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FL-Sen: Rubio exposes his shallow thinking and ghoulish sense of humor

This was no doubt a great moment for our young senator, Marco Rubio, to be invited by Nancy Reagan to give a speech at the Reagan Library. Too bad he doesn’t have much to say, and what he utters often is a cliche or nonsense.

The handlers there on Tuesday touted him as possibly the next thing to the Great Communicator that Ronald Reagan claimed to be. But was Rubio? If you have the strength, here’s the link to the whole event on C-Span. You’ll see him lose his place several times, check the text and jump around. Guy could use a teleprompter! Great communicator? Not!


Near the end, during the Q-and-A, he tries a ghoulish joke with his empty smile. Asked if he’d accept the nomination to be vice president, he said, “I have no interest in serving as vice president for anyone who could possibly live all eight years of the presidency.”  This was not a slip of the tongue, because he preceded it by saying “As I joked earlier today.” So this is something he’s actively turning over in his mind. If I were president, I’d certainly never go hunting with VP Rubio, nor eat his barbecue or drink his mojito.

The audience, by the way, didn’t laugh for so long that he kinda reminded them it was a punchline.

Here’s a Think Progress short piece on one aspect of his speech, where he condemns Social Security and Medicare and declares that these backbone social programs have made Americans lazy.  The Think Progress analysis is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t take the further step of asking why a US Senator doesn’t have a better mind. Why is he so shallow in his analysis of Medicare and Social Security? Well, I don’t know either.

There so many other aspects to these programs that have saved widows, the disabled and the elderly from poverty. Medicare is in long-term financial trouble because of skyrocketing medical costs, not because Americans have “become lazy.”  Social Security, far in the future, will have trouble paying current levels of benefits because tax rates are capped for the wealthy.

What does he say has happened? We used to save for these eventualities, but then the government took over the responsibility, and we got lazy, stopped saving.

This even though his own family has benefited from these programs, and he must know from the inside that’s not the way it goes. You can’t save enough now to have one serious illness with a week in the hospital, a bout of surgery, plus regular followups for the rest of your life.

In my family this has happened repeatedly. My father died of a heart attack at age 47, and survivor’s benefits provided a safety net for my mother and two younger sisters. I was already too old at 20 to benefit. Years later one of my sisters became a widow when her husband died in a traffic crash, and again, survivor’s benefits were essential support for her and her 11-year-old daughter. Years after that, I’m a heart patient on Medicare and getting decent doctoring — after paying into the system for 35 years. And I’m still paying two premiums, for Medicare and for the supplemental insurance, plus co-pays. And no one ever accused me of being lazy or not saving during my work career. Wake up, Senator! You must be dreaming.

I wonder: To whom does Rubio’s shallow portrayal of life in the United States ring true? We aren’t lazy. My mother and sister both went back to work when they become widows. We saved when we had a chance. We are not living off Social Security. We in retirement are living off our savings and investments, and Social Security provides a monthly minimum that helps maintain a careful lifestyle.

If Rubio thinks Ronald Reagan really hacked away at government spending, he’s flat wrong. This piece in The New Republic has an excellent chart showing the Reagan years with steady government spending as a percentage of GDP. Our Bill Clinton stands out for years in which the government’s spending declined as a share of GDP.

Rubio says we’ve built a government we can’t fund and calls this “an extraordinarily tragic accomplishment.” Really? Tragic? Can it possibly be “great communicating” to say we’re a tragic country? And the depressing effect of that pronouncement is not lifted when Rubio ends by saying the US still has to be a world leader.

The audience was seldom roused to applause though they did clap repeatedly when Rubio railed against government regulations. He did not mention the economic fiasco that followed lack of regulation of Wall Street.

The Rachel Maddow show’s report, of which I don’t find a video link,  started with the stumble that Nancy Reagan, a frail 90 years old, took as she came ever so slowly down the aisle on Rubio’s arm. The Maddow show had a headline saying that the gallant Rubio had rescued her from the fall. Well, I choose to see it differently. He was too eager to get to the podium and was rushing her. You can’t see it in the side view on the C-Span video, but if the Maddow show ever provides a link I’ll try to put it up and you’ll see that he’s ahead of the ancient first lady, whose steps are six inches if that, and he probably caused her to stumble in his impolite haste.

