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Rick Scott releases excerpts of RGA speech for Monday night

Gov. Rick Scott has released excerpts of his prepared remarks for Monday night’s Republican Governor’s Association’s Executive Roundtable Reception and Dinner in Orlando.

“Expected attendees include around 30 Republican governors from all across the country, including new incoming governors,” said Melissa Stone, spokeswoman for Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s political committee, and his former chief of staff.

The unedited excerpts are below:

“The most striking part about this election is how the pundits and the so-called ‘experts’ inside the beltway had already written the obituary of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

“For months, they were saying that we were dead and gone …

“But, Americans were demanding outright change in this election.”


“Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders took both parties by surprise because voters are tired of anyone who doesn’t want to tear down DC and start over.

“Voters were screaming: WE WANT AN OUTSIDER.

“Americans are tired of being lied to. We are tired of politicians we would never hire, who give long, eloquent speeches that say nothing. We are tired of political correctness at the cost of getting something done! And we are especially tired of Washington elites telling us who to vote for.”


“I met Donald Trump about 20 years ago. He’s a businessman and a friend, and that’s why I backed him so enthusiastically, chaired his super PAC, and raised $20 million to fund TV ads to help him get elected.

“Here is the single most important thing about this presidency — Donald Trump does not fear disruptive change. That is exactly what we need at the federal level. The voters spoke clearly — they want disruptive change and that is why they sent him to the White House.”


“We must repeal Obamacare: The elites in DC have created a myth that we cannot repeal Obamacare. It’s a complete myth created by the elite insiders … and many Republicans went along with it …

Their argument was that all we can do is tweak Obamacare or make adjustments around the edges. This is complete nonsense, and it is exactly the way things go in government — they tell you all the things you CANNOT DO. You never succeed that way in business. It’s crazy.”

“We cannot afford to “TWEAK” Obamacare — that’s a terrible idea. For the good of the country we need to repeal it before it’s too late. The clock is ticking. Premiums are skyrocketing as we speak and many Americans and businesses simply cannot afford it.

“Of course, we will need to unwind it in a fair way … but we absolutely must repeal it. And remember, Obamacare was sold to the American people based on a lie in the first place!”


“We are in position to help him, and he will need help. The Empire will strike back — you can be sure they are right now planning to stop us from making real changes.

“They are planning to protect Obamacare, to protect the terrible nuclear deal with Iran, to protect Obama’s executive orders, and to stop us from getting a constitutional conservative on the Supreme Court.

“Donald Trump will no doubt be looking to many governors for examples of reforms that have worked…”

Eric Trump rallies the troops in Jacksonville, as Duval looms large in GOP calculus

As the election approaches, the Donald Trump campaign clearly is prioritizing GOTV efforts in Jacksonville.

Saturday saw Donald Trump Jr. in town, tailgating at the Florida/Georgia game. Thursday sees the candidate himself at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. And Tuesday saw Eric Trump making three stops in Jacksonville, rallying the troops at volunteer locations.

The first of three stops was in Downtown Jacksonville, where an enthusiastic cadre of Trump volunteers greeted the GOP candidate’s son, brandishing signs of support or smartphones to take pictures to commemorate the occasion.

Remarkably, Trump supporters were on hand from as far away as Ohio and Alabama for this event, held in what Duval County GOP Chairwoman Cindy Graves called “the biggest battleground state in the union.”

“When you have that kind of enthusiasm,” Trump said, “that’s why we’re going to win.”

Trump conveyed enthusiasm about his father’s chances, saying regarding early voting that “we’re actually leading and Republicans have never led.”

And like father, like son: Trump the younger cited a “poll this morning” saying that Trump was up 11 points among people who will vote on Election Day,

“If we go into this thing on par,” Trump said, “we will win in a landslide.”

From there, Trump made the case against the Clinton campaign and its continuation of the policies of the current administration.

Trump cited $20 trillion in debt, an educational system that is now 30th in the world, a “depleted military,” median income that has been stagnant for 15 years, and a net loss of a third of manufacturing jobs since the Bill Clinton administration.

