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Obamacare site frozen

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by Laura Green

At 11:30 a.m., I could get into the site and was able to create a login. But now that I am trying to choose my security questions, the options on the pull down menu are blank.

Since launching around midnight, there have been problems with, the site where Americans are supposed to be able to sign up, for the first time today, for new plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Most states, like Florida, opted to have the federal government run their online marketplace. But even states that launched their own are having problems or seem locked up today. Sites for Maryland, Oregon and California each were down at some point today.

President Barack Obama warned about potential problems in an interview with NPR.

“There will be a 6-month enrollment period,” he said. “In the first week, first month, first three months, I would suspect that there will be glitches. This is 50 states, a lot of people signing up for something, and there are going to be problems,” Obama said.

This morning, consumers received a “please wait” message or one that told them the system was down.

The problem could be a sign that Americans have flocked to the site in search of affordable insurance. Or it could indicate something much more basic: technical problems have paralyzed the site.

The Department of Health and Human Services put out this statement: “We have built a dynamic system and are prepared to make adjustments as needed and improve the consumer experience. This new system will allow millions of Americans to access quality, affordable health care coverage – without underwriting. Consumers who need help can also contact the call center, use the live chat function, or go to to find an in-person assister in their community.”

The website directs people to telephone assistance. The federal government offers 24-hour help at 1-800-318-2596.

The website is

Scott says Obama to blame for pending budget cuts

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott lashed out Wednesday at President Obama, saying it is up to the White House to resolve the congressional deadlock over looming budget cuts that could slash millions of dollars from Florida’s economy.

A week ago, Scott antagonized many supporters within his own Republican Party for embracing Medicaid expansion, which Obama envisioned as a key component of the Affordable Care Act. But Scott this week has been apparently trying to bolster his conservative bonafides – with the budget cuts called sequestration emerging as his latest platform.

“If your administration fails to do its job to responsibly managed the budget, thousands of Floridians will lose their jobs under sequestration,” Scott said Wednesday in a letter to the president. The italics are Scott’s own.

“There is no doubt that budget cuts must be made at the national level, just as we do here at the state level,” Scott added. “But it is the responsibility of the administration to administer spending reductions responsibly. Instead of cutting with a scalpel, your sequestration process is a meat cleaver.”

In 2011, as part of a last-minute agreement to avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt for the first time, Congress and the White House formed a bipartisan committee to develop a comprehensive plan to cut how much money the nation owes.

The deal included a clause that essentially said that if that committee could not reach a deal, the government would face $85 billion in arbitrary and painful cuts to both domestic and defense programs this year.

The White House has said that if another budget deal is not reached by Friday, about 750 teachers and aides could be laid off in Florida; 31,000 Department of Defense workers would be furloughed; 1,600 children would lose their place in day care; and thousands fewer will receive vaccinations.

Airport delays linked to a reduction in federal personnel also is forecast as hitting the Sunshine State hard.

White House officials said Wednesday that Obama has invited congressional leadership to a meeting Friday, after the cuts have gone into effect. The tactic suggests the administration does not expect much action from a deadlocked Congress before then.

Scott has been under fire within conservative ranks after dropping his long opposition to Medicaid expansion. But Wednesday’s letter prodding Obama comes only a day after Scott lashed out when a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ban on a 2011 law requiring drug-testing of state welfare recipients.

Losing for a second time in court only seemed to raise Scott’s conservative hackles. After the ruling, Scott said Tuesday he he intends to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is Scott’s letter to: President Obama

Dems target Romney in TV ad as ‘two men trapped in one body’

Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Democrats unleashed an attack ad – “Trapped” – targeting Mitt Romney in his bid to unseat President Barack Obama. The movie trailer-style TV ad portrays Romney’s political career as “the story of two men trapped in one body” and directs viewers to a longer, online ad entitled “Mitt v. Mitt”

The ads characterize the former Massachusetts governor “for what he truly is: a flip-flopper, a candidate without core beliefs, and someone who’s simply without conviction,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters on a conference call this morning.