Maddow also makes good fun of what he said about infrastructure. He declares he is not against infrastructure, but it should only be “for economic development, not a jobs program.” How the heck do you separate those?

One last note. Rubio’s memory of his own wedding may be off. He told the crowd that he had only walked down the aisle with two people, his wife and Nancy Reagan. Well, we saw him walk Nancy Reagan down the aisle — albeit with difficulty. But what was his own wedding like? Usually it’s the father of the bride — not the groom — who walks her down the aisle.

I’m saying the guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He just makes it up.


DFA ad will tackle two of Florida’s worst: Allen West and David Rivera; FL-22, FL-25

Here’s an early look at the Democracy For America nationally backed ad that will go after Republican nay-sayers in the US House.

DFA has chosen Reps. Allen West, FL-22, and David Rivera, FL-25, as the first to have the ads broadcast in their districts, starting  around the NBC program Meet The Press.

Have a look at the familiar faces chosen to make the points — our friends and neighbors, fellow activists on the good side of politics. Feel free to pop their names into the comments.

Huffington Post gave this a blast of publicity on Tuesday, and don’t neglect to check out the website DontKillTheDream.com 

MoveOn demo at Miami office of Marco Rubio draws 20, plus tea party folks

Here’s a short video from Tuesday’s sun-broil outside Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral, in Miami’s western suburbs.

The police kept the crowd of about 20 separate from a smaller group of tea party people who showed up with pro-GOP banners.

Motorists voted with their horns for the MoveOn position much stronger than the tea party got.

This was one of many demos around the country in recent days as MoveOn presses its campaign to “Defend the American Dream.”

A big MoveOn demo is planned next Wednesday, Aug. 10, starting at 4:30 p.m. on US 1 and Stanford Drive, in front of the University of Miami.

White House fact sheet on deficit deal

Here is the full text of a fact sheet issued Sunday evening by the White House to help understand the deficit deal announced by President Obama:


Office of the Press Secretary


July 31, 2011


The debt deal announced today is a victory for bipartisan compromise, for the economy and for the American people. The agreement:

  • Removes the cloud of uncertainty over our economy at this critical time, by ensuring that no one will be able to use the threat of the nation’s first default now, or in only a few months, for political gain;
  • Locks in a down payment on significant deficit reduction, with savings from both domestic and Pentagon spending, and is designed to protect crucial investments like aid for college students;
  • Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;
  • Deploys an enforcement mechanism that gives all sides an incentive to reach bipartisan compromise on historic deficit reduction, while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and low-income programs;
  • Stays true to the President’s commitment to shared sacrifice by preventing the middle class, seniors and those who are most vulnerable from shouldering the burden of deficit reduction. The President did not agree to any entitlement reforms outside of the context of a bipartisan committee process where tax reform will be on the table and the President will insist on shared sacrifice from the most well-off and those with the most indefensible tax breaks.

Mechanics of the Debt Deal

  • Immediately enacted 10-year discretionary spending caps generating nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction; balanced between defense and non-defense spending.


  • President authorized to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for further increases until 2013.  
  • Bipartisan committee process tasked with identifying an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, including from entitlement and tax reform. Committee is required to report legislation by November 23, 2011, which receives fast-track protections. Congress is required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011.


  • Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.    




  • Deal Removes Cloud of Uncertainty Until 2013, Eliminating Key Headwind on the Economy: Independent analysts, economists, and ratings agencies have all made clear that a short-term debt limit increase would create unacceptable economic uncertainty by risking default again within only a matter of months and as S&P stated, increase the chance of a downgrade. By ensuring a debt limit increase of at least $2.1 trillion, this deal removes the specter of default, providing important certainty to our economy at a fragile moment.
  • Mechanism to Ensure Further Deficit Reduction is Designed to Phase-In Beginning in 2013 to Avoid Harming the Recovery: The deal includes a mechanism to ensure additional deficit reduction, consistent with the economic recovery. The enforcement mechanism would not be made effective until 2013, avoiding any immediate contraction that could harm the recovery. And savings from the down payment will be enacted over 10 years, consistent with supporting the economic recovery.



