FL Democrats – Vote Against Combat Disabled Veterans

The Democrat Party of Sarasota, Florida has issued its sample ballots for the November 6, 2012 election. On the sample ballot is a recommendation to Vote No on the Florida Veterans Property Tax, Constitutional Amendment 2.

Florida Veterans Property Tax, Amendment 2 will appear on the November 6, 2012 state ballot in Florida as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The proposed measure would allow for property tax discounts for disabled veterans. This bill explicitly extends the the rights to ad valorem tax discounts, made available in 2010 to all veterans who were residents of Florida prior to their service, to all combat-disabled veterans currently living in Florida whether they were residents prior to their service or not. The proposed measure requires 60 percent voter approval for adoption.

Lee F. Kichen, Sarasota County, Florida resident and Chairman of the Legislative Committee of Florida’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) decried any recommendation to vote ‘No’ on Amendment 2. “We are absolutely astounded that there are political activists that are telling Florida voters that veterans with combat related disabilities don’t deserve a benefit earned in the crucible of battle. The precious right to vote has been guaranteed for over two hundred years by the countless sacrifices of American men and women who served in combat,” states Kichen

“A vote Yes on Amendment 2 is a vote for all of Florida”, says Kichen.

Amendment 2 changes a previously approved Constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters. According to local veterans it “rights a wrong by amending the language to include all combat disabled veterans living in Florida”. The amendment, if passed, becomes effective on January 1, 2013. The reduction in ad valorem taxes would not be realized by disabled veterans until tax year 2013–2014. Florida already provides a discounted ad valorem tax payment for combat-related disability, but it is currently limited to those individuals who were Florida residents when entering U.S. military service.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, Florida is home to 1.68 million veterans, of which 240,102 are receiving disability compensation. Florida has the highest percentage of population who are veterans of any state.

The League of Women Voters also opposes Amendment 2. To see their voting guide click here.

Courtesy of New York Times Company

Deirdre Macnab, state president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, writes, “Being invited to write a column to oppose tax breaks for disabled veterans, low-income seniors and spouses of veterans and first responders (our EMTs, firefighters, etc.) killed in the line of duty is like being asked to throw torpedoes at the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. But do it I will. That’s because this November, Florida voters will see 11 of the most confusing, complex and sometimes misleading state ballot amendments ever proposed, and voters will need to decide: Do I want this in our state constitution?”

Kitchen notes, “The League of Women voters stated the 11 amendments before the voters are ‘…confusing, complex and sometimes misleading…”. Amendment 2 is clearly and unambiguously the most simple. It allows all combat related disabled veterans, homesteaded in Florida and over the age of 65 to earn a benefit that has been already on the books for men and women who entered the military from Florida.'”

Macnab states, “The League’s concern is twofold: First, is the state constitution the appropriate place for tax breaks … for anyone? …Second, should Florida have a level playing field for taxes?”

“Florida is a better place because so many of these aging heroes who chose to retire here. The League and other activist groups are wrongly focused on decreased property tax revenues. They ignore the fact that the 1.6 million veterans living in Florida generate $9.1 billion in direct revenue from the federal government in the form of disability and survivor benefits, VA Health Care, VA construction projects and annual operating expenses. Veterans pay sales, school and property taxes. The League and other opponents fail to understand that a vote against Amendment 2 is more than a vote against combat disabled veterans,” states Kichen.

The League estimates property tax revenues would be reduced by $15 million over the first 3 years if Amendment 2 is passed. Each disabled veteran would see an average decrease in their property taxes of approximately $6,200 over three years.

EDITORS NOTE:

Democrats are also told to vote NO on:

Amendment 8, which repeals ban of public dollars for religious funding (the Freedom of Religion Amendment).

Amendment 9, which authorizes the legislature to totally or partially exempt surviving spouses of military veterans or first responders who died in the line of duty from paying property taxes.

Amendment 11, which authorizes counties and municipalities to offer additional tax exemptions on homes of low-income seniors.

Over 1 Million Florida Medicare Advantage Enrollees Face Benefit Cuts

David Hogberg from Investor’s Business Daily reports, “ObamaCare imposes major cuts on the popular Medicare Advantage program, and while the Obama administration has largely delayed them until after the election, Enrollees will lose an average $515 in benefits in 2013, according to an IBD analysis.”

