President Obama Archives - Page 7 of 33 - Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 5.10.16 -Rick Scott needs to address House GOP when it comes to unlocking Zika funds

Rick Scott takes his act to Washington on Wednesday, where the Florida governor hopes to rally members of Congress to approve President Obama‘s request for $1.9 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus.

So what is the hold-up? The virus seems only to be getting greater penetration into the U.S.  On Monday, the Florida Department of Health announced two new travel-related cases of Zika in Florida. The new cases — found in Orange and Pinellas counties — bring the total number of cases in Florida to 107. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 470 cases in the continental U.S., all associated with travel to Zika-affected areas.

According to the Associated Press, Republicans from states at greatest risk, such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, have been reluctant to endorse Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to battle the virus. “GOP lawmakers said they haven’t heard from many constituents, though they said that could change.”

Not every Florida Republican feels that way.

“There’s a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington — and this is the latest example,” Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan said last week. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”

Among the reasons Republicans are balking is that the request for the $1.9 billion is “supplemental” funding — that is, an emergency request that goes outside of the regular process for appropriation bills, and generally not subject to budget caps. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last month the administration could use some of the leftover money in existing accounts to combat Ebola to address immediate needs with Zika, saying, “there is enough money there, especially to deal with this year.”

The White House has already moved to redirect $589 million in existing funds to Zika, most of it from Ebola response programs. Funds were also taken from other emergency preparedness programs, which has state and local jurisdictions warning that they may be unable to address other non-Zika threats. But their request for $1.9 billion has gone nowhere in both the House and the Senate.

In other news …

Meet Joseph “JB” Benshimen, a new resident of Pinellas County, who is running as a Republican for the HD 68 seat.

Gene Siudut becomes the second candidate to file officially for the special District 7 Tampa City Council election later this year.

Kathleen Peters reported her fundraising total for April for her HD 69 reelection bid.

The Florida SEIU has endorsed Patrick Murphy in the U.S. Senate race.

And a host of advocacy groups, led by Equality Florida, is calling on the Marion County School Board to repeal its controversial bathroom bill regarding transgendered people.

On World Asthma Day, a new digital ad goes after Pam Bondi and other AGs opposing clean power plan

Tuesday is World Asthma Day, a day to raise awareness about the impact of asthma on the daily lives people, including over 23 million in the U.S. who suffer from the ailment.

Seizing on the moment to make a political statement marking the occasion is the group, who released a digital ad directed toward Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and the 25 other Republican attorneys general challenging The Clean Power Plan, an EPA rule which limits carbon emissions from power plants.

The ad, called “Harder to Breathe,” features a soundtrack of children coughing through the entirety of its 28-second duration.

“The Republican AG’s challenge to the Clean Power Plan is really about exonerating the dirty energy giants from their leading role in polluting our air and the related illnesses it causes the public,” says spokesman Blake Williams. “The only question is: if these AGs who are supposed to be public servants are instead fighting to protect the bottom line of the polluters who fill their campaign coffers, who’s left looking out for the best interests and public health of the most vulnerable communities in their states?”

Americans United for Change charge that the Republican attorneys general who oppose the EPA’s plan “are bought and paid for by big polluters,” saying they have taken in more than $2.4 million in contributions from electric utilities, coal mining and the oil and gas industries.

A New York Times investigation published in December 2014 found that Republican attorneys general formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda.

In joining the lawsuit last October, Bondi said the plan would “result in dramatically higher electricity bills and significantly less reliable services for families, businesses, hospitals and schools across the country.”

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the Clean Power Plan until at least the final months of President Obama’s presidency.

Watch the video below:


Mitch Perry Report for 5.3.16 – Only six more months of hearing about Hillary vs.The Donald – every day

Well today’s the Indiana primary, and aren’t you all excited about that?

I didn’t think so. A CNN/ORC poll released yesterday shows more than eight of 10 Americans believe Hillary Clinton will challenge Donald Trump for president in November. That was taken before Indiana votes today … or Nebraska next week … or California and New Jersey next month.

