RUBIO: THE REAL FISCAL CLIFF IS OUR UNSUSTAINABLE LEVEL OF DEBT

Excerpts from Senator Marco Rubio on The Sean Hannity Show January 2, 2013

RUBIO: This was not a fiscal cliff. The real fiscal cliff is the fact that the middle class is not growing, the economy is not growing and our country continues to owe more money than our economy produces every single year. I mean our debt’s $16 trillion, our economy does – produces less than that every single year. So think about it, our debt is now larger than our economy. And the fundamental issue before us is how can we get the middle class growing again, how can we get the economy growing again, and how can we bring the debt under control which is one of the reasons why the economy and jobs aren’t growing. And this bill [has] nothing to do with that. Now look, I appreciate the hard work that went into it and that the folks that worked on it were trying to make the best of a tough situation where taxes were going to go up automatically anyway but I just continue to get frustrated that we’re always being given false choices to vote on here. And- and I just, you know I – we’re going to be right back at this in two months when the debt limit issue comes up.

HANNITY: Well, you know I used the analogy earlier today: this is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on a gun wound and the Band-Aid was infected. You know, it just seems that bad to me. Is there any cutting in this at all, because if you read the CBO numbers, and I know some conservatives don’t agree with them, that this fiscal cliff deal is going to add $4 trillion to the deficit compared to current law? Now I know they include tax cuts as lowering income to the government, but is that about right?

RUBIO: Well it is, and obviously, and now we get real technical on it, it depends on which baseline you’re using to compare it from. Were you assuming the tax cuts were going to go away? Were you assuming they were going to stay in place? Are you assuming the sequester is going to go in in two months? So there’s a lot of assumptions still … Here’s a better way to understand it, you know, our economy today is headed toward an unsustainable level of debt, I mean at 22 – 23 trillion before the end of the next four years. And what’s driving that – the single greatest thing that’s driving that, it’s not foreign aid and discretionary spending, it’s the entitlement programs, in particular medicare, which is going bankrupt and needs to be saved. And the longer we wait to deal with that the harder it’s going to be to fix this and more disruptive it’s going to be to fix it.

Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Bill Young, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ander Crenshaw, Vern Buchanan cave

History will mark this day as the death of the Republican Party as they caved on their core principles. The Republican ideals of smaller government, lower taxes and less spending are now officially history.

Future generations will look back on this day as the end of the Party of Lincoln and the beginning of the end of the republic.

Republicans, Democrats and President Obama are all now on the same page. There is less than one degree of separation between the parties. Tax, spend and borrow are the new mantras. All of the political posturing during the holidays was a joke on the American taxpayers, especially those making over $250,000.

Big government is the “new-normal” inside the beltway.

The Washington Times reports that the “fiscal cliff” deal that was designed to save money actually includes $330.3 billion in new spending over the next decade, according to the official estimate the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday afternoon.

CBO said the bill contains about $25.1 billion in new cuts, but those are swamped by the new spending on extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and other new refundable tax credits that President Obama fought for.

Of those cuts, only $2 billion are scheduled to take effect in 2013.  All told, the bill deepens the deficit by nearly $4 trillion over the next decade, when the new tax cuts and spending are combined.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “In addition to tax increases on Americans making more than $250,000 a year, the bipartisan deal will actually raise taxes on the vast majority of American workers. How? The payroll tax ‘holiday’ has ended. The Wall Street Journal calculates that the ‘typical U.S. family earning $50,000 a year’ will lose ‘an annual income boost of $1,000‘.”

Republicans and Democrats have perfected the art of compromise, which is the art of losing our unalienable rights slowly. Nothing has changed except the date certain of the financial collapse of the United States. As Senator Marco Rubio stated, “This deal just postpones the inevitable.”

As of January 2, 2012, the United States officially has what is in effect a one party system. Republicans and Democrats alike are fundamentally progressives with the same core principle – government is the solution, not the problem. The big loser is the American dream.

Pax Americana is dead.