  • More than $900 Billion in Savings over 10 Years By Capping Discretionary Spending: The deal includes caps on discretionary spending that will produce more than $900 billion in savings over the next 10 years compared to the CBO March baseline, even as it protects core investments from deep and economically damaging cuts.


  • Includes Savings of $350 Billion from the Base Defense Budget – the First Defense Cut Since the 1990s: The deal puts us on track to cut $350 billion from the defense budget over 10 years. These reductions will be implemented based on the outcome of a review of our missions, roles, and capabilities that will reflect the President’s commitment to protecting our national security.


  • Reduces Domestic Discretionary Spending to the Lowest Level Since Eisenhower: These discretionary caps will put us on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President.


  • Includes Funding to Protect the President’s Historic Investment in Pell Grants: Since taking office, the President has increased the maximum Pell award by $819 to a maximum award $5,550, helping over 9 million students pay for college tuition bills. The deal provides specific protection in the discretionary budget to ensure that the there will be sufficient funding for the President’s historic investment in Pell Grants without undermining other critical investments.





  • The Deal Locks in a Process to Enact $1.5 Trillion in Additional Deficit Reduction Through a Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Committee: The deal creates a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Committee that is charged with enacting $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by the end of the year. This Committee will work without the looming specter of default, ensuring time to carefully consider essential reforms without the disruption and brinksmanship of the past few months.


  • This Committee is Empowered Beyond Previous Bipartisan Attempts at Deficit Reduction: Any recommendation of the Committee would be given fast-track privilege in the House and Senate, assuring it of an up or down vote and preventing some from using procedural gimmicks to block action.


  • To Meet This Target, the Committee Will Consider Responsible Entitlement and Tax Reform. This means putting all the priorities of both parties on the table – including both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform.




  • The Deal Includes An Automatic Sequester to Ensure That At Least $1.2 Trillion in Deficit Reduction Is Achieved By 2013 Beyond the Discretionary Caps: The deal includes an automatic sequester on certain spending programs to ensure that—between the Committee and the trigger—we at least put in place an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by 2013.
  • Consistent With Past Practice, Sequester Would Be Divided Equally Between Defense and Non-Defense Programs and Exempt Social Security, Medicaid, and Low-Income Programs: Consistent with the bipartisan precedents established in the 1980s and 1990s, the sequester would be divided equally between defense and non-defense program, and it would exempt Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement. Likewise, any cuts to Medicare would be capped and limited to the provider side.
  • Sequester Would Provide a Strong Incentive for Both Sides to Come to the Table:  If the fiscal committee took no action, the deal would automatically add nearly $500 billion in defense cuts on top of cuts already made, and, at the same time, it would cut critical programs like infrastructure or education.  That outcome would be unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike – creating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy.



  • The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President’s Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice.
  • The Enforcement Mechanism Complements the Forcing Event Already In Law – the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts – To Create Pressure for a Balanced Deal: The Bush tax cuts expire as of 1/1/2013, the same date that the spending sequester would go into effect. These two events together will force balanced deficit reduction. Absent a balanced deal, it would enable the President to use his veto pen to ensure nearly $1 trillion in additional deficit reduction by not extending the high-income tax cuts.


  • In Securing this Bipartisan Deal, the President Rejected Proposals that Would Have Placed the Sole Burden of Deficit Reduction on Low-Income or Middle-Class Families: The President stood firmly against proposals that would have placed the sole burden of deficit reduction on lower-income and middle-class families. This includes not only proposals in the House Republican Budget that would have undermined the core commitments of Medicare to our seniors and forced tens of millions of low-income Americans to go without health insurance, but also enforcement mechanisms that would have forced automatic cuts to low-income programs. The enforcement mechanism in the deal exempts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement.

