Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rep. Alan Grayson: "Has the Federal Reserve Ever Tried to Manipulate the Stock Market?"

Grayson on the Attack

Alan Grayson on the GOP Health Care Plan: "Don't Get Sick! And if You Do Get Sick, Die Quickly!"':

Rep. Alan Grayson: "I apologize to the dead and their families":

Rep. Alan Grayson on the Situation Room:

Hilarious "response" website from the Republicans

Senator Ted Deutch pushes forward on CFO's call for greater SBA accountability

From the Senate Dems:

Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) on Wednesday said he was very disappointed at the failure of the Governor and Attorney General to move forward on CFO Alex Sink’s important initiative to improve accountability and oversight within the nation’s fourth largest pension fund and other critical state and local finances.

Senator Deutch also announced he will refile legislation to expand the scope of the state’s oversight of the State Board of Administration, which manages, among other investments, Florida’s $110 billion retirement fund. The Boca Raton Democrat has filed legislation to protect the investors in the state’s retirement system and the retirees who depend on it, each year he has been in the Senate.

“Attorney General Bill McCollum said yesterday, ‘I’m of the adage that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. What’s broken is a system where politicians accept the status quo rather than take action on meaningful change,” said Senator Deutch, “CFO Sink has worked to increase transparency, accountability and oversight of Florida’s pension fund since coming into office and yesterday’s reforms were just the latest example. My legislation aims to support these important priorities by giving a greater voice to investors and retirees, ensuring the highest level of integrity and eliminating any potential conflicts of interests.”

Senator Deutch’s bill expands the Investment Advisory Council from 6 to 9 members. Most importantly, each member must have special knowledge and experience to serve on the IAC, and there must be members representing the pension’s investors, namely local government employees, firefighters, police, teachers and state employees, and include a beneficiary of the Florida Retirement System.

The bill requires quarterly reports to the SBA to include more detailed information on alternative investments and on assets that may have been downgraded during the reporting period. The latter aims to alert the board to investments facing great risk, like the securitized debt obligations that proved so devastating during the subprime mortgage market meltdown

It also creates an independent audit committee to provide oversight, additional internal controls, and risk assessment. This committee will consist of six members: 2 appointed by the Governor, 2 by the Attorney General and 1 by the Chief Financial Officer. The CFO will also be an audit committee member.

Finally, the bill also creates new ethics and conflict of interest requirements for outside investment advisers in order to further ensure that the interests of our public investors and retirees always come first.

If endorsed by the legislature this year, the bill will mark the second time Senator Deutch has successfully revamped the operations within the SBA. He previously passed legislation requiring the SBA to divest Florida’s pension funds from companies doing business with Iran and Sudan.

Meet me in Orlando

From FDP:

There is no question - the backbone of every Party or political organization is its grassroots. It's about how many Floridians are going to reach out to their neighbors or invest what few dollars they can in change. That is how we won in 2008-- and it is how we'll do it again in 2010.

But, as we approach our end of the quarter fundraising deadline, just before our State Conference in October, the Republican Party is attacking us and trying reverse the change we worked for in 2008, and the press is looking to see who is ready to win in 2010.

For the last two quarters, three and four times more Floridians have invested in our party than the Republican Party. Now, we have to do it again and show everyone we are united to bring new and different leadership to Tallahassee.

When we gather in October, I hope we can celebrate our grassroots strength and build on another successful quarter. And I want you to join us there.

You have the chance to be selected to join us on the weekend of October 9th and 10th for the Florida Democrats 2009 State Conference in Orlando, and stay with us at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club.

Contribute $20 or more before midnight on September 30th to have a chance to be selected:

I am really excited for the conference. I have talked with a lot of Democrats across Florida in the last few months but I always wish I could talk to just a few more, and stay a bit longer - that's why I am inviting you to take the chance to join us.

If you are selected you will get free tickets and a hotel night for you and a guest to join us at the State Conference including events featuring national leaders like Governors Martin O'Malley of Maryland and John Baldacci of Maine and our own leaders like Senator Bill Nelson and CFO Alex Sink.

It's going to be a great weekend in Orlando - and I really hope that you will donate today and join us there:

We are strong from the ground up - and that makes the Republicans worried. While the Republican Party deals with scandal after scandal from AmEx slush funds to back-room dealings - we are united from the ground up.

In fact, even Bill McCollum's campaign manager is desperately trying to divide us - he's afraid. He sent an email asking Republicans to:

"Help to ensure President Obama stays OUT of our race here in Florida ... help provide momentum to our campaign and force national Democrats to spend their money elsewhere!"

What they still don't understand is that you - our grassroots activists - are the backbone of our party. They don't believe you will stand up and bring change to Florida as you did last year. But, I know, no matter what they come up with to try and divide us, we will work with President Obama and to bring new and different leadership to Tallahassee.

Donate $20 or more today and show the Republicans that we are united and get the chance to be selected to join us at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club for our State Conference:

Thank you for being the backbone of our party and making us ready to win in 2010.


Scott Arceneaux
Executive Director
Florida Democratic Party

A legacy to Lawton Chiles…

One of Lawton Chiles' most enduring legacies was his ability to bring average Floridians into the political process.

During his time, he foresaw the rise of special interests and big donors and he fully understood the need to balance their interests with your interests.

As a true "man of the people", he fought to establish one of the most effective means of bringing small donors into the political arena: the state's donor matching program.

I am writing you today to ask you to take advantage of this incredible program by making a contribution before midnight on September 30.

Here's how it works… individual donors who write personal checks or contribute online can have their donations matched by a special fund. For Cabinet races, donors who give up to $250 will have their donations matched thereby doubling the impact of their gifts.

Could there be a better way to encourage people to participate?

If you want to help the state's "strongest consumer advocate" become your Agriculture Commissioner, please give now and DOUBLE the impact of your donation:

I am proud to have been a friend and supporter of Walkin' Lawton and am humbled to take part in a legacy program that he worked so hard to establish – I hope you feel the same way.


Scott Maddox

Gov. John Baldacci To Address The Lawton Chiles Luncheon During Florida Democratic Conference

From FDP:

The Florida Democratic Party announced today that Maine Governor John Baldacci will address Florida Democrats attending the Lawton Chiles Luncheon at the Florida Democratic Party 2009 State Conference. The Lawton Chiles Luncheon will be held on Saturday, October 10.

"I am honored to join Chair Karen Thurman and the Florida Democratic Party at their 2009 State Conference, as Democrats work to seize their historic opportunity to elect proven Democratic leaders to move Florida forward," said Gov. Baldacci.

"We are very excited to have Gov. Baldacci joining us in Orlando for our Lawton Chiles Luncheon," Chair Karen Thurman said. "Gov. Baldacci's proven record fighting for Maine, as governor and in Congress, is a testament to his strong leadership. As Florida Democrats, we are working to elect proven leaders in 2010, such as Alex Sink, to end business as usual and bring change to Florida."

Currently in his second term, Gov. John Baldacci was first elected as Governor of the State of Maine in 2002. Governor Baldacci has made the health, education, and well-being of Mainers his top priorities, and he has drawn on his strong sense of community spirit to serve the people of Maine.

Governor Baldacci was born and raised in Bangor, Maine. One of eight children, Baldacci learned the value of communication and cooperation at a young age. As he grew up in his family's Bangor restaurant, Momma Baldacci's, Baldacci was surrounded by civic-minded family and community members who instilled in him an intense work ethic and an equally intense desire to serve the people of his state. While working at the family restaurant, Baldacci earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Maine, where he continued to learn about the opportunities and challenges that faced the people in his communities.

In 1982, Baldacci was elected to the Maine State Senate, where he served for twelve years, before being elected to the United States House of Representatives for Maine's Second District in 1994. Baldacci was re-elected to Congress in 1996, 1998, and 2000, and he committed himself to acting in the best interest of his home state and the people who lived there. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Baldacci played an active role in decisions that directly affected the people he served.

To purchase tickets to the Lawton Chiles Luncheon or for more information on the 2009 Conference, Floridians can visit or call the Florida Democratic Party office at (850)222-3411.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Obama Plan in 4 Minutes

Rep. Rick Kriseman's speech to the Agency on Bay Management regarding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

Hard to top this Kriseman takedown of the 'drill, baby, drill' propaganda:

This Could Be Very Good News

Bud Chiles May Seek CFO Post:

Lawton 'Bud' Chiles III, son of the late Democratic governor, and a Lakeland native, said the post being vacated by Alex Sink is one where 'you could create a voice for changing what is wrong in Florida today.'

'I've had a number of people talk to me about it,' Chiles told the News Service of Florida. 'I'm giving a lot of thought to it.'