UPDATE:

Representative Buchanan sent the below statement via email to constituents about his vote:

 I wanted to let you know about the bipartisan vote in Congress last night to keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff.  I was one of 85 Republicans to support this compromise legislation, which now goes to the President for his signature.

This legislation reduced taxes for 99 percent of American taxpayers and ensures that seniors on Medicare can continue to see the doctor of their choice.  While the legislation is not perfect (it does nothing to address out-of-control spending), we could not allow gridlock to push the nation off the fiscal cliff and risk an economic meltdown.

It is my expectation that the spending issue will be addressed by Congress in the next 60 days.

Please let me know what you think of last night’s passage of the bipartisan “American Taxpayer Relief Act”.

Vern

Rep. Buchanan (R-FL): Both parties created deficit. Now they must fix it

This column is courtesy of  Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and appeared in The Hill:

Voters across the nation have sent a resounding message to Washington: end the gridlock, stop the bickering, and start working for the people.

Over the next two months, Congress and the president have an opportunity to prove that the message was received loud and clear.

The partisanship that has dominated political discourse over the past decade has created major road-blocks to sound public policy. And at a time when America faces unprecedented challenges, it is imperative that both parties in Washington come together and work toward common-sense solutions that move our economy and country forward.

The fiscal crisis that looms on the horizon must be addressed immediately. Unless action is taken before the New Year, Americans will bear the brunt of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that could plunge America back into recession. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 3.4 million jobs would be lost and the unemployment rate would spike above nine percent if we don’t act.

Failure is not an option.

I’m optimistic and confident that both parties will come to the table and produce a bold deficit reduction package that gets our economy back on track. It may not occur overnight, but it will happen.

We start by focusing on areas of agreement.

That means creating a simpler, fairer, pro-growth tax code that helps get Americans back to work. The U.S. tax code consumes more than 71,000 pages and gets longer every year. Both parties and the president need to work together on a new tax code that creates jobs, revitalizes our economy and helps America resume its rightful role as the leader of the global economy.

This includes ending special-interest loopholes, such as the billions of dollars in tax breaks given to oil companies every year. The last thing we should be doing is wasting taxpayer dollars on an industry that doesn’t need our help. That’s why I voted to eliminate $18 billion in wasteful and unnecessary tax subsidies for Big Oil.

And when it comes to lowering the deficit, we must end Washington’s reckless pattern of borrowing and spending that has put our country on a road to bankruptcy. Unbelievably, in the last 50 years, the federal budget has only been balanced five times. It’s essential that Republicans and Democrats roll up their sleeves and make the tough choices necessary to balance the budget for taxpayers today and for future generations.

Both parties have contributed to our nation’s financial woes so it will take both parties working together to get us back on the path to prosperity.

We do this by pulling together, not by pulling apart.

ABOUT REP. VERN BUCHANAN (FL-13):

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is the only Florida member of Congress to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, international trade, health care and Social Security.

A self-made businessman, Buchanan understands that America’s economic strength flows from its entrepreneurial spirit and pro-growth, free-market policies. Buchanan has worked tirelessly to enact tax incentives to help small businesses, end burdensome regulations, and limit frivolous lawsuits.

In his third term, Buchanan is an outspoken advocate of reforming the U.S. tax code to make it simpler and fairer. He serves on the Trade and Health subcommittees on Ways and Means.

VIDEO: RUBIO – “THE REAL FISCAL CLIFF IS THE GROWING DEBT”

Rubio: “The real fiscal cliff is the growing debt and no plan in place to deal with it. … I’m not going to vote for anything that’s not a solution. We need a real solution. … A solution is policies that put in place economic growth. … The only answer to this dilemma is rapid and healthy economic growth.”

Senator Marco Rubio: “The point now being that the fiscal cliff is a creation of the political branch, although we do have a big fiscal cliff that will eventually reach us. The real fiscal cliff is the growing debt and no plan in place to deal with it. As far as the rates are concerned, look, I don’t have a religious, spiritual objection to higher tax rates. I have an economic objection to it because of the impact it has on growth. Here are the things I would say about that.