“The American people appreciate that there are many different points of view in our diverse nation. That is something that people expect. They just don’t expect one candidate to espouse all of them,” Wasserman Schultz, a Congresswoman from Weston, said.

Democrats are feverishly portraying Romney, in Florida on fundraising sweep tonight and tomorrow, as inconsistent in an effort to peel off support from conservative GOP voters with six weeks until Republicans begin choosing their nominee. They’re targeting Romney although recent polls show Newt Gingrich at the top of the GOP pack.

The DNC ad, showing contradictory clips of Romney on health care and abortion, is running in Albuquerque, N.M., Raleigh, N.C., Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Washington.

“From the creator of `I’m running for office for Pete’s sake,’ comes the story of two men trapped in one body,” the ad says.

The four-minute video, entitled “Mitt versus Mitt,” also includes clips of Romney reversing his positions on issues.

Perry’s ‘oops’ moment gives Scott pause

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s nationally televised “oops” moment – where the GOP presidential contender could not remember one of the three government agencies he would do away with – prompted Gov. Rick Scott to be extra-careful during his first sit-down with The Palm Beach Post editorial board yesterday.

Scott told The Post this afternoon that he thought of Perry’s gaffe during some tough questioning from newspaper’s ed board.

“I had three points I was going to make and I thought, ‘Oh boy. I hope I remember the three.’ It was funny,” Scott said, smiling.

But not as funny, to the governor at least, as a temporary lapse by editorial writer Jac VerSteeg, whose name Scott could not recall.

“Then the guy sitting next to Randy (Schultz), he forgot his third point. That was funny,” Scott said.

Like Perry, each of the GOP candidates have had to contend with flubs, especially when they appear to be gaining ground in the race. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – the latest leader of the pack – is fighting off criticism over his relationship with Freddie Mac, the federally-backed (and GOP whipping post) mortgage institution. Read what Gingrich had to say about the issue yesterday in Jacksonville.

Given the degree of exposure the candidates are getting, it’s not surprising their flaws are being exposed, Scott said.

“We have eight candidates. They are able to get their message out. With all these debates, there’s a lot of focus on it. So I think it’s positive that Americans get to learn a lot more about these candidates,” Scott said.

Scott applies for Race to Top — but won’t take cash if (more) strings attached

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott defied tea party activists Wednesday and submitted an application to the Obama administration for ‘Race to the Top’ funding, making the state eligible for as much as $100 million in federal money for public schools.

Scott, though, put some conditions on whether he would accept the money. Basically, he doesn’t want federal administrators to dictate terms to the state on how it should be spent.

“The Office of Early Learning, together with my own staff, worked hard to structure a Race to the Top application that requires no additional state spending obligations—current or future, no requirements for future legislative action, and no new government programs that unduly burden state taxpayers and commit state dollars to federal unfunded mandates,” Scott said. 

 He added, “To be clear, Florida will only accept these grant dollars if the award comes back with no strings attached.  Additionally, if during the process of implementing this grant, the state finds unexpected new regulations being placed on private businesses, I pledge that Florida will not move forward with implementation.”

Florida won a $700 million federal grant under the program last year, in its second attempt at landing the cash. But Scott has been pushing back millions of dollars in aid tied to Obama’s health care overhaul — and was urged by the state’s Tea Party Network, also to steer clear of the Race to the Top effort.

But for all the line-in-the-sand drawing, Scott last month agreed to some conditions in advance of the application.

At Scott’s urging, the Legislative Budget Commission accepted a $3.4 million federal grant under the Affordable Care Act to provide home visiting services to at-risk families. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was among those urging against the move, saying the program’s mission was murky, and he feared it could result in the state facing additional costs.

LeMieux turns to FDR for Senate campaign “freedoms”

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux rolled out a plan to fix the nation’s economy Wednesday — dubbing it his ‘four freedoms plan.”

