitude.

"Bush's paymasters will command his loyalty and gratitude."

Scott continues to get wealthier

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a multimillionaire former businessman who dipped into his own fortune last year to help his re-election campaign, continues to get wealthier." "Gov. Rick Scott's net worth grows to $147 million."

"Bruising political battle split GOP-led House, Senate and Scott"

"After a bruising political battle that split the GOP-led House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott, lawmakers are back home, with a government shutdown averted, tax cuts passed and hospitals avoiding deep funding cuts."

But bitter resentment remains, and the feud could affect Florida residents in many ways, as lawmakers next year again consider slashing taxes, expanding health coverage and increasing education and environmental funding.
"The fight over health care for low-income Floridians is almost certain to arise again."
The $1 billion approved by Washington for the Low Income Pool, a voluntary Medicaid program paying hospitals for care for the poor and uninsured, is a more than a 50 percent cut of what was projected, and it will fall to $600 million next year.

That means lawmakers will look for more state funds to prevent steep cuts to hospitals, making it harder to boost education spending and cut taxes — two perennial priorities of Scott.

"GOP feud in Tallahassee likely to flare up again."

Scott's Position on Cuba could Poison Tampa Area for GOP

"President Barack Obama is steaming ahead with his plan to normalize relations with Cuba after announcing Wednesday his plan for the United States and Cuba to open embassies in each other's capital. But hold on -- don't for a minute expect Florida Gov. Rick Scott to climb on board." "Could Gov. Scott's Position on Cuba Poison Tampa Area for GOP?."


"Rubio to Obama: Walk away from Iran talks."

"Words of wisdom"

The Tampa Trib editors "wish Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican leaders in the Florida House would consider the words of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a conservative who opposed Obamacare and who, much like Scott, has focused on tax cuts and creating a business-friendly environment." "Words of wisdom from Ohio about health-care expansion."

Jeb's one percenter blues

"Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush earned $7.4 million in 2013 and has paid an average federal income tax rate of 36 percent over the past three decades, according to tax returns released by his campaign on Tuesday. . . . Bush's average federal tax rate puts him in the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who paid an average of 30.2 percent between 1981 and 2011, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office." "Since 1981, Jeb Bush paid an average tax rate of 36 percent."

To which, Jeb whinges, "I paid the government more than one in three dollars that I earned in my career," he said. "Astounding. I think I speak for everyone, no matter your tax rate: We need to get more money back in your pocket and less in the federal kitty."

Teacher runs for State House

"Orange County teacher Sean Ashby, a Democrat, has opened a campaign account to challenge freshman state House Republican Rep. Rene "Coach P" Plasencia, who is seeking to swap Central Florida seats next year." "Orange County teacher to run for state House."

Stars and bars

"On many fronts, Hillsborough seeks to put Confederacy behind it."

Need for independent redistricting panel

The Palm Beach Post editors: "Partisan gerrymandering is an ever-growing stain on congressional and legislative maps. The U.S. Supreme Court, according to its 5-4 decision Monday upholding an Arizona law creating an independent redistricting commission with the power to draw lines for congressional districts, would appear to agree." "Redistricting ruling affirms need for independent panel."

"Bush "rising nationally" in new poll"

"A new CNN poll of the 2016 presidential race has former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) "rising nationally," the news station reported Wednesday." "Jeb Bush is surging in a new GOP poll."

A "Turkey" to one person . . .

"Tax watchdog: Gov. Scott’s budget vetoes let some ‘turkeys’ slip through cracks."

Castor leads renewal of relations with Cuba

The Tampa Trib editors argue that "President Barack Obama is justified in trying to thaw relations and bolster U.S. influence in the island nation. The latest step in that effort came Wednesday when Obama announced a deal had been reached to open embassies in each other’s capitals, perhaps as early as July 20."

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, who has pushed for renewed Cuban relations, says, “An embassy in Havana will enable us to effectively promote American interests, protect and assist American citizens traveling to Cuba, and increase engagement with the Cuban people. An embassy is not a gift to a foreign country, but represents a sign that two countries are committed to deepening bilateral relations.”
"Another step toward Cuba."

To replace Murphy

Kevin Derby: "On Thursday, attorney Jonathan Chane joined the Democratic field running in the crowded race to replace U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in Congress. Murphy is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016." "Attorney Jonathan Chane Joins the Democratic Field Running to Replace Patrick Murphy in Congress."


Joe Henderson: "Florida’s total of 25 overturned death sentences leads the nation since executions resumed in 1973."

Paul Hildwin, for instance, was sentenced to die in 1986 for the murder in Hernando County of Vronzettie Cox. He was released about a year ago after almost 30 years on death row. The Florida Supreme Court said new DNA evidence “completely” discredited the state’s case against him.

Hildwin’s was the fourth death sentence overturned by the state’s highest court in little more than a year after new evidence surfaced. Nationwide, there have been more than 150 death row reversals.

Lots of people argue that the state needs to kill these guys faster to reduce the population. If the death penalty is administered quickly, maybe the reality of what can happen will sink in more quickly.

That’s certainly an argument Bondi would make. Part of me agrees with her.

But the better half of me wonders about the ones prosecutors and juries got wrong.

Most people assume everyone sentenced to die is guilty, but the numbers show that isn’t true.

Unless prison workers start slipping hacksaw blades and power tools to death row inmates, they aren’t going anywhere. So, frustrating as it can be, we simply have to be sure.

What does the state say if it’s wrong?


"Sometimes juries get it wrong in death penalty cases, and then what?."

Deportation dead enders

"GOP presidential candidates may want to temper the hard-line stance toward immigration reform embraced by the far right if they want to make it to the top of the ticket next year, according to a recent poll touted by a variety of current and former Hispanic elected officials from Miami on Thursday."

A recent survey of voters in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina found that, at most, one in five GOP voters supported deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Support for the issue drops even more among likely general-election voters in 10 key battleground states, including Florida, according to the poll conducted by Burning Glass Consulting and The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of business leaders and mayors who support immigration reform.

"Kinder, Gentler Approach to Immigration, but not Cuba."