“Number one is, an enormous number of people, an enormous number of folks that would be impacted by raising rates on the top earners are not millionaires and billionaires. They are small businesses that pay on the individual rate. And the number of businesses that today pay on the individual rate versus the corporate rate is much larger than it was just a decade ago and beyond when rates were higher under Clinton and others.

“The second question, I would say is, ‘What problem are we solving? Why are you raising the rates?’ Ostensibly, according to the president, it’s because it helps bring down the debt. But the truth is that if you go forward with what the president is proposing you raise about 80 billion dollars a year in new revenue, which is about seven and a half percent of your annual deficit. On the other hand, we know it’s going to have, we believe it’s going to have, an impact on growth. And so the question becomes, ‘What problem are you solving?’ and ‘Are you willing and are you prepared to wipe out some small businesses in exchange for seven and a half percent of deficit reduction potentially?’ I think that’s a bad trade off.

“And the last point I would make about it is, the billionaires and millionaires that are going to be impacted by higher rates, they can afford to hire the best lawyers, lobbyists, and accountants in America, to figure out how not to pay those higher rates. The folks that are going to get stuck with that bill are the small businesses, the partnerships, the S corporations, that cannot hire the lawyers to get them out of it.”

Major Garrett: “In other words, you won’t vote for something that prevents the country from going off the cliff if there are higher rates attached to it?”

Rubio: “I’m not going to vote for anything that’s not a solution. We need a real solution. … A solution is policies that put in place economic growth. Economic growth, you can’t cut your way out of this mess that we’re in. You can’t. You certainly can’t cut your way out of discretionary spending out of this. And you can’t tax your way out of this dilemma. The only answer to this dilemma is rapid and healthy economic growth, like the economic growth that we’ve had in other recoveries, which is significant amount of growth over a period of time. For example, if economic growth after this downturn in the economy had hit its historical average, you would’ve halved, you would’ve been able to cut by half, last year’s annual deficit.”

The Fiscal Cliff Coming Sooner Than You Think

According to the Bi-Partisan Policy Center a set of major tax and spending policy changes are scheduled to occur on January 1 and 2, 2013.

Unless Congress intervenes, these changes will have a substantial impact on the federal budget and the economy at large. The term fiscal cliff was used by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when he warned of the harm that the American economic recovery would face if Congress does not act.

At midnight on December 21, 2012 the United States will be faced with what is being called the “fiscal cliff.” In short this cliff is composed of several parts.

1. The payroll tax reduction passed in 2010 will end.
2. The temporary tax rates passed under President Bush will lapse.
3. Obamacare’s taxes will come due.
4. The Alternative Minimum Tax will expand to many more taxpayers.
5. Extended unemployment benefits will expire.
6. Some $78 billion in federal spending will be sequestered.
7. Medicare “doc fix” will expire.

Below timeline courtesy of the Bi-Partisan Policy Center:

Fiscal Cliff Timeline

NOVEMBER – DECEMBER
BPC ESTIMATE LATE NOV – DEC 31, 2012
  • Debt limit reached
JANUARY
JAN 01, 2013
  • FISCAL CLIFF IMPACT, CALENDAR YEAR 2013: $661 BILLION
  • Expiration of 2001, 2003, and 2009 tax cuts ($281 billion)
  • Expiration of payroll tax holiday ($115 billion)
  • Deadline for addressing tax extenders and business depreciation ($75 billion)
  • Expansion of Alternative Minimum Tax ($40 billion)
  • Expiration of extended unemployment benefits ($34 billion)
  • Imposition of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act taxes ($24 billion)
  • Expiration of Medicare “doc fix” ($14 billion)
JAN 02, 2013
  • Imposition of sequester cuts ($78 billion)
JAN 03, 2013
  • 113th Congress convenes
JAN 20, 2013
  • Presidential Inauguration Day
FEBRUARY
BPC ESTIMATE FEB, 2013
  • “Extraordinary measures” exhausted
MARCH
MAR 27, 2013
  • Expiration of Fiscal Year 2013 continuing resolution
  • Expiration of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

BPC logo

Florida’s Fiscal Cliff Hanger

Florida’s government run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has more than 1.4 million policyholders statewide. However, that number only reflects approximately 23 percent of Florida’s homeowners insurance market leaving 77 percent of Florida homeowners subsidizing Citizens policies.

