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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - May 15, 2013

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FL DEMS CHAIR ALLISON TANT PENS OP-ED ON WEATHERFORD'S FAILURE TO EXPAND ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

A case of failed leadership [Tampa Tribune] "In a recent opinion column, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford described the abject failure to expand access to affordable heath care to 1.2 million Floridians as 'a thoughtful, researched and purposeful action on the part of the House of Representatives.' In reality, what Weatherford and the state House Republican Caucus produced was not in fact a 'thoughtful' action, but politically motivated inaction that is both shameful and incredibly damaging to our state. House Republicans refused to listen to the majority of Floridians, the governor, the Florida Senate, House Democrats, and common sense. Instead, they offered a paltry alternative that would have insured only a fraction of the 1.2 million in need of health care while leaving more than $50 billion in federal funds on the table."

 

EXPERTS AGREE: HOUSE'S REJECTION OF HEALTH CARE EXPANSION "BAD FOR BUSINESS"

Health Experts on Medicaid Rejection: 'Bad for Business' [WUSF] "The Florida Legislature’s decision against expanding Medicaid will saddle the state’s employers with higher health care costs and was 'bad for business,' health care experts told business leaders on Tuesday. Florida corporations have been 'too quiet' about Medicaid expansion and other health care issues, and should make elected officials aware of their displeasure before the damage gets worse, said William Kramer, a national health policy leader in San Francisco who works with corporations. 'If Medicaid is not expanded, it’s going to raise the premiums employers pay for health coverage, because hospitals will raise the costs they charge,' Kramer said. 'Businesses have to speak up. They don’t have to do it in a political way, they just have to say it’s bad for business. It’s bad for employees, too, because the more money that goes for health benefits, the less that is available for wages.'"

 

TAMPA TRIBUNE: "HOUSE REPUBLICANS PUT THEIR IDEOLOGY OVER THE HEALTH OF FLORIDIANS"

Hypocrisy in the House [Tampa Tribune Editorial] "Republican state lawmakers on Tuesday didn't want to talk about 1 million of the state's poor who don't have health insurance. Or about how Floridians and their health care system inevitably absorb the cost when the uninsured are in crisis. They tried to change the subject when asked at a Suncoast Tiger Bay meeting in St. Petersburg about news reports that juxtaposed Republican House members' generous taxpayer-covered health insurance with their votes to reject federal Medicaid expansion dollars to cover 1 million uninsured — and pump $51 billion into the state economy. Floridians shouldn't so easily dismiss the hypocrisy...The facts remain that by rejecting the $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years that would have flowed under the expanded Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans put their ideology over the health of Floridians and the financial stability of the state's safety net hospitals. They also imposed unnecessary costs on Florida taxpayers, relinquished the benefits that come from returning federal taxes that Floridians pay, and forfeited the economic growth those federal dollars would spur. Florida hospitals will be doubly hit."

 

SUN SENTINEL: LEGISLATORS ENJOY CHEAP HEALTH CARE WHILE MILLIONS OF FLORIDIANS GO WITHOUT ACCESS

Lawmakers get good coverage; Floridians, the shaft [Sun Sentinel] "The next time you see your state representative or state senator, be sure to ask the health care question. The question has nothing to do with courage and standing on principle. Quite the opposite: how can the Florida Legislature take comfort in giving themselves affordable, taxpayer-supported health care when so many of their constituents go without? Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of people who can’t afford access to health care. Those fortunate enough to have jobs that provide health insurance often face tough decisions in making co-payments and meeting deductibles. Not so much for the 160 state lawmakers who only have to pay $8.34 a month for individual coverage and $30 a month for the family plan. Your tax dollars at work. Good luck finding that type of bargain on the open market, or in those insurance exchanges the Legislature refused to create to help the rest of us obtain affordable health coverage. At least your state senator and representative are covered."

 

BRADENTON HEARLD: GOP'S "RELENTLESS DRIVE TO PRIVATIZE PUBLIC EDUCATION" UNDERMINES SCHOOLS

Legislation further undermines Florida's public school system [Bradenton Herald Editorial] "Florida's relentless drive to privatize public education scored another victory on the final day of the Legislature's session when Republicans approved the expenditure of public school funds on classes offered by online learning companies. While applauding the measure as a win for school choice, GOP lawmakers conveniently ignored troublesome aspects to privatization. A virtual learning company, K12 Inc., has contracts with 43 of the state's 67 school districts, including Manatee and Sarasota. Last year, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting discovered the company employed teachers without proper certifications and then asked workers to cover up the fraudulent practice. K12, which contributed $21,000 to GOP candidates and another $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ahead of the last election, and other private online learning companies have been lobbying the Legislature hard for greater access to public funds."

  

PABLO PANTOJA ON WHY HE DROPPED THE GOP

Why I quit the Republican Party [Salon] "A year ago, Pablo Pantoja was the future of the Republican Party, courting fellow Latinos for the conservative cause and stumping across Florida with Ann Romney’s brother...Last night, Pantoja put the Grand Old Party in his past. In a moving online letter, he rejected his half-decade of work as a Republican operative and announced he’d become a Democrat. The reason was simple: He’d become fed up with 'the culture of intolerance' on the right. “When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society,” he wrote, singling out the Heritage Foundation’s recent attacks on immigrant intellectual capacities as the icing on a very large prejudice cake. Pantoja’s flip was dramatic, and it could be a bellwether for conservatives’ well-documented troubles with minority voters. But the ideological gulf between Republicans and Democrats is vast, and no thoughtful person crosses that divide quickly or easily."

  

REPUBLICAN'S "DWINDLING HISPANIC SUPPORT" HIGHLIGHTED AS PABLO PANTOJA LEAVES GOP

Pantoja defection may signal new GOP Hispanic outreach not going well [Orlando Sentinel] "The Republican Party’s new initiatives to salvage and build upon what already had become dwindling Hispanic support is getting battered by undercurrents. In the latest manifestation of Hispanic frustration to recent conservative currents, former Republican Party of Florida state Hispanic outreach director Pablo Pantoja, of Orlando, announced that he has switched to the Democratic Party in anger over some of the currents in the Republican Party...Then anti-immigration and Hispanic-unfriendly elements on the right rose again in recent weeks -- trashing Rubio’s immigration proposal and other initiatives from Hispanic-favorite Jeb Bush, and offending Hispanics anew. The latest under-current, the economic report from the longstanding conservative think tank TheHeritage Foundation that projects immigrants to be a future $6 trillion drain on America, got pummeled by other economists as stretching, badly, for a conclusion. Then word got out that one of the advisors on that study, Jason Richwine, had written that he considered Hispanics to have low IQs, and the controversial report became a flaming bag of waste in the eyes of many Republican Hispanics."

 

SUN SENTINEL: RUBIO WRONG ON MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT VOTE

Internet sales tax, a vote for fairness [Sun Sentinel] "If ever a piece of legislation was simply — and properly — named, it is this one: The Marketplace Fairness Act. In a minimum number of words, it tells you exactly what you are getting. Fairness. That's what the U.S. Senate passed this week by an overwhelming, bipartisan, 69-27 margin. It essentially gives states authority to require large online retailers, with no physical presence in the state, to collect sales taxes. And no, it is not an additional tax. These are taxes that should have been collected for years, but weren't. Some said the tax wasn't being collected because various state laws apparently made it too difficult...Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson rightly voted in favor of the online sales tax bill, while Florida's. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted against it. Afterward, Rubio even issued a strongly worded statement about how wrong it is to collect the Internet sales tax, which would give Florida retailers a level playing field...In other words, he repeated the Grover Norquist anti-tax mantra perfectly."