The Integrity of the Florida Public Service Commission in the “Toilet”?

Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) website states, “The Florida Public Service Commission is committed to making sure that Florida’s consumers receive some of their most essential services — electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater — in a safe, reasonable, and reliable manner. In doing so, the PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in one or more of three key areas: rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitoring of safety, reliability, and service.”

The FPSC was considering a rate increase for Florida Power and Light (FPL) late last year. However, the process according to those attending the public hearings on the rate increase was usurped by FPL and commission staff at the expense of Florida citizens. Larry Nelson, a citizen present during the 2012 hearings in Sarasota and Miami, outlined in a letter how FPL was given preferential treatment by the Commission and staff.

Nelson wrote, “My first stop on my adventure was the public service hearing held in Sarasota on May 31, 2012. Here I first saw the most shocking thing about the public hearing process. In the lobby of the hearing site (Sarasota City Hall) were numerous FPL customer service representatives wearing FPL shirts who are greeting members of the public arriving to speak to the rate increase proposal. And FPL seems to have their own dedicated room. Which made no sense at all. It’s like a court hearing but one of the parties to the case gets to have their own room in the courthouse and a staff to lobby everyone, judges, jurors and the public as they walk by as to why their side is right. FPL also gets to have a table handing out literature. Nobody else gets to have a room or a table or representatives right outside the hearing room. There is no Audubon Society, no Environmental Defense Fund, no Florida Public Interest Research Group in the lobby lobbying (I guess that is where the term comes from!) against the rate increase or against the proposals or actions of FPL.”

The result of the rate increase hearings was FPSC issuing an Order on January 14th, 2013 granting Florida Power and Light FPL the ability to self-regulate over the next 4-years and to increase rates without citizen representation by the Office of Public Counsel. Thomas Saporito, from Saprodani Associates, believes that the process by which the FPSC came to issue this order was at best flawed and at worse illegal violating  multiple Florida statutes.

Saporito states, “The recent decision by the Florida Public Service Commission has placed public trust and confidence and the integrity of the agency in the “toilet”. No longer can the citizens of Florida have any measure of trust or confidence in the agency to be an advocate for the Public Interest regarding electric rates established for the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL). ”

According to Saporito, “The settlement is “illegal” as a matter of law because the Commission does not have requisite jurisdiction and authority to consider the settlement for several reasons:

(1) the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) opposed the settlement and OPC represents all FPL ratepayers – and is a vital and required signatory to any FPL settlement;

(2) the settlement violates the “due-process” rights of citizens who would otherwise intervene where FPL seeks recovery for power plants which have not yet been built or are not yet operational;

(3) the Commission placed the settlement hearing on a rush basis and denied intervenors from fully participating in the discovery process; and

(4) the settlement allows FPL to create a “slush-fund” and access depreciation and dismantlement funds without proper oversight for the sole purpose of raising FPL’s return on equity (profits for its shareholders).”

Thomas Saporito filed a motion for reconsideration on January 14th, 2013 asking the Commission to reconsider its decision.

According to Saporito: “I am gravely concerned about the Commission’s approval of the revised settlement with FPL where the citizens had no representation by the Office of Public Counsel. I have raised serious mis-conduct issues about the entire Commission with Steven J. Stolting, Inspector General – Office of Inspector General and I have asked his office to conduct an investigation.”

Depending on the Commission’s decision on his motion to reconsider – Saporito, “Fully intends to challenge the Commission’s Order – in filing an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court – and to file with agencies of the federal government – and perhaps a civil legal action.”

Gov. Scott to Meet with HHS Secretary Sebelius on Medicaid

The Villages TEA Party in an email to its members states:

“FACTS: On Monday, January 7th, Governor Rick Scott will meet with HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius to discuss expanding Medicaid in the State of Florida. Economists predicted in November 2012 that the Medicaid expansion would cost $9 Billion, however the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration estimates the cost to be near $25 Billion. Those who know the Obama Care law have always said that implementing it will break the states eventually, and increasing Medicaid is a big component in this destruction. Many are already seeing the numbers inflating.”

The costs of the Medicaid expansion will impact the Florida Medicaid program.

According to StateHealthFacts.org Florida in 2010 spent over $17.3 billion on Medicaid. Medicaid costs have gone up annually. From 1990-2001 Medicaid costs in Florida went up 11.8%. Between 2001-2010 Medicaid costs increase in Florida more than doubled to 24.5%, outpacing a national average cost increase during the same period of 19.8%.