According to Americans for Prosperity – Florida, “Nearly half (45 percent) of all Citizens policies in the State of Florida are held by residents living in just four counties – Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties. Only two counties out of 67 have a majority of their homeowners insurance policies with Citizens (Miami-Dade and Hernando Counties), meaning private policyholders in Florida’s other 65 counties are subsidizing Citizens’ homeowners insurance for residents of these two counties.”

AFP – Florida notes that in Miami-Dade and Hernando counties, 100 percent of renters, businesses, automobile policyholders, churches, charities, local governments and school boards are subsidizing their counties’ Citizens’ policyholders.

How did government take control of Florida’s property insurance?

It all started in 1972 when the Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association (FWUA) was created under Democrat Governor Reubin Askew to provide wind-only coverage in coastal regions. This was followed by the creation of the Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association (FRPCJUA). FRPCJUA was created in December, 1992 under Democrat Governor Lawton Chiles because hundreds of thousands of Floridians were unable to find homeowners insurance following Hurricane Andrew.

Finally, under Republican Governor Jeb Bush FWUA and FRPCJUA were merged in 2002, creating Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Citizens offers wind-only and all-perils property insurance coverage to Floridians without private insurance options.

According to a September 2012 white paper from the Insurance Information Institute:

Limited availability of insurance coverage for the most vulnerable property was a problem before 1992, yet became amplified in Andrew’s aftermath.

By the end of 1992, the FWUA had fewer than 62,000 policies and an exposure measured by total insured value of $7.4 billion.1 Five years later, with the formation of the Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association (FRPCJUA), there were 417,342 policies in the FWUA, another 487,590 policies in the FRPCJUA with a combined exposure of more than $136 billion.2

As of June 2012, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., formed in 2002 through the merger of the FWUA and FRPCJUA, had more than 1.4 million policies in force with nearly $500 billion in exposure to risk.

Thomas C. Feeney, III, President & Chief Executive Officer, Associated Industries of Florida states, “It’s unfortunate that more than three quarters of Floridians, and all of Florida business owners, are burdened with the financial responsibility of subsidizing homeowners property insurance for some Floridians in addition to paying 100 percent of their own insurance premium. With estimates that suggest Citizens Property Insurance Corp. rates are roughly 33 percent below where they need to be in order to cover its risk and pay claims…”

“In addition to the unreasonable financial burden Citizens Property Insurance Corp. places on a majority of Floridians throughout the state, the structure of the state-run insurer has also allowed for subsidized, reckless development in the most hazardous and environmentally sensitive areas of Florida. It’s time to reform Citizens in order to protect Floridians from a financial perspective, while at the same time protecting Florida’s wildlife and coast,” says Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation.

The greatest threat to Florida, a.k.a. Citizens Insurance, is just one hurricane away from pushing all Floridians of a fiscal cliff.

RELATED COLUMN:

Florida property owners hit with massive tax increase.

Fired investigators uncovered evidence of misconduct at Citizens’ top levels

Time for government employee pay and benefit cuts?

President Obama, senior administration officials and public policy advisers have stated that the greatest threat to our national security is our national debt. Our military understands this and the Department of Defense is taking the lead in proposing major cuts in pay and benefits for our military, veterans and their families.

The Center for American Progress led by Chairman John Podesta has called for capping military pay raises, eliminating military health benefits for many retirees who are covered by an employer-provided plan, and reducing the value of military retired pay as well as making military retirees wait until age 60 to start receiving it. These proposals have been embraced by the Department of Defense. It is estimated these changes will save $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Should all government employees at every level show the same commitment and take the same pay and benefit cuts to keep us all from falling off the “fiscal cliff”?

If our soldiers who are on the front lines defending this nation and our veterans who have served honorably can sacrifice cannot every government employee? Should not teachers, our police, firefighters, city, county state and federal employees not do their part as well? Are we not one nation facing the same fiscal future?