But it’s still more fun to talk about a contested convention than start talking every day about a Hillary vs. Donald confrontation, since that’s still a full half-year away!

OK, enough of this: Will this be it for Ted Cruz tonight? It’s been over for quite awhile for the Texas Senator. But you wouldn’t believe that if you tune into cable news — and why would you, since it’s all about ginning up interest (The Sanders/Clinton race tonight could be close, we should add).

Seriously, I’m sure everyone reading this watches their fair share of CNN, Fox and/or MSNBC. I’m telling you I’m trying to walk away from the flat-screen though, because there’s nothing really that new to learn.

I felt a little wistful watching John Heilemann try to keep the excitement up on his Bloomberg show, “With All Due Respect.” Heilemann was a great writer/reporter for New York magazine for years. Now he makes $1 million acting like every other pundit on cable. Good for him. Bad for us.

However this race, thanks to Donald J., has been great for everyone’s ratings (and clicks).

Since the start of the year, CNN’s prime-time audience has more than doubled to 435,000 viewers a night in its target demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, according to Nielsen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the fourth quarter last year, CNN’s average price for a 30-second prime-time spot was about $7,000, up from about $5,000 a year earlier. Fox News and MSNBC also have raised prices.

Thank God Trump survived, and Cruz didn’t, those network honchos are believing. Also a lot of political reporters.

But if it ain’t new, is it really news?

And before we go to the other news of yesterday, a quick shoutout to my sister Michele out in Richmond, California.  Happy Birthday!

In other news …

David Jolly, a former lobbyist, said on Sunday that he doesn’t believe ex-members of Congress should go back into the lobbying game, prompting a response from one of his GOP senate opponents, Todd Wilcox.

Although the business establishment supports the Tampa Bay Express toll lanes project, they’ve kept that support relatively close to the vest in recent months. Not anymore, as they announced the creation of a coalition with a website backing the $3.3 billion proposal. Meanwhile, TBX opponents howled upon learning the news.

Tampa attorney Bob Buesing becomes the first (and only, presumably) Democrat to enter the Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County — where he’ll likely face Dana Young in the fall.

Defying his leadership, Sarasota area Congressman Vern Buchanan says he doesn’t care — and is calling for the Congress to fully fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion request to combat the Zika virus.

And while Hillsborough County Commissioners dream up new ideas on where to come up with funding transportation that won’t include a sales tax, County Administrator Mike Merrill just shakes his head.

Defying GOP leadership, Vern Buchanan calls for full funding to eradicate Zika virus

Unlike some of his GOP colleagues, Sarasota-area Congressman Vern Buchanan is calling on the House of Representatives to support an additional $1.9 billion in funding requested by the Obama administration in February to contain and eradicate the virus.

“Zika’s shadow is spreading too quickly in Florida, which has one-quarter of all the Zika cases in the United States,” Buchanan said. “The rest of the country should keep in mind that summer is coming and so are the mosquitoes. Congress needs to act quickly.”

Buchanan said he is basing his decision on recent developments, including the first fatality on U.S. soil and new research revealing that Zika eats away at the fetal brain and destroys the ability to think. Researchers also say they have learned that up to 29 percent (not 1 percent as originally believed) of pregnant women infected with Zika showed fetal abnormalities. New evidence also shows that the disease can be sexually transmitted in addition to being carried by mosquitos.

The White House has already moved to redirect $589 million in existing funds to Zika, most of it from Ebola response programs. Funds were also taken from other emergency preparedness programs, which has state and local jurisdictions warning that they may be unable to address other non-Zika threats. But their request for $1.9 billion has gone nowhere in both the House and the Senate.

Two weeks ago there appeared to be a deal among Senate appropriators in which a smaller sum, about $1 billion, would be provided in emergency Zika funding as an amendment to one of the 2017 spending bills. But the Washington Post reports that plan collapsed, partly due to an unrelated issue regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

Among the reasons Republicans are balking is that the request for the $1.9 billion is “supplemental” funding — that is, an emergency request that goes outside of the regular process for appropriation bills, and generally not subject to budget caps. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last week the administration could use some of the leftover money in existing accounts to combat Ebola to address immediate needs with Zika, saying, “there is enough money there, especially to deal with this year.”

