Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

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.

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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