Wednesday, June 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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18