Sunday, January 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Self-inflicted sequester pain

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that across-the-board federal spending cuts will go into effect Friday that are harmful to the recovering economy and were never intended to become law. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans are pointing fingers at each other, but there is plenty of blame to go around. This self-inflicted damage to families, national security and the economy could be avoided if the president and Congress put the nation above political gamesmanship.

The gridlock in Washington is why so many voters have so little trust in government. Let's remember that sequestration was designed to be so distasteful to both Republicans and Democrats that it would force a grand deal on reducing the federal deficit. When the president and Congress failed at that, the best they could do at the end of last year was delay sequestration for two months. Once again, a manufactured crisis is looming and the federal government is incapable of reaching a compromise.

This time, the consequences are very real. Barring a last-minute miracle, $85 billion in spending cuts will kick in Friday affecting everyday lives. From longer waits at airports to longer waits for justice in federal courts, from fewer small business loans to slower response after hurricanes and other disasters, the impact will be real. Thousands of children will lose Head Start, and hundreds of thousands of mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children could lose their treatments. Imposing arbitrary spending cuts without regard to the consequences because Democrats and Republicans are fighting in Washington is no way to run a nation.

Obama bears more than a little responsibility. He failed to act on the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles committee that he created, which proposed a combination of revenue increases and targeted spending cuts. He failed to nail down a grand bargain with House Speaker John Boehner when it was within reach, although Boehner deserves blame for pulling back from those private talks. Since his re-election, the president has persuaded Congress to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire on the wealthiest taxpayers and delay another fight over raising the debt ceiling. But Obama has not been specific enough about raising revenue and reducing spending to avoid the sequester, and he missed an opportunity to talk in detail about it with the American public during his State of the Union address.

Boehner and other congressional Republicans are equally to blame. The only reasonable way to significantly reduce the deficit is through a combination of raising revenue and reducing spending. Too many Republicans, including members of Florida's congressional delegation, cling to the no-new-taxes mantra to remain in good graces with their party's most conservative wing. That is not in the nation's best interests.

It would be foolish and self-defeating for the economy to slip backward because the president and Congress are deadlocked in a partisan fight. Sequestration was never the right answer. Obama and congressional Republicans ought to come together and agree on a smarter way forward.

Comments
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18