Monday, April 23, 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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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...
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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...
Updated: 7 hours ago

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
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18