Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

With bold choice of Ryan, contrasts sharpened

Mitt Romney's surprisingly bold choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate reshapes his campaign and elevates the debate with President Barack Obama about the serious challenges facing the nation. It sharpens the contrast between two very different approaches to meeting those challenges, and voters who focus on substance rather than scare tactics will have clear choices in November.

There were safer picks than Ryan, the Wisconsin House member who is the architect of the controversial Republican budget that combines additional tax cuts with deep spending cuts and transforms entitlements. There also were more charismatic choices, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Instead, Romney altered the arc of the race after slipping behind in opinion polls, enduring Obama's attacks on his business record and returning from an error-filled foreign trip. He energized conservatives who have been suspicious of the former Massachusetts governor, but his provocative decision also raises more serious questions about where he would lead the nation.

With Ryan, Romney has fully embraced the tea party wing of the Republican Party that only months ago House Speaker John Boehner tried to stiff-arm. A campaign that last week was all about Obama's record now also becomes about what Romney and Ryan would do if elected, which is a healthy development. The presumptive Republican nominee who cast himself as the Washington outsider has effectively embraced the Republican-led Congress that has been obstructionist and is held in less regard by voters than the president.

Ryan's federal budget plan was labeled by Newt Gingrich last year as "right-wing social engineering'' and "too big a jump" for the country. It would transform Medicare into a voucher program for those under 55, and the Congressional Budget Office concluded the 2011 version would require seniors to pay an average of $6,400 more by 2022. It also would turn Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, into a system of block grants to the states — and you can bet in Florida that would result in fewer people on Medicaid and more uncompensated care in hospital emergency rooms. Overall, the Ryan budget would cut more than $5 trillion in projected spending over 10 years while reducing tax revenue by $4 trillion.

Left on his own, Ryan would go even further. He urged President George W. Bush to create private investment accounts as part of Social Security, which the public rejected in 2005 and are not part of Ryan's current budget plan. Ryan also has tried to mute criticism of his Medicare plan by now saying beneficiaries could choose to stay in the existing system. But on bigger budget issues, Ryan has shown no signs of compromising. He was a member of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission and voted against its more balanced approach toward reducing the deficit because it included raising revenue. Ryan also reportedly pressured Boehner last year to break off talks with Obama on a far-reaching budget compromise.

It's no wonder that Romney campaigned in Florida Monday without Ryan and says the focus should be on his own less specific budget plan, not the one Ryan pushed through the House. But when Romney chose his running mate, he got more than a smart, articulate leader of the most conservative wing of the Republican Party. He got all of Ryan's baggage as well — and that includes a budget plan that is not in the nation's best interest.

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

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

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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...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

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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: 10 hours ago

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

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Updated: 6 hours ago
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
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18