One of Florida’s most powerful voting blocs — it’s huge Jewish population — appears to be ready to throw its support to Mitt Romney given Barack Obama’s “behavior towards Israel, his setting aside of the prime minister,’’ according to influential Republican state representative Bill Hager.
“When [Obama] gave his apology tour in 2009 and visited a whole series of Islamic countries, he skipped Israel,’’ Hager, a lawyer and former math teacher who is up for re-election in District 89, told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
“A number of the Jewish voters who, in the past, have supported Obama and, for that matter, supported the Democrat Party carte blanche -- many of them are giving Obama a second analysis and a good share of them, at the end of the day, will come vote for Romney.
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“[They will] vote for an approach that unequivocally provides that the United States has the back of Israel; that the United States will stand with Israel; that the United States will continue to take on Iran.
“Iran has said unequivocally that they want to eliminate Israel from the face of this earth – absolutely, unequivocally, unacceptable. We need a president that will stand with Israel, stand against Iran, take on Iran with respect its development of nuclear weapons.’’
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Hager, who prior to his election to the state house in 2010 served three terms on the Boca Raton City Council, also believes the state’s massive population of senior citizens should consider Romney as the candidate to best tackle the critical issues surrounding Medicare.
“It’s very simple and that is look at the facts. The Romney-Ryan plan in no fashion affects anybody on Medicare,’’ Hager said.
“In fact, the Ryan-Romney plan, the first point in time it would affect are those 50 or 55 in that particular range. So all of this nonsense about the Romney plan taking away from Medicare is in error.
“On the other hand, it is accurate that Obamacare strips $700 billion of real money out of Medicare as a way to pay the health costs articulated in Obamacare. Those are real numbers. Those are validated by OMB. Those numbers are worthy of consideration.’’
With 29 electoral votes up for grabs, Hager sees Florida as the coveted swing state that will tip the election towards the Romney-Ryan ticket.
“Yes, [Florida is a] critical state. Critical swing state,’’ he said. “Florida is going to Romney and they’re going to Romney because, at the end of the day, Americans love to work, know how to work and what they’ve seen in Romney is somebody that is a proven job creator.’’
Hager — facing off Tom Gustafson, a Democrat and former state House Speaker — said there are critical differences between Gustafson and himself.
“He is a high tax individual. He put in place a significant number of taxes, stepped up sales tax, proposed taxes on services of all forms including simple things like pet grooming and has shown himself through his record to be a significant tax individual and also to have an anti-business bent,’’ Hager said.
“My approach as a member of the Florida legislature, and previously with the City Council of Boca Raton, has been pretty straight forward and that is at the end of the day, government’s role is that of being limited.
“I believe in low taxes. I believe in personal responsibility. I believe in liberty. I believe in balanced budgets. So my approach in terms of this state along with many of my colleagues is very simple and that is government’s responsibility is to create a platform from which the private sector … [has] that flexibility required to continue to unleash the unbelievable entrepreneurial power of the American people.’’
Hager said while Florida’s unemployment rate is high, Governor Rick Scott’s plan to create 700,000 is working.
“At the height of the recession, Florida’s unemployment rate was actually 12 percent. So it’s come down significantly. It was higher than the national average. It’s almost caught up to the national average on the way down,’’ Hager said.
“I support Gov. Scott. I support the decisions he’s made. I support his approach. I support the seven hundred thousand jobs that he has targeted and between the legislature and his great work, we’re on target.
“One hundred thousand plus jobs have been created today. The governor’s been on seven trade missions internationally. He’s been all over the United States as it relates to hustling businesses, bringing those businesses to the state of Florida. And we know the formula. The formula is not complex.
“The formula is businesses come to where they’re given the greatest flexibility but still obligated to follow the rules. They come to states that have the most favorable tax environment. And they come to states where the government is business friendly and going to be supportive of the growth of their particular business.
“That’s the governor’s formula; it’s a formula I’ve supported at the legislative level.’’
Hager said that Washington should take a hard look at Florida for the way the Sunshine State has reduced its debt for the second year in a row.
“Were Washington tuned in right now, people like myself and, specifically, myself would have a point of consideration and that is balance the budget,’’ he said.
“Two years ago, we had a $4 billion shortfall in terms of revenue at the height of the recession. Here’s what we did not do: We did not call up China and ask them to send money, mortgaging our children; we didn’t raise taxes.
“Here’s what we did: We cut spending, $4 billion out of the expenditures. A year ago, we had another $2 billion shortfall, and guess what? We did not call China for money for a loan; we didn’t issue debt bonds; we cut expenditures another $2 billion while at the same time not increasing taxes but, in fact, reducing taxes.
“We reduced business tax by about half of its totality. We were the only state in the nation that held the line, cut spending and did not increase one dollar of tax or one dollar of additional fees. So, I would invite that kind of financial discipline, the same financial discipline as your listeners carry out day in and day out when they have less money coming in the front door – less expenditures.’’
Asked if Florida is a model for the nation, Hager said:
“We believe it is and the proof is in the pudding. The same day that Moody’s downgraded the federal government’s bonds to AA, on that day, the state of Florida’s bonds were upgraded to AAA positive.’’
He is also supporting Amendment 3, which focuses on the state revenue limit and is one of eleven amendments Florida voters will cast ballots on next month.
“That provision, in places, is very simple. What it says is governmental units cannot increase expenditures by an amount greater than which the economy itself is expanding, which makes imminent sense,’’ Hager said.
“So that’s Amendment No. 3. I support it. It’s favorable. Government ought not grow at a rate faster than inflation.’’
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Amendment 4, which intends to help first-time homebuyers through an additional property tax exemption that would be available to people who haven’t owned a house in the previous three years is another law being backed by Hager.
“I support it unequivocally,’’ he said. “And I do because it’s designed to as additional fire power to the housing industry in this state and additional fire power and incentives to our young people as they come into the marketplace for the first time and make home purchases.’’
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