President's Weekly Address

Progress with the G-20 in Pittsburgh:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Next five days

From Rick Minor:

We are approaching the end of our first fundraising quarter and I am pleased to report that the campaign is going very well. There's been a outpouring of support from throughout the district and I am humbled with every new person that joins this campaign. The next few days are some of the most critical of the entire campaign. As we close out this quarter we have an opportunity to set the tone for this race. If you haven't yet donated, now is the time!
Please make a contribution today (or at least before Wednesday, Sept. 30th) by visiting:

I'm running for the Florida House of Representatives because we need a proven leader who reflects the values of the people living in District 9. Voters want a legislator who will stand up for them in the Capitol and focus on the issues they care about. I'm going to win this race, but I can't do it without your help! Donate today!
Thank you VERY much for your support,

Rick Minor
Candidate for State House, District 9

P.S. If you're in the Tallahassee area and would like to write a check to Rick Minor 2010, let us know and we can send someone from the campaign to pick it up.

Heather Beaven supports workers’ right to choose

CEO's have contracts which detail their perks, parachutes and potential profit for a job well done. Don't employees deserve the same? Working Americans have the right to negotiate sensible wages, safe working conditions and secure pensions. It's that simple. This is why I support the Employee Free Choice Act. I believe all Americans have the right to be fairly compensated for their skill set. I have spent fifteen years encouraging people to keep their skills up to date. When they do, they have the right to expect that they will be recognized for their contributions with integrity. I support the Employee Free Choice Act because Productivity and profitability are inextribicably linked. One simply doesn't happen without the other.

Here's what's Happening

From Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda:

Hello again,

To those of you who took my survey on energy choices, thank you! I'll report the results soon.

It's been a busy week. I toured Danfoss Turbocor, a cutting edge manufacturer of environmentally friendly air conditioning compressors. I rode my bike to a interview on the Morning Show at WFLA, on Tuesday, which was "Leave your car at home day". Later in the day, I rode the Star Metro bus system to TCC and back. In between, I drove an electric car around the TCC campus with the folks from Green Solutions.

Now for some political housekeeping. While I agree that it is far too early, I am being forced to begin raising money for a campaign because my willingness to work with both sides has someone calling me Democrat Lite, which is far from the truth.

I've been a Democrat all my adult life. I'm a good moderate Democrat. I am also one of those people who thinks the vast majority of people are somewhere in the middle, so I try to consider those views every time I have to take a vote.

If you are one of those people who think we need more sanity, cooperation, and pragmatic solutions in our political dialog, then I encourage you to help me fend off my opponent.

I have two events coming up. The first is at Jon Ausman's house, 2202 Woodlawn Drive, on Saturday night (September 26, 2009) from 6 to 9. Jon says there will be music, food and beverages. Stop by and chat. Recommended donation is $50.00 but we'd love it if you stop in...any amount in this economy is welcome!

There is also a get together at Gary Parson's home at 3830 Shamrock Street West at 7 PM Monday night, September 28, 2009. If you are in the Killearn area and want to stop and talk about anything on you mind, come on over. Gary does ask that you park around the corner on Cahir, and that you give him a call at 545.5219 to R.S.V.P.

If you want to help and can't make either event, I encourage you to visit my website:

You can also send a check to:
Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda Campaign
3018 Brandemere Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32312

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Senator Aronberg Calls on Lawmakers to Take Immediate Action to Help Defective Drywall Victims

From the Senate Dems:

Continuing his efforts to provide relief to homeowners devastated by the defective drywall crisis, State Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres) on Thursday called upon Governor Charlie Crist to add the issue to any special session convened prior to the Legislature’s annual spring start date.

“Florida is at the epicenter of the defective drywall plague,” said Sen. Aronberg. “Florida’s families are being driven from their homes and the prices of homes are plunging even deeper into the ground.”

Since Sen. Aronberg first called for a task force to assess the issue in April, the State has investigated the causes of drywall deterioration and is currently synthesizing its data with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

But there has been no movement to convene a broad-based panel of experts as Senator Aronberg has recommended. And thus far, any action by the governor’s inter-agency group remains stalled pending the outcome of laboratory tests the state insists are needed prior to launching any meaningful remediation attempts.

“Understanding the science behind this issue is critical, but there is more to the solution than just test tubes and microscopes,” said Sen. Aronberg. “The Legislature has the ability to assist homeowners and businesses now.”

In anticipation of the special session being called, Sen. Aronberg is readying a bill to create a task force that would bring impacted parties and experts to the table to develop recommendations. That way, lawmakers can begin efforts to help afflicted residents immediately upon their return to Tallahassee for the 2010 legislative session.

“We need to hit the ground running. Floridians deserve a quick and uniform statewide approach that will reduce uncertainty and expensive and lengthy litigation.”

Under Senator Aronberg’s proposal, the task force would not only focus on critical issues such as remediation and prohibitions on the dangerous materials, but would also explore property tax and utility bill relief for homeowners caught in the middle of this crisis. The group would also work with lending institutions to encourage forbearance on mortgage payments.

“We cannot allow the credit of hard working Floridians to be destroyed through no fault of their own,” said Sen. Aronberg.

In Important Vote For Florida, Charlie Crist's Right-Hand Man Votes Against Florida's Interests

From the DSCC:

Charlie Crist seems to have forgotten that there was a presidential election last year and that his buddy George W. Bush is no longer President. Yesterday, Charlie Crist’s right-hand man and proxy vote in the Senate, George LeMieux, voted to keep in place the antiquated off-shore drilling policies put into place by George W. Bush, instead of allowing President Barack Obama to pursue his own off-shore drilling policy. Bush’s off-shore drilling policy did nothing to ensure the long term sustainability of Florida’s coastline and tourism industry and did nothing to lower the price of gasoline and energy costs for working Floridian families. With so much at stake for Florida, do Floridians really want to send Crist to Washington to fight for the failed policies of the past which led Florida into an economic mess in the first place?

“Florida voters have a right to know if Charlie Crist agrees with his right hand man who just put special interests ahead of Floridians,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Communications Director Eric Schultz. “Judging from the vote yesterday, it’s clear that Crist-LeMieux policies favor special interests over doing what is right for Florida. In the upcoming Senate election, Florida voters will be looking for someone who uses independent thinking to do what is right for all Floridians, not someone who takes marching orders from special interests or looks to the failed policies of the past for solutions.”

LeMieux Voted to Allow Drilling off Florida Coast. Yesterday, LeMieux voted for an amendment that would have allowed for drilling off the coast of the United States including Florida. The amendment would have kept in place the Bush administration policy on offshore drilling and would have prevented the Obama administration from forming their own policy. [Vote 293, 9/23/09; AP, 9/23/09]

U.S. House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner To Address Veterans Brunch At Florida Democrats 2009 Conference

From FDP:

The Florida Democratic Party today announced that Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will address the 2009 Florida Democratic Party Conference Brunch, hosted by the party's Veterans Caucus on Sunday, October 11th.

"Florida has one of the largest and most active veteran communities in our nation. I look forward to joining Chair Karen Thurman and the Florida Democratic Party at their 2009 State Conference to not only bring attention to the issues effecting veterans but also help them elect more Democrats to Congress," said Congressman Filner.

"We are grateful that my friend, Congressman Bob Filner, will be joining us at the 2009 Florida Democratic Party Conference," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman. "Over the past several years, Florida Democrats have stood up to change Washington by electing three new Democrats to Congress, helping our party retake the majority. Under Chairman Filner's leadership, Democrats in Congress have passed the new GI Bill for the 21st Century, approved the new VA medical center in Orlando, and enacted the largest veterans funding increases in our nation's history. Florida Democrats are working to elect more Democrats to the U.S. Congress to ensure that our nation continues to keep the promise to the brave men and women who have served in our nation's armed forces."

At the brunch, the Florida Democratic Party will be collecting items for 200 patients and homeless Veterans at Orlando's VA Community Life Center. We are asking attendees to bring new and barely used clothes for donation.

Congressman Bob Filner was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992 after more than a decade of leadership in local government in San Diego, California. Upon arriving in Washington, Congressman Filner immediately requested an appointment to the Veterans' Affairs Committee and began his fight for our nation's veterans. In 2007, the Congressman was named Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and has continued as a determined champion for veterans, winning the praise of thousands of individual veterans and high accolades from national veterans' organizations.

To purchase tickets to the Veterans Brunch or for more information on the 2009 Conference, Floridians can visit or call the Florida Democratic Party office at (850)222-3411.

United and divided

From FDP:

Just last week, our Executive Director, Scott Arceneaux, updated you on how far we've come in 9 months. In case you missed it, the bottom line is: we are united and thanks to you, we are on the right track to make history again in 2010. I know we are ready for this historic opportunity to change Florida in 2010 by electing Alex Sink as our next governor, sending another strong Democrat to the U.S. Senate, and electing Democrats to Florida's Cabinet, Congress, and the Legislature.

But faced with the same historic election, the Republican Party of Florida has found itself buried in scandal. Republican grassroots activists are calling for change in the party leadership. And, the Republican candidates are facing the serious questions -- Bill McCollum about his extreme right-wing record and Charlie Crist about his out-of-touch, out-of-town ways.