The historic roots of the “four freedoms” concept goes back to Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt, who pledged to defend the constitution’s guaranteed freedoms of speech and worship, and freedom from fear and want.

LeMieux, engulfed in a tough, four-way GOP primary, is adding to the list the freedom to work, pursue the American dream, and safeguard freedom from foreign dependence and debt. Some of his proposals mirror those aired by Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and others in the Republican presidential field.

“After faith and family, the most important thing a person can have is a job,” LeMieux said.

LeMieux’s approach would reduce federal spending to 2007 levels, which he said could help balance the budget within two years.

 He would slash the corporate tax rate by almost one-third, to 25 percent, while repealing the federal health care overhaul pushed by President Obama and tough federal banking regulations that he said are stifling lending.

LeMieux also said his deficit-reduction plan will take on Social Security and Medicare.

 Among the changes he would advance: gradually raising to age 69 the retirement age for those now under age 55 and impose so-called means testing that would reduce Social Security payments to wealthier retirees.

“We are losing jobs today because of our debt,” LeMieux said.

GOP presidential contenders warm up for debate before Faith & Freedom crowd

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by John Kennedy

Republican presidential candidates tuned up for Thursday night’s nationally televised debate from Orlando by speaking to crowd of about 3,000 at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event.

The coalition is a Republican-allied advocacy organization founded by Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition later tarnished by his involvement with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Reed told the crowd he hopes to have coalition offices in all 67 Florida counties by next year’s election, more than doubling its current number.

“We’re not going to rest until a U-Haul is pulled up in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Reed said, setting the tone for the red-meat themes that carried through most candidate speeches.

Some of the contenders layered a few religious references into their talks. Ronald Reagan also was frequently mentioned, with several candidates recalling his biblically-rooted “city on a hill” speech.

“When a people turn their back on what history and scripture says is true, that’s when a nation becomes a byword,” Michele Bachmann told the crowd.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum drew applause for assuring that, “We can build a great society from the bottom up.” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia blistered Obama for advancing “class warfare and socialism.”

“President Obama is the best food stamp president in U.S. history,” Gingrich said. “But with your help, I would like to be the best paycheck president in U.S. history.”

The frontrunning contenders, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, stuck to familiar campaign pitches — but threw few rhetorical bombs.

Romney ridiculed President Obama for drawing his approach to governing from European countries — possibly, he said, a product of Obama, “growing up abroad.” He also promised to, “move the country away from Obamaism.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry praised the importance of faith and family in his life. But he also tried to skewer Obama by condemning the growing influence of the federal government, education policies, and the administration’s assurance that the economy is rebounding.

 ”When one-in-six Americans cannot find work, that is not an economic recovery, Mr. President, that is economic disaster,” Perry said.



Perry leads Romney in Florida, with Texas gov drawing backing of some potent forces

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by John Kennedy

Rick Perry is leading Mitt Romney among Florida Republicans, with some potent forces propelling him forward, according to the new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

In head-to-head matchups with Romney, the Texas governor is the clear favorite of Republican voters in the state who consider themselves tea party supporters or evangelicals. Perry tops Romney 55-35 percent among tea party advocates and 52-34 percent among evangelicals, who have long been uneasy with Romney, a Mormon.

Although Quinnipiac found Romney is currently best positioned among all voters to beat President Obama, the assistant director of the university’s polling institute, Peter Brown, said he didn’t expect Perry to go out of his way to woo independents or moderates in tonight’s Fox-News television debate among the GOP contenders.

Perry’s hardline conservative colors — perhaps underscored by his condemning Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” — is generally supported by Florida Republicans. Fifty-two percent of poll respondents said “Ponzi scheme” was a good way to characterize Social Security.

The survey “says that Rick Perry has a small lead. But when you do a couple of things, his lead gets better,” Brown said.

Perry is up 28-22 percent among Florida Republicans. But his lead over Romney swells to 9 percent if Sarah Palin doesn’t run. In a two-man face-off, Perry tops Romny 46-38 percent, the survey found.

