Monday, January 22, 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: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18