And then there’s Obamacare.

Trump noted that in Arizona, premiums are up 116 percent.

“Remember the promise,” Trump said of Obama’s pitch of the Affordable Care Act. “You can keep your plan, you can keep your doctor,” and the premium would be “less than your cellphone bill.”

That promise, said Trump, went unfulfilled.

The average family’s premium: up $4,500 a year, Trump said, leading into an anecdote about a mother he had met previously, who had been left behind by the ACA.

The woman broke down into tears during a conversation with Trump, saying that she used to have health care coverage for herself and her family.

Now she faces a $700 tax penalty at the end of the year, she told him, “because I can’t afford a bad system.”

Her family is without healthcare.

“Even if I could afford it,” she told Trump, “the deductible is 12 to 13 thousand dollars.”

“We’re not winning with anything,” Trump said, before pivoting into a discussion of WikiLeaks and Clintonian corruption.

“If one thing came out of WikiLeaks,” Trump said, “it’s how corrupt the system is.”

“Never before in the history of the country,” Trump added, has there been a “presidential candidate under investigation by the FBI.”

Citing problems in Haiti and close connections between the Clintons and the Saudi and Qatari governments, Trump cited the Clinton Foundation as “one of the most corrupt” enterprises going.

This election, from the Democratic primary straight through to early November, has been a referendum on the Clintons.

In Jacksonville, Eric Trump made a familiar closing argument, preaching to the choir.

Their role for the next week: to mobilize the base to counterbalance the inevitable advantages the Clinton ticket will have with other demographics.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.26.16 — Can Donald Trump exploit ACA premium increases?

The announcement this week that premiums for “silver” health care plans in the state-based exchanges will rise by an average of 22 percent next year has received maximum news coverage, including by political reporters who think it could an “October surprise” that benefits the Republican Party.

It is a gift to Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and other Republicans running in tight races, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out over this week, and how Hillary Clinton addresses the issue.

In Rubio’s hands, it could be a devastating talking point in tonight’s second and final Senate debate against Patrick Murphy. With polls showing the Democrat closing the gap, Rubio will need to unleash his full artillery in the statewide-aired broadcast.

But can Trump make it work for him?

Standing before dozens of his employees at his Doral golf resort Tuesday, he lamented that “what they’re going through with their healthcare is horrible because of Obamacare.”

One little problem. Most of Trump’s employees are covered by private insurance.

“There really isn’t a need for the vast majority of our employees to purchase Obamacare,” David Feder, Doral’s general manager, told reporters quickly after the political event wrapped up.

I’ve actually found that to be the case with some ACA haters over the past couple of years. They complain about their premiums going up, and then admit they actually aren’t on the ACA themselves.

Nevertheless, it’s definitely good news for Trump, and not so much for the Dems. Last month was a little better for Clinton and the Democrats on that front, when it was announced the national uninsured rate had been cut nearly in half since 2010 to 8.6 percent of the population — the first time it had ever dropped below 9 percent. That’s a substantial achievement.

According to reports, the rate increase will most likely affect people who do not qualify for government subsidies, which is around five to seven million people . Those people (which includes me personally) will feel the pinch to some extent next year, depending on what state you live in.

Clinton and Murphy have both talked about a public option, a government-run insurance program to compete with private health insurance, as a possible remedy. But they haven’t said much about it. They should. Democrats talking about “making tweaks” just isn’t going to cut it, regardless of how the election turns out.

In other news …

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia says he thinks the battle to win Florida will be much closer than people think.

It was a wild Hillsborough County PTC meeting Tuesday, with the bottom line being — well, nothing’s changed actually, though PTC executive director Kyle Cockream says he’s the victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by the local media and PTC chairman Victor Crist.

As early voting continues, Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver visited East Tampa to admire the Sunshine State’s dedication to early voting.

The Tampa Greater Realtors is backing Democrat David Singer over Republican Jackie Toledo in the HD 60 race.


