Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Time to end irrational crusade, shutdown

This is how absurd the government shutdown has become. The House over the weekend voted unanimously to guarantee federal workers will be paid for all of the time they are off because of this manufactured crisis. That would be the House controlled by Republicans who triggered the shutdown and claim to be the standard-bearers of fiscal responsibility. The only way out of this irrational battle in Washington is for voters from both political parties to demand an end to it.

Federal workers are collateral damage in this debacle. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been sent home without pay, forcing the closure of national parks and museums and affecting services such as processing federally secured home mortgages and running some Head Start programs for low-income children. The pain was reduced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's decision to return to work most of the Pentagon's 350,000 furloughed civilian workers, including more than 1,500 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

But promising to pay people not to work illustrates the fatal flaw in the Republicans' position. They moved to shut down the government by refusing to agree to a spending plan unless it guts the Affordable Care Act — and now can't defend the consequences of such recklessness. This week, House Republicans are expected to pass a series of bills to keep money flowing for programs like Head Start and border security to quiet their critics. This is a stalling tactic that President Barack Obama and the Senate should reject, and the focus should be on passing a clean spending bill to reopen all of the government and on raising the debt ceiling to avoid triggering a real economic crisis.

Fortunately, reasonable Republicans are raising their voices and declaring they are prepared to end a stalemate they will not win. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, explains in a column in today's Tampa Bay Times that he remains opposed to the Affordable Care Act but is ready to vote for a one-year spending plan without poison bills for health care reform. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, says he has told House Speaker John Boehner it is time to end the stalemate and vote on a clean spending bill. Those are reasonable positions, and Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hill, should be taking that approach as well.

The loud tea party minority in the Republican Party should not be allowed to hold the nation hostage. The stalemate has become more about saving face for tea party supporters than having any hope the president will bend on health care reform. Boehner insists there are not enough Republicans prepared to join Democrats to approve a clean spending bill, but independent counts suggest he's wrong. There probably are at least five Florida Republicans who would vote to end the stalemate. There aren't another 15 reasonable House Republicans in the rest of the country?

The Republicans have made their opposition to health care reform clear. They couldn't stop it in Congress. They couldn't stop it in the courts. They couldn't elect their presidential candidate who promised to repeal it. They won't persuade the president and the Senate to derail it. Now it is time to move on, end the budget stalemate and stop promising to pay government workers not to work.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18