According to the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, “The federal government agreed to fund 100 percent of the cost for states to expand Medicaid for three budget years. The federal government would cover 95 percent of the costs in 2017, 94 percent of the costs in 2018, 93 percent of the costs in 2019 and 90 percent of the costs in 2020 and beyond.”

The expansion is voluntary, but the federal government said it would penalize any state (by withholding Medicaid funds) that failed to comply. That penalty was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. The court’s ruling allows states like Florida to decline expansion without losing any current funding.

UPDATE:

Governor Scott release the following statement today:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Governor Rick Scott met with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss how the state can improve cost, quality and access in healthcare for Florida families. Governor Scott said his meeting with Sec. Sebelius focused on the projected $26 billion state cost of doubling people in Florida’s Medicaid program under the president’s new healthcare law, and requesting HHS approval for the state’s long-term care and Statewide Medicaid Managed Care plans that would make healthcare more affordable.

Governor Scott said, “We had a great conversation with Sec. Sebelius today about how we can improve cost, quality and access in healthcare for Florida families. We need to know more about how the healthcare choices facing our state would affect families – many who are still struggling to get a job and make ends meet.

“I believe that Medicaid is an important healthcare safety net. Florida’s Medicaid program today provides health care to over 3.3 million Floridians and is approximately 30 percent of our state budget. The cost of Medicaid has been growing at three-and-one-half times the growth rate of the state’s general revenue, which crowds out our ability to invest in K-12 education, higher education and other priorities.

“Growing government is never free. Under the new healthcare law, Florida would nearly double the people in our Medicaid program over 10 years. AHCA estimates that this would result in a total cost to taxpayers of more than $63 billion over 10 years, including $26 billion in costs to Florida taxpayers. We also know that adding people to Medicaid will affect our state for generations to come because government growth is almost never reversed. The current fiscal cliff debate here in Washington is proof of that.

“I also asked Sec. Sebelius to approve our state’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care and long term care proposals, which are currently awaiting HHS approval. We also discussed ideas for lowering health care costs, including tax incentives for individuals to buy insurance, price incentives for healthy behaviors, and flexibility to buy personalized coverage. Our ultimate goal is to lower the cost of healthcare in Florida so all families can access the level of care they desire.”

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

Rubio Votes Against Fiscal Cliff Deal

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement after voting against the so-called deal to avert the fiscal cliff by imposing job-killing taxes and failing to solve America’s long term debt problem:

“I appreciate all the hard word that went into avoiding the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’. I especially commend Senator McConnell’s efforts to make the best out of a bad situation. Nevertheless, I cannot support the arrangement they have arrived at. Rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing. But rapid economic growth and job creation will be made more difficult under the deal reached here in Washington.

“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they’ll pay this new tax and, chances are, they’ll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.

“Of course, many Americans will be relieved in the short term that their taxes won’t go up. However in the long run, they will be hurt when employers pass on to them one of the largest tax hikes in decades. Furthermore, this deal just postpones the inevitable, the need to solve our growing debt crisis and help the 23 million Americans who can’t find the work they need.”

Time to Privatize Florida’s Libraries

In September 2004 a report was published titled “Taxpayer Return on Investment in Florida Public Libraries: Summary Report“. The survey based report done by the University of Pennsylvania states, “In 2003-4, an estimated 11.8 million people visited Florida public libraries in person.  Adult Florida residents form the majority of visitors, but tourists form a surprising 29 percent of in-person visitors to the libraries, although they account for only 5 percent of visits as they tend to visit just once. Over half of Florida’s adult resident population and over a third of all Florida children make in-person visits to Florida’s public libraries.  Approximately 13 percent of adult Florida residents and an unknown number of Florida children connect via the Internet to the public library.”

The report justifies taxpayer financed public libraries.

Recent experiences with privatized libraries may make the findings of this report null and void. Scott Reeder from Watchdog.org writes, “Public libraries are near sacred institutions in our communities but in a time of escalating municipal debt they have become increasingly vulnerable as local governments look for places to cut. A common refrain among municipal officials is: How can the same of service be offered for less money?”

“A smattering of cities across the nation has turned to private firms as a solution. The results are intriguing,” states Reeder.

