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OBAMA, ROMNEY TO MEET FOR LUNCH
The White House says President Barack Obama will meet privately Thursday with his vanquished rival Mitt Romney, their first face-to-face encounter since the election.
Obama promised in his victory speech on Nov. 6 to engage with Romney and consider his ideas.
The White House says the two men will meet in the White House’s private dining room. There will be no press coverage.
Romney will also meet with his vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and a media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?” – Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, via the Washington Post.
OUCH: GQ NAMES ROMNEY ITS LEAST INFLUENTIAL PERSON OF THE YEAR
HOW OBAMA PLANS TO WIN FISCAL CLIFF DEBATE by Mike Allen of POLITICO
Ben White writes in “Morning Money” that per top financial executives privy to White House thinking , “President Obama’s commitment to top marginal rate increases is unshakable and based more in basic math than a desire for redistributive fairness. The president does not believe … it is feasible to achieve a reasonable revenue target of $1 trillion or more by simply closing loopholes or capping deductions. … Making a big change to the mortgage deduction could hurt the housing market. Limiting charitable deductions could wind up hurting the neediest. Limiting state and local tax deductions from federal returns could play havoc with local finances and bond markets. So rates will have to rise. … If … the government goes over the cliff, … Obama is likely to hammer Republicans as the culprits (something the public is already inclined to believe) with two massive bully pulpit events: His second inaugural address and the State of the Union speech. …
The financial services executives … noted that the president is well aware that Democrats (see Sen. Dick Durbin et al.) are currently showing a strong disinclination to accept any significant entitlement spending cuts as part of a fiscal cliff deal … Obama also knows Republicans will have to get some spending concessions in order to sign off on tax increases … So the president along with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and others will have to sell the party on some immediate trims along with a commitment to further reform. … Durbin and others have called for Social Security … to be left totally out of the talks. But including might actually ease the talks. Because the easiest spending fix – changing the calculation of benefits to one that relies on a less generous inflation rate (chained CPI in wonk-speak) – comes from Social Security … A deal probably gets done that includes an increase in rates, though perhaps only on $500K and above incomes, along with something like a switch to chained CPI and a commitment to address entitlement and tax reform early next year.
MAJORITY NOW AGAINST HEALTH CARE GUARANTEE
For the first time in Gallup trends since 2000, a majority of Americans say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to 2009, a majority always felt the government should ensure healthcare coverage for all, though Americans’ views have become more divided in recent years. The shift … began shortly after Obama’s election and has continued the past several years during the discussions and ultimate passage of the Affordable Care Act … Americans are divided on that legislation today — 48% approve and 45% disapprove … Republicans, including Republican-leaning independents, are mostly responsible for the drop since 2007 in Americans’ support for government ensuring universal health coverage.
FLORIDA AG BONDI SAYS OBAMACARE ALREADY HURTING STATE’S BUSINESSES by Tia Mitchell of the Miami Herald
“Unfortuntely, national studies are already showing the negative effects that the healthcare law is having on businesses and our economy,” Bondi said. “Businesses across the country are raising their prices in order to compensate for their added costs due to Obama’s healthcare plan. If they aren’t raising prices, they’re cutting jobs as a result of the added cost, both of which hurt our economy.”
***The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from health plans, hospital executives and health care providers, to some of Florida’s biggest employers and elected officials – to discuss how to make Florida healthier and bring affordable, accessible, quality health care to Floridians. To register to attend or for more information, please visit www.healthcareflorida.com.***
GAETZ ANNOUNCES SENATE COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS Gaetz unveiled his committee assignments Wednesday, assignments that will shape the course of Florida government for the next two years. “The Senate is blessed to have Senators whose talents reflect the experience and abilities of the Floridians each Senator represents,” writes Gaetz in a memo. “In determining the attached committee assignments, each Senator’s subject area expertise and interests were considered, as well as the work we need to accomplish over the next two years. Leader Smith provided a great deal of input in the committee assignment process, and I am grateful for his efforts.” In his memo, Gaetz notes that he is breaking with past Senate practice and assigning senators to two appropriations committees. “My goal is to ensure that ensure all Senators, new and returning, understand what is included in the base budget so that each Senator can be equipped with the information necessary to make decisions on what should be funded moving forward,” writes Gaetz. Gaetz says he offered a chairmanship or vice chairmanship to every senator and that five Democrats will serve as committee chairs. Jeremy Ring will serve as the Chair of Governmental Oversight and Accountability; Bill Montford as the Chair of Agriculture; Eleanor Sobel as the Chair of Children, Families and Elder Affairs; Joe Abruzzo as Chair of the Joint Committee on Legislative Auditing; and Arthenia Joyner as Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight. Democrats are also named as Vice Chairs to the vast majority of Senate Committees. As foreshadowed in Gaetz’ previous remarks, a Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been created to analyze and assess the potential impact of this new law on the state.