New Jay Fant ad takes on ‘Washington’

House District 15 Rep. Jay Fant, running against a write-in candidate in the Westside Jacksonville district where his family is iconic, spent almost $10,000 on production of a TV spot in late September.

What did Fant get for that? A well-produced plate of red meat.

The title of the ad is  “November” and the premise: the biggest problems people in HD 15 face come from “Washington.”

The spot contains everything you’d expect from a Northeast Florida Republican: shots of Fant walking through industrial spaces where American flags are displayed, along with images of Fant talking to military veterans and shaking hands with restaurant patrons.

Fant’s voiceover is laid over a piano track, in which he says things like “two years ago, you elected me [to be] our state representative, to defend our values and create jobs.”

“Right now,” Fant adds, “the biggest challenge faced by our small businesses is Washington.”

Thus, Fant worked to stop Obamacare, end funding for sanctuary cities, and pushed back against federal regulation.

“Conservatives are on the rise,” Fant concluded. “This November, let’s make our voices heard.”

The ad is being seen on television in the Jacksonville market, including broadcast and cable buys.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.11.12 — Bill Clinton comes back to Tampa Bay

Bill Clinton comes to Pinellas County tonight, after two earlier scheduled events in Palm Beach County and Fort Myers, and the question is: will he make news?

The 42nd president of the United States got himself and his wife’s campaign into all types of hot water when he “blasted” the Affordable Care Act last week, though a closer look at his words show his stance isn’t radically different than what Hillary Clinton has been saying on the stump — though certainly not as bluntly.

“The current system works fine if you’re eligible for Medicaid, if you’re a lower-income working person, if you’re already on Medicare, or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your healthcare,” he said. “But the people that are getting killed in this deal are small-business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they’re not organized, they don’t have any bargaining power with insurance companies, and they’re getting whacked. So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have healthcare and then the people that are out there busting it — sometimes 60 hours a week — wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.”

The fact of the matter is, there ARE problems with the ACA, and only the most partisan Democrat could say otherwise.

The argument about how to fix it has been stuck in such partisanship, since House Republicans have insisted for years there is no way to fix the situation, but instead it should be repealed outright. That couldn’t happen under a President Obama (or President Clinton), but what about under a President Trump?

In The Atlantic last week, reporter Julie Rovner listed a series of actions Trump could do to undermine the law, though he could not on his own outright repeal it.

A new Trump administration “really could collapse the federal exchange marketplace and the state exchanges if they end cost-sharing” payments to insurers, said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of law and health policy at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Another way to undermine the law would be to not enforce its various provisions, especially the individual mandate.

Of course, it’s not looking good on the Trump train four weeks out, but the question is: if the Republicans still control one of the two branches of Congress, would they be willing to work with the Democrats in agreeing on some corrections? The American economy is at stake in this discussion, but in this fact-free political debate this fall, it’s rarely being talked about.

Maybe Bill Clinton did do everybody a favor, after all, in getting Democrats to more publicly admit the law needs fixes. But it takes two parties to make anything happen in Washington, and that hasn’t been happening at all in recent years.

In other news …

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards paid a visit to the USF campus, where she told a group of mostly female students that as part of the millennial demographic, they will decide the next POTUS.

Patrick Murphy is calling Marco Rubio a “coward” for refusing to renounce Trump after his 11-year-old recording of lascivious comments went global on Friday.

Both Murphy and Rubio have released new Spanish-language television commercials; Rubio leads Murphy among Latinos in Florida, thanks to much better name recognition.

A Pinellas tea party group has produced a list of candidates they’re endorsing for next month’s election, and David Jolly appears to be the only Republican not on the list.

Chris Hudson: Death, taxes and health care

health-care-costs-2-largeThough death and taxes have long been thought to be the two certainties in life, it’s now looking like skyrocketing health care costs comes in a close third.

Florida state officials recently approved an average health insurance premium increase of 19 percent. And these hikes come after state officials raised rates 9.5 percent last year and 13.2 percent in 2014.

