Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Fighting economic inequality

President Barack Obama plans to renew his effort to prod Congress to address economic inequality in tonight's State of the Union address. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott is celebrating the state's lowest unemployment rate in more than five years and will propose cutting taxes by $500 million in his state budget recommendation on Wednesday. This week's themes from the Democratic president and the Republican governor reflect the partisan divide regarding government's role in helping narrow the widening gap in wealth and opportunity.

That gap between the affluent and the rest of America should not be in dispute. The Congressional Budget Office shows incomes increased for the top 1 percent by 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, far more than the very modest gains by the middle class. Other studies show the average income of the top 1 percent rose by more than 30 percent while the remaining 99 percent saw income gains of less than 1 percent between 2009 and 2012. Now the richest 10 percent of Americans earn the largest share of income since the end of World War I.

Obama is expected to repeat his pitches to help the families in Florida and the nation who are struggling to make ends meet and prepare for the future. He still wants to extend for three months the emergency unemployment benefits that expired in December, which has affected more than 1.3 million Americans and more than 90,000 jobless Floridians. Yet Congress has failed to act as Republicans insist on offsetting the cost. The president also is expected to renew his call for raising the federal minimum wage, providing free prekindergarten to all children and investing in more public works projects to create jobs. While Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio are talking more about the income gap, the president's agenda is going nowhere among congressional Republicans focused on the midterm elections.

In Florida, the governor is quick to claim credit for the unemployment rate that dropped to 6.2 percent in December. Yet the decline in the rate is misleading. The state is hardly creating enough jobs to keep up with the rising population, and more people are giving up looking for work. The average length of unemployment in Florida between January and October last year was 48 weeks — the highest in the country. Yet the state caps unemployment benefits at 16 weeks, the state's online site for filing for benefits remains a mess and the governor would be testing welfare recipients for drugs if the courts would let him. Florida also has failed to accept billions in federal money to expand Medicaid, which would provide health coverage to about 1 million low-income residents.

Instead of pushing for the Medicaid expansion Scott once endorsed, the governor's budget will focus on more tax cuts. Instead of substantially increasing need-based financial aid for low-income college students, the governor will promote more performance-based funding for universities. Instead of raising revenue to build more roads and public works projects that would create jobs, he is expected to keep promoting incentives for businesses promising to add jobs that may never be created.

The president and the governor will offer significantly different visions for creating economic opportunity this week. One invests in human capital, and one invests in big business. One creates more opportunities for the jobless and the poor, and one tells those Floridians they are on their own.

Comments
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís 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. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
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 FBIís 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 itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18