Thursday, April 26, 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: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 1 hour ago

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

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...
Published: 04/23/18
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...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18
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