Reeder found, “Santa Clarita, Calif., saw its annual cost to operate a public library drop from $6.2 million per year to $4.2 million when they hired a private firm rather than have public employees operate the city’s three libraries, said Darren Hernandez, the city’s deputy city manager. Before a private firm took over day-to-day operations, Santa Clarita’s three libraries were operated by the Los Angeles County Library system.”

Reeder reports that during the first two years of the public/private partnership, significant improvements in service were experienced:

  • The materials budget – for books, magazines and other items – has expanded almost 10-fold to $2 million annually.
  • Library operating hours have more than doubled.
  • Circulation of library materials has increased 15 percent.
  • Participation in library-sponsored events such as children’s reading programs has increased.

This all occurred because the City of Santa Clarita did not have to pay the pensions of librarians. Reeder reports, “By hiring a private firm, the city was able to avoid paying public pensions to library workers, [Santa Clarita City Manager] Hernandez said. He added that California public employees have some of the most generous pensions in the nation.”

Given the growing pressure on the Florida legislature to find savings, perhaps it is time to look at the Santa Clarita experience. Taxpayer funded libraries may be found at the city, county, school board and state college/university levels throughout Florida.

A new look at privatization may be in order.

Indian River Pulls out of Florida Seven/50 Project

Following a lengthy session of public comment and discussion, the Indian River County Commission in Vero Beach, FL voted 4-1 in favor of removing the county from the Seven/50 project which is a seven county, fifty year sustainability initiative. Commissioners Solari, Davis, Flescher and Zorc voted to remove the county from the project.

The vote was a direct result of the work of the Indian River TEA Party and concerned citizens educating friends, family members and neighbors on the dangers of regionalization and sustainability initiatives especially in regard to the infringement on the property rights of individuals.

According to Danita Killcullen, “The task force meeting I attended was frightening, with Kristin Jacobs as Chair with the Republican Mayor of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, who I’ve known for several years, seated at her right.  At the end of the meeting I asked Mayor Rosanne Minnet if she agrees with all we saw and heard today and her answer was, ‘Oh, yes… It’s happening right now!’ They are very far ahead of us and we have much ground to make-up.”

The Indian River TEA Party in an email states, “It is our hope that this one vote will be a shot heard nationwide as similar initiatives are either in place or are planned for communities in every state. Much work lies ahead in balancing the need to maintain our natural resources while upholding the individual liberties we hold dear. To that end, please consider becoming a more active part of your local government as we believe our elected officials truly desire increased public involvement. ”

“The vote today affects the unincorporated areas of Indian River County only and not the City of Vero Beach, Sebastian or other townships. These communities will remain a part of the Seven/50 project unless residents speak out and ask their leaders to follow the lead of Indian River County,” notes the Indian River TEA Party board of directors.

To learn more about the history and intent of “sustainable development” click here.

Florida braces for major job losses in 2013

According to the Heritage Foundation, “The Budget Control Act’s $1.2 trillion automatic sequestration cuts, out of $46.3 trillion in total spending, would impose draconian cuts on defense (on top of an estimated $407 billion in cuts from its spending caps). This would slash the defense budget and jeopardize the U.S. military’s ability to defend the nation. Entitlement spending—the biggest part of the budget— would scarcely be touched by comparison.”

Florida has twenty-one military installations, and is home to U.S. Central Command at MacDill AFB in Tampa.

Florida stands to lose 79,459 jobs and $4.1 billion in labor income by the end of fiscal 2013 if $1.2 trillion in federal defense cuts take place in January as planned.  A report conducted by George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller reports Florida would suffer the sixth highest job losses of all the states.

The report measures the impact of both defense and nondefense employment reductions at federal agencies and their contractors, as well as at businesses that count them as customers.

A little more than half of Florida’s lost jobs in the next fiscal year — 41,905 — would result from Department of Defense cuts, and the rest would stem from reductions at civilian agencies. During that period, Florida would also see gross state product losses of $8 billion.

sequestercuts

The George Mason University report concludes – The magnitude of economic impacts resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 over the combined FY 2012-FY 2013 period have been shown to be large and their impact on the U.S. economy to be significant:

• Combined DOD and non-DOD agency spending reductions totaling $115.7 billion in FY 2013 would reduce the 2013 U.S. GDP by $215.0 billion.

• These spending reductions would result in the loss of 746,222 direct jobs including cutbacks in the federal workforce totaling 277,263 and decreases in the federal contractor workforce totaling 468,959 jobs, thus affecting all sectors of the national economy.

