Thursday, April 26, 2018
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: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 9 hours ago

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18
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