JEFF BRANDES TO HEAD TRANSPO COMMITTEE The assignment is a plum one for Brandes, whose high-profile bid for the Senate was backed by Senate President Don Gaetz. Chairing the Transportation Committee gives Brandes oversight over a broad swath of statewide policy, including road building and seaport development. Brandes brings to his chairmanship experience as a member of the House subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations. “As the sponsor of last year’s comprehensive transportation package, Senator Brandes has been a great champion for advancing Florida’s port infrastructure to attract more international trade and create jobs,” said Doug Wheeler, president of Florida Ports Council. “His business experience gives him unique insight into the importance of infrastructure to Florida’s ability to compete.”
JOHN LEGG TO CHAIR EDUCATION COMMITTEE Freshman state Sen. John Legg has been named the chairman of the K-20 Education Policy Committee. He also will serve on the K-20 Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Legg was chairman of the House K-12 Education Committee two years ago, before becoming speaker pro tempore for 2011-12. He runs a charter school in New Port Richey, and has sponsored several high-profile education bills including the state’s move to end-of-course exams from the FCAT. Lately, he has been visiting area high school career academies looking for ideas to improve school-to-work connections and to make junior- and senior-level course work more relevant and challenging to students GARRETT RICHTER SEES GAMING COMMITTEE MOVING DELIBERATELY via the News Service of Florida Richter, a Naples Republican who also serves as president pro tempore, said that he viewed the recent redistricting process, which included several summer hearings across the state in 2011, as a potential model for the Senate Gaming Committee. “It would be very appropriate to try to take a comprehensive look at gaming for the state of Florida,” Richter said. He added that the committee’s work would probably be “a very deliberate process over the next couple of years.” That approach would seem to square with suggestions byDon Gaetz and Will Weatherford that the Legislature might take time to study a tangle of issues around gambling before tackling it.
TWITTERVERSE REAX TO GAETZ’ ANNOUNCEMENT@cesarfernandezD: Frm staff director for FL Senate Reapportionment Cmte, John Guthrie, now heads Senate Gaming. Indicative of another big gaming fight @DavidABergstein: Chairmanship assignments exposing internal fissures in @FloridaGOP @fineout: Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla – and who led charge to defeat PIP bill – is denied chairmanship by new Senate President Don Gaetz @FloridaPorts: Congratulations to Senator @JeffreyBrandes for being named the Senate Transportation Committee Chair!
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AUDIT FINDS 9 BALLOT DISCREPANCY IN BOGDANOFF-SACHS RACE via the Palm Beach Post
In Palm Beach County, where 27,000 ballots had to be hand-copied onto new ballots because a printing error prevented machines from tallying the ballots, the difference between election night totals and the audit of more than 3,200 ballots in four precincts found a nine-ballot discrepancy. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher attributed the difference to “little anomalies,” such as a poll worker who double-counted write-in ballots in one precinct and another who allowed provisional ballots to be scanned.
‘COMMUNITY AFFAIRS’ DISAPPEARS FROM SUBCOMMITTEE NAME AS FOCUS ON GROWTH MANAGEMENT FADES via Bruce Ritchie of the Florida Current
With a name change in the House, growth management issues have been moved from the former Community & Military Affairs Subcommittee to the Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee. Both subcommittees were under the House Economic Affairs Committee. Community and Military Affairs has become the Veteran’s and Military Affairs Subcommittee.