That argument isn’t resonating with Buchanan.

“There’s a reason why the public has lost confidence in Washington — and this is the latest example,” he says. “Instead of working together to protect Americans, Washington has descended into another partisan fight, with both parties blaming each other for inaction on a growing and deadly health threat.”


Vern Buchanan’s small biz tax cut bill gets some Grover Norquist love

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who once infamously said he’s like cut government down to the size “where we can drown it in the bathtub,” is publicly endorsing a small business tax cut proposal offered by Sarasota area Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan.

The bill, dubbed the Main Street Fairness Act, would establish that businesses that file taxes as passthrough income – such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations – will never pay a higher rate than a corporation. Under current law, corporations pay a maximum tax rate of 35 percent, while small business owners pay up to 39.6 percent under the individual income tax code on top of additional taxes on earnings and investments. Buchanan says these small businesses pay more than 50 percent of their income in taxes in some states. In Florida, they face an effective tax rate of 42.6 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.

“This important change helps ensure that businesses are on a level playing field for decades to come,” says Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “A key goal of tax reform should be taxing businesses equally, not discriminating based on arbitrary laws, and Congressman Buchanan’s legislation ensures this becomes reality. Members of Congress should have no hesitation supporting and co-sponsoring this pro-taxpayer, pro-small business legislation.”

Other business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce are all backing Buchanan’s bill.

“The goal of tax reform should be to boost the economy and create more American jobs,” said Buchanan in a statement. “Even President Obama has called for reducing our corporate tax rate, but merely reducing the tax burden on corporations does nothing for more than 90 percent of American businesses.”

Vern Buchanan says the truth needs to come out regarding 9/11 and the Saudi government

Sarasota area Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan says that the U.S. should “never buckle to the threats of a foreign government,” and that’s why he supports legislation that aims to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for any involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Even an ally like Saudi Arabia needs to understand our country will never compromise when it comes to keeping Americans safe and punishing those behind terrorist attacks,” Buchanan says. “If they were involved, the truth needs to come out and they need to be held accountable. The time for justice is long overdue.”

Buchanan is co-sponsoring the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (H.R. 3815), which would allow victims of terrorism, including the families of the 9/11 attacks, to pursue foreign states and sponsors of terrorism in federal court.

Saudi officials have reacted with alarm to the proposed legislation, and has warned the Obama administration that if the bill passes, they could retaliate by selling up to to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

Attention about possible Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks comes with President Obama‘s arrival in the Kingdom on Wednesday, where he received what CNN described as a “chilly reception” from Saudi leaders in Riyadh.

And it also arrives with mega attention being directed at the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 report that reportedly references possible Saudi involvement with the attacks, an issue that former Florida Senator Bob Graham has railed about for years, and where he got a primetime platform to discuss on CBS’ 60 Minutes earlier this month.

Speaking with CBS’ Charlie Rose on Monday night, Obama said he opposes the bill, which is being sponsored in the Senate by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. “If we open up the possibility that individuals in the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being sued” by individuals in other countries, he said.

Buchanan said he is disappointed at the president’s veto threat. “It’s disgraceful that victims’ families cannot get into court to prove what senior intelligence officials believe to be true,” Buchanan said. “Our government should never put Saudi Arabia’s interests ahead of the American people.”

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio says he supports the release of the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 report, but says it’s not such a “cut-and-dry thing the way it’s been represented.”

“I personally am not at the end of the day, against it being released, other than I don’t think it paints a complete picture,” Rubio told Jimmy Cefalo on WIOD-AM 610 in Miami.

The former GOP presidential candidate downplays the Saudi threats to sell U.S. treasury securities if the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act passes.

“I’m not a big fan of being threatened by foreign governments that they’re going to do this or that against us, I don’t think that’s a real threat,” Rubio said. “I’m not sure how easily they can do that. I’m not sure they can afford to do what they’re talking about doing, to be honest with you.”


