Monday, April 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Obama: bolder yet smaller

President Barack Obama offered an honest if disappointing picture of the final years of his term in his State of the Union address. The president said Washington's toxic political environment had all but forced him to go it alone on a range of policy fronts, from instituting a limited increase in the minimum wage to launching new initiatives on job creation, climate change and retirement planning. He painted a bolder vision for presidential leadership Tuesday but a narrower one for addressing the major issues that affect most Americans.

Obama's annual State of the Union address had many of the usual themes. He called out America's exceptional nature, praised single moms, teachers and military families and drew on the theme of citizenship to tout voting rights, gun control and civic activism. But even as Obama sketched larger goals, from extending jobless benefits to reforming immigration, he faulted Congress as obstructionist and vowed to bypass the legislative process and pursue his agenda if needed through executive action.

This route serves the president more than the American people. While Obama could flood the zone with mini-initiatives, most are small-bore and exploratory. The minimum wage hike would affect future federal contractors, not the workforce at large. The new starter retirement accounts would still be unaffordable to many Americans living paycheck to paycheck. The manufacturing initiatives still bring to only half the number that Obama originally proposed in 2012. All the major goals he announced Tuesday — which should be front and center with Congress as well — still need work, such as immigration reform, income inequality and the nation's deficit.

Still, Americans want their president to lead, and Obama's new approach could create better opportunities for millions of people while setting the table for congressional action down the road. It could force the Republicans to become a party of ideas, not merely the party of no. And it could reignite faith among Democrats that Obama's termed-out administration has not lost its compass or stomach.

Obama still supports the right priorities, and he should use the late-hour attention that some Republicans are paying to the income gap as an opportunity to find common ground in fighting poverty. His proposal to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children is a good place to start. So is Obama's call for a federal review of job-training problems to ensure that today's employers are getting the workforce they need. These are baby steps in the larger scheme, but they might build confidence between the administration and congressional Republicans and form a basis for future accomplishments.

Comments

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...
Updated: 4 hours ago
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...
Updated: 2 hours ago

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...
Updated: 8 hours ago
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: 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