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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

Scott no-show as governors talk Medicaid, sequestration in DC

Monday, February 25th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was again a no-show at the National Governors Association annual meeting this year as the states’ chief execs met with President Obama and White House staff to discuss looming budget cuts that will impact virtually every sector of their economies.

Scott dropped Florida’s membership in the non-partisan group last year, saying the $200,000 annual fee could be better spent. Scott is a member of the Republican Governors Association, the political group that helps elect GOP governors.

The governors met with President Obama, who also hosted a gala dinner for the group last night, today at the White House.

In addition to meetings with White House staff and the president on the sequestration budget cuts slated to go into effect on Friday, the governors are also discussing Medicaid costs that consume huge chunks of their state budgets.

Scott, who launched his political career fighting what later became the Affordable Care Act, last week made national news when he announced Florida would expand its Medicaid program, a linchpin of the federal law. The expansion requires the support of the state Legislature, however, and GOP House and Senate leaders have not said whether they would endorse Scott’s plan.

When asked why Scott skipped this year’s meeting, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said in an e-mail the governor had other things on his agenda today and over the weekend.

When pressed, Schutz said :Florida is not a member of the NGA – Florida’s membership would be nearly $200,000.”

Scott had no events on Saturday and attended the Daytona 500 on Sunday. He spent this morning in Apalachicola and the rest of the day in Tallahassee.

Mack’s ‘penny plan’ for budget-balancing could cost plenty

Friday, October 5th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack’s signature “penny plan” for balancing the federal budget could force deep cuts in Medicare, Social Security and defense spending, the independent Congressional Research Service reported this week.

Mack spokesman David James, however, dismissed the findings as “one opinion.” He also said the goal of Mack’s plan is to force Congress and the president to reach agreement to avoid the kind of slashing included in the CRS findings.

“It’s only if agreement is not reached that 1 percent cuts across the board would occur,” James said Friday.

The CRS study was prompted by a request from Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.  Mack’s plan has 70 co-sponsors in the House and 14 supporters in the Senate. Sanders, who sides with Democrats on most issues, is among those who fear the legislation could gain new strength following the November elections.

Under the proposal, the federal government would reduce spending by 1 percent each year over six years. In the seventh year, federal dollars would be limited to 18 percent of gross domestic product, a measure of the overall economy’s size. By Year 8, the plan would balance the budget and save $7.5 trillion over 10 years, Mack and supporters say.

If Congress and the president couldn’t reach an agreement about what to cut, the plan would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts over a decade, beginning in 2013. CRS concluded that would force an almost $2.9 trillion reduction in defense spending; $1.1 trillion from Social Security; and $211 billion from Medicare.

For his part, Mack has been hitting his opponent, two-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for supporting the Budget Control Act, part of last year’s debt ceiling fight. The measure’s central, sequestration tool would force across-the-board cuts that could hit veterans benefits and defense spending hard, especially in Florida and other military heavy states.

James, however, defended Mack’s blistering of his opponent – even though the Republican also advocates dangling the potential of deep cuts to balance the budget. The difference? Timing, he said.

“It’s huge. In terms of sequestration, that’s a $500 billion blow to the Defense Department in one year,” James said.

Scott joins chorus of GOP governors demanding gridlocked Congress avert defense cuts

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott joined a chorus of fellow GOP governors in a contentious partisan squabble over federal lawmakers’ failure to avert $110 billion in mandatory spending cuts to defense and domestic programs set to kick in in January.

Scott sent a letter today to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asking them to thwart an estimated $500 billion 10-year reduction in defense spending. The automatic cuts, known as the “sequester,” are part of last year’s deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Unless a special congressional deficit reduction supercommittee came up with a way to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion, the budget would face an automatic cut of that amount over a decade, split evenly between defense and domestic programs. (more…)

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