Tuesday, June 19, 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.

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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...
Updated: 11 hours ago

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
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18