Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: For a responsible budget, both sides must give

Finding a solution to America's deficit and budget impasse will take compromise on all sides. Neither tax increases nor budget cuts alone can solve the nation's fiscal problems. President Barack Obama will send a budget to Congress today that takes a balanced approach and is a promising template for a final deal. Partisans on both sides have something not to like in the plan, but compromise is the only way forward. House Republicans, in particular, need to look again lest Congress send another sign that this nation is not serious about confronting its fiscal challenges.

Under the plan, Obama bucks his own party and takes a big step toward meeting Republican demands on entitlement cuts to Medicare and Social Security. In exchange, he's proposing higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The president would cut about $400 billion from health care programs and $200 billion from domestic areas. The cutbacks to health care would be targeted largely to providers and pharmaceutical companies, though the president's plan does increase Medicare coverage costs for higher-income beneficiaries.

On Social Security and veterans benefits, Obama would adopt the chained consumer price index as the new inflation formula with some protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries. The formula reduces cost-of-living increases by assuming that consumers adjust for higher prices by substituting cheaper alternatives. There's a reasonable debate on whether that's the best approach, but congressional Democrats need to join their president in acknowledging that entitlement reform has to be part of the equation.

On the revenue side, Obama would bring in an additional $600 billion over 10 years primarily by putting limits on deductions for those in higher tax brackets. That's a good starting point.

Counting the $2.5 trillion in deficit reductions that Obama and congressional Republicans have agreed to since 2010, the president's budget would trim the nation's balance sheets by $4.3 trillion over 10 years. By 2023, that would drop the deficit to 1.7 percent of the nation's economy, down from 5.5 percent in the current budget year. And the budget would replace the arbitrary, automatic cuts under sequestration with a responsible path for reforming spending and investing in priorities.

Yet the response from congressional Republicans, so far, has been disappointing as they remain opposed to closing tax breaks. The Republican House speaker, John Boehner, is rejecting the president's budget sight unseen. Such brinksmanship is more of the same and risks doing even more economic harm.

Obama began his second term trying to breach Washington's fierce partisanship with a personal touch. Tonight he will dine (again) with another group of Senate Republicans in a charm offensive. Members of both parties have a responsibility to come to the table prepared to compromise. The alternative just isn't working.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17