Mitch Perry Report for 4.19.16 -Sanders goes after Clinton for violating campaign finance laws

Welcome to April 19, the 23rd anniversary of the Waco siege and the 21st anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

And now today’s NY state primary, which, by the shape of things, could be pretty anti-climactic. Donald Trump‘s victory is a given, and right now most polls have Bernie Sanders down by double-digits to Hillary Clinton.

The Sanders campaign made news yesterday by going public with a complaint that has been big on the Internets over the past couple of weeks in BernieWorld — that being the charge that Clinton has violated campaign finance laws with the use of a joint fundraising committee set up with the Democratic National Committee.

An attorney for Sanders contacted the DNC and said that this joint committee appeared to be improperly subsidizing her campaign by paying Clinton staffers with funds from the committee and cited other alleged violations as well.

The deal is this: wealthy donors can give $356,100 annually to the Hillary Victory Fund, the largest joint fundraising committee of its kind, according to The Washington Post. The contributions are then distributed proportionally among the campaign, the DNC, and state parties.

But the Post reported that before distributing out its proceeds, “the victory fund has spent millions on direct mail and online ads seeking small donors to support Clinton’s campaign. The victory fund also sponsors Clinton’s online store, allowing donors who have already given the maximum to her campaign to purchase Hillary lapel pins, caps or car magnets, with their money benefiting the party.”

The questionable outlays “have grown to staggering magnitudes” and “can no longer be ignored,” writes Brad Deutsch, Sanders’ attorney.

The expenditures on advertising and fundraising are at best “an impermissible in-kind contribution from the DNC and the participating state party committees” to Clinton’s presidential campaign, the letter says. “At worst, using funds received from large-dollar donors who have already contributed the $2,700 maximum to HFA [Hillary for America] may represent an excessive contribution to HFA from these individuals.”

Robbie Mook, Hillary’s campaign manager, was furious in his response.

“This accusation is false,” he said in a statement. “They’re questioning our joint fundraising agreement with the DNC, which allows us to support Democrats running up and down the ticket — the same fundraising structure used by President Obama in 2008 and 2012.”

Look goes on to say that “this latest incident is part of a troubling pattern of behavior — occurring just as Bernie’s mathematical odds of winning the nomination dwindle toward zero — in which Sanders and his team are not just debating us on issues (which we all agree is perfectly fair), but rather attacking Hillary Clinton’s character, integrity, and motivations.”

At the risk of sounding trite, these two camps are really, really growing bitter. Some say this doesn’t reach the vitriol between the Clinton and Obama camps in ’08, but actually to me, it’s worse. I don’t remember up to 25 percent of Clinton supporters saying they wouldn’t vote for Obama (though I do remember many of those “Pumas” saying they would back John McCain).

And a programming note: I’ll be interviewing Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on WMNF 88.5 FM radio at noon. Please listen!

In other news …

Congrats to Tampa Bay Times reporters Leonora LaPeter AntonCara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Garter and Michael La Forgia for their Pulitzer Prizes that were awarded Monday.

Activists opposing the Go Hillsborough half-cent sales tax are already gearing up to lobby against the proposal when Hillsborough County Commissioners vote on whether to put it on the ballot next week.

Want to celebrate tonight’s expected Donald Trump blowout in the Empire State with like-minded supporters? Go to Channelside, my friend.

Bill Nelson has some friendly advice for his Senate colleague Marco Rubio regarding his rant last week about an amendment failing to get passed in the Senate.

And Kathy Castor issued praise for President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that came before the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday.

Kathy Castor praises Obama immigration actions as case goes to Supreme Court

Arguments were held in the Supreme Court Monday in United States v. Texas, the intensely fought legal battle regarding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that he made in November of 2014.

