Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Another voice: So, what would Trump pay?

‘Here is everything you need to know about our plan," the press office for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised in an email offering links to thousands of words of material on the House GOP’s new tax cut proposal. But it did not contain some crucial information that we would like to know and that every lawmaker should have before voting on the package: how the plan would personally benefit President Donald Trump.

Figuring this out would be easy for anyone following the tax cut debate — if, that is, the public had access to the president’s tax returns. But Trump has broken with decades of bipartisan tradition and refuses to release his tax forms, past or present. So Americans can only guess about the nature and size of his personal stake in the GOP tax plan.

There’s reason to guess he might do very well by it.

For example, the House GOP tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax. When summary information from Trump’s 2005 tax return leaked, it showed that the AMT obliged him to pay $31 million more in federal taxes that year. The tax worked in that case just as intended, limiting Trump’s ability to deduct and loophole his taxable income far below what would have been reasonable for someone of his wealth. How many millions would Trump stand to save just from the AMT repeal?

Similarly, the House GOP proposal would cut rates on "pass-through" income for certain types of privately held companies — the types that Trump frequently used to conduct his business. Republicans may limit the scale of the break, out of concern that they would otherwise create a new loophole for tax dodgers. But they are still debating how to structure the shift. These details could have large implications for the president’s bottom line.

Lawmakers also should not ignore the fact that Trump’s family would almost certainly benefit from eliminating the estate tax, another piece of the GOP plan.

Refusing to release tax returns is just one of many ways in which Trump represents a distressing departure from the country’s democratic norms. Members of Congress should respond by conducting their own business with the dignity Trump lacks. A self-respecting legislature would insist on minimal transparency from the executive branch. The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday began several days of discussion on the GOP tax cut plan. The debate should not have even started without some basic clarity about the president’s conflicts of interest.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18