Friday, November 17, 2017

Editorial: Dangerous game of D.C. chicken


It's going to be a long weekend in Washington. The Senate approved a temporary spending plan Friday, but conservative House Republicans are continuing to threaten to shut down the government Tuesday unless money for the Affordable Care Act is cut. It is a dangerous game of chicken that could disrupt the lives of millions of Americans, and Florida Republicans should rise above it.

Sen. Marco Rubio did not set a good example Friday. He predictably voted against the temporary spending plan, which passed 54-44 along party lines. More revealing is that before that vote, Rubio joined the most extreme members of his party to vote against cutting off debate and allowing the drama to play out. Rubio and his fellow tea party allies were on the losing end of a 79-19 vote, as the Senate Republican leadership voted with Democrats in a rebuke of the extremists. Floridians deserve more responsible leadership.

Barring an unexpected reality check, the only clear way to avoid a government shutdown on Tuesday is for reasonable House Republicans to join with Democrats to approve the temporary spending bill. Tampa Bay Republicans Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, Richard Nugent of Spring Hill, Dennis Ross of Lakeland and C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores have a decision to make.

Do they want to stick with the tea party fringe, or do they want to avoid delaying paychecks for those serving in the military at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and around the world?

Do they want to make a political point to conservatives, or do they want to avoid a delay in processing applications for Social Security and Medicare?

Do they want Congress to stop functioning, or do they want to keep open national parks and keep paying government contractors?

The only thing worse than this avoidable stalemate is the one coming up over raising the debt ceiling. The federal government is expected to hit the ceiling around Oct. 17, when it would run out of money to pay for expenses already approved unless it can borrow more money. President Barack Obama said Friday that would be worse than a government shutdown, and he made clear he will not negotiate. A laundry list of predictable Republican demands, from derailing the Affordable Care Act to dropping regulations on greenhouse gases, are nonstarters. And as Obama noted, raising the debt limit is about keeping the government running and not about partisan politics.

"That's not doing a favor for me,'' the president said.

This is government by artificial crisis, and Floridians who depend on federal programs from Social Security and Medicare to federally guaranteed home loans are the casualties. There are still enough reasonable Republicans in Washington who want to serve their constituents, keep the government functioning and avoid roiling the fragile economy. Rubio made it clear again Friday he is not one of them. Whether there are any left in Florida's House delegation will become clearer in the next few days.

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise ó for every...
Published: 11/16/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Krisemanís own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trumpís latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included ó along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election ó an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17
Editorial: U.S. should resume processing visas for Cubans

Editorial: U.S. should resume processing visas for Cubans

The health attacks reported on American diplomats in Cuba deserve a serious investigation, and the Cuban governmentís cooperation in the case will ó for better or for worse ó shape the emerging relationship between the two nations. But the Trump admi...
Published: 11/13/17

Another voice: This little-discussed part of the GOP tax bill proves what itís really about

Republicans insist that their tax reform is designed to help the middle class and curb the use of tax loopholes. But a little-discussed provision tells a different story. That provision is the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, which would serve ...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/13/17
Editorial: Eaganís departure from HART a loss for Tampa Bay

Editorial: Eaganís departure from HART a loss for Tampa Bay

Katharine Eaganís departure as the chief executive of Hillsborough Regional Transit to run the transit agency in Pittsburgh reflects the sorry state of transportation in Tampa Bay. While there recently has been encouraging movement on several fronts,...
Published: 11/09/17

Another voice: Donít get too cocky, Dems

For months, the Virginia gubernatorial race has been seen as a bellwether of the Democratic Partyís capacity to rebound from its stunning loss to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, and the results were about as good as Democrat...
Published: 11/09/17

Editorial: Remarkable support for Penny for Pinellas

A 55 percent win in any election is a solid victory. Constitutional amendments in Florida must win 60 percent of the vote to be approved. And tax referendums are often hard to pass by any margin. That makes it all the more remarkable that the extensi...
Published: 11/08/17
Updated: 11/10/17