Monday, December 18, 2017
Politics

In Pinellas, Bill Nelson doesn't shy away from health care vote

PINELLAS PARK ­­— Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson faces one of the toughest re-election fights of his career, with outside groups having already spent roughly $10 million attacking him as a liberal and for supporting the Affordable Care Act.

Campaigning in Pinellas County on Monday, Nelson made no apologies for that vote while acknowledging he has taken plenty of criticism for it. He recounted one town hall meeting in rural North Florida, where a man wagged his finger at Nelson and demanded that he repeal "Obamacare."

"Would you like me to repeal the part where you can keep your kid on your family policy until age 26? Would you like me to repeal that part that says that the insurance company can't cancel you when you're in the middle of treatment?" Nelson said.

"What about the part that says . . . if you have a large group health insurance policy that the insurance company now, in law, is going to have to give you 85 cents of health care for your premium dollar?"

Nelson's remarks to about 250 people at a Greater Pinellas Democratic Club dinner in Pinellas followed a fundraiser at the St. Petersburg home of Scott Wagman and Beth Houghton, where Nelson raised an estimated $30,000 for his campaign against Republican nominee Rep. Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers.

Nelson, 69, never mentioned Mack by name, but in decrying what he called false attacks on him by independent Republican groups, he noted that entitlements have become a front-burner issue with Paul Ryan picked as Mitt Romney's running mate.

"My opponent co-sponsored a bill with none other than congressman Paul Ryan, a bill to privatize Social Security. Specifically what they did was they were going take a third of the Social Security Trust Fund and they were going to give it in individual accounts to the senior citizens who then were to invest in the stock market," Nelson said.

Mack campaign spokesman David James responded: "Liberal Bill Nelson is the only one in this race who has cut over $700 billion from current Medicare recipients by placing the burden of Obamacare on seniors and has offered no plan to balance the budget or even passed a budget on the Senate Budget Committee in three years; he is a failed senator."

Nelson noted that that $700 billion did not come from beneficiaries but from reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and from private Medicare Advantage plans that threatened to "bankrupt Medicare."

In 1986, Nelson flew aboard the space shuttle, and rarely misses an opportunity to bring that up. Monday, he recounted peering from space at "colorful, beautiful, but fragile" Earth.

"I looked and I did not see racial divisions. I did not see political divisions, I did not see ethnic divisions, I did not see religious divisions," Nelson said. "From that perspective in space, looking back at our home planet, I saw that we were all in this together."

Comments
National security strategy plan paints China, Russia as U.S. competitors

National security strategy plan paints China, Russia as U.S. competitors

WASHINGTON — A new U.S. national security strategy plan presents China and Russia as competitors that want to realign global power in their interests, potentially threatening the United States, Trump administration officials said Sunday.President Don...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Published: 12/17/17
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Published: 12/16/17
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Published: 12/16/17
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Published: 12/16/17
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17