The United States must abandon President Barack Obama’s policies and drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska because $4 gas is crippling the middle class, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos tells Newsmax.TV.
With some predicting $6 a gallon gas by summer, the GOP candidate for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s seat said the country must drill for oil to become less dependent on foreign nations.
“We need to move away from these rogue dictatorships whether it be in central or South American let alone in the Middle East,” he said. “This is our time to lead by example. We need to open up those new opportunities in the Gulf and ANWR. Four dollars-plus in gasoline are crippling the middle class. This is the biggest tax hike ever, and Obama has pushed this way because we are relying more and more on these folks in the Middle East. America needs to lead by example on energy production and it starts with drilling in places like ANWR, let alone the Gulf of Mexico.”
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Regarding the upcoming race for the presidency, Haridopolos declined to single out a Republican he thought had the best chance of beating Obama in 2012, but quipped, “Whatever Republican’s running, I’m voting for him. We can only upgrade from where we are at currently.” He noted that a number of top candidates, including former Republican Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, have traveled to Florida.
“The good news for Floridians is they’re all coming to court Florida because they know whoever wins Florida is most likely be the next president of the United States,” Haridopolos said. “I must admit I am a little partial to [former Florida Gov.] Jeb Bush, I still hope he gets in this race. With that said, I think we’ll have a strong field with the names I’ve mentioned and there’s still some out there we haven’t mentioned. Again, this is a wide-open field and that’s a good thing. Competition builds a better candidate and we have to win in 2012 and we have to retake the United States Senate.”
With the Florida legislative session winding down, Haridopolos said that, no matter how fiscally responsible a state may be, there always is room for more cuts.
“I think government can always go on a diet,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for a diet here . . . I think one area we want to make big changes is pension reform. I really applaud the efforts of Chris Christie in New Jersey. He’s done remarkable things in his state in taking on pension reform.
“We’re doing the exact same thing here in Florida. We’re the last of the states in pushing state workers to actually contribute to their own retirement. You’ll see within the next couple of weeks we’ll ask our state workers to step up and start to pay for their own pensions and that will free up more resources for tax relief and making sure of a balanced budget without raising taxes.”
On other issues, Haridopolos said:
- Florida legislators must address the problem of pill mills in the Sunshine State because “up to 10 people a day are dying in Florida because we’re the pill-mill capital of the world.” But any legislative fix must make sure not to place a “bureaucrat between you and your doctor," he cautioned.
- The United States needs a federal balanced budget amendment to provide stability so that the job creators in the country can go back to work because they “know the government will not spend it into oblivion.”
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