Florida

Lindsey Graham and the First Amendment

In response to the actions of Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who last week burned a copy of the Koran that has caused an uproar in the Muslim world, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) revealed that he isn’t a fan of the First Amendment, saying on Face the Nation, “I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II, you had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy. Burning a Koran is a terrible thing, but it doesn’t justify killing someone.”

Terry Jones is an intolerant idiot. There is a little question about that. However, his actions are protected speech, whether Sen. Graham and his colleagues like it or not. There is no clause in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that suspends liberties when we are at war.

I don’t agree with what this guy did, but I find it equally problematic that there is talk of punishing people for excerising their rights.

ObamaCare: One year later

A year ago today, President Barack Obama signed his signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law - known as ObamaCare in conservative and libertarian circles, which was passed under the budget rule known as reconciliation. In the past 12 months, the individual mandate - the centerpiece of ObamaCare - has been challenged successfully in federal courts in Virginia and Florida and repealed by the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, ObamaCare was also found to be constitutional in two other federal courts, although under dubious claims, and repeal failed in the Senate.

The fight still isn’t over, but the numbers aren’t there to repeal the bill outright and defunding it would almost certainly run the risk of a government shutdown. Regardless of those two points, the cost of ObamaCare is rising, notes the Wall Street Journal, and given the fiscal situation the nation is in, something has to be done:

To wit, CBO says the entitlement’s health insurance subsidies will cost $1.13 trillion between 2012 and 2021, not $1.04 trillion, the prior estimate. This 8.6% jump is the result of revised assumptions, the so-called technical factors in CBO’s budget model. The bill’s total cost now stands at $1.445 trillion, according to another recent CBO estimate.

Rubio: Not in the Senate to be part of “absurd political theatre”

With the battle heating up over the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of the year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) made his position clear in a post over at RedState:

Despite the seriousness of this debt crisis, an absurd pattern has clearly developed in Washington. Last year, when they still controlled the House, Senate and White House, the Democrats failed to pass a budget at all. In the first two months of this year, Senate Democrat leaders have spent invaluable time not on tackling the debt but on re-authorizing the F.A.A. and reforming the patent system. Their only attempt at addressing our debt was a plan to cut $4.7 billion in spending, which only equals what our government borrows approximately every 30 hours alone.

Democrats’ unwillingness to engage on this issue is leading us closer to a catastrophic debt spiral that will irreversibly damage our government, our economy and ultimately our country.

The absurdity of what we have witnessed on the Senate floor is only eclipsed by the lack of leadership demonstrated by the White House, and a President who has been absent from this debate and even sent his lead negotiator on a five-day foreign trip.

All this has led to a very predictable outcome: Washington politicians of both parties scrambling to put together two and three week plans to keep funding the government, while not fundamentally changing the behavior that has gotten us into this mess to begin with.

ObamaCare court decision could come today

A decision could come as early today by Federal Judge Roger Vinson on the constitutionality of ObamaCare:

A Florida judge could on Monday become the second U.S. judge to declare President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law unconstitutional, in the biggest legal challenge yet to federal authority to enact the law.

The judge, Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Florida, was expected to rule on a lawsuit brought by governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans. Obama is a Democrat.

The plaintiffs represent more than half the U.S. states, so the Pensacola case has more prominence than some two dozen lawsuits filed in federal courts over the healthcare law.

No specific time has been given for Vinson’s ruling, which was unlikely to end the legal wrangling over the contentious reform law, which could well reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

But an aide said he was determined to issue his opinion in the course of Monday on the suit filed on March 23, 2010, just hours after Obama signed the reform into law.

Initial reports were that Vinson viewed the law in much the same light that he did back in October, that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Vinson wondered how far the Commerce Clause could stretch if the federal government could mandate every citizen buy health insurance:

Republicans plan repeal vote for ObamaCare

With the 112th Congress set to convene in just a few days and tax hikes on pharmaceutical companies and new restrictions on health savings accounts (HSAs) as a result of the law passed last March took effect at the beginning of the new year, Republicans are promising a legislative assault on ObamaCare before the President Barack Obama gives the State of the Union at the end of the month:

“We have 242 Republicans,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” He added, “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us. You will remember when that vote passed in the House last March, it only passed by seven votes.”

Upton, whose committee will play a key role in the GOP’s effort to roll back the law, said that he believes the House may be near the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.

