Thursday, October 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to vote against the Republican tax cut plan unless it is revised to increase benefits for the working poor, or he can reinforce his image as a senator who too often folds under pressure.

Rubio wasn’t asking for the moon in the tax cut legislation. The Senate bill lowered the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent to 20 percent, and he proposed setting the rate at 20.94 percent. Rubio wanted to use the freed up money to increase benefits for about 9 million low-income Americans who benefit from the child tax credit. The compromise legislation is expected to double the child tax credit to $2,000, but Rubio wanted to make the credit refundable against both income and payroll taxes. He warned of "problems’’ if the corporate tax rate was set above 20 percent and the savings were not used to expand the child tax credit.

Republican leaders didn’t just ignore Rubio. They twisted the knife. The corporate tax rate was moved to 21 percent, and the money will pay for tax cuts for the wealthy instead of relief for low-income Americans. That should tell voters all they need to know about the Republicans’ real priorities and expose the hollow claims by President Donald Trump that this tax cut is aimed helping everyone.

As Rubio tweeted Wednesday: "20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40K was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1 million is fine?’’

Apparently, although Trump hinted after the tax cut deal was announced that there is still room to address the issue. Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who joined Rubio in pushing the refundable child tax credit that was rejected, also held out hope of some movement before the final vote. Then Rubio issued his threat Thursday to vote against the bill unless it includes at least a smaller change than he initially proposed. We’ll see.

In the Florida Legislature and then in U.S. Senate, Rubio has shown he cares more about being liked and being part of the Republican team than standing on principle. He helped negotiate a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate four years ago with bipartisan support, than abandoned it when there was a conservative backlash. He took some of the worst abuse from Trump as a presidential candidate, then endorsed him before the general election and stuck with him even as the accusations of sexual harassment against Trump built. He said he would not run for re-election if he did not win the Republican nomination for president and changed his mind. Now he has pushed a reasonable expansion of the child tax credit that would benefit low-income Floridians and been embarrassed by the Republican leadership. He needs to remain firm in his threat to oppose the bill unless he is accommodated.

Rubio easily won re-election last year and will not be on the ballot again until 2022. He remains one of the younger, camera-ready Republicans on the national stage. He has leverage, because Republicans control just 52 Senate seats. He can afford to tell Republican leaders he will vote against the tax cut legislation next week unless they include his child tax credit provisions. That should increase his influence in Washington and his standing among moderate voters who see the tax cuts as a giveaway to businesses and the wealthy.

Finally, Rubio stood up for himself and for low-income Americans on Thursday. This time, he should not back down.

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Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Published: 10/17/18
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/17/18
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

A proposal that goes to the three-county utility Tampa Bay Water on Monday could benefit residents, the economy and the environment across the region. The utility's governing board will consider a proposal by the city of Tampa to redirect highly trea...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/15/18
Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay Rays’ purchase of the Rowdies soccer team adds some stability to the region’s roster of professional sports franchises. It also guarantees that the Rowdies, who have amassed an enthusiastic fan base in a short time, will k...
Published: 10/12/18
Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

When the sun rose Wednesday, Mexico Beach was a sleepy town of 1,200 people on Florida's northern Gulf coast. By sundown, it was gone. The pictures show the heartbreaking devastation left by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. Entire neighbor...
Published: 10/12/18
Shortsighted opposition to TECO

Shortsighted opposition to TECO

The destruction from Hurricane Michael is only the latest reminder of Florida's growing vulnerability to extreme weather, rising sea levels and other impacts of a warming climate. But the Sierra Club's opposition to Tampa Electric Co.'s plans to retr...
Published: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Florida sheriffs have long hand-plucked their successors from within the ranks. While he is a product of this tradition, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is uniquely qualified to be elected on his own merits.Then-Sheriff David Gee surprise...
Published: 10/11/18
Updated: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

One justice on the Florida Supreme Court faces a merit retention vote in November, essentially an up-or-down vote of confidence allowing him to remain on the bench. Merit retention votes occur at least one year after the justice’s initial appo...
Published: 10/11/18