Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Patrick Murphy wraps Trump around Marco Rubio's neck

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy spent much of their final Senate debate focused on the past, from Rubio's pathetic voting record to Murphy's thin resume in the private sector. When they looked toward the future, it became even more obvious that Murphy remains the much better choice in a Senate race that appears to have tightened. Floridians concerned about access to health care, the economy and Cuba policy would be far better represented in the Senate by the Democrat than by the Republican incumbent who would continue to be an obstructionist.

Rubio, considered the bright young face of the Republican Party until he flamed out in the presidential primary, remained stuck in reverse during Wednesday night's debate. On virtually every substantive issue, the incumbent clung to the failed conservative policies of the past and offered no hope he would be part of a Senate that would work with a new president who appears more likely to be Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.

On health care, Rubio continues to call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no viable alternative. His free-market approach backed by refundable tax credits or tax-free money from your employer to buy health insurance would not make coverage more available or affordable. He bragged about cutting off public money that could have been used to help insurers spread the risk of covering more sick people. All that did was help drive some insurers out of the federal marketplace and raise premiums. Yet Rubio remains proud that he sabotages health care reform, then complains it's not working and vows to kill it. He should be ashamed.

Murphy recognizes that improvements have to be made to slow premium increases and make coverage more available. He wants to create a public option plan that would help underserved areas, improve Medicare and allow Medicare to negotiate for the best prices with drug companies. He would work with a Clinton administration to improve health care while Rubio would keep throwing up roadblocks that would hurt Floridians.

On the economy, Rubio resorted to the tired calls for more tax cuts and fewer regulations. Murphy could have provided stronger a answer during the debate, but at least he supports an increase in the federal minimum wage that Rubio opposes.

On Cuba policy, Murphy recognizes the obvious. The economic embargo has been an abject failure, and it is time to continue normalizing relations that would benefit Tampa Bay and Florida. Rubio clings to the embargo and the hard-line past that polls show even most Cuban-Americans in Rubio's Miami-Dade County have moved beyond.

The differences between the Senate candidates are just as stark on other issues that did not come up in the debate. Murphy supports abortion rights; Rubio opposes them even in cases of rape and incest — an extreme position. Murphy supports closing the gun show loophole and other reasonable measures; Rubio opposes them. Murphy supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes tougher border controls and a path to citizenship; Rubio abandoned a similar plan that he helped craft.

Murphy's most effective attack may have been to keep wrapping Rubio's support of Trump around the Republican's neck. Rubio joked about Murphy's persistence, but he cannot run away from his refusal to withdraw his support from a Republican nominee who is unfit to be president. Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who are expected to run for higher offices in 2018, can expect similar questions about their astounding lack of judgment and independence in supporting Trump when their campaigns crank up.

Election day is 11 days away, and a lot can happen. Rubio tried to strike a reassuring note at the end of the debate, acknowledging the bitter election season and saying, "We're going to be okay.'' He's right — but Floridians would be better off if Murphy replaced Rubio in the Senate as an ally of the likely next president.

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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
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: 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: 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
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
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18