Previously scheduled for the May meeting to occur after the end of the 2015 session, our Legislative Update was particularly timely since the Legislature failed to finish their work this year and are headed back for a special session next week.
District 32 Senator Joe Negron and District 85 Representative Pat Rooney gave us their view of a few of the issues that were particularly important to them. For Senator Negron, these included Lake Okeechobee discharges, school testing and veterans benefits, while Representative Rooney spoke about placing limits on “sober houses”, city and county pension issues, and letting bars and restaurants serve beer in 64 oz. “growlers”.
The main event of course was health care. In a strange intra-party battle between the Florida Senate on one side and the House and Governor on the other, Tallahassee has shown that they can be just as dysfunctional as their counterparts in Washington. With an impasse over “Medicaid Expansion” (which each side trys to call something different) holding up the passage of the state Budget and three days left before the scheduled end of session, the House took their ball and went home. Since the constitution requires a budget, the Governor is calling them back for a special session starting next week.
What makes this most curious is the fact that the leadership of both bodies are Republican. Those in the Senate though, perhaps are not your father’s Republicans.
The Senate position, represented by Joe Negron who could be the next Senate President, is one of compassion for the working poor and a desire to make sure that “everybody has health insurance.” Relating anecdotes about uninsured parents bringing their screaming children into emergency rooms because they waited too long to seek care, he spoke sadly about the 800,000 uninsured in Florida in that narrow band between existing Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies (100%-130% of the poverty line). Apparently, Senator Negron’s goal is universal health care, with the Florida taxpayer providing subsidies for those who either can’t or won’t purchase their own health insurance. His arguments about stopping the cost shifting from the uninsured to the hospital emergency rooms (who make it up by charging us more), and the urgent necessity to “solve the problem” of Florida’s uninsured, are very reminiscent of the arguments made by President Obama for the Affordable Care Act. In a state that has fought the imposition of Obamacare on constitutional grounds, and has so far resisted its major expansion of Medicaid – a budget buster in a few years, the Republican Senate has gone all Progressive on us. They are actually proposing a brand new entitlement that will redistribute wealth to yet another class of recipient. It is no wonder that the Senate approach is strongly supported by the Democrat party in Florida, and the Hospital and Health Insurance industries which would profit mightily by its passage.
The House position (supported by Governor Scott) was clearly defined by Pat Rooney – we need to care about the cost of these programs, particularly in the out years which very shortly would add another $3-4B Billion burden on the state budget. The House opposes the expansion of Medicaid provided for in Obamacare (which the Supreme Court ruled could not be imposed on the states), for several reasons, most importantly its unaffordability. The House in aggregate, and Pat Rooney in particular, are still governed by Republican principles.
For more information about the dispute and its likely outcome in the budget battle, see: Retooled health proposal snubbed
Also at the meeting, the passing of long time club member Barbara Hawley was noted with a moment of silence, and GOP vice-chair Tami Donnelly made a pitch for new REC members.
In a quickly expanding field of GOP Presidential hopefuls, several candidates stand out for what they are not.
Most have been in the political arena for much of their careers and currently are sitting (or former) Governors or Senators, and few of these have made much of a mark in the private sector.
Only two – Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, are known for their accomplishments outside of politics and have not held public office. Carson, a leading neurosurgeon, was inserted into the national psyche when he took on Obama at a national prayer breakfast. Fiorina, well known for being the first woman to lead a Fortune-50 tech company, made an unsuccessful attempt at a Senate seat from California. One of these, Carly Fiorina, visited Palm Beach County on Wednesday and spoke to a good size crowd of party regulars.
Considered a long shot, barely registering in the polls, Ms. Fiorina should not be overlooked. Since her debut on the national stage, she has rained fire on the presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, deftly turned the tables on snarky media types like Chuck Todd and Katie Couric, and staked out her own territory in the emerging campaign narratives.
For whatever reason, Clinton is getting a pass from most of the other candidates, in spite of hiding from the press and having new scandals emerge on a regular basis. Carly Fiorina on the other hand, is not shy about pointing out Clinton’s most outrageous failings, from the Benghazi coverup, to the server in her basement, to the “pay to play” aspects of Clinton Foundation slush fund collecting millions from foreign governments as she handed out favors as Secretary of State. Mrs. Clinton will not be able to hide behind the “war on women” shield with this candidate.
Speaking forcefully on the characteristics of leadership and what she can bring to the table, Ms. Fiorina’s themes are compelling.
There is an uneasy feeling in the country she says, that we are losing something precious. The country that has offered the most opportunities to all people, regardless of who you are or where you came from, has lost its way. Oppressive regulations like Dodd-Frank have consolidated the too-big-to-fail banks, while driving smaller regional and community banks out of business. Crony capitalism is alive and well, and only the larger companies have the financial and legal resources to effectively deal with big government. Our foreign policy is in disarray as we curry favors with adversaries like Iran while turning back on our traditional allies like Israel and Egypt.
Carly Fiorina lays out a reasoned case that our government needs change, making the arguments without resorting to red meat and applause lines. Whether her campaign will catch fire is anybody’s guess, but she brings a new perspective and should liven things up as we go forward into the debate season.
Invites You to Attend its upcoming meeting
on Wednesday May 27
State Senator Joe Negron
State Representative Pat Rooney
Please join the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches us for an interesting and informative legislative update from State Representative Pat Rooney and State Senator Joe Negron. A brief Q & A will follow, time permitting.
1901 Village Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33409
Make sure you submit your RSVP in advance by clicking on our link below:
PO Box 2585
West Palm Beach, FL 33402