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has recognized government pay and benefits as a priority issue to be addressed during the upcoming Florida legislative session.

The Five for Florida Plan states, “Our politicians must stop making promises that taxpayers can’t afford. We must force them to be honest with us, and make decisions that will protect us now and in the future. We need an honest, transparent retirement plan that works for both hardworking taxpayers and government workers.”

AFP’s Five for Florida Plan reports:

  • Florida’s Retirement System (FRS) serves more than 1 million government employees, making it the fourth largest public pension program in the country. Source: James Madison Institute
  • The FRS is 88% funded, assuming a 7.75% return on investment. Over the last 12 years, the fund has received an average return of 3.3%. Source: James Madison Institute
  • Florida currently has an optional defined contribution plan, however only 16% of employees elect to be enrolled in it, versus the 84% in the pension plan. Source: James Madison Institute
  • Public sector pension programs guarantee a rate of return that is 3 to 4 times higher than what private sector workers are able to earn. Source: The Heritage Foundation
  • The State of Florida currently contributes $5.5 billion per year to the FRS, but would need to double that contribution to $11 billion a year for the fund to remain solvent. Source: James Madison Institute

Changes must come; government must set the example for the rest of us by stepping up to the plate and making the hard decisions to rein in spending in the short and long terms. Government employee salaries and benefits are now coming under greater scrutiny by both liberal think tanks like the Center for American Progress and conservative ones like Americans for Prosperity.

Finally, we are getting somewhere when both of these organizations come to the same conclusions. The question is do our political leaders have the will to do what is needed?

Now is the time for political leaders at the city, county, state and federal government to see the writing on the proverbial “fiscal cliff”.

The Public Transportation Scam

Nationally transportation is the second largest household expenditure consuming 16% of family income. Americans spend on average $7,677 annually on transportation related costs (e.g. vehicle purchase/lease, gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs, etc.).

According to the most recent National Household Travel Survey 8.68% of Americans own no vehicle while 22.79% own three or more vehicles. The survey shows that since 1969, “the number of households with no vehicle had been declining while here has been growth in one, two and particularly three vehicle households.”

Americans prefer to own their means of transportation. Most travel occurs from point to point – e.g. home to work, school, grocery store or doctor. Personal transportation provides Americans with a solution that best meets their individual needs.

However, over the past decade government has become more involved in promoting public transportation.

Government collects trillions of dollars in taxes from the sale of petroleum products, cars and related services. Yet, today public transportation has been embraced more and more by governments at every level. Government is seeking to: reduce carbon emissions, save money and reduce traffic congestion. But does it meet any of these goals?

Given the fact that only 8.69% of American do not own a vehicle, the need for public transportation is insignificant.  With 91.31% of Americans owning one or more vehicles public transportation is becoming more and more costly with less impact on government’s stated goals and return on investments.

A comparison of national and Florida trends reveals that the distribution of households by number of adults is very similar. However, the distribution of vehicles differs with Florida having fewer zero-vehicle households but also fewer 3, 4, and 5+ vehicle households.

Florida has a higher share of one vehicle households compared to the nation.

Two-thirds of zero-vehicle households are single adult households nationally and in Florida. Further comparison demonstrates Florida has a higher share of households with equal or fewer cars and fewer share of households with more cars than adults.

Expenditures for vehicle travel, specifically fuel taxes and vehicle registration and license fees, are part of the revenue streams that are collected by local, state and federal governments to pay for transportation infrastructure. The fuel tax in Florida is comprised of components levied by the federal, state and local governments. Florida’s fuel taxes range from $.45 to $.53 per gallon. Florida imports nearly all of its refined petroleum products.

Florida’s public transit strategic plan promotes “transit’s role in enhancing the environment, including air quality, energy and greenhouse gas reduction.”

According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), “The private sector makes significant investments in transportation infrastructure. This is particularly true in Florida where infrastructure investment is often a prerequisite to permission to develop. Private sector contributions are as modest as providing employee and customer parking to as significant as paying for major roadway facility improvements and/or donating right-of-way and infrastructure.” These costs are part of property ownership with development costs borne by property owners.