“Some 14.4 million people are expected to enroll in Medicare Advantage in 2013, up from 13.1 million this year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said Wednesday. Advantage plans are run by private firms, providing more benefits at a somewhat higher cost — usually 13% to 17% — to the government than traditional Medicare,” notes Hogberg.

eHealthMedicare.com provides the following statistics and facts about Medicare Advantage in the state of Florida.

Total Florida residents enrolled in Medicare Advantage: 1,065,247
Florida residents enrolled in Medicare Advantage HMOs: 762,528
FL residents enrolled in Medicare Advantage Local PPOs: 75,291
FL Medicare Advantage beneficiaries enrolled in Regional PPOs: 220,745
FL beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part C PFFS Plans: 6,254
Enrolled in Florida Medicare Part C Cost Plans: 0
Enrolled in Other Florida Medicare Part C Plans: 429
2010 to 2011 FL Medicare Advantage Enrollment Change: 9%

Florida seniors constitute 7.6% of all Medicare Advantage members. They will lose big in 2013 and beyond because they chose Medicare Advantage plans.

According to Hogberg, “ObamaCare is expected to cut $308 billion from Advantage plans from 2013-22, based on calculations of Congressional Budget Office data. That’s a huge share of the more than $700 billion in total Medicare cuts to help pay for the exchange subsidies and other parts of ObamaCare … ObamaCare is supposed to cut about $10.9 billion from Advantage plans next year, according to the CBO. That will drop to about $7.4 billion — or $515 per enrollee — with the demonstration project offset.”

UPDATE:

This video by My Brain Shark helps explain how Medicare Advantage will be impacted:

Rubio Votes Against Continuing Resolution

After his vote against H.J.Res.117, a short-term Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for six months, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement:

“Today, the federal government once again left one of its most basic duties unfulfilled – the passage of an annual budget. After four consecutive years of trillion dollar deficits and a $16 trillion national debt, the American people deserve for their elected officials to come together with an action plan to reduce spending and encourage real growth. Instead, Congress passed a continuing resolution that merely extends federal spending at its current levels and punts away the responsibility of governing to another time.

“As I’ve done before, I voted against this short-term continuing resolution because I believe that times are too dire to continue this inaction. We are treading water while the water is boiling. Congress has a responsibility to move America out of this mess by charting a fiscally responsible path for the future, starting with a responsible and balanced budget.

“Instead of working with Republicans to address this issue a long time ago, President Obama merely proposed partisan budget plans that left his promise of deficit reduction behind and were so flawed not a single senator in either party voted for them. In order to move America forward, we need Washington to live within its means and stop borrowing money to support a bloated federal government. We can’t say that President Obama’s leadership has failed this time, because the truth is he hasn’t led at all.”

Department of Defense Has Never Performed an Audit

Today, Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) released its second case study in a series launched last month entitled ‘Defend & Reform’. This study is called “Hiding in Plain Sight: Time for a Pentagon Audit.”

“Did you know that the Department of Defense has never performed an independent audit of its finances? With the national debt now surpassing more than $16 trillion and annual budget deficits exceeding $1 trillion, now is the time,” notes CVA.

Pete Hegseth, Chief Executive Officer of CVA, states, “We should seize this moment—with the nation on the edge of a fiscal cliff—to bring greater discipline, transparency and accountability to reforming the defense budget. This study highlights the need for a long overdue audit to the financial operations of the Pentagon.”

You may read the full case study by clicking below.

Open publication – Free publishing

You may read part one “One Year Later: The Closing of Joint Forces Command” by clicking below.

Florida: Ranked In Bottom Ten For Lawsuit Climates

Governor Rick Scott has repeatedly stated that the axis of unemployment are taxation, regulation and litigation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal reform released its State Lawsuit Climates list and Florida is one of the ten worst offenders. Florida ranks 41st (in the bottom ten) in the U.S. Chamber survey of state lawsuit climates.

According to the U.S. Chamber:

A state’s legal climate is an increasingly important factor in business decisions, according to a survey of senior attorneys and executives conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) by Harris Interactive.

Seventy percent of the 1,125 survey respondents say that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies, such as where to locate or expand their businesses. That is up 13% from just five years ago.

“As our economic downturn has continued, a growing percentage of business leaders have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as significant in determining their growth and expansion plans and the jobs that come along with them,” says Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “That makes the consequences of this survey even more significant to the economic growth of individual states.”

