Florida

While Republicans in Congress are falling short of their promise to cut at least $100 billion in spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Republican governors are starting to address the root cause of many of our states teetering on becoming the American equivalent of Greece. They are changing unsustainable terms for benefits and pensions of public employees.

Chris Christie of New Jersey has become just about the most popular politician in the country during his first year as governor by pursuing austerity in the state budget. Now, a new crop of governors including Rick Scott in Florida and John Kasich in Ohio are following similar paths. Rick Scott has turned down billions of dollars in federal taxpayer money to subsidize building of a high speed rail line which would ultimately cost the Florida taxpayers billions and for which there is no demonstrated economic need.

But the fastest rising star among the new governors is Scott Walker of Wisconsin whose challenge to public employee unions sparked protests by government employees in Madison, the state capital. All fourteen Democrats in the state senate have fled the state in order to deny Republicans a quorum to vote on Walker’s proposed bill. President Obama has again entered the debate on a state issue by attacking the side voted into office last November and defending public employee unions. Governor Walker’s response to Obama has been that the president should be focused on the deficit in Washington. Effectively he told the president to mind his own business.

Here is Governor Walker explaining what he is doing (via The Right Scoop):

Walker is standing by his proposal which still offers terms to public employees more generous than those enjoyed by most employees in the private sector. He also insists that there have to be some limits on the public unions’ collective bargaining rights so that state and local governments can meet the demands of the voters of Wisconsin and eliminate government spending they cannot afford.

We desperately need in Washington the clarity on the issues and resolve to address them that governors like Scott Walker and Chris Christie bring at the state level. Will Republican leaders in Congress join their freshman colleagues who were elected with Tea Party support and draw a firm line on cutting federal spending in every area including entitlements and defense?

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South Florida Congressman Allen West gave the keynote speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday. West predicted “a new dawn in America” if we stick with the the “three pillars of conservatism:” 1) effective and efficient constitutional government, 2) keeping peace through strength and 3) defending American values.

Support for these conservative principles elected eighty-seven new Republican Congressmen last November. West’s speech gave a different and more complete vision of conservatism than Rep. Ron Paul, the winner of the CPAC presidential straw poll. His message was received with standing ovations by the CPAC audience. Watch Rep. West’s inspiring speech:

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Judge Roger Vinson

After federal Judge Roger Vinson declared Obamacare unconstitutional on Monday, Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced that Florida will not waste any more time and money on further implementing any parts of Obamacare. Good for Florida.

Meanwhile the Obama administration is planning to continue implementing the law in direct violation of the judge’s order. Imagine the media outrage if George Bush had ignored a federal court ruling.

Judge Vinson chose to use the original tea party to illustrate the absurdity of claiming that our constitution grants the government the right to force people to buy health insurance:

It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.

The full text of the ruling can be found here.

The judge also referred to a Reason TV debate between conservative law professor John Eastman and liberal professor Erwin Chemerinsky on the individual mandate and the Commerce Clause. Watch “Wheat, Weed and Obamacare” to understand why a federal ruling finally putting a limit on what Congress can do under the Commerce Clause is so important if we want to preserve any limits on the power of the federal government. It is well worth investing ten minutes to watch this debate:

Judge Vinson’s ruling will eventually go to the Supreme Court possibly in 2012 just before the election. It is likely that a 5-4 majority will either uphold or overturn this ruling. Let’s hope that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the Court, sides with Judge Vinson and the Constitution.

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Florida’s Governor-Elect Rick Scott has set up a website to solicit input from Floridians on ideas to make Florida the number one state in the country:

Go to www.scotttransition.com and “Let’s Get to Work!”

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Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed Marco Rubio and twelve new Republican senators to Washington and made an important decision: he decided to agree on a ban on earmarks, the corrupt practice of inserting a senator’s pet project into a big bill to buy his vote. Earmarks have been opposed by Marco Rubio and other new and current Republicans.

McConnell still justifies his past support for earmarks and contrasts them to the abuses of earmarks by others. Maybe he achieved some good in his earmarks and it is understandable that he wants to save face when agreeing to a position that he wouldn’t have agreed to without the leadership of Senator-elect Marco Rubio, Senator Jim DeMint and others.

McConnell still doesn’t seem to understand the argument that while earmarks are only a “small” part of our spending problem – about $20 billion annually! – they are the gateway drug to bigger spending. They cause senators and representatives to vote for bills they only agree to because they are allowed to insert their earmarks at the last moment without public scrutiny.

For more on the earmark issue read Marco Rubio in Leading Role to Ban Earmarks, the Gateway Drug to Spending.

Before the election, some establishment Republicans like former senator Trent Lott thought they could tame the newly elected Republicans once they got to Washington. This has worked in the past, but with thirteen new Republican senators and at least eighty new Republicans in the House, Tea Party Republicans have a real chance of changing the establishment rather than the establishment changing them.

The next big challenge to the establishment: deciding on who will chair powerful committees in the House and Senate. There are some problematic candidates in the House that we’ll cover soon. This will be future House Speaker John Boehner’s chance to show that he is on board with listening to the American voters.

Watch McConnell welcome the thirteen new Republican senators to Washington. Note how the camera swings to Rubio right at the beginning.

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