Now, they face another test. At the end of September, both parties will need to file their finance reports with the state and show how many Floridians support them. Last quarter three times more Floridians gave to the Florida Democratic Party.

I know we can do it again and show everyone that Florida Democrats are united and ready to win in 2010. Help finish this quarter strong, and keep us on track for victory:

Since the last election, you have been helping build a stronger, better Democratic Party that is ready to win again. While our party has united to move Florida forward, the Republicans are divided and under fire from the editorial pages across Florida to their own local activists.

While we have focused on building the party from the ground up to help win, the Republican Party of Florida is supporting only candidates who won't question the Republican culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee.

But no matter what they are doing, we face an important fundraising deadline at the end of the month. Let's make it clear -- with the support of hundreds more grassroots Democrats, that we are united and on the right track to win.

Please take a moment and make a donation today:

Every donation is vital as we work to bring change to Florida. And for the past six months, every time we've needed it, you've continued to step up. There is no question: Democrats are united and ready to bring new and different leadership to Tallahassee.

Thank you for all your support.


Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman
Chair of the Florida Democratic Party

Gov. Martin O'Malley To Deliver Keynote Address At Florida Democratic Party Conference "Winning Florida In 2010" Dinner

From FDP:

The Florida Democratic Party announced today that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Vice Chair of the Democratic Governors Association, will address the Florida Democratic Party 2009 State Conference as the keynote speaker at the "Winning Florida In 2010" Dinner on Saturday, October 10th.

"Led by Alex Sink, Florida Democrats have a unique opportunity to bring change to their state. I am excited to join the Florida Democratic Party at their 2009 State Conference and help them continue their momentum going into the 2010 election," said Gov. Martin O'Malley.

"We are honored that Governor O'Malley will join us at the Florida Democratic Party's 2009 State Conference, helping us in our efforts to bring change to Florida in 2010," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman. "Governor O'Malley's proven leadership moving Maryland forward shows us how important it is to elect strong Democrats in Florida to get our state back on track. With every statewide office open for the first time in 134 years Florida Democrats are working to seize our historic opportunity to bring change to Florida."

As Mayor of Baltimore City, O'Malley helped bring communities together to build a safer, cleaner and healthier city. Now, as Governor of the State of Maryland, he is applying his knowledge, experience and energy to making state government work again for the people. Martin O'Malley's administration has been credited with "accomplishing more in one year than most administrations accomplish in four," and he is driven by a belief that all citizens share certain core values and goals, and he works tirelessly to unite the State as One Maryland.

To purchase tickets to the "Winning Florida In 2010" Dinner or for more information on the 2009 Conference, Floridians can visit or call the Florida Democratic Party office at (850)222-3411.

Crist's Puppet LeMieux Has No Clue What He's Talking About

From FDP:

While it is not surprising that Sen. George LeMieux (R-Cronyism) would ingore facts, in favor of doing the only thing he knows how to do – working to promote Charlie Crist’s political ambition – it sure is disappointing that LeMieux, Crist and their Republican Party of “NO” have chosen lies over facts. See below.


Obama Said That Health Insurance Reform Would Not Cut Medicare Benefits. Obama: "It's not going to reduce Medicare benefits. What it's going to do is to change how those benefits are delivered so that they're more efficient." [New York Times, 7/22/09]

The Health Care Bill Would Achieve Key Efficiencies And Eliminates Fraud And Waste In Medicare Without Making Any Cuts That Hurt Seniors. “The House bill requires hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies to achieve key efficiencies and eliminate waste in Medicare (including eliminating overpayments that are driving up profits for Medicare Advantage plans) and toughens our ability to root out fraud and abuse – but does not make cuts that hurt seniors. It also does nothing to take away choices for seniors.” [Office of the Speaker, 7/22/09]

The Health Care Bill Would Improve Provisions To Improve Medicare For Seniors, Including Filling The “Donut Hole” In The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. “On the contrary, the bill includes several key provisions that improve Medicare benefits for seniors, including the following: Phases in completely filling in the ‘donut hole’ in the Medicare prescription drug benefit (where drug costs are not reimbursed at certain levels), potentially savings seniors thousands of dollars a year; Eliminates co-payments and deductibles for preventive services under Medicare; Limits cost-sharing requirements in Medicare Advantage plans to the amount charged for the same services in traditional Medicare coverage; and Improves the low-income subsidy programs in Medicare, such as by increasing asset limits for programs that help Medicare beneficiaries pay premiums and cost-sharing.” [Office of the Speaker, 7/22/09]

AARP: RNC Statement Is “Misleading And Alarmist,” And “The Proposed Medicare Savings Do Not Limit Benefits, They Do Not Impose Rationing.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “[t]he Republican Party issued a new salvo in the health debate Monday with a ‘seniors' health care bill of rights’ that opposed any moves to trim Medicare spending or limit end-of-life care to seniors. Intended as a political shot at President Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee manifesto marks a remarkable turnaround for a party that had once fought to trim the health program for the elderly and disabled, which last year cost taxpayers over $330 billion…The country's largest lobbying group for seniors, AARP, said it welcomed the RNC's commitment to protect Medicare. But the group, which supports efforts to overhaul the health-care system, also dismissed the RNC statement as misleading and alarmist. ‘Change by itself is anxiety producing, but as we have analyzed the various bills [before Congress], the proposed Medicare savings do not limit benefits, they do not impose rationing and they do not put the government between patients and their doctors,’ said John Rother, AARP's executive vice president.” [Wall Street Journal, 8/25/09]

AARP Clarified That “Medicare Cuts That Have Been Proposed So Far Would Not Affect Benefits.” The Washington Post reported that, “Tom Nelson, AARP's chief operating officer, said, ‘Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate.’ Like Obama, AARP wants action this year to cover the uninsured and restrain health care costs, but the organization has refrained from endorsing legislation. Nelson said AARP would not endorse a bill that reduces Medicare benefits. A spokesman said the Medicare cuts that have been proposed so far would not affect benefits.” [Washington Post, 8/11/09] A Small Number Of Medicare Advantage Would Face Reduced Benefits, But Never Less Than Participants In Traditional Medicare Receive. "The vast majority of Medicare recipients would see little change in their interactions with the health care system under the bills currently pending. But it’s probable that some unknown number of the 22 percent of seniors, or more than 10 million individuals, who participate in Medicare Advantage programs would indeed need to pay more out of pocket, change plans or face reduced benefits – though never less than participants in traditional Medicare receive." [, 8/31/09]

Politifact: The House Health Care Bill Would Change Benchmarks Set To Payments In Medicare Advantage, Making Them Equal To What The Government Pays For Traditional Medicare Services. "Obama also wants to save money on the Medicare Advantage program, which covers about one-fifth of all Medicare patients. 'We do think that systems like Medicare are very inefficient right now, but it has nothing to do at the moment with issues of benefits,' Obama said in his speech in New Hampshire. 'The inefficiencies all come from things like paying $177 billion to insurance companies in subsidies for something called Medicare Advantage that is not competitively bid, so insurance companies basically get a $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides. And it's no better — it doesn't result in better health care for seniors. It is a giveaway of $177 billion.' Indeed, a June 2009 MedPAC analysis said that the Advantage plan costs taxpayers on average of 14 percent more than the traditional Medicare plan. The House bills propose to change the benchmarks that set the payments, making them equal to what the government pays for traditional Medicare services. According to the Congressional Budget Office, those changes would translate to a savings of $156 billion over 10 years. [Politifact]

Obama's Plan Is To Reduce Payments To Medicare Advantage So They Are Equal To Regular Medicare. "Obama and many congressional Democrats see Advantage as a wasteful bonanza averaging about $17 billion a year for the companies, which critics say provide few benefits beyond regular Medicare. The companies and their supporters say they earn the extra payments by providing seniors -- who pay nothing extra -- with significant benefits, including freedom from government red tape. ... [Obama's] plan is to reduce payments to Advantage so that they are equal or comparable to the payments for regular Medicare." [Los Angeles Times, 8/19/09]

The AARP Supports Cutting Back Subsidies To Private Insurers In Medicare Advantage So They Are On A Level Playing Field With Medicare. AARP spokesman Jordan McNerney said: "We are in support of cutting back the subsidies to private insurers over time so they compete on a level playing field with traditional Medicare." [Los Angeles Times, 8/19/09]

On the right track

From FDP:

Karen has been telling you for months about how important this election is going to be for the future of our state. It is an unprecedented opportunity with 5 statewide elections with no incumbents -- including Governor and Senator. But, since we're getting close to a year away from the election, I wanted to give you a bit of an update on where we are.

One of the first things I did as Executive Director was review how ready we are to win next November and bring change to Florida. And I was impressed to see the amount of people already working hard to win the election more than a year out.

Thanks to all your help we are on the right track.