The 2012 State Liability Systems Ranking Study found that 51% of senior attorneys view the fairness and reasonableness of state court liability systems in America as fair or poor. However, the percentage who said that liability systems were excellent or very good reached 49%, up from 44% in 2010. This continues a general upward trend in the overall average score—expressed numerically on a scale of 1 to 100—of state liability systems since the survey began in 2002. From 2002 to 2005, the overall score averaged 52, whereas from 2007 to 2012, the score averaged 59. The score increased 3 points from 2011 to 2012. (Scroll down to see a partial list of best and worst legal climates).

Survey respondents said that the most important issues that policymakers should focus on to improve the litigation environment in their states include limits on discovery, elimination of unnecessary lawsuits, fairness and impartiality, speeding up the trial process, and tort reform.

Methodology

Participants in the survey were made up of a national sample of 1,125 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who said that they are knowledgeable about litigation matters at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues.

Respondents were asked to grade states (A–F) in each of the following areas: having and enforcing meaningful venue requirements, overall treatment of tort and contract litigation, treatment of class action suits and mass consolidation suits, damages, timeliness of summary judgment or dismissal, discovery, scientific and technical evidence; judges’ impartiality, judges’ competence, and juries’ fairness. They were also asked to give the state an overall grade for creating a fair and reasonable litigation environment. These elements were then combined to create an overall ranking of state liability systems.

Click here to check out the interactive map and download the report.

Top 5 State Legal Climates:

1) Delaware
2) Nebraska
3) Wyoming
4) Minnesota
5) Kansas

Bottom 5 State Legal Climates:

41) Florida

46) Illinois
47) California
48) Mississippi
49) Louisiana
50) West Virginia

Five Worst Local Jurisdictions

46) Los Angeles
47) Chicago/Cook County
48) California (unspecified)
49) San Francisco
50) Philadelphia

Hasner Campaign: Both Parties Created This Jobs Crisis

This week the Adam Hasner for US House Campaign launches the “It’s About Math” informational series. Between now and Election Day, Adam will be focusing on the real numbers and real issues of great importance to the residents of Florida’s District 22.

“So many people I speak with, regardless of political party, are sick and tired of the name calling and scare tactics,” Adam Hasner said. “What they really want to know is whether or not you have a plan to get America’s fiscal house in order and get our economy moving again. Every day I am talking about just that. I’m hopeful this debate can be about the real differences I have with my opponent on getting spending under control, creating jobs and improving the lives of people in our community. Solving our nation’s problems isn’t about Republicans or Democrats or any political philosophy. It’s about math.”

A key number from the August jobs report released last week was 368,000. That is the number of Americans who stopped looking for work and are no longer counted in the US labor force by the United States Labor Department. (Wall Street Journal, Five Key Takeaways from Jobs Report, 9/7/12).

“This number itself is telling, but it also says more about the individual stories of the college student who can’t find a job, a dad who got laid off, a mom who’s working less hours than she wants to or needs to, a senior who’s had to go back to work to make ends meet because they lost their retirement savings,” said Hasner.

“Behind this number are the stories of the people who are losing hope and beginning to believe that our country’s best days are behind us. It’s distressing that people are giving up. We can do better and they deserve better.

“While the official unemployment rate hovers above 8% for the 43rd consecutive month – perpetuating the slowest economic recovery in decades – Lois Frankel continues to distract attention from spending and the economy and remains silent about what should we do to create jobs.

“That’s most likely because she knows her record on job creation as Mayor was abysmal. Lois Frankel entered office in West Palm Beach with the city’s unemployment rate at 5.4%. But by the time she left office 8 years later, the unemployment rate in her city had climbed to 10.6%. The numbers prove that she didn’t have solutions for West Palm Beach and she’s failed to offer any ideas on how to get our nation’s economy back on track.

“Mayor Frankel continues to support the same misguided Washington policies that for the last 43 months have been failing small businesses, families and hard-working Americans.

“Both parties got us into this mess, but now isn’t the time to point fingers and place blame. It’s time for a new approach:

  • We must reform the current tax code to make it flatter, fairer, and simpler and eliminate loopholes and exemptions.
  • We must eliminate hurdles to form new businesses and right-size regulations that are currently stifling economic growth with red tape and compliance costs and do it with a balanced approach that protects our natural resources and protects consumers.
  • We must unleash the power of Made in America energy with new technologies for safe development of domestic oil and natural gas. Affordable energy is a key factor in creating jobs and attracting companies to bring manufacturing jobs back home.
  • We must also focus on education and worker training initiatives to get the long term unemployed back to work.
  • “What small businesses need is certainty, knowing what to expect so they can make critical decisions to hire new employees, invest in new equipment, and expand their operations.