Obama’s proposal would create a new program to allow the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to obtain temporary work authorization to remain in the country. The administration also intends to expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, that provides similar relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. years ago as children.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was one of twenty five Attorneys General who joined the Texas lawsuit, which asserts that the Obama administration overstepped its constitutional authority by granting work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants and promising them a reprieve from deportation. The states argue that “unilateral suspension of the Nation’s immigration laws is unlawful” and that only the judiciary’s “immediate intervention can protect the [states] from dramatic and irreparable injuries.”

Tampa Democratic Representative Kathy Castor says Obama was compelled to make his executive action because of GOP intransigence.

“In the face of Republican obstruction, it was necessary for President Obama to act by executive order, just as he did in 2012 when he granted temporary relief to DREAM Act students who were born outside America but know no other country and have no other home,” Castor said in a statement. “It is within the President’s authority to take appropriate steps to focus law enforcement efforts on deporting felons, not families. In Florida, an estimated 150,000 of our neighbors are eligible for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and 14,000 are eligible for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – these productive individuals could come out of the shadows, work, go to school and participate in our economy.”

With only eight members on the high court, a 4-4 tie would essentially be a loss for the president and a win for his opponents. That’s because a tie would leave in place the appeals court ruling that blocks the plan from being implemented.

Throughout Florida, a coalition of immigration activists held actions noting the event, including members of SEIU Florida, LULAC and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, who met on Monday afternoon in Centennial Park in Ybor City.

Castor’s district includes much of Hillsborough County, which currently has a Latino population of at least 26.5 percent (according to U.S. Census Bureau information from mid-2014).


Patrick Murphy and Florida Education Association to meet the press

Will the state’s largest teachers union take sides in the ultra-competitive Democratic Senate race later this morning?

That could be the case as Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy is scheduled to hold a news conference with The Florida Education Association on Monday.

The endorsement would be a big prize for the South Florida Democrat, who’s battling Orlando-area Congressman Alan Grayson for the Democratic nomination.

Both men have strong unions behind them, but Murphy has been cleaning up when it comes getting the support of fellow Democrats. Among those in his camp include President Obama, Vice President Biden and former U.S. Senator Bob Graham.

A Public Policy Poll released last month shows the race to be dead even, with Grayson up over Murphy by one percentage point, 33 percent to 32 percent.

Leon Panetta is backing Eric Lynn in CD 13 race

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is endorsing Eric Lynn in the race for the open Pinellas County 13th Congressional District seat being vacated by David Jolly.

“I am proud to endorse Eric Lynn for Congress,” Panetta said in a prepared statement. “I know Eric well, and as a valued adviser to me during my time as Secretary of Defense, he proved that he has the resolve, experience, and good judgment that it takes to be a strong and effective leader in Congress. During these challenging times both at home and abroad, Eric has the knowledge and courage to fight to protect the national and economic security of all Americans and their families.”

The endorsement is a nice feather in Lynn’s hat, as he battles a tremendous lack of name recognition in the Democratic primary race against Charlie Crist. A Public Policy Polling survey released last month shows Crist with a huge lead over Lynn, 71 percent to 11 percent.

Lynn, 37, left his work with the Pentagon a year ago to run for Congress. He served six years at the Department of Defense in the Obama administration, where he advised three Secretaries of Defense, including Panetta (the others were Chuck Hagel and Bob Gates).

Of the endorsement, Lynn said, “I had the privilege of serving Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon where we worked to fight radicalism, promote peace, and keep our country safe. As the CIA Director during the 2011 assault on Osama Bin Laden, White House Chief of staff and a Democratic member of Congress, Leon Panetta knows what it takes to be a great leader in Washington and I am honored to have his support.”

The 77-year-old Panetta has had an extremely distinguished career in public service. He represented the Monterey area of California in Congress from 1977 to 1993 before serving as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and as President Bill Clinton‘s Chief of Staff.

President Barack Obama selected him to lead the CIA from 2009-2011 before becoming Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013.

The winner of the Crist-Lynn primary in August 30 will then go to general election in November. Retired Marine Corps Reserve Brig. Gen. Mark Bircher is the only Republican in the race at the moment, while former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker is said to be considering a possible entry.

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