The transportation issue is especially important for Florida due to our high volume of tourists. Cheap and reliable energy and transportation are necessary to sustain and grow Florida’s economy.

During 2010, Florida’s transit agencies ranged in size from the three-vehicle system in Hernando County to the 1,131-vehicle system operating in Miami-Dade County. In 2010, there were 35 fixed-route public transit systems operating in Florida.

FDOT reported that public transportation costs in 2009 were: Operating Expenses of $1,015,050,830 and Operating Revenue $233,922,989. In 2010 Operating Expenses were $985,647,670 and Operating Revenue was $254,316,041. Florida taxpayers subsidized public transportation in 2009 at $781,127,841 and in 2010 at $731,331,629. In 2010 the cost to transport one public passenger was $2.33 with an average fare being $.85.

During 2009-2010 Florida lost over $1.5 billion supporting public transportation.

Does spending $1.5 billion over two years to service less than 8% of the population worth it? Given the burden is being born by those whose budgets are already being stretched to the limit, many taxpayers are saying go private and let those riding pay to ride.

White House: Cut Military Retiree Benefits

Rick Maze, staff writer for the Air Force Times, reports, “A new report by a liberal-leaning think tank recommends a dramatic overhaul of military pay, retirement and health care benefits as part of a $1 trillion cut in defense spending over 10 years.”

Florida is home to 1.6 million veterans and hosts 21 military bases including the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

“The Center for American Progress calls for capping pay raises, eliminating military health benefits for many retirees who are covered by an employer-provided plan, and reducing the value of military retired pay as well as making retirees wait until age 60 to start receiving it,” states Maze.

Recommendations are included in Rebalancing Our National Security, which was released October 31, 2012 by the Center for American Progress (CAP) a liberal think tank.

The CAP report also calls for major reductions in defense spending.

Capping pay raises, the report says, could save $16.5 billion over the next five years. Reducing retiree health care benefits, through a combination of restricting care and raising fees, could save $15 billion a year. Reforming military retired pay could save, in the short term, up to $13 billion a year, and over time could save up to $70 billion a year off the current plan.

Maze reports, “In addition to cutting compensation and benefits, the report also recommends cutting the number of active-duty troops permanently based in Europe and Asia, saving $10 billion a year. It recommends withdrawing 33,000 troops from Europe and about 17,000 from Asia.”

In calling for less spending on military pay raises, the report endorses a plan proposed by President Obama’s Defense Department.

Maze states, “Under the Pentagon plan, pay raises beginning in 2015 would be capped at less than the average increase in private sector pay, a move that responds to a belief that military members are being paid more than civilians with comparable jobs and experience. This happened because Congress, over Pentagon objections, has regularly provided the military with raises that were slightly larger than the average private-sector raise to eliminate what had been perceived as a pay gap. The end result, says the report, is that the average service member is receiving $5,400 more in annual compensation than a comparable civilian.”

“Similarly, the report endorses many of the Defense Department’s proposals for cutting health care costs by raising fees, mostly on retirees and their families. But the report goes a step further: “To truly restore the Tricare program to stable financial footing, the Defense Department should enact measures to reduce the over-utilization of medical services and limit double coverage of working-age military retirees,” the report says.

One idea would be to cut Tricare for Life benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees so that the program would not cover the first $500 of costs per year and would cover only 50 percent of the next $5,000.

Finally notes Maze, “The report also recommends modifying military retirement benefits. For anyone currently in the military with fewer than 10 years of service, benefits could be cut: Instead of receiving 50 percent of basic pay after 20 years of service, with immediate benefits, the report says the benefits would be 40 percent of base pay with payments not beginning until age 60. For people not yet in the military, there would be no fixed retired pay in the future, only a pre-tax retirement savings plan based on contributions from the service member.”