Over 1,570 people like you have donated to the Florida Democratic Party this year online, the most we have ever had in history - and nearly 5 times more donors than the Republican Party. We know that the best campaigns are powered by donations from every-day Floridians working for change -- that's how Obama won in 2008 and how we're going to do it in 2010.

Your donations and time have also helped us expand our grassroots programs. And thanks to your donations we have recruited over 5,000 new volunteers in the last 9 months. They are already on the ground helping President Obama.

Your grassroots donations have built a communications program more robust than we have had in years. You helped us to take on the Republican culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee and stand up to indicted former Speaker Ray Sansom, former lobbyist Bill McCollum, as well as Charlie Crist and his handpicked crony George LeMieux.

Your donations and dedication has helped us as we begin to plan for the next election. Thanks to your support over the past 9 months, we know that we can commit more resources, more aggressively than ever before because we can count on Floridians like you to make it happen.

Every donation, every hour volunteered, and every voter that registers as a Democrat has gotten us closer to winning in 2010 and bringing new and different leadership to Tallahassee.

Florida Democrats have come even further since last November. If we continue on this pace through 2009, the Florida Democratic Party will be ready to win more than ever before.

Thank you for everything you've done.


Scott Arceneaux
Executive Director
Florida Democratic Party

Compare and Contrast

From Kendrick Meek:

Dear Friend

Even Republicans in Florida are demonstrating their discontent with their standard bearer Governor Charlie Crist. Consider what former state Republican Chairman Tom Slade told the St. Petersburg Times: "It's rare that I talk to anyone that's got a good thing to say about the governor right now. It's hard to find a real Charlie Crist ally."

Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio has struck a chord with some Floridians by articulating an ultra conservative vision for our state. Though I disagree with my potential opponent's positions, I appreciate his conviction.

The governor, in contrast, belongs to the Charlie Crist Party where public policy decisions are poll driven and focus group tested. To call Governor Crist a moderate is unfair to true moderates who are guided by political philosophy rooted in principle, not political calculation.

I stand for Florida values and this campaign needs your financial support.

Whereas I am working to pass health insurance reform that strengthens the health care system in Florida, the governor's contribution to this pressing issue is to call the debate "nuts" - hardly a worthwhile addition to this discussion from a sitting governor. Such a sentiment provides little relief to the 3.6 million uninsured Floridians, to Florida's families who have seen health care premiums rise 4 times faster than wages from 2000 to 2008, or to the 8.9% of children under 18 without health insurance.

While I was meeting with Florida sheet metal workers who were bypassed for employment and instead unskilled foreign laborers were hired for the job, the governor was releasing an endangered sea turtle off the Florida Keys.

While I am working to have Florida utilize every stimulus dollar to rebuild our state's economy, the governor is dismantling growth-management restrictions that allow builders to overdevelop in our communities which negatively impacts our environment.

For Democrats, Independents, likeminded Republicans and the politically unaffiliated, we do not share the governor's priorities.

As I travelled the state this August in a rental car talking to Floridians who are undergoing real life challenges, the governor was jetting across the state in a plane paid for by our tax dollars interviewing would be replacements for the Senate who didn't stand a chance of receiving the appointment - making a mockery of the high responsibility he was afforded. The Tampa Tribune editorialized, "Gov. Charlie Crist did what he usually does: what's best for Charlie."

Republicans engaged in a heated primary are getting to know the true Charlie Crist. Similarly, the rest of us are learning the smiling Charlie Crist we see on our television sets a little too often continues to put his agenda before the state's needs.

Florida doesn't need a perpetual candidate representing us who is more concerned with climbing the next rung of the political ladder than leading during trying times. They need someone who fights for all of us.

Keep supporting this campaign so that your next U.S. Senator will work to solve issues, not ignore them. Contribute $5, $25, $50 or make a recurring donation of $20.10 from today through Election Day.

Leadership is needed in the U.S. Senate, and I am asking for your support.

Thurman Calls Greer's Bluff

Reacting to Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer's statement today, telling the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau, "Let's let the Democrats open their books and then we'll talk," Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement:

"As Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, I strive to be a wise steward of our party's finances and also am committed to being fully transparent. While the details of our finances are readily available through our disclosures to the Division of Elections and Federal Elections Commission, we invite members of the media to come visit our office to review our books.

"Because issuing credit cards in a manner similar to the Republican Party of Florida does not allow for the strict financial controls and level of transparency we demand, the Florida Democratic Party doesn't have credit cards and has nothing to hide.

"The same can not be said of the Republican Party of Florida, which is why I am calling Chairman Greer on his bluff, demanding he open the RPOF's books to scrutiny and release all the RPOF AmEx statements.

"Over the past several years, the Republican Party has allowed disgraced Speaker Ray Sansom, Sen. Jeff Atwater, Sen. Mike Haridopolos, Rep. Dean Cannon, and many others spend over $3.4 million on their AmEx cards. By handing out AmEx cards to Republican leaders, Chairman Greer has turned the RPOF into nothing more than a slush fund."

Rep Alan Williams Sponsors Bill To Repeal Vehicle Fee Increases

State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) announced today that he will co-sponsor a bill to repeal fee increases approved during the 2009 legislative session.

House Bill 99, which Representative Williams will co-sponsor for the 2010 session, reverts vehicle registration, title fees and drivers license costs back to what they were before higher fees took effect September 1.

“I voted against these fee hikes because they are a tax on anyone who drives,” said Representative Williams. “These fee hikes will burden families and small businesses the hardest, and they are the wrong way to raise revenue during a recession.”

The fee increases for renewing vehicle registration varies by the weight of the vehicle, and in some cases the costs have increased as much as 66 percent. The initial registration fee for a vehicle has gone up 125 percent, jumping from $100 to $225. Simultaneously, the cost of renewing a driver license has doubled to $48.

“Florida House Democrats like myself voted unanimously against these fee hikes even as Republicans argued that driving is a privilege, not a right. Well. Try telling that to somebody who has to get to work to feed their family,” added Representative Williams.

Representative Williams signed onto House Bill 99 last week in order to repeal the new vehicle fee hikes in favor of a more modest series of cost hikes. His co-sponsorship of the legislation is a continuation of his efforts to alert Floridians statewide about the tag fee increases. In recent weeks, he has received numerous calls from constituents throughout Florida who were unable to renew their tags or licenses within the short timeframe before the higher fees took effect.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this sensible consumer legislation and I urge all my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, in the Florida Legislature to join me in backing House Bill 99,” said Representative Williams. “This is an opportunity for government to do right by the people of the state of Florida.”

For a full listing of the fee increases that would be repealed under House Bill 99, please follow the following link below to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle site:

Commentary by State Rep Keith Fitzgerald

Legislature needs sunshine
By State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota

The political process in Tallahassee is broken. It is time to fix it. It is time to amend the Florida Constitution to require the Legislature's most important work be done in the light of day rather than in secret meetings. We should also end the practice of hurriedly approving massive bills in the final days of the legislative session that elected officials have not been given adequate time to read, study and debate.

Take the budget process. The Legislature is entrusted with the critical job of spending the hard-earned tax dollars of Florida's citizens and businesses. Citizens need to believe that their elected officials are making deliberate decisions for the permanent interests of the people, but now they cannot.

Under current practices, it is very difficult for even the brightest and most dedicated legislators to study the bills they vote on in the waning days of the legislative session. Long, technically complex bills are often dramatically amended or completely rewritten. These wholesale changes are euphemistically called "strike-all amendments." Such bills fly fast in the closing hours of the session. They are typically presented for votes with little time for legislators who were not among the insiders making the changes to read, much less evaluate, the changes. This almost guarantees bad public policy and allows those in power to hide in bills all kinds of goodies for their friends and allies.

Budget process is corrupt

Why doesn't the Legislature do better? The easy answer is to succumb to a superficial cynicism that assumes everyone in politics is crooked or lazy. That is not my experience. In my short time in the Legislature, I have met some of the finest, hardest-working people I have ever known, including members of both parties. Most are very similar to the people they represent. Politicians are human beings. We are all capable of heroism but also prone to hasty judgments and, potentially, moral weakness.

A recent grand jury indictment of the former speaker of the House made clear that the secretive procedures used by the Legislature in crafting state budgets are indefensible. The former speaker has been convicted of nothing and deserves a presumption of innocence like any other American. Indeed, he may be guilty of merely participating in a process that is fundamentally flawed.

But make no mistake about how the Legislature spends our tax dollars: A budget process that allows a few people to meet in secret to allocate millions of dollars, which can then be hidden in a nearly indecipherable budget document that even other legislators cannot easily follow, obviously invites abuse and waste. This is not an indictment of the political party that is in charge. The process itself is corrupt.

The shrewdest of our Founding Fathers, James Madison, understood such matters. He remarked that if men were angels we would have no need of government. His response was to arrange political institutions so that they would nudge our elected public servants to live up to their better selves. We are all fortunate that Madison had a heavy hand in writing the U.S. Constitution. He knew that the best way to correct for human failings is to design wise rules of procedure.

