Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Finally, common sense in the Senate

It took the Democrats' threat to change Senate filibuster rules, but senators from both political parties came to their senses, and the logjam has broken over the confirmation of President Barack Obama's nominees. That is healthy for the Senate, and it is healthy for taxpayers who deserve a stable government with secure leaders running federal agencies and panels. Now lawmakers should build on this breakthrough and avoid another partisan stalemate that fuels distrust of Washington.

By the end of today, the Senate will have confirmed Fred Hochberg to head the Export-Import Bank, Gina McCarthy to run the Environmental Protection Agency and Tom Perez to head the Department of Labor. They follow Tuesday's long-stalled confirmation of Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Obama nominated Cordray two years ago, but Senate Republicans held up his confirmation because they dislike the protection bureau and the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms that created it. Disliking the role of a federal agency is no reason to hold up the confirmation of the person the president wants to run it.

The consumer protection bureau already has been be producing solid results. As Obama pointed out Wednesday, the bureau has dealt with more than 175,000 complaints from consumers on issues ranging from mortgages to student loans to debt collectors. Understandable information is easier to obtain about student loans and credit card forms, and veterans and seniors are better protected from scams. Yet without a director who had been confirmed by the Senate, the bureau was unable to use its full power to regulate transactions between borrowers and lenders.

As part of the agreement to avoid changing the filibuster rules, the Democrats agreed to stop supporting two of Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the president nominated two replacements. The NLRB has been operating with a cloud over its actions since the president's recess appointments to the board were found unconstitutional by a federal appellate court, and the issue will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. A functioning NLRB, which investigates allegations of unfair labor practices, is an important protection for workers who may be exploited by their employers.

It should not take a manufactured crisis to force the end of partisan maneuvering. The president will be nominating a new secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and a number of federal appeals court judges. Those nominations will deserve a fair confirmation Senate process that builds on this week's detente, and they should not be held up by filibuster threats that serve no purpose other than to obstruct.

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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: 9 hours 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 ...
Published: 04/25/18
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