Saturday, February 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Ignoring the hungry in the U.S. House

Hungry Americans should long remember the vote taken last week by the House to endanger the nation's food stamp program. House Republicans stripped the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program out of the farm bill, where it had been since 1973, and then passed the legislation without a single Democratic vote. House Republicans are fine with spending billions of dollars to subsidize farmers, but they refuse to adequately fund or even take up legislation for a program that provides food aid to 47 million Americans, about half of them children. Every Republican member of Congress from the Tampa Bay area should explain why feeding hungry children is less important than crop insurance for agribusiness.

There has been a concerted effort by House Republicans to dismantle the nation's safety net for the poor, elderly, unemployed and disabled. Food stamps have been traditionally bundled with farm programs to merge the interests of urban and rural lawmakers as a way to promote compromise. But in an attempt last month, House Republican leaders couldn't get enough Republican votes to pass a farm bill that included SNAP funding even after it was slashed by $20 billion over the next decade.

Every Republican member of the House from the Tampa Bay area voted for the stand-alone farm bill last week, including Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor; Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill; Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland; C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores; and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. Only Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa, voted against the bill. Now House Republicans will likely try to pass SNAP funding separately, but conservatives want even steeper cuts.

They don't like that the food stamp program has grown in size and cost as Americans fell victim to the effects of the Great Recession, nearly doubling from $40 billion to $80 billion since 2008. Their answer is to unravel the safety net (or "hammock" as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis, chairman of the House Budget Committee describes it) to push people to solve their own hunger problems or, presumably, not eat.

The only solace for Americans who rely on SNAP is that the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan farm bill in June that includes food stamps, with relatively small cuts of $4 billion over the next 10 years. There is virtually no chance for the House's stand-alone farm bill to be approved by the Democratically controlled Senate, and President Barack Obama has already issued a veto threat of the measure.

The Republican-run House is communicating loudly to a conservative base and ignoring the greater public interest. It has repeatedly voted to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act that will extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. It sought an end to federal unemployment benefits and to slash other programs that vulnerable populations rely on. For farmers looking for help, House Republicans are happy to oblige. The hungry, however, should look elsewhere.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18