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Southerland will have to answer why he's put extreme policies over Florida's middle class at Tallahassee Office Opening

Tallahassee, FL — When Congressman Southerland opens his Tallahassee campaign office tonight, this Tea Partier turned insider will have some serious explaining to do. Congressman Southerland may have campaigned on "reforming" Washington — but his record of siding with extremist special interests over Florida's families shows that all he's done is gone Washington. In fact, Southerland was so proud of his extremist positions that he recently bragged that "no one gets me confused with moderates."

"When Congressman Southerland opens his office tonight, he'll have to explain why he's voting in lockstep with extremists like Allen West and against Florida's middle class families," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman David Bergstein. "From slashing money for agriculture funding, to voting to end Medicare as we know it while giving tax breaks to Big Oil billionaires, Southerland is pushing an extreme agenda that is out of touch with the people he was supposed to serve. While this Tea Partier turned insider may have campaigned on reforming Washington, it's clear all he's done is gone Washington." 

BACKGROUND:

Southerland bragged about his extremist record and voted in lockstep with Tea Party leader Allen West:

Southerland: "no one gets me confused with moderates. "At a town hall in Branford on May 3, 2012 Southerland said "In Washington D.C., no one gets me confused with moderates." [Southerland Town Hall, 5/3/12].

Tea Party darling and far right extremist Allen West endorsed Southerland last week. Last week, Congressman West posted that "Fellow Florida Republican Member Steve Southerland is a Freshman like me and together along with some of the others up here we are trying to change things." [West's Facebook page; 5/4/12] 

Congressman West and Congressman Southerland voted together 94-percent of the time. [Opencongress.org, accessed 5/22/12]

Southerland's Tea Party record:

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]

Southerland voted to cut billions from Agriculture, the lifeblood of northern Florida.

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]

Southerland Voted for the FY2012 Agriculture Bill That Cut Spending for Agriculture program by 13%. In June 2011, Southerland voted for a 13% cut to agriculture programs – one of the most significant in decades. [New York Times, 6/17/11; House Committee on Appropriations Press Release, 6/16/11; H.R. 2112, Vote #459, 6/16/11]

Department of Agriculture Announced Plans to Close USDA Offices in Florida, Including Office in the 2nd District. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to streamline its operations and cut costs, which includes possibly shutting down 10 offices in Florida [...] Under review in Florida are two Animal Plant Health Inspection Service offices in Gainesville and Fort Myers; an Agriculture Research Service Office in Brooksville; six Farm Service Agency offices in Molino, Chipley, Mayo, Jasper, Bronson and Sebring; and a Food and Nutrition office in Fort Lauderdale.” [Orlando Business Journal, 1/10/12]

Southerland voted for and is championing a Transportation bill which would cost Florida thousands of jobs:

Southerland Backed Surface Transportation Bill Will Cost Florida 30,600 Jobs. According to analysis conducted by the House Transportation Committee, the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012” (HR 7) would cost Florida $881 million worth of federal highway funding aid and destroy 30,637 jobs in the state. [H Rept. 112-397, 2/13/11; House Transportation Committee’s Comparison of Current Law and HR 7, 2/16/12

House Republicans’ Transportation Will Bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012” (HR 7) would bankrupt the Highway Trust fund by 2016 and would leave it with a $68.9 billion shortfall over ten-years. [Congressional Budget Office, 2/13/12]

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