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Steve Southerland Flaunts His New Beltway Insider Status

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Southerland Said He Was An Outsider Who'd Change Washington — Now He's Campaigning with Republican Majority Leader Cantor

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Top targeted, vulnerable GOP congressman Steve Southerland campaigned on reforming Washington — but it's clear that all this Tea Partier turned insider has done is gone Washington. Now Congressman Southerland is bringing the broken politics of Washington back to the Florida — holding a ritzy fundraiser with Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Tallahassee this morning. Appearing with a leader of the broken and dysfunctional Congress is just the latest sign that Southerland has lost touch with the people of north Florida: he's voted in lockstep with Cantor to cut billions in agriculture funding, voted to end Medicare as we know it and voted to preserve tax breaks for big oil billionaires and millionaires instead of looking out Florida's middle class families. 

"Congressman Southerland said he'd change Washington, but he keeps showing the people of northern Florida that all he's done is gone Washington," said David Bergstein, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. "It's bad enough that Southerland is voting in lockstep with Rep. Cantor and against middle class families while he's in D.C. -- now he's campaigning with this symbol of the broken Congress back home.  When politicians say they'll change Washington — but do the exact opposite like Southerland — it's hard to trust them with Florida's future." 

BACKGROUND

Last Year, Southerland Voted to End Medicare As We Know It. On April 15, 2011, Southerland voted in support of a budget, which according to the Wall Street Journal, “would essentially end Medicare.” If enacted, this budget would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing the costs on prescription drugs and long-term care. For future beneficiaries, the plan will significantly increase out-of pocket costs for health care, which according to the Congressional Budget Office would more than double under the Republican Plan. [H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11; National Journal, 6/2/11; CBO, 4/5/11; see also: Los Angeles Times, 4/7/11; Congressional Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11]

Southerland Voted for the House Republican Budget that Continued Special Tax Breaks for Big Oil. On April 15, 2011, House Republicans voted for the budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan. Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote that it was noteworthy that the Republican budget secured no deficit-reduction contribution at all from closing special interest tax breaks, such as breaks for big oil companies. [H Con Res 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/20/11]

Congressman Southerland Voted for House Republican Budget That Would Turn Medicare Into Voucher Program. On March 29, 2012, Congressman Southerland voted in favor of a budget that would end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit, protects $40 billion in tax breaks for big oil, and provides people earning more than $1 million a year with an average tax cut of $394,000. The Tampa Bay Times wrote, “House Republicans envision a country where Americans would be increasingly on their own to afford food and medical care even when they are elderly, disabled or poor. [...] Floridians should be concerned about all these misplaced priorities, but Medicare and Medicaid are particularly at risk. House Republicans would end the help seniors receive toward closing the prescription drug doughnut hole. Their plan would eventually raise Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67. It would transform the safety net into a premium-support voucher program that provides government subsidies to private insurers, though beneficiaries could keep the current fee-for-service option. [...] Congressional Republicans want to exacerbate the nation’s yawning income inequality while making life harder for those at the bottom. It just goes to show how much elections matter.” [H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; Tampa Bay Times, 3/31/12; New York Times Editorial, 3/20/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/12/12]

Cantor and Southerland Voted for a Budget with At Least $30 billion in Agriculture Cuts. According to Delta Farm Press, “the plan would cut agriculture spending some $30 billion over the next decade and those writing the next farm bill will have to adhere to those limits.” In addition, “the House Budget committee has specified FY 2013 reconciliations savings for six committees, including the Agriculture Committee to achieve $33.2 billion over 10 years (2012-2022). However, Chairman Ryan’s proposal says the six committees ‘will be responsible for determining how to meet their reconciliation instructions.’” [Delta Farm Press, 3/20/12; Western Farm Press, 3/21/12; H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]. For more background on Southerland's votes to cut Agriculture funding, please see here

Southerland Has Taken Thousands from Big Oil and Gas Industries. For background on the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions Southerland has accepted from Big Oil and gas companies, please see here

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