Dan Gelber talks to Miami-Dade Democrats, hints at future race

Two years ago Dan Gelber was a state senator from Miami Beach, preparing to run for higher office in 2010. At first, we will recall, he sought the Democratic nomination for US Senate, vying for the seat once held by former Gov. Bob Graham but at that time by Mel Martinez, who became one of the early Republican quitters (Palin followed) – he gave up after four years in office, and we’d still like to know how Martinez’s arm was twisted (Jeb, can you enlighten?). And then it became apparent that the Democratic establishment (Can anyone say Clinton?) wanted US Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami to get that slot – and how did that work out? (Can someone spell Sen. Marco Rubio, he of the empty smile?)

So Dan Gelber ran instead for the nomination for state attorney general, defeated another state senator, Dave Aronberg of Greenacres, and became part of the ticket headed by Alex Sink, who followed her husband Bill McBride into gubernatorial  defeat when the 2010 votes were counted. And Gelber, like the other Democrats at the top of the statewide ticket, lost too, part of the thorough whupping the party suffered nationwide in the year of the tea party.

To cut to the news here, Dan Gelber was featured speaker Thursday at a fundraiser for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, and said he’s still looking for an electoral fight. Inspired by the brilliant job that Gov. Rick Scott is doing to alienate the public, Gelber made this listener think he’s not running for anything in 2012 and is more likely to plunge into the statewide pool in 2014, when Scott either will have quit or will try to buy Tallahassee again with his ill-gotten gains.

A thinking person would pause here and wonder why anyone risks sanity and fortune in running for office when such as Rick Scott is standing in the way. But this dunderhead forges on to report what Gelber said.

On Rick Scott: “What this guy is doing is unbelievable.… This guy has made me actually say, I miss Jeb Bush.… We have a governor who just does not care about Floridians…. To have a governor of the state of Florida who doesn’t care about the state, well that is something else.”

On his own future: ”I suspect I will end up in public office again, or at least putting myself up for that again.”

Advice to Democrats wondering what to do: “This is what you can work for … this next election is going to define our state and our nation for the rest of our lives…. If we do not throw all these guys out … I do not know what will happen to our state and the nation…. Ask yourself everyday, What can I do to save this state and save the nation.”

A prediction: “2012 is going to be our comeback…. If they can fuel an election with anger, we can do it with hope.”

And thanks to Daisy Black, party first vice chair and mayor of El Portal, for hosting the fundraiser.

Progressive Platform conference in Orlando develops draft

Your blogger participated in an ambitious project Saturday in Orlando — a meeting of about 100 progressives to draft a platform that could be presented to candidates for office, to voters, to people being recruited for political action.

Here’s the first crude video to come out of my new camera and unfamiliar software. The next one will be better.

FL25: Luis Garcia announces for US House seat held by David Rivera

State Rep. Luis Garcia is in the Miami Herald today with his announcement that he’s running for the US House seat won last year by David Rivera.

As this blog reported recently, two others are thinking of running: Joe Garcia, who ran strong races twice for the seat but lost, and Annette Taddeo, who ran in 2008 for the FL18 seat long held by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and also ran unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade County Commission last year. The two Garcias are not related.

The fact that candidates are perking up in public this early for an election still 16 months away has at least two foundations:

  • The investigations of Rivera’s finances and campaign funding make him a vulnerable first-termer;
  • Democrats are standing up to the tea party even in the face of evidence that such adherents as Republican US Rep. Allen West, a first-termer in FL22, is even more of a loose cannon than we thought.  His spat with Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, FL20, is in the papers daily.
West already has two Democrats vying to run against him in 2012, Patrick Murphy and Lois Frenkel. This is looking like a good cycle for political consultants.
And Joe Garcia can be found in the Miami Herald, too, on Wednesday, though not running for office (yet) but getting in a comment on a Republican gambit to stop travel to Cuba.