Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Upbeat report on Obamacare

The usual critics of President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act are citing a new Congressional Budget Office report to bolster their unfounded claims that the law is a job-killer. The nonpartisan budget office doesn't say that at all. What its report says is that the availability of health care coverage means more workers who feel trapped in their jobs just to keep their insurance can now choose to leave or reduce their hours. That personal independence and increased flexibility in the workplace is a good thing for Americans seeking work and for employers who want to reorganize and re-energize their staffs.

Republicans from House Speaker John Boehner to Pinellas congressional candidate David Jolly are mischaracterizing the CBO report to claim the health care law is costing jobs and hurting the economy. As usual, the Obama administration and other Democrats are on the defensive and ineffective in explaining the nuances of the report. In fact, the report says the number of full-time equivalent workers will decline by 2.5 million by 2024 "almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business' demand for labor.'' The law will not increase unemployment (the number of people looking for work who can't find a job) or underemployment (workers who have jobs but want more hours). The bottom line: There will be fewer workers, not fewer jobs, and more jobs for those who want to work.

While conservatives spread fear and misinformation, the CBO report offers a much more optimistic assessment of health care reform as it continues to unfold:

• The overall cost of the Affordable Care Act to the federal government over the next decade is a bit less than earlier projections.

• The law still is expected to help reduce the federal deficit over the next decade.

• The projection that 6 million Americans will get insurance through the exchanges in the first year is 1 million less than earlier estimates because of the federal website mess. The estimate that 8 million will be covered by Medicaid expansion also is 1 million less than previously expected. But that is still 14 million previously uninsured Americans who will have health coverage, and the report suggests enrollment on the federal exchange will speed up and still could hit the original 7 million projection.

• The claims by Sen. Marco Rubio and other Republicans that the law is a "bailout" for private insurers as it seeks to reduce risk and balance costs from medical claims are off base. In fact, the federal government will take in twice as much from insurers as it pays out in the "risk corridor" program over the next decade.

• Overall, the law is expected to help the economy by increasing the demand for goods and services. Lower-income families who will have health coverage through the Medicaid expansion or use federal subsidies to buy more affordable coverage on the exchanges will have more money to spend.

The Affordable Care Act has its shortcomings, and the Obama administration deserves criticism for being poorly prepared to start the insurance exchanges and being forced to delay some other provisions. But the Republican sound bites and news releases claiming the law is killing jobs and wrecking the economy are not backed up by the facts. The CBO's more sophisticated, objective analysis is far more encouraging, and Democrats should embrace it rather than run from it.

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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