• The loss of these 746,222 direct jobs and 432,978 jobs of suppliers and vendors (indirect jobs) dependent on the prime contractors would reduce total labor income in the U.S. by $109.4 billion.

• The loss of this labor income and the resultant impacts of reduced consumer spending in the economy would generate an additional loss of 958,508 jobs dependent on the spending and re-spending of payroll dollars associated with the direct and indirect jobs lost as a result of BCA.

• This loss of $215.0 billion in GDP and 2.14 million jobs in 2013 would erase two-thirds of the GDP gains projected for the year and raise the national unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points by the end of 2013.

• These economic impacts would affect every state with their respective vulnerabilities to projected DOD and non-DOD spending reductions being determined by their agency mix and relative magnitudes of federal payroll and procurement. Based on current patterns of federal spending by state, ten states account for more than half of total federal payroll and procurement outlays. This significant concentration of federal spending represents a major threat to these states’ economies in 2013. While other states may appear less vulnerable to federal spending reductions, these may also suffer significant impacts dues to their smaller sizes or more specialized economic structures.

To read more click here.

Climate Depot: Extreme Weather Report 2012

Climate Depot and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow presented a comprehensive report at the UN climate conference titled, “Extreme Weather Report 2012“. The following are excerpts from the report:

The man-made global warming movement has officially shifted from runaway global warming fears over to extreme weather fears. This strategic shift has been in the works for years as global average temperatures have stalled by up to 16 years. First there was a transition from “global warming” to “climate change” and now to “global climate disruption.” Some have suggested “global weirding” others have suggested a “new normal.”

At the opening of the 18 annual United Nations climate summit being held in Doha, Qatar, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, urged governments around the world to “do something about” extreme weather. “We have had severe climate and weather events all over the world and everyone is beginning to understand that is exactly the future we are going to be looking about if they don’t do something about it,” Figueres explained at the opening of the annual UN climate summit.

In June of this year, Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (Ca) blamed CO2 for wildfires in Colorado and floods in Florida. “It’s time to stop denying science. Extreme events like the wildfires in Colorado and the floods in Florida are going to get worse unless Republican-controlled Congress changes course soon,” Waxman explained.

Global warming proponents claimed that 2012 was a ‘new normal’ in climate with “unprecedented” weather events. Former Vice President Al Gore summed up this view when he wrote: “Every night on the news now, practically, is like a nature hike through the book of Revelations.

Sen Boxer (D-Calif), the chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee declared: “Hurricane Sandy has shown us all what the scientists sitting right in this room said the day I got the gavel, & they told us exactly what would happen and it’s all happening.”

Scientific studies & data counter these claims.

The latest peer-reviewed studies, data and analysis undermine the case that the weather is more “extreme” or “unprecedented.” On every key measure, claims of extreme weather in our current climate fail to hold up to scrutiny.

The report concludes, “Extreme weather events are ever present, and there is no evidence of systematic increases.”

Read the full study by clicking here.

The Income Tax: Root of All Evil

Politicians and pundits alike are discussing the “fiscal cliff”. What has become a focus of the discussion by both political parties and the President are income taxes. Specifically, raising income taxes on the rich. None are addressing the root cause of the crisis the United States faces today, which is the income tax itself. The title of this column is from a book written by Frank Chodorov in 1954.

Chodorov wrote, “Income and inheritance taxes imply the denial of private property, and in that are different in principle from all other taxes.”

“The government says to the citizen: Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide,” states Chodorov.

In the forward to Chodorov’s book J. Bracken Lee, the ninth Governor of Utah, wrote, “[A] weak government is the corollary of a strong people.”

Lee wrote, “The Sixteenth Amendment [which created the income tax] changed all that. In the first place, by enabling the federal government to put its hands into the pockets and pay envelopes of the people, it drew their allegiance away from their local governments. It made them citizens of the United States rather than of their respective states.”

“Theft loyalty followed theft money, which was now taken from them not by their local representatives, over whom they had some control, but by the representatives of the other forty-seven states. They became subject to the will of the central government, and their state of subjection was emphasized by every increase in the income-tax levies,” warned former Governor Lee in 1954.

Chodorov puts into historical perspective the how and why we have arrived at this point and today face yet another fiscal cliff. The United States faced this same crisis in 1873.