Tonight’s Fox-News debate from the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center will be aired from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and features nine GOP presidential candidates. 

Except for Perry and Romney, the remainder of the field draws only single digits among Republicans. Also, Perry is the leading second-choice among supporters of the other candidates — a key factor in a race where many also-rans are expected to fold at least after the early primaries next year.

And while Perry may be struggling against Obama at the moment, the survey shows Republicans are incredibly motivated to win back the White House next fall.

Sixty-three percent of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic about voting in next year’s presidential election than usual, compared with only 28 percent of Democrats who say they are fired up and ready to go.

“At this point, it appears President Obama is motivating Republicans and Republican-leaners to be excited about voting against him,” Brown said.



Miss. guv Haley Barbour backs George LeMieux U.S. Senate race

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is backing George LeMieux in a heated GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who briefly considered running in the 2012 presidential race, called LeMieux a “solid conservative” in a statement released this morning by LeMieux’s campaign.

“I am honored to earn the support of a principled conservative like Haley Barbour. When Governor Barbour was RNC Chairman, he helped orchestrate the Republican Revolution in 1994 that built the type of conservative majorities we need to turn our country around,” LeMieux said in the release. “More importantly, from his leadership during hurricane Katrina to his work passing key pro-life legislation, Governor Barbour is a case study in effective conservative governance.”

LeMieux is struggling to shake off his ties to Gov. Charlie Crist, who appointed LeMieux to replace former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez when he resigned mid-term. LeMieux, a one-time close ally to Crist whom the former governor called “The Maestro,” did not seek reelection to the seat, which now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won after Crist quit the GOP and ran against him as an independent.

LeMieux will face off in the primary against Delray Beach’s Adam Hasner, a former state House member who also served as the chamber’s majority leader.

Wealthy Delray Beacher Nick Loeb is toying with entrée into the race but is waiting until gal pal Sofia Vergara, star of Modern Family, gets past the Emmy Awards next month. Chris Ruddy, another Palm Beacher and CEO of the influential West Palm Beach-based conservative publication NewsMax, has ruled out getting into the candidate fray.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed that 53 percent of Republican voters remain undecided in the Senate primary but found Plant City tree farmer and retired Army Reserve Col. Mike McCalister leading the current four-candidate field with a meager 15 percent.

Behind McCalister in the poll were both LeMieux, with 12 percent, and Hasner, with 6 percent. Former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller weighed in with 8 percent support.

Tale of two Ricks: Scott says Perry likely running, but doesn’t expect to endorse

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott is a huge fan of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

He also envies the Lone Star State’s low unemployment rate and overall economy.

But as Perry mulls whether to jump into the Republican presidential field — a likelihood, Scott says — his Florida counterpart doesn’t plan  to offer an endorsement.

“I think he’s going to run,” Scott said, adding, “I can’t imagine he’s not going to run. It’s sort of lined up for him to run, right now, because there’s not that many nationally known governors running. And governors have historically won these. He’s in a nice position.”

But if Perry gets in, Scott said he doesn’t plan to endorse him, or probably any of those in the GOP hunt for the White House.

“I went through this last year,” Scott said, recalling his own upstart challenge of party favorite Bill McCollum. “I like primaries.

“I think everybody had already endorsed someone else by the time I got in the race. So I’m OK with real primaries.”



Read BP exec’s Facebook Q and A

Friday, March 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

BP exec Dave Rainey, head of the oil giant’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, held his third Facebook chat yesterday.

Rainey’s fielded questions ranging from whether the dispersants used after the April 20th Deepwater Horizon blow-out caused acid rain (he says no), what’s up with tar mats still found on beaches, including Pensacola, and oil on the Gulf of Mexico ocean floor.

The first question dealt with dozens of dead infant dolphins who washed ashore along the Gulf Coast – a six-fold increase from previous years.

“Why are the dolphins dead?” Down Hiller, who asked the first question, wanted to know.

Read Rainey’s response after the jump and the entire transcript here. (more…)

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