A constitutional amendment

It is in this Madisonian spirit that state Sen. Dan Gelber and I are proposing an amendment to the Florida Constitution.

First, our proposal requires that all budget deliberations be done in public with advance notice so that the people and the press can witness the process. Local governments have to live by these rules when making their budgets, and the state legislature should as well.

Our amendment would require that the state's budget bills be written in plain language to be understandable to the average citizen. Some local governments and states already do this. Our amendment also requires three-quarters of the House or Senate to approve amendments filed in the last days of a session. This would end the temptation for legislators to load up bills with favors for special interests.

Cynics have already asserted that our colleagues in the Legislature will never allow the people to vote on these proposed constitutional changes. We urge both Democrats and Republicans to prove the cynics wrong. Both parties and the people would benefit from the improved trust in state government that would follow from these reforms. Let's give the people the chance to see their legislators at work and set the ground rules to challenge legislators to perform at their best.

House Democratic Office Responds To Republican Member Praise of Education Reforms

Florida House Democratic Office Communications Director Mark Hollis issued the following statement in response to today’s endorsement by Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, of House Democratic Caucus suggestions on how Florida can compete for federal Race to the Top education dollars.

“Florida House Democrats are committed to helping build a world-class public education system for our state. To achieve this goal, improvements are needed that deserve bipartisan support and attention from many public policymakers. It is encouraging that Representative Legg expresses willingness to work with members of both political parties on much-needed education reforms. It is disappointing, though, that he and other Florida House Republicans failed to present their own ideas or comments to the Florida Department of Education.

“For 25 days ending on Friday, the Florida Department of Education solicited public comment for Florida’s application for federal dollars under the Race to the Top initiative proposed by President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“It is debatable how likely Florida is to receive these federal dollars without adopting reforms along the lines of those that were submitted for review last week by the Florida House Democratic Caucus staff. Earlier today, for instance, Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith said that Florida cannot hope to win Race to the Top funds `without doing things that are bold and moving Florida forward dramatically.’ At the State Board of Education meeting in Miami, Commissioner Smith predicted: `They will not accept an application that talks about the status quo.’

“Florida House Democrats have fought for bold reforms, strong accountability measures, and adequate funding of our schools. As Representative Legg should know, many Florida House Democrats have also long advocated and filed legislation to strengthen Florida’s school accountability formula to base school assessments on the entirety of students’ work. These current and former members have noted the insufficiencies of basing all school accountability on a single test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

“Representative Legg’s lengthy statement today includes a few statements about Florida House Democratic member votes that deserve clarification.

· Representative Legg chides Democratic members for voting against House Bill 1293. House Democratic members consistently voiced support for rigorous standards during debate on the bill. They expressed opposition, though, the bill increased the emphasis on the flawed 10th grade FCAT and because Republican members’ refused to provide additional resources to schools to help students achieve these standards.

· Representative Legg criticizes Democratic members for voting against a plan to only give salary bonuses to teachers who get prestigious National Board Certification if they teach in a low-performing school. That proposal would have forced many teachers to leave their school districts to get bonuses because there are no low-performing schools in some counties. Florida House Democrats support giving National Board and other high-quality teachers additional incentives to teach in low-performing schools while guaranteeing that high-performing schools also have high-quality teachers.

· Finally, Representative Legg chides those who opposed a bill that would have virtually eliminated protections for public school teachers under a bill that failed to consider the fairness of teacher evaluations. Representative Legg might want to inquire as to why Senate Republicans killed the bill.

“The pursuit of meaningful education reform deserves input from many public officials, and certainly from those on the front lines of education, our teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Florida House Democrats are pleased to fight for a world-class education system.”

Representative Steinberg Sponsors Child Safety Bill -- booster seat law

From the House Dems:

Representative Richard L. Steinberg (D-Miami Beach) is proud to announce that he will join Senator Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) in reintroducing a child passenger safety bill for the 2010 legislative session. The bill will require children ages 4 through 7 to sit in a booster seat when riding in a car. Representative Steinberg plans to introduce the child passenger safety legislation in honor of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Child Passenger Safety Week (September 12-18, 2009).

This week, the National Transportation Safety Board urged Florida to join the rest of the country by passing booster seat legislation. Florida is one of only three states that have not enacted a booster seat law. Booster seats are used to position a child in a seat so that a seat belt can work properly to save a child’s life.

During the past 10 years in Florida, there have been 1,928 non-fatal injuries resulting in hospitalization and 175 deaths in motor vehicle crashes among children ages 4 through 7, according to the Florida Department of Health. Booster seats lower the risk of injury to children in motor vehicle crashes by 59 percent compared to the use of seat belts alone.

“Florida’s children deserve to be protected from serious injury while riding in a motor vehicle,” said Representative Steinberg. “Currently, Florida requires adults to be properly restrained in motor vehicles, yet it does not afford proper protection for our children. I hope that my colleagues in the Legislature join me in passing this important legislation to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries to children.”


From Scott Maddox:

Florida stands at a crossroads.

As we hear news that the nation is finally turning around and our economy appears to have endured the worst of the recession, things in Florida continue to get worse.

While Florida continues moving in the wrong direction for everyday Floridians, many of our elected leaders ignore the very job they were elected to do - stand up for working families and look out for consumers.

As your Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, my focus will be on protecting Florida's families, consumers, and seniors. I will stand up for them in all aspects of this job - from the farm to the family table.

Winning this election won't be easy. In fact, it's going to take thousands of people like you standing up against the status quo. That's why I need your help.

Visit our website today to find out a few easy ways you can help grow our campaign. They're simple and will only take a minute of your time.

As Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, I will have an equal vote on the Florida Cabinet. Moreover, as Commissioner, I will have the ability to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices and I will bring the voice of Florida consumers with me in everything I do.

With your support, we can help restore economic prosperity to our state while ensuring the safety of all Floridians.

Growth in this early stage of our campaign will be vitally important to our success. Whether it's sending an email to your friends, or posting information to your social network, your help in spreading the word will make the difference. Help grow our ranks today:

Thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement throughout the early part of this campaign. With supporters like you, I know this campaign will be in great shape in the months ahead.

Gelber/Fitzgerald Announce Constitutional Amendment To Provide Greater Sunshine and Accountability Into the Legislative Process

From the Senate Dems:

Today, State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) and State Representative Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) announced they will be asking the legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot designed to make the state budget process more transparent and open to the public.

The amendment includes the following key provisions:

· Appropriations bills must be written in plain language, so Floridians can clearly understand where their money will be spent, and what revenue will pay for it.
· Requires all conference committee business between two or more members to be conducted in a noticed public meeting.

“Too much of the people’s business is done without public oversight,” said Sen. Gelber. “It’s time for the Florida Legislature to apply greater transparency to its own deliberations.”

The proposal will also address the growing problem of the openness of the overall legislative process. In addition to the key budget provisions, the amendment will provide two key components designed to make the legislature more open:

· Prohibiting floor amendments to proposed bills in the last five days of a regular session or anytime during a special session, unless they are passed by a three-fourths vote.
· Giving circuit court clear authority to hear challenges pertaining to open records and creates a “reasonableness standard” for open records in order to make it harder for the legislature to reject open records requests.

“Floridians have a right to hold their legislators accountable and this constitutional amendment aims to restore faith in the legislative process,” said Rep. Fitzgerald. “We must throw open the doors of the legislature to shine the light of day on the people’s business.”

Thurman: Obama Address to Congress provided an "Overwhelming and Compelling Case" In Support of Health Insurance Reform

Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman, Florida Democratic Party Chair, issued the following statement after President Obama's addressed a Joint Session of Congress about his health insurance reform plan:

"Tonight, President Obama made an overwhelming and compelling case to the American people about the need to pass health insurance reform this year.

"The core of his plan is simple: provide more security and stability for people who have insurance, provide quality, affordable care to those who don't, and rein in skyrocketing costs that are crushing American families, businesses and the government itself.

"The President's plan will protect Floridians from unfair insurance industry practices. It'll prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against someone for a preexisting condition and it'll stop them from dropping someone's coverage when they get sick, and need help the most.

"Too many of Florida's residents and small businesses are struggling under the high costs of care. Reform will bring down costs, but creating a Health Insurance Exchange - a kind of one stop shop for health plans. It'll also provide new tax credits to help people buy insurance and create a public insurance option to increase competition, lower costs and expand choice. What's more, the President's plan won't add to our deficit - it'll pay for reform upfront - and it takes the best from Democratic and Republican ideas.

"We are closer than ever to passing comprehensive reform and President Obama has laid out a clear path forward. Unfortunately, Republican leaders in Florida have decided to stand in lock-step opposition to reform. They want to maintain the status quo and hurt President Obama politically. Opponents of reform have a choice. They can either stop playing partisan games and come up with their own reform proposal, or they can start explaining to the American people why it's better to stand by and do nothing at all as thousands more Floridians face skyrocketing costs and lose their coverage every day.

