Monday, June 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: While Trump tweets, rights and protections are being eroded

President Donald Trump was at it again Tuesday, battling the NFL over players standing for the national anthem and continuing his Twitter war with an influential Republican senator. That diverts attention from his administration's steady dismantling of protections for women, equal rights for the LGBT community and efforts to combat climate change. The president who as a candidate criticized President Barack Obama for changing policy by executive authority has adopted the same approach. The difference is Trump is turning back the clock to an era that was more discriminatory and less enlightened.

Within the last week, the damage has been significant. The administration issued new rules that immediately made it harder for women to get birth control by making it easier for employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. One of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act required most employers to provide workers with birth control coverage without co-payments. Unable to repeal the health care law, Trump simultaneously chips away at its benefits and tries to starve it to death.

There already were plenty of accommodations to allow for religious objections regarding birth control coverage. The Obama administration exempted churches, then created an opt-out for religious nonprofits. Then the Supreme Court's wrongheaded 2014 opinion in the Hobby Lobby case allowed closely held for-profit companies to deny contraceptive coverage. Now the Trump rule expands even that loophole by allowing essentially any business or organization to opt out without notifying the government by merely citing a religious or moral objection. Even a work-around created by the Obama administration to allow workers to get coverage directly from insurers at no cost is now optional. This is nothing but a full assault on the ability of women to access birth control.

If that left any doubt that the Trump administration will allow religious freedom to supersede other rights, Attorney General Jeff Sessions erased it. He issued a sweeping memo that declares "to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activities, including employment, contracting and programming.'' That essentially invites both individuals and organizations to cite religious beliefs to defend discriminatory behavior, and it comes after the administration has sided with a baker in a U.S. Supreme Court case over the baker's refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

This week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt moved to repeal an Obama administration rule aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants and declared, "The war against coal is over.'' The established science about carbon dioxide emissions contributing to global warming never has been accepted by Pruitt, who joined a lawsuit against the regulation when he was Oklahoma attorney general. The rule has been tied up in the courts, and now the Trump administration is determined to kill it with no plan to of its own to address global warming. This won't save the coal industry, and ignoring climate change won't make it go away.

Trump may steal the spotlight with his sideshows. Congress may be gridlocked. But while too few Americans are watching, hard-won victories for women, gay people and the environment are being steadily erased by the administration. The president who promised to return the nation to an earlier era is following through — except that era wasn't nearly as wonderful for everyone as he imagines.

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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
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18