Chodorov stated, “But hungry people are impatient. They cannot wait for deflation to wipe out the debris of their own orgy. A much quicker cure is called for, and the medicine that promises a quick cure is money. During the [Civil] war, it was reasoned, the government printed greenbacks and there was prosperity; why not print more greenbacks and force prosperity to come back? And so, during the depression of 1873–76, and for twenty years after, there was a loud clamor for greenbacks, plus silver money to supplement the scarce gold. This was the principal recipe of the social doctors of the times, a loud-mouthed lot who acquired the generic name of Populists.” [Emphasis mine]

Chodorov noted that during the depression of 1873, “These [Populist] do- gooders were most vocal in the new West, where the ‘hard times’ hit hardest and held on for the longest time. The story of this area is the story of the railroads. In the light of later experience, we can describe the railroad expansion of the 1880’s as a make-work program, fostered by government subsidies and bounties.” Sounds eerily familiar to today’s calls to fund infrastructure improvements by the President and members of Congress.

Chodorov wrote, “[T]he income tax appealed to them [the Populists] as a means of wreaking their vengeance on those they hated—that is, those who had more than they had.”

Additionally, “Income taxation appeals to the governing class because in its everlasting urgency for power it needs money.” By 1891, the Populists, who had by that time coagulated into the People’s Party (1892-1908), included an income-tax plank in their platform. The Democratic Party later appropriated it. A typical remark in the debate on income taxation of 1894 is the following from a speech by the Populist Senator William. A. Peffer from Kansas:

“The only object we have in view in presenting this amendment [graduated income tax] is to rake in where there is something to rake in not to throw out the dragnet where there is nothing to catch. The West and the South have made you people rich.”

Chodorov notes, “The Populists, as do all reformers, assumed that social good can be achieved through political action. They ignored the age-old fact that whenever the government does “good” it acts in the interests of some at the expense of others, meanwhile acquiring power for itself. The end product of government intervention in the economy of the country is more power for government.”

“The American brand of socialism known as the New Deal was made possible by the income tax. But with the advent of income taxation, socialism was unavoidable,” wrote Chodorov.

Government never gives up power, it never voluntarily abdicates.

Chodorov offered a solution. According to Chodorov, “Compulsion means force; there must be a policeman to see that the individual does not follow his own inclinations. But policemen must live. Since they do not produce a thing by which they can live, others must support them.”

No plan can be bigger than its bureaucracy.

The only bulwark remaining against bigger federal government is the 10th Amendment – States rights and the will of the people.

Governor Lee stated, “For those of us who still believe that freedom is best, the way is clear: we must concentrate on the correction of the mistake of 1913. The Sixteenth Amendment must be repealed. Nothing less will do.”

Gov. Scott declares war on Citizens Property Insurance

On November 30, 2012 Governor Rick Scott addressed Florida’s 6th Annual Insurance Summit in Lake Buena Vista. During his remarks he targets Citizens Property Insurance as a threat to Florida’s economic future. Below are his remarks addressing Citizens Property Insurance:

In order to decrease costs for Florida homeowners we must increase competition in the marketplace by addressing major concerns with Citizens Property Insurance.

Citizens was created to be the insurer of last resort. Today Citizens is now the largest insurer in the state.

Citizens poses three major concerns to our insurance market for Florida families who dream of owning a home:

First, the existence of Citizens Insurance increases the chance that Floridians will be hit with hurricane taxes;

Second, Citizens is grossly underfunded; and

Third, Citizens inhibits new companies from coming to Florida resulting in less competition.

First, all of Citizens policyholders are subject to a special hurricane tax. Florida families could be hit with a hurricane tax at a time when they can least afford it, right after a devastating storm. And 79% of Citizens’ policyholders have no idea that they are subject to a hurricane tax.

Think about this. The average Citizens insurance policyholder pays a premium of approximately $2,300. If a storm hits that depletes Citizens’ surplus, either one big storm or several smaller storms, Florida’s families will be assessed hurricane taxes to pay for Citizens losses. This means that the average family with a Citizens policy faces a hurricane tax of over $1000.

A family may be forced to pay this tax even though their home wasn’t hit by a storm. A family in Tampa could be insured with Citizens and face a hurricane tax to pay for losses to Citizens’ policyholders in Miami.

If Citizens can’t pay its claims, the families with Citizens policies are first up for hurricane taxes. Then, once Citizens taxes its own policyholders, they will then tax every Floridian with an insurance policy in order to get additional funds.