"While it's unfortunate that Republicans in Florida seem poised to nominate a gubernatorial candidate who, while in Congress, fought to dismantle Medicare, repeatedly voted to cut billions out of health care, and worked to make it harder for the government to crack down on health care fraud, Florida's Republican leaders should know that being the 'Party of No' on health insurance reform just won't cut it.

"Floridians support President Obama's plan for health insurance reform. The time for action is now."

U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek in Response to President Barack Obama's Address to the Nation on Health Care Reform

Congressman Kendrick B. Meek issued the following statement following President Obama’s address to a Joint Session of Congress on health care reform:

"Tonight’s speech was a game-changer. President Obama brought clarity to the health care debate. His objective is straightforward: offering stability and security in our health insurance system to Floridians with insurance and to Floridians who lack insurance.”

“The status quo is unsustainable and too many Floridians with health insurance are paying high premiums and deductibles to cover the medical needs of the uninsured and those who are wrongfully denied coverage.”

“The President made it clear that we’re entering a new phase in the health care debate. With over 80% agreement among various committee proposals, it is now time to pull together all components into a single piece of legislation. With skyrocketing health care costs bankrupting American families and businesses, doing nothing is not an option. In Florida alone, over 3,500 people lose their health coverage each week. We cannot afford to sit by and do nothing.”

“Those who disagree with insurance reform are offering no alternative pathway to fixing the health care system other than rhetoric. The time for reform is now upon us.”

Kendrick B. Meek Hails Historical Significance of Virginia Key Beach Park of Miami

U.S. Representative Kendrick B. Meek released the following statement regarding House Resolution 361, which recognizes the historical significance of Virginia Key Beach Park of Miami, Florida:

“Today, I rise in support of House Resolution 361, which recognizes the historical significance of the Virginia Key Beach Park of Miami, Florida. This Resolution recognizes the importance of a park that despite being born through the scourge of segregation grew to become an important part of South Florida culture. This park, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places and has a Florida Historical Marker, has a unique importance to South Florida and I commend my colleague, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen for introducing and bringing this Resolution to the floor. I am honored to be the lead Democratic cosponsor on this Resolution.”

“From 1945 until 1982, Virginia Key Beach played an important role in the lives of South Floridians. In 1962, Virginia Key Park was created for African Americans, who had no place where ‘colored’ people could enjoy the legendary beaches along and in the waters of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Through the hard work of many, including Lawson B. Thomas and then-County Commissioner Charles H. Crandon, Virginia Key Park was created and quickly became a popular place of recreation for African Americans.”

“By 1962, desegregation led to widespread enjoyment of beautiful Virginia Key Park. Unfortunately, without the support that the park enjoyed before desegregation and with the City of Miami unprepared for the costs of maintaining the park, the park closed in 1982 and an important part of South Florida history was lost.”

“But the African American community never forgot the park and its role to the community. By 1990, the City of Miami Commission established the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust to restore, reopen, and preserve the site for public use. The late community leader M. Athalie Range worked diligently to save Virginia Key Beach Park from the grasp of developers, and deliver it back to the people.”

“I applaud the efforts of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen in recognizing the cultural importance of Virginia Key Park and honoring efforts of those community leaders like M. Athalie Range and my mother, former-Representative Meek, to preserve our South Floridian cultural heritage.”

House Democratic Leader Statement Regarding Florida Power & Light Co Rates and Regulation

Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement today:

“I am closely monitoring recent news coverage concerning Florida Power & Light Company. I remain deeply and seriously concerned about the significant, if not excessive, rate hikes being sought by FPL.

“Florida Power & Light Co. is a stable utility provider and an important component of our business community. But I’m disappointed that FPL is seeking a major rate hike at the wrong time for Floridians. Because of high unemployment, record levels of home foreclosures, and unemployment compensation drying up for many out-of-work Floridians, this a horribly bad time to for families and small businesses to contend with even more exorbitant utility costs.

“Meanwhile, I am aware that news reports suggest that a questionably cozy relationship exists between the Public Service commission and regulated utilities. I have stated publicly on several occasions that state legislators deserve a full and public explanation of how rate hikes are reviewed and approved. Similarly, the public deserves a high level of confidence that any increases in their utility costs are legally justified and well deserved.”

Background on McCollum: Cutting Medicare, Aiding HMOs And Big Insurers

McCollum: Cutting Medicare, Aiding HMOs and Big Insurers

During his 20 years in Washington, Bill McCollum voted to cut billions of dollars from Medicare. He voted to cut Medicare in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Bill McCollum voted with the insurance companies and drug companies against a real Patient’s Bill of Rights. He wanted to protect nursing homes that hurt seniors from being held accountable through the court system. McCollum spent his 20 years in Washington fighting for the drug companies. He opposed competition in the allergy drug market, costing Americans $11 billion. He supported insurance- and drug-company backed legislation to make prescription drug coverage optional, and he supported privatizing Medicare. McCollum chaired a coalition of big businesses to lobby for changes to health care system that would benefit them by limiting treatments insurance companies would cover. He tried to protect companies that defraud Medicare and the taxpayers.

Voted to Cut Billions from Medicare

During his 20 years in Washington, Bill McCollum voted to cut billions of dollars from Medicare. He voted to cut Medicare in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997.

McCollum Voted to Cut $3.2 Billion From Medicare Spending in 1990. In 1990 McCollum voted for a Kasich substitute amendment to the fiscal 1991 Budget Resolution that included a $3.2 billion cut in Medicare spending. [HConRes310, Roll Call Vote 84, 4/26/90; Rejected 106-305]

McCollum Voted to Cut Medicare by $27.2 Billion Over Five Years in 1991. In 1991 McCollum voted for a Kasich substitute amendment to Fiscal 1992 Budget Resolution that included Medicare cuts of $27.2 billion over five years. [HConRes121, Roll Call Vote 69, 4/17/91; Rejected 114-303]

McCollum Was One of Only 89 House Members Who Voted to Cut Medicare by $25.2 Billion Over Five Years in 1991. In 1991 McCollum voted for a Gradison substitute amendment to Fiscal 1992 Budget Resolution that included Medicare cuts of $25.2 billion over five years. [HConRes121, Roll Call Vote 70, 4/17/91; Rejected 89-335]

McCollum Was One of Only 60 House Members Who Voted to Cut $138.5 Billion From Medicare, Medicaid Over Five Years in 1992. In 1992 McCollum was one of only 60 members of the United States House of Representatives to vote for a Dannemeyer substitute amendment to the Fiscal Year 1993 Budget Resolution that included $138.4 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid programs over five years. [HConRes287, Roll Call Vote 38, 3/4/92; Rejected 60-344]

McCollum Voted to Cut $34 Billion From Medicare in 1993. In 1993, McCollum voted for a bi-partisan Penny-Kasich amendment to a 1993 spending cut resolution that included $34 billion in Medicare cuts. [HR3400, Roll Call Vote 609, 11/22/93; Rejected 213-219]

McCollum Voted for $270 Billion Medicare Cut in 1995. In 1995 McCollum voted for House adoption of the 1995 Budget Reconciliation Act that included a $270 billion cut from Medicare. [HR2491, Roll Call Vote 742, 10/26/95; Adopted 227-203]

McCollum Voted to Cut $158.1 Billion in Medicare Over Six Years in 1996. In 1996 McCollum voted for adoption of the Fiscal 1997 Budget Resolution Conference Report that included $158.1 billion in Medicare spending cuts over six years. [HR2425, Roll Call Vote 731, 10/19/95; Adopted 231-201]

McCollum Voted For $115 Billion Reduction in Medicare in 1997. In 1997 McCollum voted for adoption of the Fiscal 1998 Budget Reconciliation Act that included a $115 billion reduction in Medicare. [HR2015, Roll Call Vote 241, 6/25/97; Adopted 270-162]

Against Patients Bill of Rights, For Protecting Businesses from Accountability

McCollum Voted Against Real, Comprehensive Patient’s Bill of Rights. In 1998, McCollum voted against a Dingell substitute amendment to the Republican version of the Patient Protection Act that would have enacted a comprehensive patient’s bill of rights that included doctor choice, access to OB-GYN’s as a primary care physician under plans, eliminated doctor gag rule to allow free communications between physician and patient, notify patient’s of changes in drug formulary, prohibited restriction on hospital length of stay and amended ERISA to allow for recovery of damages under state laws. [HR4250, 105th Congress, Roll Call Vote 336]

