Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Who are these people?

Today's Op-Ed in the Tribune:
For the past two years, at the conclusion of Florida's legislative session, Florida Watch Action, Progress Florida and America Votes have recognized members of the Legislature as a "Champion of Florida's Middle Class" for their unwavering support on behalf of Florida's families.
Exactly who are Florida Watch Action?  Florida Watch Action is an organization dedicated to strengthening the progressive movement in Florida.  A quick review of their web site indicates they tend not to write like today's Op Ed, and they are mostly set up against Governor Rick Scott.  We at The Eye have our own issues with Governor Scott, but we'll have a different take on issues that Florida Watch Action.

Progress Florida gives it away in their name.
Founded in 2008, Progress Florida is a nonprofit organization promoting progressive values through online organizing, media outreach, and networking with Florida's leading progressive organizations. Our issues include social justice, health care reform, environmental protection, economic fairness, strengthening public education and more. We advocate for sensible policy solutions and hold elected officials' feet to the fire by empowering citizens in their communities.
Just make sure you vote their way, right?  Always love that "social justice" thing, but I can't figure out why plain old "justice" is not good enough for them.  Otherwise, they seem to have all the progressives boxes checked.

Let's go fishing in a barrel.
1. Guaranteeing free, quality public education: We must ensure Floridians' constitutionally protected right to a "uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high-quality system of free public schools" by rejecting efforts to revive the so-called "parent trigger" bill and curtailing the use of private school vouchers, both of which slash public education funding while privatizing public education for corporate gain. Charter schools should not be funded by taxpayers at the expense of public schools. We cannot continue the practice of cutting K-12 and higher education funding and threatening our state's Bright Futures Scholarship program.
We've followed the progressive education  ideas for years with zero results.  Let's come up with something new, and empower parents to seek the best educational outcome for their children, where ever and how ever they chose.  Pro-choice anyone?  For extra credit (but we'll be fair!), explain why Florida taxpayers who do not go to college should subsidize those that do, who are predominately middle and upper class?
2. Creating and protecting quality middle-class jobs: Florida's defined benefit retirement plan is one of the strongest in the nation and should be strengthened and preserved, rather than phased out in favor of risky 401(k) type plans. Florida's low-income earners should be protected from corporate extremists aiming to preempt local laws designed to prevent wage theft or provide benefits such as earned sick time. Public employees should not face the threat of job loss due to corporate privatization schemes like the prison plan that narrowly failed last year. The Legislature should not be placing large corporations over small businesses and middle class working families. Florida should be putting our Main Street, family-owned small businesses first.
Gee, I'd hate the public sector employees to live by the same set rules and retirement plans we have to live with in the private sector.  Hardly seems fair, does it?  Why should the rest of us work hard into our 70s or later so the public sector can retire in their 50s? Friends and acquaintances of The Eye in the public sector where outraged when they had to pay more into their pensions in the last couple of years.  Outraged.  Welcome to our world.  It happened to us about 15 years ago.  Time to catch up with the real world.  It's not as if there is no risk with public sector pensions.  Many state and local pensions are at severe risk of meeting their future obligations.  At least with 401-K style plans, that money is yours.  At least for now.
3. Ensuring effective, efficient government: Corporations must pay their fair share in taxes. We cannot continue the practice of increasing billion-dollar corporate tax breaks and subsidies and pushing for further reductions or the elimination of the corporate income tax altogether while slashing funding for education and neglecting the needs of the state's small businesses. Large corporations must pay their fair share, and corporate tax loopholes should be closed once and for all. Inefficient government practices, such as taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power plants and other handouts to big business that don't help create jobs, should be stopped. Cutting corporate taxes simply rewards big business and the wealthy and does nothing to aid job creation.
 We're all for fairness, equity, low taxes, and no subsidies.  Something tells me they want higher taxes on corporations (jobs, anyone?), and will subsidize failing education and public sector retirement plans. "Fair share" for progressives always means pay more.
6. Reforming Tallahassee's culture of corruption: In order to reach optimal government effectiveness we must clean up the culture of corruption in Tallahassee and push for real ethics reform. These reforms would prohibit the use of Committees of Continuous Existence (CCEs) except to engage in political activities related to the election or re-election of candidates; provide teeth for the Commission on Ethics to go after those current and past elected officials who have been found to have violated ethics and elections laws; eliminate the revolving door of legislators and their staff leaving public service to lobby their former colleagues; and keep contribution limits to candidates low while increasing disclosure and transparency.
What?!  We agree!  We think the low contribution limits are a bit silly, but let's not quibble.

Back on track...
7. Providing access to affordable health care: We must address Florida's high rate of uninsured residents by extending Medicaid to pay for health-care coverage for nearly a million Florida families in dire need. Florida must take advantage of provisions under the Affordable Care Act to set up a state health insurance marketplace in 2014 that will allow millions more Floridians to have access to affordable health care coverage.
Please, someone, please, explain to The Eye how adding more people onto an already strained program will save money and improve healthcare.

They seem to be proposing more of the same failed ideas.  That's who these people are.  Certainly not forward thinking.

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