But this year, those of us who call the Sunshine State home can help prevent skyrocketing costs from becoming the new norm. When we go to the ballot box this November, we have the chance to make the U.S. Senate election a referendum on Obamacare.

The reality is that Floridians have already expressed their wishes: they don’t want to keep the collapsing health care law. That was clear in the spring of 2015 when the majority of Floridians opposed expanding Medicaid, which was in effect a backdoor effort to lock Florida into Obamacare.

That’s not surprising, since Floridians have experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of the law. Many residents don’t know how they will afford a nearly 20 percent increase in health insurance premiums. And for individuals on some plans, the increase is far worse. For example, more than 92,000 people who will likely be insured by Humana are looking at an average increase of 37 percent.

That could mean that for a family of four currently paying $4,500 a year, they may need to find an additional $1,700 a year just to meet their premium cost.

But it’s not just premiums that are on the rise; out-of-pocket costs keep escalating too. From 2015 to 2016, deductibles increased by an average of nearly $1,000. That means that patients must pay an additional $1,000 toward any medical expenses before insurance will kick in and cover the costs. So individuals are paying more for health insurance, but getting less in return. Most of the cheapest plans now have deductibles of over $5,000, with some closing in on $6,200. That’s money Floridians can’t use to pay their bills and save for the future.

No wonder patients told The New York Times that Obamacare insurance is “all but useless.”

The higher costs, however, are only one side of the bad bargain. Equally disheartening is the dwindling choice on the exchanges. Since Obamacare went into effect, Floridians now have almost a third of the insurance options they had before the exchanges. Now, all but 10 Florida’s counties only have one or two insurers to choose from on the exchange. As is the case in most marketplaces, fewer choices mean less competition — which leads to higher costs and lower quality.

Many customers who do purchase care on the exchanges can’t find doctors covered under their plans.

Floridians now know beyond a doubt that further entrenching Obamacare would only result in higher costs and more harm to countless friends, family, and neighbors. So for those who think Obamacare isn’t working, the vote for U.S. Senate seat must exclude the candidate who has proudly backed the law — and wants to expand it.

If we elect politicians who are committed to the failed health care law, we can expect that costs will only further escalate while choice and quality care continue to deteriorate. That would not only endanger Floridians, but also people across the country.

Floridians have a critical role to play in the nation’s health care future. And the only way to reverse the hardships of Obamacare is to elect principled leaders who will put the people before failing big-government programs that worsen care for millions of Americans.


Chris Hudson is the Florida state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Angry Rick Scott wants Barack Obama declare Florida disaster after Hermine

No doubt there is bad blood between the Rick Scott and Barack Obama administrations.

It could be a reason why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has rejected Scott’s request for federal assistance for a multitude of bad weather events — as well as requests for federal funds for handling the Zika virus and the Pulse nightclub shooting — over the past year.

But in a letter directed to the President on Tuesday, the governor lays out the case that it’s beyond time for the feds to help out the nation’s third-biggest state, following the damages incurred from Hurricane Hermine.

In his letter, the governor states there has been more than $36 million in damages due to the hurricane. A presidential disaster declaration would provide federal resources to support recovery efforts in Florida. This request is for both individual assistance for families and public assistance to help state agencies and local governments.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that Florida families and businesses can get back on their feet following Hurricane Hermine,” Scott said in a statement issued out Tuesday afternoon. “I have traveled across the state to meet Floridians who have been personally impacted by the storm, and communities are working hard to recover from flooding and damage. The resources and financial assistance from the federal government would support our communities and help them rebuild. We look forward to President Obama immediately issuing a declaration in support of all Florida families and businesses affected by the hurricane.”

Florida was rocked significantly by weather events in August and September this year. In his letter to the president, Scott lists the amount of rainfall to specific counties, with Pinellas leading the way with more than 22 inches.

Thirty-eight different counties in the state declared local state emergencies, 39 opened up their emergency operations centers and 34 opened up shelters.