“If we pass this bill with a sizeable vote, and I think that we will, it will put enormous pressure on the Senate to do perhaps the same thing,” he said. “But then, after that, we’re going to go after this bill piece by piece.”

Upton specifically called out the requirement for businesses to complete 1099 tax forms, the individual mandate and the amendment on abortion introduced by Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak. “We will look at these individual pieces to see if we can’t have the thing crumble,” he said.

McConnell to file brief in court challenge against ObamaCare

While he is getting earmarks wrong, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is getting ObamaCare right by planning to file an amicus brief in the suit working its way through federal court against the new health care reform law:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will file a brief in a Florida court in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health-reform law.

The top Senate Republican will file an “amicus curiae” (“friend of the court”) brief in the Florida case and has urged GOP colleagues in the Senate to sign onto the filing, too.

“While I strongly believe that we should repeal the law and replace it with the types of commonsense reforms Americans support, I also strongly support the efforts of over twenty States that have challenged this law in the courts,” McConnell wrote in a dear colleague letter.

You can read McConnell’s letter at the bottom of the post.

The challenge in federal court in Florida has been hit or miss, though the challenge has merit and could ultimately prevail. The judge is allowing the challenge to the individual mandate to move forward, but he has thrown other challenges in the suit out.

We’ll have some movement on this case towards the end of this month and at the beginning of next month, though we are a long way off from getting a final verdict in this case, which will eventually wind up at the Supreme Court.

Alan Grayson may run again *eyeroll*

We’re hearing pundits talk about whether or not politicians “get it,” referring to last week’s election results. Well, outgoing Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) apparently didn’t get the message voters in Florida’s Eighth Congressional sent to him:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) today left open the possibility of one day running for office again despite being defeated by an 18-point margin last week.

“It’s too early to say,” Grayson said on ABC News’ online show “Top Line.”

“But I do understand that the voters have decided to give someone else a chance for a while, and I’m going to have to find another way to be useful.” 
[…]
“These are things I don’t want to waste. I don’t want that to atrophy,” he said.

Grayson lost to Daniel Webster by 18 points after running an very negative and untruthful campaign.

Dude, they’re just not into you.

Marco Rubio’s victory speech

Marco Rubio, who won the Senate race in Florida last night, gave the best speech of any candidate I heard. On the live-blog, we frequently wondered whether the GOP understood why they were booted in 2006 and 2008. It’s clear Rubio gets it:

Latest polling from The Hill shows more pick-ups for GOP

The last round of polling from The Hill before election day has somewhat better results for Democrats that previous polling, however, it still looks bad for them on election day:

The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll, surveying nearly 17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts over four weeks, points to a massive Republican wave that, barring an extraordinary turnaround, will deliver crushing nationwide defeats for President Obama’s party.

The data suggest a GOP pickup that could easily top 50 seats (the party needs 39 for control of the House).

Of the 42 districts polled for The Hill, all but two of which are currently Democratic, 31 had Republicans in the lead. Democrats were up in just seven, and four were tied. In addition, there are some 15 Democratic districts that are so far into the GOP win column that they weren’t polled. That would suggest at least 46 GOP pickups, plus whatever the party gets out of another 40 or 50 seats that some experts believe are in play.

According to The Hll, Republicans are ahead in 31 out of the 40 districts polled that are currently held by Democrats. They also note that they didn’t even poll 15 districts because Republicans were already poised to win.

Here is a look at the latest polling from The Hill.

CO-3

  • Scott Tipton (R): 47%
  • Rep. John Salazar (D): 43%
  • Undecided: 8%

FL-2

FL-8: Webster leads Grayson

In the latest poll from Florida’s Eighth Congressional District, Daniel Webster is maintaining a seven point lead over Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, a controversial freshman who has hurt himself by running misleading and false ads about his opponent:

  • Webster: 48%
  • Grayson: 41%
  • Other: 5%
  • Undecided: 5%

Webster leads among independents, 48% to 33%, and viewed more favorably, 47/33, than Grayson, who is viewed unfavorably by 55% of voters in the district. But here is the kicker from the poll:

Since the Sunshine State News Poll shows Webster’s margin widening to 11 points among voters who say they are most likely to cast ballots (51-40), [Voter Survey Service President Jim] Lee projected that the Republican could top 50 percent on election night.

The seat has been viewed as a likely GOP pick-up for sometime, but even if the GOP doesn’t take the House and Alan Grayson loses, I’d be happy.


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