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Higher Gas Prices Add to Economic Slump

Courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

Unemployment is at 8.3 percent. The economy is sputtering at 1.5 percent growth. Food prices are rising due to drought conditions across the country. And gas prices are up again, pinching Americans’ summer budgets. It is past time for the President and Congress to pursue smart policies that would put us on a path to relief.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the current national average for regular is $3.66 per gallon. That’s up 28 cents per gallon from a month ago, and July had its biggest price jump since AAA started tracking prices in 2000. To see the average for Florida click here.

There are many factors affecting prices that we cannot control—worldwide tensions, especially in the Middle East, can drive up oil prices. Global demand, especially from China and India’s rapidly growing economies, continues upward.

But after three years of adding regulatory hurdles and blocking exploratory access and development, President Obama’s policies are helping keep prices higher than necessary.

If the President truly wanted to lower gas prices, he would work to increase supply. But when given the opportunity, he has done the opposite. He turned down the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada. His Administration has made it even harder for companies to explore and extract domestic energy resources by canceling, delaying, or withdrawing a number of lease sales for exploration and development. Meanwhile, huge swaths of federal lands have been put off limits for energy exploration.

Domestic refinery outages have had a recent impact on gas prices. Two of the factors holding back domestic energy production are regulatory red tape and litigation—and these, we can do something about. As Heritage’s Nicolas Loris notes:

Environmental activists delay new energy projects by filing endless administrative appeals and lawsuits. Creating a manageable time frame for permitting and for groups or individuals to contest energy plans would keep potentially cost-effective ventures from being tied up for years in litigation while allowing the public and interested parties to voice opposition or support for these projects.

We don’t have to stand still. Congress could alleviate the energy crunch in 10 different ways by taking action on things we can control, like restrictions on oil shale development and offshore drilling.

One of the most common objections is that increasing domestic oil production takes too long and would not impact the market for at least a decade. The longer people make this argument, however, the longer it will take. The sooner we make investments in domestic energy, the sooner those benefits will be realized. And with some serious reforms, some of this oil can reach the market in much less than a decade.

Gas prices aren’t under the control of any one President. But Americans shouldn’t settle for policies that restrict oil exploration, refining, and production and artificially drive prices higher.

MORE FROM THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION:

High Gas Prices: Obama’s Half-Truths vs. Reality

President Obama’s 10 Worst Energy Policies

Florida Group Reaches Out to Evangelicals

The United West (TUW), a group of academic activists, is now reaching out to Evangelicals in Florida. The outreach is focused on educating Evangelicals on national security issues, Israel and threats against freedom of religion. Tom Trento, President of TUW states, “We will ask Evangelicals to register and vote in the primaries on August 14 and general election on November 6, 2012. We do not tell them how to vote but encourage them to vote.”

Tom Trento notes, “In the 2008 Presidential election one million Florida Evangelicals either did not register or did not vote. This is a travesty and must be addressed. We are addressing this issue in the swing state of Florida.

NewsMax reports, “Some 17 million Evangelicals failed to vote in 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama beat the GOP’s John McCain — and now the fight is on to get them there this November,” Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed says.

November’s election is critical, Reed said, because President Barack Obama is “somebody who’s called for more government, more spending, more bureaucracy. He seems to think the answer to everything that ails America is more government and bigger government.” Reed also said he believes the Obama administration is engaged in an attack on religious freedom.

According to The United West, Florida accounts for nearly 6% of the national Evangelical vote and they are concentrated in a key state. President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have visited Florida numerous times, underlining the importance of the state in November. It was the Florida primary that helped propel Governor Romney to become the presumptive Republican nominee. Governor Romney spent over $15 million to win the Florida Republican presidential primary. Over 8.1 million Floridians voted on the 2008 Presidential ballot; had the aforementioned one million evangelicals voted they would have made up 12.5% of the electorate.