“During the preceding 12 months, the state of Florida experienced repeated emergencies that required the development of significant state resources,” Scott writes. “Individually these incidents may not have overwhelmed the ability of the State of Florida to respond. Cumulatively, however, these emergencies significantly impacted the state’s capability to provide financial support following Hurricane Hermine.”

Scott then indicates how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), under the guidance of former Floridian Craig Fugate, has refused to provide any funding from severe flooding from Aug. 1-9 of 2015, nor from the fallout of excessive El Nino-led rainstorms in January and February of 2016, nor from tornadoes that affected several Florida counties, nor to June’s Tropical Storm Colin.

Scott also cites the lack of any federal help after the Pulse nightclub shooting in June in Orlando, which led to the deaths of 49 people, the deadliest single-gunman massacre in U.S. history. Nor from the toxic algae bloom that emanated near Lake Okeechobee earlier this summer.

Three weeks ago the White House rejected Scott’s last request for a federal disaster declaration for Tampa Bay’s August flooding, prompting Scott communications director Jackie Schultz to say, “It’s disappointing that the Obama administration denied our request for federal assistance for those impacted by recent floods in the Tampa and west-central Florida areas.”

Before he ran for governor in 2010, Scott led a movement to try to bring down what would become the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). He’s also sued the Obama administration regarding veterans programs and federal hospital funding, while Attorney General Pam Bondi has joined up with other Republican attorneys general to sue the president over some issues, including his executive orders in late 2014 to shield several million undocumented immigrants from being deported.

In the immediate aftermath of the Hurricane Hermine, Tallahassee-based Democratic Representative Gwen Graham sent a letter to Obama requesting federal assistance. She said today she supported Scott’s missive to the White House.

“Hurricane Hermine was the greatest natural disaster our region has faced in a generation,” Graham said. “I fully support Governor Rick Scott’s request for federal assistance and renew my call on President Obama to quickly approve all available and applicable help for North Florida,” Representative Graham said. “North Florida families are as strong as they come, and we will recover from this storm. I’m hopeful the state and federal government will work together, as neighbors worked together after the storm, to best serve the constituents we represent.”


health insurance

David Altmaier unsure on Obamacare’s future in Florida

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier won’t commit to an answer on Obamacare being a long-term solution to the Sunshine State’s health insurance needs.

When asked Tuesday whether the insurance regime set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could be salvaged, Altmaier said “that will take a little bit more conversation; I don’t know that I’m ready to say one way or the other.”

David Altmaier
David Altmaier

The commissioner spoke with reporters after his appearance at a Florida Cabinet meeting.

Earlier this month, the Office of Insurance Regulation announced premiums for health insurance sold in Florida under the ACA would increase by an average 19 percent next year under the latest rates.

The office said it reviewed rates proposed by 15 insurers for individual and family major medical plans sold on and off the federal health care insurance exchange established under the act, colloquially known as Obamacare.

For individual plans, the highest increase would go to Humana Medical Plan Inc., at 36.8 percent. The insurer sought 43.6 percent.

“We want to make sure consumers in Florida have access to a competitive marketplace,” Altmaier said Tuesday. “I think right now, the way the market is set up, with 47 counties with only one (insurer), we don’t have that competitive market here in Florida.

“We’re going to be looking at ways to boost competition, (and) if that means taking a look at the program with our federal colleagues, then that’s a conversation worth having,” he added.

Daniel Garza: Marco Rubio fights for Florida’s Latinos

Daniel Garza

My organization, The LIBRE Initiative, has spent the last half-decade working hand in hand with our Latino community in Florida. Listening to their stories and their dreams, I’m reminded of my own parents’ decision to leave their home in Mexico and come to America in search of opportunity.

Whether we’re from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central or South America, or even if we’re fourth-generation Americans, every member of the Latino community simply wants the chance to succeed.

