Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Clock ticks toward self-inflicted wound to economy

Congressional Republicans are risking the nation's economic health by prolonging the crisis over approving a spending plan and raising the debt ceiling. It is indefensible to put Americans' retirement accounts, businesses and benefits at risk to save face in a manufactured political fight. As the endgame plays out this week, Floridians should demand more than obstruction from Sen. Marco Rubio and his Republican colleagues in the House who are part of the problem rather than the solution.

It's bad enough that the two-week government shutdown has sent home hundreds of thousands of federal workers (who will wind up being paid by taxpayers for not working), closed national parks and delayed a range of government services. Even worse is that the nation is poised to hit the debt ceiling Thursday, meaning that the federal government could not borrow more money to pay for commitments it already has made. That's as irresponsible as buying a house and refusing to make the mortgage payments.

What is at stake in refusing to raise the debt ceiling cannot be overstated. The federal government probably could pay bills with cash for a couple of weeks, but by November the government would have to start choosing whom to pay first, from bondholders to Social Security recipients to businesses with federal contracts. Imagine the impact on the investments of millions of Americans and businesses in every community.

There were faint glimmers of hope late Monday. Republicans have moved away from their initial demands that the Affordable Care Act be delayed or starved of cash. Some senators still want a delay in the medical devices tax, which Democrats should oppose, and additional income verification for those seeking subsidies in the insurance marketplace, which is worth discussing if it isn't too onerous.

More broadly, talks have turned to ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling in exchange for broader discussions on reducing the federal debt. Any deal should include a temporary spending plan and an increase in the debt ceiling that are ambitious enough to allow for broader negotiations and don't position the nation for another avoidable crisis anytime soon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have again come to the forefront to negotiate a way out and sounded optimistic Monday. It would help if Rubio and his tea party allies would be as reasonable. In the House, Speaker John Boehner must stand up for the nation and against his party's extremists to move any deal forward. He should have help from Reps. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, and Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, who are ready to vote for a clean spending bill. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill, are still part of the problem.

The clock is ticking. Florida voters should raise their voices and demand that a fair deal be reached and that the nation avoid self-inflicted economic pain that could be worse than anyone anticipates.

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Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Updated: 11 hours ago

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...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18