Trento states, “President Obama won Florida in 2008 by 204,577 votes. He took key areas, such as Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties by a plus 47,000 votes. It is important to insure the faith based community is well informed, registers and votes. That is what we do as academic activists – inform the public on important issues. If Evangelicals register and vote it can make a huge difference in who takes Florida in November.”

Faith-based issues are becoming a more important part of the national dialogue, including President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports gay marriage. Florida Proposition 2–“The Marriage Amendment“–was passed in 2008 by a margin of 61% to 39% and is now in the state Constitution. As more information is revealed about the Affordable Health Law and its impact on businesses, organizations and churches providing health services more are becoming engaged. Evangelicals are now paying attention.

According to NewsMax, “Conservative Christians and Evangelical conservatives will play a big role in the upcoming election,” Reed said, “and they support Romney by about 60 percent, compared to previous support for John McCain (73 percent) and George W. Bush (78 percent) … the Evangelical vote, which has historically been between 20 and 23 percent of the electorate, turns out in the largest numbers ever seen in a presidential election.”

With long lines at Chick-Fil-A last week will Florida see long lines at the polls in November? Only time will tell what the faith based value voters will do in Florida.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Rasmussen: 87% Oppose Letting Government Officials Play Politics In the Marketplace

Rasmussen: 61% Hold Favorable Opinion of Chick-fil-A

Rubio vs Rooney on Muslim Brotherhood

Senator Marco Rubio appears to be following the lead of Senator John McCain on national security issues. From Egypt to Libya to Syria to the Muslim Brotherhood, Rubio parrots McCain.

Those who expected Senator Rubio to be an independent thinker on national security issues such as the defense of Israel and the threat of shari’ah Islam are having second thoughts. Some are questioning his national security credentials, which appear to be: follow the lead of Senator McCain.

While Senator Rubio during his campaign stated he supports Israel recent comments fly in the face of that support.

Senator Rubio has attacked fellow Florida member of Congress and Iraq war veteran Tom Rooney (FL-16) who in a letter called for an investigation of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA.

Alex Seitz-Wald’s column “Rubio Condemns Bachmann” on Salon.com states, “Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the party and a potential vice-presidential pick for Mitt Romney, said this morning that he disagreed with Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann’s baseless call to investigate Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the U.S. government.” The Muslim Brotherhood has gained control of Libya and Egypt. Shariah Islamists appear to be leading the rebellion in Syria. HAMAS and al Qaeda are Muslim Brotherhood terrorist entities.

Seitz-Wald reports, “I am not a signatory to that letter,” Rubio said of Bachmann’s [and Rooney’s] letters to the inspectors general of several national security agencies demanding investigations. “I don’t share the feelings that are in that letter.”

The Center for Security Policy responded to comments made on the Senate floor by McCain. According to their website, “Sen. McCain made clear [during his Senate floor speech] that he: had not actually reviewed the curriculum; was unfamiliar with its extensive documentation of a stealthy ‘civilization jihad’ being mounted against this country, its civil society institutions and government; and misrepresented its findings.  By contrast, with the benefit of that resource and their own extensive research, the [five] Representatives wrote the State Department Inspector General, Amb. Harold Geisel, making the factual observation that his agency has recently adopted a number of policies that are ‘enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests’.”

Representative Rooney in the letter went on to characterize those policies as ones that are “deeply problematic and may even pose security risks for this nation, its people and interests.”

Florida was mentioned 56 times in the 9/11 Commission report. Eleven of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were in Florida and three of the pilots, including Mohammed Atta the leader of the 9/11 plot, were trained in Venice, Florida. Many former members of the defense and intelligence community are concerned that Senator Rubio does not have a firm grasp of the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations to the United States.

Center for Security Policy President Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. said, “Congresswoman Bachmann and her colleagues have rendered a tremendous public service by raising an alarm about the dangers posed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘civilization jihad.’  Far from being chastised for doing so, by Sen. McCain or others, they should be applauded and aided in their efforts to have the extent of Brotherhood influence operations properly investigated by Inspectors General and/or congressional committees.”

