George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

Flor⁠i⁠da Curren⁠t⁠: Wea⁠t⁠herford con⁠t⁠ends U.S. ‘less free’ under Obama

By: The James Madison Institute / March 16, 2013

The James Madison Institute

George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

March 16, 2013

House Speaker Will Weatherford told supporters of the conservative James Madison Institute on Wednesday night that the nation is “less free” under President Barack Obama — and will lose more freedom before he leaves office.Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, joined Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater at a banquet marking the Tallahassee-based institute’s 25th anniversary. JMI has become an influential conservative voice in the Capitol since Republicans took over the Legislature in the mid-1990s and the state Cabinet a few years later.Scott recounted how the state reduced taxes and the size of government in his first two years as governor. He echoed the theme — “It’s working” — that he sounded repeatedly in his “State of the State” speech this past week.He did not mention his plan to expand Medicaid eligibility for about 1 million more poor people — which has slammed into a brick wall of opposition in the Legislature. Committees in both the House and Senate have voted not to expand Medicaid, although the Senate has indicated it will work on an alternate plan for taking about $51 billion in federal over the next 10 years to subsidize private insurance for the poor.After Scott left the banquet, it was Weatherford’s turn to address JMI supporters and he repeated his total opposition to the plan.”I believe America is less free today than it was four years ago, and I believe under the current trends and the current leadership that we have, we’ll probably be less free three and a half or four years from now than we are today,” Weatherford said. “What we have an opportunity to do is create a pocket of freedom that is unrivaled anywhere else in the world.”Weatherford said, “The underlying thought process in the Florida House for the next two years” will be fiscally conservative, concentrating on revamping the state pension system to eliminate a $19 billion projected actuarial unfunded liability and rejecting the Medicaid expansion.”When it comes to one of the largest expansions of an entitlement program in the history of this country, the United States of America’s government is trying to buy off the states, one by one, by coercing us into expanding Medicaid,” Weatherford said. “I am not buying it and we will not buy it as long as I’m speaker of the House.”Scott recounted budget cuts and regulation streamlining that he has made over the past two years. He said Florida is on track to be “the No. 1 best place to do business” and is creating new jobs because of his policies.”We’ve cut taxes. We’ve cut 2,300 regulations. We’ve streamlined the permitting process and we’ve paid down the state debt for the first time since, I think, the early 1970s,” Scott said. “And guess what? It works.”
Reporter Bill Cotterell can be reached at bcotterell@thefloridacurrent.com.http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=31973073