McCollum Voted for Severely Watered Down Republican Version of Patients Bill of Rights. In 1998, McCollum voted for HR4250 proposed by Republican Gingrich called “The Patient Protection Act of 1998.” The bill was a severely watered down version to Dingell’s plan. It would have prohibited plans from imposing restrictions on their doctors for advice provided to a patient; requiring plans to cover emergencies; requiring plans to have OB-GYN’s to provide access without primary care physician referral; allowing pediatric specialists as primary care physician; notify patient’s of changes in drug formulary, calls for external review and the granting of civil penalties and attorney’s fees if a plans external review recommends coverage and the plan does not provide the benefit thereafter, created Small Business Affordable Health Care Act of 1998 and placed caps of damages, established statute of limitations and other anti-consumer changes to medical malpractice law. [105th Congress, Roll Call Vote 339, HR4250]

McCollum Advocated Limits on Malpractice Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes. McCollum, who voted for the 1997 Balanced Budget Act that cut Medicare reimbursements, said astronomical lawsuits against nursing homes were the problem. He advocated placing limits on the amounts awarded in malpractice lawsuits against nursing homes. [Orlando Sentinel, 7/7/00]

On Side of Drug, Insurance, HMOs in Health Care Fight

McCollum Sponsored Legislation Blocking Introduction of Competitors to Allergy Drug Claritin, Forcing Americans to Pay $11 Billion More. McCollum co-sponsored a bill advocated by drug giant Schering-Plough to block less-costly competitors to its allergy drug Claritin and seven other drugs, used mostly by seniors. “The bill, which would extend the patents on the drugs for three years, is a national disaster for 45 million uninsured Americans, including 15 million seniors, who pay the highest prices for drugs out of their own pockets,” said Tracie Onbashian in a South Florida Sun-Sentinel op/ed. “According to the University of Minnesota, the bill would force Americans to pay $11 billion too much for medicine…The most likely reason members of the Florida delegation are supporting Schering-Plough is cold, hard cash. The company spent over $4 million on lobbyists and political contributions to push its bill in Congress.” [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/17/00]

McCollum’s Prescription Drug Plan Emphasized Insurance Industry. McCollum has voted for a GOP-favored prescription drug plan that would have subsidized voluntary coverage by insurance companies. [Tampa Tribune, 7/7/00]

McCollum Supported Moves to Privatize Medicare. Addressing Medicare reform in 2000, McCollum said he voted for a bill that would have created a “public-private” partnership to encourage insurance companies to offer health-insurance policies with prescription-drug coverage. The program he supported would have replaced Medicare with a federal guarantee that the insurance companies wouldn’t lose money. “I think it’s a good plan,” he said. “I believe this is one that provides the best of all worlds.” At the time, thousands of elderly residents throughout Florida had lost their Medicare HMOs after insurance companies stopped providing the coverage, a problem expected to worsen. [Orlando Sentinel, 7/7/00]

McCollum-Chaired Healthy Florida Foundation is Coalition of Big Businesses and Insurance Companies. The Healthy Florida Foundation, chaired by McCollum, is a coalition of major businesses and health-care providers. The Healthy Florida Foundation includes Gulf Power Company, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Eckerd Corporation, Walt Disney World and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. [Tallahassee Democrat, 12/18/03]

McCollum Chaired Group That Recommended Limiting Treatments Health Insurers are Required to Cover as a Means of Reducing Costs. The Healthy Florida Foundation, chaired by McCollum suggested limiting treatments health insurers are required to cover as a means of reducing costs. “Limiting what health plans are required to cover has been pushed for several years as a way to try and rein in the cost of health insurance,” according to the Associated Press. “But it’s highly controversial, with nearly every type of treatment having a constituency of people who need it and argue for mandatory coverage of it. Without a state requirement, many expensive treatments would never be covered leaving sick people with no way to pay for it, advocates say.” [Associated Press, 12/17/03]

McCollum Tried to Gut Law Outlawing Fraud Against Government, Empowering Whistleblowers. According to Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, McCollum’s “Health Care Claims Guidance Act” was “unconscionable” and an effort to “gut” the Fair Claims Act, which outlawed fraud against the government and empowered whistleblowers and the government to file suits against federal contractors to recover taxpayer losses, with the whistleblower getting a cut of any recovery. The Department of Justice said McCollum’s proposal would “fundamentally undermine our law-enforcement efforts to protect the integrity of the Medicare Trust Fund.” Critics noted that McCollum had recently taken $7,300 in health care contributions, including $3,000 from Columbia big-shots. [Orlando Sentinel, 8/2/98]

Republican Senator Grassley’s Floor Speech Laced with McCollum Criticism. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley laced into McCollum in a 1998 floor speech after McCollum filed a bill that critics said would have made it harder for the Justice Department to pursue fraud complaints that run into the billions of dollars each year, and which had been blamed for higher Medicare premiums. In his speech, Grassley said he was “dismayed” that McCollum filed his bill even after the Justice Department agreed to fine-tune the law in response to industry complaints. “Even more amazing, Congressman McCollum, it is reported, still plans to move forward with this bill that would gut the False Claims Act,” Grassley said at the time. “Consequently, the False Claims Acct is, and will remain, a target of those industries that accept billions and billions of taxpayer dollars annually and balk at strict accountability.” [Miami Herald, 9/26/00]

Tampa Tribune Editorial: Had McCollum’s Legislation Passed Columbia/HCA Healthcare Would Have Avoided $745 Million Settlement. An October 2000 Tampa Tribune editorial noted that during his time in Congress, McCollum introduced a bill that would have watered down the federal False Claims Act that rewards and protects whistleblowers who document fraud in government billings. Had his questionable legislation passed, Columbia/HCA Healthcare could have avoided a $745 million settlement. [Tampa Tribune, 10/29/00]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's Indoctrination Speech to Schoolchildren

Jim Greer is a moron.

Friday, September 4, 2009

An open letter to Congressman Wexler regarding his support for Blue Dog Lori Edwards

Congressman Wexler,

It disturbs me greatly to hear that you have endorsed Lori Edwards, a Blue Dog DINO, for Florida CD12. I am a Progressive Democrat who looked to you for leadership in this most dysfunctional of States, and to see that you have gone against your own beliefs to support someone who has gone on record as opposing the Healthcare overhaul and the public option confounds me to no end. It calls into questions whether you really believe in the Progressive value you say that you do. I am a resident of CD12, in an area (Hillsborough County) that Ms. Edwards has said does not matter to her. She is a Blue dog who has gotten contributions from Healthcare companies and big business. I walked miles for Obama, I walked miles for our openly Gay County Commissioner whom we got elected, because I stand up for what I believe in, Progressive Values, and I stand up for what is right. Clearly, by supporting Edwards, you do not. I, my 3 kids and wife, have donated to every progressive candidate who asks for money, and am an elected committeeman. I cannot and will not support Lori Edwards, and now cannot and will not support ANY so called progressive who goes against his own beliefs because it is politically easy, now I question the thousands of hours I have put in for people like you who can so easily turn away from your beliefs because it is convenient, or a congressional buddy told you to. Shame on you Congressman. I bought your book . . . maybe the title should be Fire Breathing (when it is convenient) not-so-liberal. If she does get elected, she will make it harder for Progressives on the I4 corridor, in the same vain as Senator Nelson has made things harder. I do not want to hear anything from you about how the Blue Dogs are standing in the way . . . you helped put them there.

Disappointed Democratic Leader,

Don Moffett

Beaven chosen to attend the Ms. President Master Class

Heather Beaven, a Democratic candidate for US Congress in Florida’s District 7, is being recognized as an up-and-coming woman by The White House Project, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that aims to advance women’s leadership. Beaven has been selected to attend a two day workshop for women seeking public office.

She is among a select group of women chosen to attend the Ms. President Master Class, which is described as a rigorous program, participants will receive a “diversity of training and community organizing experience”. According to their website,, the White House Project strives to support women and the issues that allow women to lead in their own lives and in the world.

The Ms. President Master Class is designed to give female candidates the tools they need to succeed in their campaigns for public office as well as in their leadership roles in the community.

Beaven is a wife and a mother. She is a social entrepreneur and a Navy veteran. She is the CEO of The Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates, a state-wide non-profit organization where she focuses all of her energies on helping young Floridians finish school and learn the valuable job skills that they need to become successful adults.

Beaven believes in an educational system that encourages leadership, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through a hands-on approach to teaching which focuses on math and science as well as languages, arts, humanities and sports. She wants to focus on entrepreneurship and job creation through home-based employment, green jobs, grey jobs, flex time, career changing, and job sharing, Finally, she is fighting veterans through revamping the Veterans Affairs program, through fully funding the Veterans Employment and Training program and for taking care of social, health and mental health problems for veterans.

Beaven’s website is

As We Celebrate America's Workers ...

From Heather Beaven:

Dear Friends,

On June 29, 1894, striking workers were beaten and killed for standing up for their rights as employees. Later Congress unanimously established Labor Day as a national holiday. Labor Day, they claimed, was to celebrate "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations." As we celebrate Labor Day, keep in mind that this has been a year of deep burden for many families.

