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Unemployment Drops: No Thanks To Congressman Southerland and Speaker Boehner

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Vulnerable Southerland Campaigns With Boehner, Reminding Voters that He's Part of the Problem in Washington 

Tallahassee, FL — Two years ago, embattled Congressman Southerland campaigned on reforming Washington — but now it's clear that all this Tea Partier turned insider has done is gone Washington: underscoring that he's part of the problem in Washington by holding a ritzy, secret fundraiser last night with House Speaker Boehner. 

Appearing with the leader of the broken and dysfunctional Congress is just the latest sign that Congressman Southerland has lost touch with the people of north Florida, and today's news of falling unemployment -- even in the face of congressional Republicans' stubborn opposition  -- should remind voters that Southerland has become part of the problem in Washington: rubber-stamping Boehner's Tea Party agenda by refusing to pass a viable jobs plan while voting to end Medicare as we know it and supporting gambling with seniors's Social Security on the Stock Market while giving billions of our tax dollars in handouts to millionaires. 

"Congressman Southerland campaigned on reforming Washington, but it's clear that all he's done is gone Washington," said Florida Democratic Party Spokesman David Bergstein. "When he's not campaigning with the leader of the broken and dysfunctional U.S. House, he's working against middle class families in Congress: supporting an end to Medicare as we know it and a plan to gamble with senior's retirement on the stock market while giving billions in handouts to the wealthiest few. And as unemployment falls to record lows today, it highlights how Southerland and his party have pursued this extreme agenda while trying to block the President's efforts to grow our economy at every turn. The people of north Florida deserve a representative who will stand up and fight for middle class families, not rubber stamp an extreme agenda that is out of touch with our values."  

New polling out today shows that the race between Congressman Southerland and Al Lawson is tied, with the embattled incumbent looking increasingly vulnerable.  

BACKGROUND

Congressman Steve Southerland Voted for Ryan Budgets That Ends Medicare As We Know It. Congressman Southerland voted for two budgets authored by Congressman Paul Ryan. The budgets would:

  • end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit;
  • the Congressional Budget Office estimated it will increase health care costs by an extra $6,359 by 2022 for future Medicare beneficiaries, while a household making between $50,000 and $100,000 would face a tax increase of at least $1,358;
  • protect $40 billion in tax breaks for big oil;
  • provide people earning more than $1 million a year with an average tax cut of $265,000;
  • create incentives for corporations to shift profits and jobs overseas. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the budget would "essentially end medicare." 

[H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities,3/27/12; Tax Policy Center, Table T12-0078 and T10-0132; Citizens for Tax Justice, 3/22/12; Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11; Joint Economic Committee, 6/20/12]

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that under the Southerland-Ryan budget the "Rich get richer." "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. It also would be a nation with a tax code that tilts further toward benefiting corporations and the wealthy.…Floridians should be concerned about all these misplaced priorities, but Medicare and Medicaid are particularly at risk…Congressional Republicans want to exacerbate the nation’s yawning income inequality while making life harder for those at the bottom.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/31/12]

Southerland Supported Privatizing Social Security. In 2010, Southerland said, “I think we’re going to have to address some kind of privatization, in some way. Not perhaps all of Social Security...maybe those that are just starting out. Maybe those employees that are 30 and under. That there’s some type of privatization.” In 2011, Southerland voted against a measure that would protect Social Security benefits from privatization. As of 2011, there were 136,863 Social Security beneficiaries in the 2ndCongressional District. 92,479 were aged 65 or older.[Southerland Campaign Mayo Event, 5/08/10; HJR 48, Vote 178, 2/15/11; Social Security Administration, December 2011]

Congress Adjourned Without Addressing Nation’s Problems.  “Congress is on track to adjourn at one of the earliest dates before Election Day since 1960, giving lawmakers more time to campaign in the final stretch but also opening up the institution to further criticism that it’s not working hard enough to address the nation’s problems [...] Congress will punt action on the farm bill until after the election. Lawmakers face a dizzying agenda in the lame-duck session to address what is dubbed the “fiscal cliff”: the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the triggering of $109 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that threaten to send the economy into a recession.” [USA Today, 9/20/12]

Partisan Congress Obstructed Critical Jobs Bill.  “Does anyone remember the American jobs act? A year ago, President Obama proposed boosting the economy with a combination of tax cuts and spending increases, aimed in particular at sustaining state and local government employment [...] But the bill went nowhere, of course, blocked by Republicans in Congress. And now, having prevented Mr. Obama from implementing any of his policies, those same Republicans are pointing to disappointing job numbers and declaring that the president’s policies have failed. Think of it as a two-part strategy. First, obstruct any and all efforts to strengthen the economy, Then exploit the economy’s weakness for political gain.” [New York Times Editorial, 9/09/12]

Southerland Said $174,000 Salary “Not So Much.” “U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland told retirees Wednesday that serving in Congress is a great honor and privilege, but not cushy job with lavish insurance and pension benefits that many disgruntled taxpayers seem to think it is.  He said his $174,000 salary is not so much […] He added that ‘if you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,’ the $174,000 salary would not seem so high.” [Florida Capital News, 8/25/11]

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