Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Trump infrastructure plan falls short for Florida

The infrastructure plan that President Donald Trump unveiled this week is big on hype and short on cash. The president said his $1 trillion, 10-year plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges and other public works would make America the envy of the world. But this proposal wouldn't even meet the backlog in current needs. The vast majority of new spending would come from private investors, who would recoup their money by charging tolls and fees on the transportation backbone of everyday life. This is a plan for Wall Street, not Main Street, and Congress should reject it.

Trump unveiled his plan in a series of public appearances, offering more flash than details and exposing a contrast between this proposal and his budget. Of the $1 trillion, the government would commit only $200 billion, using tax credits and other tools to encourage an additional $800 billion from the private sector. He set no priorities or explained where, why and how the private companies would invest, offering instead a rosy picture of the American worker and a business climate free of red tape or oversight by the federal government.

In truth, the federal contribution is way too small to attract such a huge commitment by private industry. And if the infrastructure plan is being financed with money from the private markets, the projects will skew toward money-makers, such as tolled interstate express lanes, not on rural roads or outdated water and sewage systems that pockmark the country. This is a blueprint for skimming profits, not rebuilding the country. And the administration is focused on roads and bridges at the expense of investing in more modern infrastructure, such as universal WiFi, which could transform the economic landscape in much the way rural electrification did in the last century.

This is not what Tampa Bay and Florida need from Washington. Without a substantial federal investment, picture nothing but toll roads and tolls on bridges in an area choking on traffic. Forget about a massive expansion of public bus service, or the creation of a regional light rail line. Floridians already get far less than they should in transportation money from Washington in return for their federal tax dollars, and the president's proposal offers no hope of any fairer treatment.

Trump raised more questions about his intentions Friday by using a speech on infrastructure to tout his administration's plan to lift rules and regulations on contractors and to hand more of these projects over to state and local authorities. This is the same White House that proposed in the coming year to halt funding for many urban development and transit projects that states and local governments have used to improve their infrastructure. In its latest assessment, issued this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation's public facilities a D+ and said that Washington and the states needed to spend an additional $206 billion per year to maintain U.S. competitiveness.

Trump's plan is not serious, and Congress needs to ensure that the federal government plays a pivotal role in rebuilding our infrastructure in Florida and the nation. The private sector can be a partner. But the basics that communities depend on — transit, water, sewer and other public works — are public assets and public obligations.

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Editorial: Florence shows why flood insurance must be fixed

Editorial: Florence shows why flood insurance must be fixed

The floodwaters have been still rising in North Carolina, more than a week after Hurricane Florence swept through the state. The storm continues to wreak havoc in areas where fewer than 1 in 10 homeowners have flood insurance, underscoring the need f...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Tuesday’s letters: Amendment 4 is a matter of reason

Amendment 4 will save taxpayers money | Column, Sept. 23 Amendment 4 is a matter of reason My lifelong Republican brother is a moderate, more mainstream thinker, not wedded to extreme right-wing orthodoxy, so I asked him how he plans to vote on Ame...
Published: 09/24/18
Updated: 09/25/18
Editorial: DeSantis, Scott send mixed messages on oil drilling

Editorial: DeSantis, Scott send mixed messages on oil drilling

Every candidate for federal and state office in Florida should be unequivocal in opposing oil drilling off the coast and crystal clear in supporting a permanent extension to the federal ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. But the Republica...
Published: 09/24/18
Updated: 09/25/18
Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18