So, Citizens Property Insurance poses a threat to each and every Floridian with an insurance policy. If Citizens can’t pay its claims, we are all on the hook for its losses. And Floridians can be taxed multiple times. Your homeowner’s policy could be taxed; your auto policy could be taxed. Even the policy on your family pet could be taxed.

That means that the average Florida family who owns a home and two cars could be taxed three times to pay for a Citizens’ deficit.

Most families have no idea that they are liable for the potential losses of the state’s largest property insurer.

My second major concern is that Citizens is woefully underfunded. Today, Citizens has a little over $6 billion in surplus. But one storm the size of Hurricane Andrew could result in nearly $14 billion in losses to Citizens. That’s an unfunded liability of nearly $8 billion dollars. The only way to pay for those losses is by taxing Florida families.

Finally, Citizens hurts Florida families by crowding out competition in the insurance marketplace, which limits the ability to reduce costs for homeowners.

I’ve traveled the state and spoken to numerous leaders of insurance companies to ask them: “What’s preventing you from expanding your business in Florida?” Nearly every time I’ve been told that the domination of Citizens Insurance prevents new companies from coming to Florida while also preventing existing companies from expanding in Florida.

How can any private insurance company compete with a government-sponsored entity that doesn’t pay taxes and doesn’t need to charge fair market prices? It can’t.

Shrinking Citizens is the first step toward increasing competition in the marketplace and driving down prices for homeowners.

Shrinking Citizens will also protect Florida families from hurricane taxes.

And, shrinking Citizens will attract new capital to Florida and help to permanently reduce the cost of property insurance.

To make the dream of homeownership a reality for more Floridians, we must reduce the size of Citizens, which has grown from an insurer of last resort to an insurance giant in just a matter of years.

We began making some progress toward this goal by giving over 400,000 Citizens policyholders the opportunity to return to the private insurance market this year.

Of course, we must also ensure Citizens is not wasteful. I recently directed the Chief Inspector General to investigate travel expenses and firings at Citizens. This report will tell us what additional steps must be taken to enforce oversight and compliance within Citizens. A taxpayer organized entity must be held to the highest standards of integrity and good stewardship of the public trust.

Danger: There are more people who vote for a living than work for a living

Watchdog Wire has written numerous columns about the costs of dependence on government largesse. Government is defined as a “system of ruling or controlling”. Largesse is defined as, “the liberal giving (as of money) to or as if to an inferior.”

Government largess is ruling by the liberal giving of money to the governed.

The US Government, states, county and city governments are liberally giving money to the governed at an increasing rate. Republicans and Democrats alike have expanded the use of largesse in the hope of gaining popularity and thereby votes.

Powerline Blog shows how the United States is at the tipping point with ever more people dependent on government for their lively-hood than not. Powerline defines them as “makers” and “takers” stating, “Those who work for a living have been sold out by federal and state governments that have created a welfare system gone mad.”

ZeroHedge has the grim numbers:

[I]t is now more lucrative – in the form of actual disposable income – to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work. This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantified  and explained by Alexander, “the single mom is better off earning gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.“

Click on chart for larger view

Powerline Blog states, “In today’s America, it is reasonable to conclude that unless you make a great deal of money, you are a sucker if you work hard. And, in fact, a great many Americans have concluded exactly that. Check out these data, again from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Each 1.25 Americans working in the private sector is supporting 1.0 welfare recipients and government employees–mostly welfare recipients:

Click on chart for larger view

Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” It is now clear that in the US, “Government largess is the opiate of the people.”

Floridians brace for 5.21% Federal Tax Increase in 2013

The Tax Foundation released its report “How Would the Fiscal Cliff Affect Typical Families in Each State?” According to the report author Nick Kasprak, “”With the election behind it, the 112th Congress has a couple of months during the lame duck session to turn its attention to pressing fiscal issues. Large changes to both taxes and spending are scheduled to take place at the end of the year unless Congress acts. On the tax side, the biggest potential change is the expiration of all Bush-era and Obama tax cuts.”

Kasprak notes, “Additionally, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) has yet to be patched for the current tax year, let alone next. Congress could pass a retroactive patch (which it has done in the past) that would apply to the current year as well as next year; however, if it does not, the AMT exemption level would revert to what it was twelve years ago, and certain credits (such as the Child Tax Credit) would no longer be allowed against AMT liability. If this were to happen, millions of middle-class taxpayers could see a substantial tax increase, which for some could be even larger than the change from the end of the Bush-era tax cuts.”

