Sunday, January 21, 2018
Editorials

Tea party pandering from Rubio

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio should tell Janet Yellen, "It's not you, it's me." The Florida Republican announced last week he will oppose Yellen's nomination for chairman of the Federal Reserve, listing broad policy reasons for his objection. But the real reason Rubio opposes the highly qualified Yellen is a cynical political calculation. He is still trying to regain support from tea party followers that he lost over working for bipartisan immigration reform. He is rejecting a top nominee because she's President Barack Obama's pick and opposing the president appeals to his base. The president's nominees should be evaluated on their merits, and Yellen deserves to be confirmed by the Senate based on her record.

Rubio said that while Yellen is an "accomplished individual," he cannot support her nomination to take over the central bank. He points specifically to her role in developing the current monetary policy. She is the number two at the Fed behind Chairman Ben Bernanke and has promised to maintain continuity in her stewardship of the economy.

Rubio claims the Fed policy of keeping interest rates low combined with its massive bond-buying program — designed to stimulate growth and reduce unemployment — "has created asset bubbles and financial uncertainty that limits our economic potential." Rubio doesn't give details of those bubbles or limits. Maybe that's because his claims are weak.

Opponents of the Fed's decision to buy $85 billion per month of bonds complain that it weakens the dollar and will spike inflation. But even after the Fed has bought more than $4 trillion worth so far, inflation has remained in check. The unemployment rate, currently 7.3 percent, is creeping downward and more people are back to work. A tapering of the program is expected after unemployment benchmarks are reached. Rubio would have the central bank disregard the pain of the country's unemployed and return to single-mindedly policing inflation, even though inflation has not significantly risen and some economists argue a bit more of it actually would be a good thing.

If Rubio is worried about asset bubbles he should be less concerned about Yellen than the Fed getting another Alan Greenspan, whose hands-off approach to the banks' reckless mortgage lending resulted in a giant housing bubble that led to the 2008 financial crisis. As president of the San Francisco Fed from 2004 to 2010, Yellen sounded warnings about housing bubbles that went unheeded.

Other Republican senators have been more willing to evaluate Yellen on her merits. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee announced his support after her confirmation hearing before a Senate banking committee. The committee approved her nomination Thursday by a vote of 14-8. Yellen is the first woman nominated to be Fed chairman.

Since her nomination, Senate Democrats have altered the filibuster rules to require a simple majority for confirmation of executive and judicial presidential nominees, except for U.S. Supreme Court appointments. That means Yellen will no longer need to win 60 votes and, with 55 senators voting with the Democratic caucus, she should easily win confirmation. But Rubio should not be rejecting someone with Yellen's standout credentials. He should put the country before catering to the most extreme wing of his political party.

Comments
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18