“It’s time for common-sense policies that will empower private sector job creation to help Main Street get back on its feet and get America’s economy back on the move.

The Battle Over Florida’s Amendment 8 Begins

On November 6, 2012 Floridians will be asked to vote on eleven amendments to the state constitution. Of these amendments Amendment 8 has become the flash point with groups favoring and opposing passage digging in their heels. The war on words has become a full-fledged battle for the hearts and minds of voters.

The proposed ballot question reads:

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support, except as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

The proposed measure would amend Section 3 of Article I of the Florida Constitution to read:

There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety. No individual or entity may be discriminated against or barred from receiving funding on the basis of religious identity or belief. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Two groups launched websites explaining Amendment 8: Say Yes on 8 and Vote No on 8.

Vote No on 8 states, “Amendment 8, the so-called ‘Religious Freedom’ Amendment, isn’t about Religious Freedom at all. Amendment 8 actually allows the government to give our tax dollars to any group claiming to be a religious organization.”

Say Yes on 8 states, “Amendment 8 preserves time-honored partnerships between government and social service organizations. Amendment 8 ensures continued delivery of social services by faith-based organizations, lowering government costs for taxpayers. Amendment 8 eliminates discrimination against churches and religious institutions that provide social services.”

Amendment 8, if passed, would take the Blaine Amendment out of the Florida Constitution. The Blaine Amendment refers to constitutional provisions that exist in 38 of the 50 state constitutions in the United States, which forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have any religious affiliation. The Blaine Amendment was originally aimed at Catholics, most notably the Irish, who had immigrated to the U.S. and started their own parochial schools.

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court in the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris decision partially vitiated these Blaine amendments when it ruled that vouchers were constitutional if state funds followed a child to a privately chosen school, even if it were religious. For a voucher program to be constitutional it must meet all of the following criteria: the program must have a valid secular purpose; aid must go to parents and not to the schools; a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered; the program must be neutral with respect to religion; and there must be adequate nonreligious options.

Billy Atwell in an editorial for the Diocese of Venice in Florida states, “Some support the work of faith-based institutions, but disagree with these institutions accepting government money. They fear faith-based groups would become beholden to the mighty arm of government. Shouldn’t these groups be allowed to serve those in need and do what they do well? It is one thing to say faith-based groups shouldn’t accept government dollars—it is entirely different to outlaw their eligibility for these funds. The current law also flies in the face of religious freedom. Singling out capable social service providers simply because they are faith-based is fiscally unsound and, without a doubt, discrimination.”

While the arguments used by each group focus on religious freedom the real issue is control of taxpayer dollars for K-12 education.

For many it boils down to money, particularly money for K-12 schooling flowing into charter or private faith-based schools. Proponents argue that parents should decide where their child goes to school and the money allocated by the state should follow the child. That is not the case in Florida. Public education fits the definition of a monopoly. This amendment would free parents from being forced into a particular public school. School choice would be empowered if Amendment 8 passes by giving the funding for the child directly to the parent.

Florida Representative Stephen Precourt, a spokesman for the Say Yes on 8 campaigns, stated, “They shouldn’t be telling a group that just because you’re faith-based organization you shouldn’t be participating in the market! Education is a marketplace.”

The ballot question boils down to: Should public funding for education follow the child?

RELATED COLUMN: North Carolina Voters Say Public Education Underperforming, On Wrong Track

RELATED VIDEO:

“No More Defense Cuts”

There are twenty-one military bases in Florida and the state is home to 1.6 million veterans. The Coalition for the Common Defense (CCD) has launched a national advocacy campaign aimed at preventing further cuts to the U.S. military of $500 billion dollars or more in January 2013 pursuant to the “sequestration” mechanism created under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The CCD campaign will feature a series of video advertisements demonstrating the dangers of the sorts of deep and across-the-board defense spending cuts being considered. The first spot premiered today and can be viewed here. The campaign is designed to encourage the American public to express their opposition to these cuts. The Coalition will facilitate such communications with the White House and Senate through a portal at its web-site here.