“Finally, the 2% temporary cut to employee-side social security payroll taxes is also scheduled to expire at the end of this year—a potential third tax increase that would affect the vast majority of taxpayers,” notes the report.

To illustrate the potential impact on typical families, we have used Census and IRS data to estimate income and deductions for the median two-child family in each of the fifty states. The Tax Foundation ran returns through its online tax calculator under two scenarios—2011 tax law (chosen because it is the latest year that an AMT patch was in effect), and 2013 law, assuming all Bush-era and Obama tax cuts expire and AMT remains un-patched. Here is how Floridians will be impacted:

Median Household Income for Four-Person Family (2011): $63,937
Total Itemized Deductions: $9,452*
AMT Disallowed Deductions: $1,770
AMT Allowed Deductions: $7,682
Tax Increase, 2011 to 2013: $3,331
From Child Tax Credit: $1,000**
From Other Bush Tax Cuts and Extenders:$1,052
From AMT: $0
From Payroll Tax: $1,279
Tax Increase as % of Income: 5.21%
Rank: 19

*Family would take the standard deduction in 2011 and also under 2013 current law

**Includes amounts from AMT changes that would prevent taking the credit against it. The amount purely from the Bush-era tax changes to the child tax credit is $1,000 for every state.

To calculate your personal tax increase please click here to use the Tax Foundations online tax calculator.

Click on map for larger view

Kasprak concludes. “While there are exceptions, the general pattern is median families in high-income and low-income states are more affected than those in middle-income states. Higher income families would be disproportionately affected by the imminent AMT changes—particularly those that owe higher than average state income tax, which is deductible under the ordinary tax system but not the AMT.”

The reports states, “At the opposite end, low-income states are disproportionately affected because three tax increases from the end of the Bush-era tax cuts—the reduction in the child tax credit, the elimination of the 10% bracket, and the reduced standard deduction for married filers—represent fixed increases that do not depend on income.”

Kasprak says, “Therefore, these increases, as a percentage of income, are largest for lower-income families.”

UPDATE: Below chart courtesy of CNN Money:

RELATED COLUMNS:

Tax Foundation Staff, The Fiscal Cliff: A Primer, TAX FOUNDATION SPECIAL REPORT NO. 204 (Nov. 8, 2012)

AP: FIGURES ON GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND DEBT – November 21, 2012

RUBIO: ON THE LOOMING FISCAL CLIFF

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding the looming fiscal cliff after President Obama insisted today that tax increases be part of the solution to avert it:

“I fundamentally reject the idea that the only way to avoid the fiscal cliff is to raise taxes and jeopardize job creation. Without a bold plan to bring spending under control and get our economy growing, we will be right back at the edge of this cliff in just a matter of years. I am not interested in short-term political deals. We need a long-term solution.

“The bottom line is that we can’t tax, or even cut, our way out of this. The only way to solve this is through economic growth. And tax increases are not going to grow an economy and encourage businesses to create jobs. Having the government redistribute even more money from job creators is not a recipe for job creation.

“Nothing that I’ve seen during the past two years has invalidated the free enterprise miracle I have seen throughout my life. Many years ago, my parents were able to earn a living and provide for our family because entrepreneurs in Miami and Las Vegas invested money to open and expand resorts and hotels. Having the government take that same money would not have helped people like my parents, and it won’t help people today.

“Tax increases are not the answer. We need fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“This fiscal cliff is the result of decades of short-term Washington solutions and politicians willing to kick our problems down the road instead of solving them decisively. True leadership – the kind America needs now more than ever – requires us to summon the will and courage to solve our greatest challenges. Until we do that, we will continue to have an economy that isn’t growing, and a national debt that is.”

Florida Doctor Sends Letter To Employees About Election

Jeffrey A. Zipper, M.D.

Jeffrey A. Zipper, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of the National Pain Institute located in Delray Beach, Florida sent the below letter to all of his employees.

Dr. Zipper received his medical degree from the University of Miami, School of Medicine in Miami, Florida where he was selected for membership in Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He finished his internship in General Surgery at North Shore University Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and completed a residency program in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at State University Hospital Health Science Center of Brooklyn/Downstate Medical Center where he also served as Chief Resident in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Zipper has been in practice since 1991 and is co-founder of the National Pain Institute.

