Looking Back on 2011


MAs the year draws to a close and we look back at all that 2011 brought us, there is much to be thankful for this year, despite some of the challenges we’ve faced.

To start off with a significant accomplishment, a report released in December shows that an additional 2.5 million young people now have health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act. And in Florida, parents have been able to keep some 78,000 young adults on their insurance. Additionally, seniors are seeing more benefits this year as a result of the health care reform law that passed last year. In South Florida, we have more than 120,000 seniors on Medicare, who now have access to free annual preventive care services, including mammograms, colonoscopies, and annual wellness visits. The Affordable Care Act also caps out-of-pocket expenses, even for private insurance plans, and works to close the donut hole completely over the next nine years, saving seniors more than $3,000 a year in drug costs.

We’ve been fighting to make sure that hard work pays off for middle class families and that everyone has a fair shot at the American dream. We’ve seen some progress, for example the jobless rate fell to 8.6 percent in November from 9 percent in October. Job creation was steady, adding 140,000 private sector jobs, making it the 21st straight month of private sector job growth, with 2.9 million jobs added during that period. These are good numbers, but there is still much more to be done.

One effort I supported in Washington to help turn our economy around and boost job creation was the American Jobs Act. Earlier this year, I met with three local independent small business owners from Hallandale, Miami and Hollywood to talk about a specific piece of legislation in the American Jobs Act that would help 98 percent of all small businesses in America by providing much-needed payroll tax relief and deductions for buying equipment and hiring veterans.

To help our Florida veterans who are looking for employment and to help small businesses find the workers they need, Rep. Ted Deutch and I hosted a Veterans Jobs Fair at the Fort Lauderdale Armory on Dec. 3 and we had a great turnout from businesses, veterans, and active duty guardsmen. The event happened shortly after the passage of new tax credits for employers who hire unemployed veterans. With so many of our troops returning home to a difficult economy after serving bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan, this event provided some of our servicemen and women with an opportunity to meet with local employers interested in hiring a hero.

As we end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are redoubling our efforts at home by rebuilding the American economy and restoring the American dream for our children. We must ensure that our returning veterans can get jobs, housing, and the health care they deserve after honorably serving our country and making America safer and stronger.

In 2012 I’ll continue to work hard on behalf of the people of South Florida, both in Florida and in Washington. I’ll continue to stand up for our school children, whether it’s fighting against cuts to their education or making sure that law enforcement has the resources they need to protect them from online predators. I’ll continue to champion the interests of small businesses and meet with owners and employees regularly at events like my yearly small business workshops and roundtables so I can hear directly from them about their concerns, challenges, and successes.

I am proud to be an advocate for South Florida, and my office is always open to you. You can reach us in Pembroke Pines at 954-437-3936, in Aventura at 305-936-5724 and in Washington, DC at 202-225-7931. I’m also available online at http://wassermanschultz. house.gov <http://wassermanschultz. house.gov> , on Facebook, and Comcast-on-demand customers can stay up to date with my work for you on channel 890.

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