Related report from the Center for Security Policy:

Report Reveals Radical Islamist Views and Agenda of Senior State Department Official Huma Abedin’s Mother

Rasmussen: Mack Leads Nelson by 9 Points

A Rasmussen Report survey of 500 likely voters in Florida taken July 9, 2012, shows Republican Representative Connie Mack IV (FL District 14) with a nine-point lead over incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, 46 percent to 37 percent.

Representative Mack’s Senatorial campaign manager Jeff Cohen said, “The momentum is on our side. Rasmussen now considers the Florida Senate race ‘Leans Republican’ for the first time.”

The poll was taken after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Likely voters may have been influenced by a statewide advertising campaign from Freedom PAC – Florida, which labeled Senator Nelson as a “lockstep liberal” alongside President Barack Obama.

Rasmussen Report notes, “Fifty-two percent of Florida voters favor repeal of the health care law, while 36 percent oppose repeal. Mack earns 85 percent of the vote from those who ‘Strongly Favor’ repeal. Nelson gets 78 percent support from the smaller group of voters ‘Strongly Opposed’ to repeal.”

On July 11, 2012, two days after the Rasmussen survey, Congressman Mack (FL-14) voted to repeal ObamaCare, a measure that passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 244 – 185. Congressman Mack recently introduced two pieces of legislation that would repeal the law in its entirety and block funding for the law’s implementation: the “NObamacare Act” and the “NObamacare Funds Act.”

“Florida, with its large number of retirees, has consistently registered high opposition to President Obama’s national health care law and was one of the leaders in the recent unsuccessful constitutional challenge of the law before the U.S. Supreme Court,” according to Rasmussen.

Obama Turning Americans into “Economic Slaves”

Florida Congressman Allen West (R-22) stated at a Port Saint Lucie campaign speech President that President Obama wants to turn Americans into “economic slaves.”

At the event Congressman West spoke about the importance of lowering taxes, minimizing regulations on business and bringing jobs back to Florida. Congressman West criticized President Obama on his failure to create private sector jobs.

“Self-esteem comes from doing esteemable things. Sitting at home and getting a check from the government is not going to help your self-esteem. What it will do is make you an economic slave to people living in a far, far, distant place,” West remarked.

Congressman West stated, “He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of ‘American’. He’d rather you be his slave and be economically dependent upon him.”

Congressman West said during a Conservative Black Forum said that President Obama “doesn’t have a vision for the black community” in America. Congressman West’s website notes:

“In the beginning, in chapter one, it talks about over the past 30 years, billions of dollars have been poured into black communities across the country in hopes of curing well-documented socio-economic problems including failing schools and adequate housing, rampant crime and drug abuse, black on black killings, unemployment and more,” West said. “Despite the courageous efforts of many local institutions, agencies, school leaders, grassroots organizations and community residents, the problems remain.”

“In many instances, these problems have grown worse,” he continued. “I believe it will take new ideas and new voices to find solutions, and that is exactly why we’re here. We’re here today to talk about economic freedom as opposed to economic dependency. We’re here today to talk about four basic conservative principles and how they can apply to economic revitalization for the black community: That’s limited government, being fiscally responsible, individual industrialism that leads to self-sufficiency and the free market that grows business, and lastly and most importantly, it’s about equality of opportunity which comes from a good education.”

West points to the black community’s 14 percent unemployment rate as an indicator that the current economic policies aimed at helping minorities aren’t working, adding that “if you understand actual unemployment, it’s probably closer to 18 or 20 percent.”

On top of that, West pulled out statistics showing how blacks aren’t proportionally represented population-wise in the percentage of new start-up businesses around the country.

