Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Government saved the day in fiscal crisis

Five years ago this month, the giant Wall Street investment bank Lehman Bros. went bankrupt, touching off a series of events that plunged the United States into its worst financial crisis in 80 years. It's now clear that another Depression was averted due to one factor: the federal government's bold actions to backstop the economy. The much-maligned bank bailout, an effort that spanned Republican and Democratic administrations, saved the financial sector from complete collapse. President Barack Obama's stimulus package and auto industry bailout put the brakes on devastating job losses. Five years later many, Americans are still hurting, and last week the Federal Reserve decided to continue its stimulus program until the economy gets stronger. There is a long way to go, but federal intervention into the free market prevented a deeper crisis.

The overleveraged financial sector panicked when Lehman Bros. went bankrupt. Credit markets froze, cutting off essential lending and resulting in a cascade of job losses, plummeting housing values and economic meltdown. In all, Americans lost 8.7 million jobs and have recovered only about 6.8 million. By September 2012, more than 12.5 million homeowners were deeply underwater, owing substantially more than their home was worth. That is abating as housing prices rise. The U.S. economy overall was walloped by $14 trillion in lost activity, according to economists at the Dallas Federal Reserve who considered their estimate conservative.

A consensus has emerged among economists that as painful as the last five years have been, they would have been far worse had leaders in Washington been free-market absolutists, shrugged their shoulders and let the chips fall. Instead, within weeks of Lehman Bros.' collapse, Republican President George W. Bush and a bipartisan Congress passed the $700 billion bank bailout program known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The program rescued the Wall Street executives whose reckless risk-taking had brought about the crisis, stoking public anger. But it brought financial stability to the banking sector, staving off wider calamity.

Obama continued Bush's work and spread the TARP money to the auto industry. He kept General Motors and Chrysler afloat, saving countless jobs in auto manufacturing and its vast supply chain. And now, the government has largely recouped its TARP funds. Critics who said TARP would be money thrown down a rat hole turned out to be flat-out wrong.

The $787 billion stimulus package Obama signed in 2009 was another essential feature of the economic rescue. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved or created an estimated 2.5 million jobs by boosting consumer demand, investing in public works projects and giving state and local governments the resources to hold on to government workers such as teachers and police officers. The Congressional Budget Office has found that the nation's gross domestic product has been higher every year since 2009 due to stimulus spending, especially in 2010 when it was needed most.

The opponents of the stimulus, which if anything should have been larger, have been proven wrong. Had their austerity prescription been followed it would have exacerbated the economic slowdown. Last month the economy added 169,000 jobs. Still not good, but a far cry from the 794,000 jobs lost in January 2009.

America's recovering economy is due to the federal government stepping in when few in the private sector were lending or hiring. The nation's deficit is shrinking as the economy gradually improves. There is more work to be done, and the Fed warned last week that budget fights between Congress and the White House could hurt the economy. But the lesson five years out is clear: Government intervention in a crisis worked.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
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Family separation crisis is not over

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Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Updated: 10 hours ago
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...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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 general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s 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