Dear Employees,

This November 6th you will be asked to cast your vote for President of the United States. Simply put, this is the most important election of our lifetimes. Our economy is on life support. This country is 16 Trillion Dollars in debt and growing. We have been running a 1.3 Trillion Dollar annual budget deficit year over year for the past 4 years! The growth and expansion of our economy has been extremely slow and people are still loosing jobs at a rate of over 300,000/month!! We are broke and indebt as a Nation!

As a small businessman and co-owner of this company; I must tell you, that if our country remains on its present economic course, we are all in deep trouble (rich or poor)! No small businessman will be willing to continue investing their hard earned money in this risky business environment. For me, this election is ALL ABOUT THE ECONOMY. What is good for NPI, is good for you and your families! What is bad for NPI, is bad for you and your families! If NPI and other small business like ours are to survive and thrive into the future; we must begin to feel optimistic again about our country’s economic future. BTW small business employ 75% of all Americans!

We have two choices for President; each of which, I will evaluate as good or bad for NPI, strictly based upon their own stated economic policy’s.

1) Tax Policy

a. President Obama will raise overall taxes on small business from 36% to 46%. In addition, he will raise taxes on capital gains income from 15% to 25%.

i. BAD FOR NPI! WHY? BECAUSE IT WILL RESULT IN LESS MONEY AVAILABLE FOR CONTINUED INVESTMENT & GROWTH IN OUR COMPANY. IT WILL ALSO RESULT IN SIGNIFICANTLY LESS FUNDS FOR EMPLOYEE ADVANCEMENT AND RETENTION. JOBS COULD BE LOST.

b. Governor Romney will reform the tax code in a revenue neutral fashion. He will cut out the tax loopholes enjoyed by actual multimillionaire’s and billionaire’s (not small businessmen)! He will then flatten the highest tax rate to 20% and the lowest rate to 10%. In addition, he will lower Corporate tax rates from 35% to 25% and eliminate capital gains taxes.

i. GOOD FOR NPI! WHY? BECAUSE IT WILL RESULT IN MORE MONEY AVAILABLE FOR CONTINUED INVESTMENT & GROWTH IN OUR COMPANY. IT WILL ALLOW MORE FUNDS FOR EMPLOYEE ADVANCEMENT AND GROWTH OF OUR WORKFORCE. THIS REFORM WILL ALSO LEAD TO RETURN OF CAPITAL INVESTMENT AND MANUFACTURING BUSINESS IN THIS COUNTRY. THIS WILL BE REQUIRED TO GROW OUR WAY OUT OF THIS MESS.

2) Obamacare/Medicare

a. President Obama has signed the Affordable Care Act into law. It cuts 716 Billion dollars from Medicare to fund Obamacare. It also taxes/fines small business $2,000 per employee per year and mandates each citizen to purchase healthcare insurance or pay a mandatory tax!

i. BAD FOR NPI! WHY? RESULTS IN MEDICARE CUTS WHICH MAKES UP 45% OF OUR COMPANY’S REVENUE! SMALL BUSINESS’S MAY CONSIDER TO COMPLETELY DROP HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES AND JUST PAY THE FINE/TAX. WORSE YET, SOME SMALL BUSINESS’S MAY OPT TO PROVIDE SPLIT WORK SHIFTS (PART TIME EMPLOYMENY ONLY) IN ORDER TO AVOID PAYING THE FINE/TAX. THIS WILL RESULT IN MORE WORK WITH LESS RESOURCES FOR LESS MONEY! VERY BAD FOR ALL HEALTHCARE COMPANY’S AND THEIR EMPLOYEES. BTW HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEES MAKE UP 30% OF THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE.

b. Governor Romney will repeal the Affordable Care Act. He will reform Medicare for those under age 55 years old to provide long term sustainability to the program and keep benefits as they are for those over 55 years old. He will slowly raise retirement age and cut future Medicare benefits for wealthy people who are now under 55 years old. He will also allow for the interstate sale of health insurance which will drop rates by 40% overnight! This will make health insurance much more affordable for all.

i. GOOD FOR NPI AND ECONOMY! WHY? BECAUSE IT PREVENTS ALL OF THE ABOVE FROM HAPPENING.

While I believe that President Obama is a very likable, affable person and an excellent orator! I do not believe that he possess the business acumen required, to turn this country’s economy around. For me the choice is clear! I hope you will consider supporting Governor Romney for President.

Regards,

Jeffrey A. Zipper, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer
National Pain Institute
5365 W. Atlantic Ave
Delray Beach, FL. 33484