“60 percent of new startups are in the white community, 23 percent of new startups [are] in the Hispanic community, 5 percent [of] new startups [are] in the Asian community and, with 13 percent of the population, you’re only seeing nine percent of new startups coming out of the black community,” West said.

Over the more than two-hour-long discussion about issues facing these communities and possible solutions, President Barack Obama hardly came up. After the event, West told The Daily Caller that’s because Obama “doesn’t have a vision for the black community and economic development.”

“He doesn’t have a vision for America,” West told TheDC. “So, I think that’s why we see all of these horrible economic indicators turning in the way that they are. His vision is just to get re-elected and that’s not what I’m here talking about.”

West issued a warning concerning the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. “Now we find ourselves in a situation where the tax code of the United States of America is being used as a weapon against the American people. It is being used for behavior modification. That is exactly what came from the Supreme Court decision last week,” said West.

Congressman West is campaigning for a second term in the U.S. House in Florida’s newly-drawn district 18. He faces County Sheriff Bob Crowder in the GOP primary on August 14 for a chance at the party’s nomination.

Scott Walker Recall Victory sends ripples across Florida

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There appears to be a tsunami building and the epicenter of the earthquake that caused it is Madison, Wisconsin. Democrats across Florida are shuttering as it was one of their own, Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (FL CD-20), who said this recall election was a harbinger for November 6, 2012.

On May 27, 2012 Debbie, Chair of the Democrat National Committee, stated, “And so what I think the implications will be is that ultimately I think Tom Barrett will pull this out. But regardless, it has given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do the dry run that we need of our massive, significant, dynamic grassroots presidential campaign, which can’t really be matched by the Romney campaign or the Republicans because they’ve ignored on-the-ground operations.” [My emphasis]

Greta Van Susteren reports DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement on the results of the Wisconsin recall election, “Despite the disappointing outcome of tonight’s election, there is no question that over the past year this recall effort sent a message to Scott Walker that his brand of divisive politics is offensive and wrong. Thousands of Wisconsinites mounted this effort in the face of a flood of out of state, secret and corporate special interest money– amounting to a massive $31 million war chest for Governor Walker to just $4 million on our side.”

The Washington Post reports, “I don’t think that this is anything other than an important election for Wisconsin voters, for Wisconsin working families,” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told me in an interview here Tuesday afternoon.”

Can you say backpedaling? I thought “D” meant drive and “R” meant reverse? Maybe D means Debbie drives Democrats off a cliff?

Republican Party of Sarasota County, Florida Chairman Joe Gruters released the following statement regarding Governor Scott Walker’s decisive victory in Wisconsin’s recall election:

“I would like to personally congratulate Governor Scott Walker on his victory in today’s gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin. After millions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of man hours logged by big labor, the National Democratic Party and even the local Sarasota County Democratic Party, Americans headed to the polls tonight and sent an overwhelming message in support of free enterprise and against both big labor and liberal policies.”

“This free enterprise & conservative message was sent loudly in Wisconsin tonight and will be echoed across the country as we approach November. Rather than turning to the government for dependence, Americans are coming together in support of growing the economy and creating jobs while also shrinking the size of government and cutting spending by enacting common-sense, conservative policies. The Wisconsin results will empower Conservative leaders across the country, like our Governor Rick Scott, who are willing to stand up in support of free enterprise and make the tough decisions to ensure that their citizens are living in free country that is of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Florida is a key swing state in November. President Obama in 2008 carried Florida by just over 200,000 votes out of 10 million votes cast, a margin of .02%.

The line in the sand is clear. Bigger government, more national debt and union control or small government, a balanced budget, debt elimination and free markets. It appears the voters in Wisconsin picked the latter.

This victory does not bode well for Democrats in Florida, especially with Debbie Wasserman-Schulz calling the shots for the party.

RELATED COLUMNS:

Wisconsin recall by the numbers

Walker, Republicans win big in Wisconsin recall races

ANALYSIS: Walker win vaults Wisconsin governor into vice presidential discussion