Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: After shutdown, time to focus on long-term budget

Federal workers returned to their jobs, national parks reopened and the nation avoided economic disaster Thursday. The short-term agreement approved by Congress to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling was the only responsible answer and creates a small window for broader budget negotiations. Yet Sen. Marco Rubio and most of his fellow Florida Republicans in the House continue to act irresponsibly and align themselves with extremists. That's bad for Florida and for the nation.

Rubio had one shining moment when he worked with a bipartisan group to pass a Senate immigration bill that is languishing in the House. Then he could not stand the heat from the tea party supporters who helped elect him and resumed being an obstructionist. Rubio was one of just 18 Republican senators Wednesday night to vote against a temporary spending plan and raising the debt ceiling, aligning himself with such rigid ideologues as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. He is part of the problem instead of the solution in Washington, and it is no surprise he is not on the Senate's budget negotiating team.

Republicans such as Rubio created this manufactured crisis, which took billions of dollars out of the economy and damaged the nation's international standing. It was a complete defeat for the Republicans who shut down the government and threatened to put the federal government into default in a foolish attempt to force President Barack Obama to gut his signature health care reform law. It is no surprise that the president and Senate Democrats held firm, or that voters primarily blame Republicans for this debacle.

Yet Rubio continues to defend his untenable position. He rails against the Affordable Care Act that will help millions of uninsured Floridians get health coverage. He argues it was responsible to vote against allowing the government to borrow money to pay bills it already has incurred. Risking a historic default is not the way to trigger bipartisan discussions about reducing the nation's deficit and investing in its future.

All Florida Democrats voted to fund the government through Jan. 15 and suspend the debt limit until Feb. 7. Six pragmatic Florida Republican House members also voted for the legislation, including Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. They still oppose the Affordable Care Act and want to reduce federal spending, but they recognized shutting down the government and risking default was reckless and a losing political strategy. It's harder to follow the reasoning of Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, who voted against the legislation even though he supported a clean spending bill. He opposed raising the debt ceiling, which was the only rational approach. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill, also voted against the legislation and should be held accountable by voters next year.

There is no reason to cheer avoiding calamity now only to set up new artificial deadlines for early next year that would force another avoidable crisis. But there are a few weeks for a bipartisan negotiating team to work on a budget deal that could reduce the deficit and set meaningful spending priorities. It is encouraging that Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has been named to that group. Now Obama should be just as firm in negotiating with Congress to reach a long-term compromise as he was in refusing to bend on health care reform and insisting that the nation's bills be paid.

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NFL kneels before the altar of profits

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Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18