Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida House Republicans should speak up against shutdown

The blame for the federal government shutdown that affects millions of Americans rests squarely on the backs of House Republicans who would rather protest President Barack Obama's health care reform than govern the country. They have created an avoidable crisis by clinging to a political strategy that is doomed to fail, and Florida Republicans who are falling in line with the extremists are part of the problem rather than the solution.

C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores knows better. He is the House's longest serving Republican, and he has spent decades building consensus on appropriations issues. Young was first elected during the Nixon administration, and only twice has he been re-elected with less than 60 percent of the vote. The chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee has the stature to speak the truth to House Speaker John Boehner and explain to his junior Republican colleagues the foolishness of needlessly inflicting pain on their constituents.

Young contrasts with Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland, one of the House's most conservative members and one who limits Boehner's room to negotiate. Ross tweeted Tuesday that "a government shutdown is not good for anyone.'' If he believes that, he should not have been amending the House's dead-on-arrival resolution to make another point about the Affordable Care Act and claiming Republicans are "leading by example.'' The real problem, of course, is that Ross was unopposed last year and represents a safe district that Obama lost twice. He has little or no political motivation to compromise or venture from the most extreme wing of the Republican Party even though his district stretches through Brandon to the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The situation is similar for Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor and Richard Nugent of Spring Hill. They represent safe Republican districts that Obama lost twice. They oppose the Affordable Care Act, and they have little to fear politically from being obstructionists. Plenty of their constituents are uninsured and will benefit from the health care law and the online marketplaces that opened Tuesday, but that has not stopped them from forcing a shut down of the government in a wrongheaded attempt to undermine the law.

Members of Congress have an obligation to look beyond parochial politics and their district boundaries to act in the broader interest of the nation. As the president said Tuesday, "governing by crisis … is not worthy of this country.'' Shutting down the government to try to derail or delay the Affordable Care Act, a law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, is irresponsible. The only thing worse is drawing another artificial line on Oct. 17, when Republicans plan to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless concessions are made on the health care law.

There were signs Tuesday that reasonable Republicans — former candidates for president, governors, senators and a stray House member or two — were starting to find their voices and argue against the government shutdown. Young and his Florida colleagues should speak up, or they will be no better than the tea party extremists who are substituting protesting for governing.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18