And that’s why we need Sen. Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

This isn’t a decision we take lightly — in fact, we’ve never supported a candidate before today. But Latinos in Florida would be hard-pressed to find a better leader, and one who stands up for what’s most important to us. Over the course of his career, Sen. Rubio has consistently fought for the policies that would unleash the economic opportunities and the expanded access to education we all seek as Americans.

Sen. Rubio has been an outspoken defender of education reform, which according to Pew Research polling, is the most important issue for Latinos. He believes every family should be able to send their children to the school of their choice, rather than be forced to send them to a failing school simply because of their ZIP code. He has introduced legislation in Congress that would give every family — including Latinos — the education they need.

The same is true of Sen. Rubio’s economic proposals. Few things are as important for both our fellow American’s and our community’s success as a healthy, growing economy. Polling from the Pew Hispanic Center shows this is the most important issue when it comes to the vote of the Latino community. No wonder: When the economy grows, it raises wages, creates jobs, and spurs the entrepreneurship that is synonymous with the American Dream.

Sen. Rubio recognizes this. That’s why he has devoted so much of his career to putting the economy on an upward trajectory. He wants to unshackle jobseekers and job creators from top-down regulations and government control, and free individuals to pursue success on their own terms. His proposals, if enacted, are time-tested and proven to lead to a brighter future for all Americans.

Sadly, economic growth and increased opportunity have been hard to come by during the Obama years — the economy is barely growing, wages are mostly stagnant, and it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet. This is the natural result of President Obama’s policies of more government and more control, which inevitably lead to less opportunity for the people who need it most. Our Latino community knows this.

The good news is that Sen. Rubio has worked to roll back the policies responsible for America’s economic woes. He also has helped stop some that would have likely made the situation even worse.

There are many examples. Sen. Rubio has helped stop higher taxes on the middle class. He opposes increased government spending, which drives America into deeper debt and mortgages our futures. He’s fighting against counterproductive energy regulations that drive up the cost of utility bills and everyday goods, yet have little effect on the actual climate. And he’s voted against special-interest handouts that enrich lobbyists and the well-connected at our expense.

Sen. Rubio’s record is especially impressive on Obamacare. There’s no doubt that the Latino community needs access to affordable health care, but Obamacare has only given us skyrocketing premiums, deductibles, and co-pays while crushing competition. We applaud Sen. Rubio for being one of the law’s most outspoken opponents, and commend him for supporting reforms that would empower patients rather than politicians.

The Latino community needs leaders who stand up and fight for opportunity — and a better future for all of us.

Sen. Marco Rubio is that leader, and Florida will make a smart decision by re-electing him this November.


Daniel Garza is executive director of The LIBRE Initiative.

Affordable Care Act insurance rates projected to rise 19 percent

Premiums for health insurance sold in Florida under the Affordable Care Act would increase by an average 19 percent next year under rates announced Friday by the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

The office said it reviewed rates proposed by 15 insurers for individual and family major medical plans sold on and off the federal health care insurance exchange established under “Obamacare.” One insurer, Harken Health Insurance Co., has since withdrawn from the Florida market.

Review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of these rates is not complete yet, state officials said.

For individual plans, the highest increase would go to Humana Medical Plan Inc., at 36.8 percent. The insurer sought 43.6 percent.

Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co.’s rates would decline by 1.5 percent.

In several cases, the department thought the insurer should get a larger increase than it asked for. Celtic Insurance Co., for example, asked for a mere 4.3 percent more. The department decided 20 percent was more like it.

The average premium would work out to $458.

A family of four in Miami-Dade County earning $53,000 per year would pay $538 per month, factoring in the federal subsidy, if they buy a mid-market “silver” plan — as do 70 percent of Floridians. That would be the highest rate in the state.

The same family would pay $260 in Monroe County.

A 28-year-old individual in Miami-Dade earning $27,000 would pay $229. His or her rate would run only $150 in Monroe.

The department said it would post detailed breakdowns of its proposed rate structure on Tuesday, when state offices are expected to reopen following Hurricane Hermine.

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