… Rep. Jimmy Patronis, the Economic Affairs Committee chairman, said development and permitting have slowed in recent years. He said committees must exist based on their substantive legislative workload.
DORWORTH: WITH BALLARD, I’LL HELP CLIENTS ‘UNDER ATTACK’ FROM THE GOVERNMENT via The Orlando Sentinel
“I chose to work with Ballard because I’ve seen that over my tenure in government, it seems that on every major battle that plays out in Tallahassee, Brian Ballard has been right in the middle of it advocating for his clients,” Dorworth told the Sentinel. “When government is going to suffocate a business from existing through onerous regulation or by creating a lopsided playing field, the party under attack gravitates to him because he’s the best in the business. I felt the same way and am honored to join his firm.”
GRAYROBINSON CAN’T BE TOO HAPPY WITH CANNON’S AND DORWORTH’S NEW MOVES
Before he was Speaker, Dean Cannon was a GR man himself, working for the firm on land use issues and bid protests. Certainly, there had to be some expectation on GrayRobinson’s part that Cannon would come home to the firm after his time in the Legislature — bringing with him a long list of clients and contacts.
… The firm can’t be too happy about Dorworth’s plan to expand Ballard Partners’ presence in Orlando, which is GrayRobinson’s backyard. Too many foxes in the hen house, and all that.
Of course, none of the gentlemen and ladies at GrayRobinson will ever have a tart word to say about the two former members. Still, Cannon’s and Dorworth’s moves have to stick in the craw just a bit, right? (Full blog post here.)
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APPOINTED: alerie A. Jackson to the Board of Osteopathic Medicine by Gov. Scott.
CRIST BUYS POWERBALL TICKET via the Tampa Bay Times
The Tampa Bay Times caught this picture of former Governor Charlie Crist purchasing a Powerball ticket. Asked what he thought the state of Florida could do if it won the lottery, Crist, of course, said, “We could pay our teachers better!” Wanna know the numbers I think Crist played … 11, 4, 14, 1, 5, 15. Get it?
RESEARCH GROUP TO RELEASE ANALYSIS OF COUNTY ETHICS LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) and Integrity Florida will release the latest Tough Choices report that analyzes Florida’s local governments’ ethics reforms and policies at 9:30 a.m. at the Florida Press Center. While Florida’s statewide ethics laws have been essentially frozen in time since Governor Reubin O’D. Askew championed reform in the 1970s, the report finds ethics reforms at the county and city level are alive and growing. Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap analyzes survey results on ethical programs and reforms in 45 of Florida’s 67 counties focusing on the areas of ethics policy, ethics enforcement, lobbying, campaign financing and procurement.
SEVERAL FLA AREAS SEE BIG DROPS IN UNEMPLOYMENT via the News Service of Florida
Nearly half of the metro areas in the United States that saw their unemployment rate drop by more than 2 percentage points over the last year are in Florida, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report out Wednesday. Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 329 of the 372 metropolitan areas in the nation, higher in 37 areas, and unchanged in 6 areas, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Of the 29 metro areas with more than 2 percentage point drops, 13 were in Florida, led by the Ocala area, which saw a drop of 2.8 percentage points to 9.1 percent. That gave Ocala the third best year in the country in terms of putting people back to work, following Pascagoula, Miss. and Elkhart, Ind. Other Florida areas where unemployment dropped at least 2 percentage points were: Cape Coral-Fort Myers; Daytona Beach; Jacksonville; Lakeland-Winter Haven; Bradenton-Sarasota; Orlando-Kissimmee; Palm Bay-Melbourne; Palm Coast; Port St. Lucie; Punta Gorda; Sebastian-Vero Beach; and Tampa-St. Pete. The state as a whole saw its preliminary October unemployment drop from 10.2 percent last year to 8.2 percent.
>>>Against the backdrop of that positive report, Gov. Scott on Wednesday made two new jobs announcements: Embraer is adding 200 new jobs in Melbourne, and ADT Corporation announced the addition of 120 new jobs in Boca Raton.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Pinellas Dem Zac Sitzberger.