Florida Has 3,756 Federal Employees Who Make More Than Governor Scott

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to determine how many in state federal employees are making more than their Governor. Florida came in fifth highest with 3, 756 employees. The top five states are: Colorado 10,875, Maryland 7,283, Arizona 4,426, Alabama 4,299, and Florida 3,756. Delaware had the fewest federal employees making more than their governor at 37 employees.

According to CRS calculations 77,057 federal employees earned more in total annual pay as of September 2009 than their respective state governors earned in 2009.

The top three groups of federal employees in Florida making more than Governor Scott are in the Medical, Hospital, Dental, and Public Health Group (1,830), Transportation Group (588) and Legal and Kindred Group (483).

Table 12. Florida: Federal Employees Compensated at a Rate Greater Than the Governor’s Salary, by Occupational Group  shows the following breakdown. NOTE: Florida Governor’s salary is $132,932.

Occupational Group Federal Employees in Occupational Group Making More Than the Governor:

  • Accounting and Budget Group – 64
  • Business and Industry Group – 46
  • Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Group – 2
  • Education Group – 7
  • Engineering and Architecture Group – 272
  • General Administrative, Clerical, and Office Services Group – 223
  • Human Resources Management Group – 7
  • Information Technology Group – 13
  • Information and Arts Group – 2
  • Inspection, Investigation, Enforcement, and Compliance Group – 84
  • Legal and Kindred Group – 483
  • Mathematics and Statistics Group – 10
  • Medical, Hospital, Dental, and Public Health Group – 1,830
  • Miscellaneous Occupations Group – 16
  • Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences Group – 40
  • Physical Sciences Group – 57
  • Congressional Research Service – 11
  • Social Science, Psychology, and Welfare Group – 12
  • Transportation Group – 588

Total 3,756

Sources: Governor’s salary information for 2009 was taken from the Council of State Governments, “State Government Compensation by Branch”. The
distribution of positions by occupational group was calculated by CRS using the Office of Personnel Management’s Central Personnel Data File from September 2009.

Read the report titled “Public Servants or Privileged Class: How State Government Employees Are Paid Better Than Their Private-Sector Counterparts“.

Watch this video from Citizens Against Government Waste:

Florida’s Debt Analysis – Time to Erase The Debt?

State Budget Solutions has issued its analysis of debt held by each state. Florida is over $65 billion in debt. Florida’s state debt is 20.53% of the total Gross State Product (GSP).

State Budget Solutions finds Florida workers owe $21,709 each in debt to the state with every Floridian owing $7,079. Even with this taxpayer debt load it appears that the State Board of Education (FBOE) wants even more money. The FBOE wants an increase of funds for public education of 4.4% in 2013.

According to CBSNews.com:

The State Board of Education voted Tuesday [October 9, 2012] to seek a $643 million, or 4.4 percent, spending increase next year for Florida’s public schools and colleges.

The board during their meeting Orlando also approved other legislative requests and a new five-year strategic plan that envisions minority students narrowing – but not fully closing – their achievement gap with white students.

The total $15.6 billion spending request for the budget year beginning July 1, 2013, includes $9.88 billion in basic funding for kindergarten through 12th grade. That would be $322 million, or 3.37 percent, more than is currently being spent. The increase for community and state colleges would be $100.5 million, or 9.43 percent, for a total of $1.17 billion.

The overall 4.4 percent increase equals the state’s estimated growth in general revenue next year.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) report State and Local Fiscal Condition 2012 notes that growth in local and state government expenditures on education and public welfare are serious problems. Since 1971 state and local expenditures on education are the largest and fastest growing.

The Weekly Standard reports nationally, “The numbers [see above chart] reflect the change in the total number of people employed and the total number of people on the two largest federal welfare programs, as well as Social Security Disability Insurance, between 2008 and 2012,” the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee comments. “The employment figure was derived using the total non-farm and seasonally adjusted number of people employed in December of 2008 (134.4 million) and the number of people employed in September 2012 (133.5 million) as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers of people on food stamps and Medicaid were derived by comparing the number of program beneficiaries in 2008 (as reported by each agency) and the expected number of program beneficiaries in 2012 (as projected by the Congressional Budget Office).”

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.