Next week, our Congressional members will return to Washington D.C. They will each receive a compensation package in excess of $228,000 which includes exceptional health insurance, retirement and paid time off. They will each be responsible for a one million dollar budget to run their District and D.C. offices. Not one of them will have their job shipped overseas and not one of them is facing a lay-off – at least not until 2010.

Their burdens are light compared to the millions of people who hired them.

The recent study Young Workers: The Lost Decade proves my point. The report shows 44% of people earning $30,000 or less don't have health benefits, 73% don't have retirement or pension benefits and half don't have paid sick leave.

If you really want to celebrate the strength of America's workers, hire people who are prepared to work for them in Washington.

Heather Beaven

Please make a pledge to contribute $7 or more a month to our campaign today.
We must raise $100,007 by the end of September.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Faye Armitage Supports the Public Option

Florida Democrats: Greer Should Re-focus His Attention to Credit Card Reforms

From FDP:

Today, the Florida Democratic Party sent the following letter responding to Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer's baseless indoctrination claims:

September 3, 2009

James A. Greer, Chairman
Republican Party of Florida
420 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Dear Chairman Greer,

Come on now. You can't be serious about these baseless indoctrination claims.

While it is clear you have been busy meeting with the 'Birthers', making up claims of death panels in the health insurance reform bills, and now recently begun studying political theory and elementary civics, maybe your time would be better spent working on credit card reform efforts.

More specifically, rather than worrying about President Obama's efforts to inspire our nations' school children to do their homework and speak to them about, "the importance of persisting and succeeding in school," maybe you should spend your time working to track down all the Republican Party of Florida's American Express Platinum cards. You know, the credit cards you gave out to all the Republican Party's elected officials including Speaker Ray Sansom, Sen. Jeff Atwater, Sen. Mike Haridopolos, Rep. Dean Cannon, and many others. In doing so, you transformed your political party into nothing more than a Tammany Hall for Republican leaders as they lived large on the slush fund that is today's Republican Party of Florida.

Or maybe you should focus your efforts on explaining to the IRS how you and other Republican leaders didn't commit tax evasion as you have been reportedly accused of doing by charging personal expenses to the RPOF. But because the only thing that the RPOF has seemingly distributed to more Republican leaders in Florida than AmEx cards is tinfoil hats - now apparently fashioned from your old AmEx Platinum cards - we were concerned that your AmEx Platinum hat blocked your ability to see the reaction to your baseless charges. As such, I wanted to make sure you saw some of the coverage., a project of the St. Petersburg Times that recently won a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts helping Americans find the truth in politics wrote:

"You might think that would be a harmless topic, and that people across the political spectrum could agree on the importance of education. Not so for the Republican Party of Florida...

We reviewed the study materials but didn't see any mention of controversial issues, let alone any attempt to indoctrinate students in socialism...

But he crossed a line when he said that Obama intended to discuss "plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies" and other policy matters not germane to education. That is factually incorrect, and the party could not offer any support for the statement. For raising the specter of socialist ideology and indoctrination, the party takes its claim to an additional, absurd level. We rate the Republican Party of Florida's statement Pants on Fire!"

And Mark Murray from NBC News wrote on their First Read blog:

"This coming Tuesday, President Obama is set to deliver a speech on education and its importance to students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA...

Yet somehow, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Jim Greer, believes Obama's speech as a platform 'to spread' his 'socialist ideology.'

...Has the state of our political discourse devolved to the point where a president's speech about the importance of education gets called a socialist power grab?"

So, rather than waste all of our time with statements that are no more credible that the craziest of conspiracy theories, maybe you should turn off Glenn Beck, tune out Rush Limbaugh, ignore the Secessionist movement and focus your energy on cleaning up the Republican culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee.

Best wishes,

Eric Jotkoff
Communications Director
Florida Democratic Party

We've got your back

From Scott Arceneaux:

In less than a week, over 3,000 people stood up and pledged to do what they can to end the culture of cronyism and corruption that is Republican leadership in Florida.

I started as the new Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party just a few weeks ago, but even I know Charlie Crist's appointment of his political crony George LeMieux was just the latest in a long list of wrongs stretching from disgraced former Speaker Ray Sansom to former lobbyist Bill McCollum to the Republican Party's AmEx slush fund.

And for months, activists like you haven't stopped working after the 2008 election - working in their local parties, exposing wrongs, and even filing ethics complaints against those Republicans that have broken the public trust.

Even then I was amazed when Eric, our Communications Director, showed me how many people took the pledge to stand up to bring new and different leadership to Tallahassee and end the status quo. After seeing the overwhelming response, I knew what I wanted to do right away. I am sending a letter with your pledges to every Democratic legislator next week - so we can say one thing together:

We've got your back.

Everyone can see that Floridians are ready to dedicate their time to rid Tallahassee of the corrupt Republican status quo. Over the next 15 months, we have the opportunity to make real strides in our efforts to bring change to Florida thanks to people like you standing up.

Thank you again.


Scott Arceneaux
Executive Director
Florida Democratic Party

Florida Democratic Party

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Florida Democratic Party Call Blasting RNC Chair Michael Steele for His "Seniors Bill of Lies" Resonates Across the State

Below please find news coverage from the Florida Democratic Party's conference call yesterday with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director Edward Coyle, AFSCME Director of Retiree Programs Steve Regenstreif blasting Republicans for their lies about seniors and health insurance reform-including the misleading RNC ad on their "Seniors Bill of Lies."

Miami Herald (Beth Reinhard) - "Healthcare battle brews in Florida": Putting Florida at the forefront of the fight over healthcare reform, the national Republican Party on Tuesday dispatched two top senators to blast President Barack Obama's agenda at a Hialeah hospital and launched a television ad promising to ``protect seniors.'' Former presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky joined Florida Sen. Mel Martinez at a polite, closed-door forum with staff at Palmetto General Hospital. Following stops in Missouri and North Carolina, it was the third joint appearance by McCain and McConnell on a road trip aimed at presenting the party's closing arguments before Congress takes up sweeping healthcare legislation next week... Outside the meeting, about 20 AFL-CIO workers rallied in favor of reform and carried signs that said, ``Healthcare can't wait.'' Florida Democratic leaders also organized a phone call with reporters to denounce the GOP ad, which is airing on national cable stations and in the northern Florida district represented by a moderate Democrat, Allen Boyd of Monticello.``They're trying to put fear in seniors' hearts and scare them into believing they will lose benefits they have now, and nothing could be farther from the truth,'' said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who said the legislation would expand coverage for prescription drugs and lower insurance costs...

West Orlando News - "Dems Respond to GOP's 'Seniors Bill of Lies'": U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director Edward Coyle, AFSCME Director of Retiree Programs Steve Regenstreif and the Florida Democratic Party today responded to the lies and misinformation the GOP is spreading about seniors and health insurance reform-including RNC's lies, which today announced a misleading ad on their "Seniors Bill of Lies." Since the health insurance reform debate began, the GOP has attempted to spread lies and misinformation about how health insurance reform will affect seniors. But the truth is, President Obama's reforms will lower costs, protect choice and provide more options. Seniors in particular will benefit from health insurance reform as it will eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, will end wasteful subsidies to the insurance companies and close the Medicare Part D prescription drug "donut hole." For seniors age 50 to 64 who are not yet eligible for Medicare, the reforms proposed by President Obama will ensure that seniors who are between jobs or have a pre-existing condition cannot be denied coverage by the insurance industry.

Sun Sentinel (William Gibson) - "Wasserman Schultz: Republicans lie about health reform": While trying to rally senior citizens behind health-care reform, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz today accused Republican leaders of misleading the American people with "scare tactics built on a foundation of lies." "Republicans don't care about reform," Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, said in a conference call with reporters. "They just care about politics." "It's our job to call out Republicans for their lies," she said.

The Swamp (Mark Silva) - "Obama's health-care Rx: coming soon": "Some of Obama's allies say the "tide" already has turned. "I think the tide has turned, I really do,'' says Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) one of the Democratic leadership's chief vote-counters in the House. "A lot of those antics at these town halls... have been manufactured... created by the Republican Party..... to get themselves on YouTube and spread fear.''

USA Today - "GOP urges Obama to 'protect senior citizens'": ... Reality Check: The ad has prompted a strong pushback from Democrats. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., called it "lies" in a telephone conference Tuesday. The non-partisan says the Republicans' latest attack on the Obama health care plan is largely based on previously debunked claims, such as the charges about rationing care and a government role in end-of-life decisions."

USA Today (Kathy Kiely) - "Health care air wars resume": Republicans are concentrating on seniors. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and John McCain, R-Ariz., will be headlining a town hall meeting on health care in Miami today, and a new Republican National Committee ad, which you can watch below, argues that the president's plan will hurt Medicare recipients....The GOP ad is prompting a furious pushback by Democrats. They've sent out a four-page, single-spaced rebuttal. In addition, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose Gold Coast Florida district includes a heavy concentration of politically active seniors, is holding a conference call this afternoon to answer the ad's charges.