Regarding the campaign launch and the need to avert sequestration, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., a member of the Coalition for the Common Defense, remarked:

“Defense has already paid its fair share into deficit reduction and we cannot safely and responsibly try to balance the budget on the backs of our men and women in uniform. This campaign, and specifically the Coalition’s ads, will bring home to the American people the reckless absurdity of these defense cuts – and the need to avoid the train-wreck they will precipitate.”

The mandated sequestration cuts come on top of an already budgeted $487 billion reduction over the next 10 years as part of Budget Control Act of 2011.

The additional $500 billion in sequestration cuts would prove devastating to Florida, both militarily and economically. Militarily, this would result in the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in history. Economically, sequestration could result in $62.9 billion in lost revenues for defense contractors, projected job losses of over 1.3 million, and an $86.4 billion decrease in Gross Domestic Product.

The House of Representatives has acted on legislation that would stave off budget reductions and their attendant impact for at least a year, giving the executive and legislative branches time to devise a different, less reckless approach to deficit reduction. The Senate has yet to act, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama insisting that any such relief must be accompanied by tax increases.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. continued:

“The American people do not want the White House and the Senate to hold our military hostage to budget gamesmanship. It is unconscionable to play politics with the arming, training and sustaining of our troops – particularly if, by so doing, the President and Senate leaders may be jeopardizing not only their missions, but their lives.”

The Coalition for the Common Defense is an alliance of like-minded individuals and organizations who believe that without provision for the “common defense,” as articulated by the Founders, the freedom that has allowed unprecedented opportunity and prosperity to flourish in this country would soon be imperiled. In this new age of budgetary cuts, the Coalition rejects the false choice between military strength and economic health contending that economic prosperity depends on a strong national defense. Through a series of events and strategic partnerships, the coalition is calling on elected officials, candidates for office and others who share our commitment to the common defense to uphold these principles. Coalition member believe the United States “must return to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing our national security”.

Raising the National Debt – Doing Evil in the Name of Good

debt

Many people see government debt, over regulation and control of individuals, families and our natural resources as necessary to the good of the collective. May I humbly suggest that this is a violation of natural law as envisioned by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution?

Debt is in and of itself not immoral if the person encumbers himself for a his purpose – expanding a business, building a home or sending a child to college. It becomes an immoral act when debt is incurred without the consent of the indebted. The National Debt is taxation of the individual and future generations without representation.

This summer President Obama will ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

This effort will become political theatre of the first order with the media. Both sides will be touting the good and the bad of raising the debt ceiling. I predict that the debt ceiling will be raised, which is the consummate example of doing evil in the name of good. Progressives will argue that the poor will be harmed if the debt ceiling is not raised. Their plea is that only government can sustain the poor for the poor will never be capable of sustaining themselves due to a corrupted society.

Their argument is false on its face.

It is false because it is government that defines poor, not the poor defining themselves. There have been since time immemorial those who have more and those who have less. However, it has only been recently that those with less have been defined as a “class of poor”. Charles Murray in his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” notes, “Michael Harrington’s The Other America created a stir when it was published in 1962 partly because Harrington said America’s poor constituted a class separate from the working class – a daring proposition. At the time, the poor were not seen as a class, either by other Americans or in their own eyes. The poor were working-class people who didn’t make much money.”

The public debate is all about jobs. Jobs mean a working class. The working class consists of all those working or earning a living or having a job not supported by government subsidy. The private sector working class has shrunk under both Democrat and Republican administrations. There is a growing concern that today more people vote for a living than work for a living. The private sector creates prosperity, which in turn creates jobs, which in turn allows the working class to advance and be less poor. Prosperity comes from productive work, not government welfare.

Government at every level consumes wealth and uses it for its own ends. Our republican form of government was created to protect individual property. Property was defined in broad terms by James Madison, author of the Constitution. Madison wrote, “[Property] embraces everything to which a man may attach a value and have a right: and which leaves to everyone else the like advantage. In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has property in his opinions, and the free communication of them.”

Madison believed, “As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property to his right.”

Take away a man’s property and he is no longer a man but a slave. Government at every level has created reasons to limit man in both its property right and his right to property. For decades the federal, state and local governments have instituted laws and regulations designed to smother property rights. Government at every level is becoming what Thomas Jefferson called the “feudal-ruler form of government”. In the feudal-ruler scheme according to Brian Sussman, author of “Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda will Dismantle America”, “The rights of the government become superior to the rights of citizens.”

Only when men and women own property are they truly free. We must be superior to our government or tyranny will reign supreme – forever.