To spur innovation, cut stifling regulations | March 25, commentary
To grow U.S. economy, be like Ike
It was interesting to read Sen. Marco Rubio evoking the period of our country's fantastic economic growth — growth that made our economy the envy of the world. Rubio credits less regulation for this boom, but the period of great economic expansion was the mid 1950s. Dwight Eisenhower was president, and the top marginal tax rate was 91 percent. Corporate taxes were a flat 50 percent, with no loopholes or exemptions. Even so, the rich got richer and industry thrived.
Eisenhower used that revenue to hire and train hundreds of thousands of workers — largely veterans returning from World War II — to build our interstate highway system, thus creating a prosperous, blue-collar middle class that had the wherewithal to buy homes, cars and consumer goods. Manufacturers could produce more goods than ever because more families had the resources to purchase their products.
Fast forward to today. Rubio, along with the rest of the Republicans in Congress, are aghast at the thought of raising the marginal ceiling to 38.5 percent — less than half of what it was when Eisenhower created the world's strongest economy. They want to cut corporate taxes from 35 percent (as opposed to Eisenhower's 50 percent) and leave in place loopholes that allow many corporations to reap huge profits and pay no corporate taxes at all. And they consistently vote against bills proposed by the Obama administration that would create millions of new jobs rebuilding the infrastructure that Eisenhower built.
No, senator, we can't build an economy by rolling back regulations that protect our water supply and environment. We can't create prosperity by allowing those who already enjoy a huge share of it to cut their contributions even further. If we want to revisit the golden age of the American economy, we need to emulate Ike and demand that those with the largest share of the pie contribute the largest share of the revenue and put that money to work creating jobs.
Robert Sterling, St. Petersburg
To spur innovation, cut stifling regulations March 25, commentary
Make the polluters pay
I am delighted that Sen. Marco Rubio wants to create "a level playing field that doesn't pick winners and losers." I wonder when he will "spur innovation" by introducing legislation that eliminates all forms of subsidies for all forms of energy and requires polluters to bear the full cost of polluting our environment.
Thomas Eppes, Thonotosassa
Ill-equipped to lead
Please give Sen. Marco Rubio all the space he wants. Every time he writes he shows how ill-equipped he is to lead. His recent rant about Russia exposed his belligerent, war-first neocon foreign policy roots. Now his example of "stifling regulations" is nothing more than a list of the vague generalities politicians of his stripe love to repeat. Does anyone take this guy seriously?
Alex Malley, Hernando
School success stories
Fifteen years ago, Florida began what has become nationally recognized as a revolution in education. Back then, by any measure, we ranked near the bottom nationally. Then came reforms under the "A-Plus Plan," which were revolutionary in scope but simple in concept: Set high standards, measure progress, hold schools accountable and give parents more options.
As a teacher, I have seen the positive results of these policies. That is why I am participating in "Learn More, Go Further," a campaign to share Florida's education success and the next chapter of that story as we move to higher standards and better tests.
Florida's graduation rate has improved by 25 percent since the 1990s. The academic progress made by our students is double to three times higher than their peers nationwide. We placed fifth in the nation in 2013 for the percentage of graduates who passed AP exams; and we have narrowed the achievement gap among white, Hispanic and African-American students.
Yet a substantial disconnect exists between the documented realities of Florida's educational successes and what the public believes to be the case. A recent survey found that only 8 percent of parents statewide and 4 percent in Tampa Bay accurately report that Florida schools are above average nationally.
As the next step in this process, Florida is implementing the Florida Standards. These standards are challenging as well as rewarding for teachers. They allow more opportunity for in-depth teaching. New assessments will require students to think critically and explain their work.
Teachers want students to learn more and go farther. These changes are a necessary part of that process.
Faye Adams, Wesley Chapel
Corporate overreach on religion March 25, editorial
I wonder what the financial gain is to the business owner who doesn't want to provide contraception coverage? If the court rules for these businesses, would it not open the door to every private business in the United States suddenly claiming religious objections, and if so, what proof would be required by the courts that these beliefs really exist and are not just a ruse to cut costs?
Leslie C. Welfare, Zephyrhills
The wasted life of Fred Phelps March 23, commentary
Proof is in the life lived
I don't think I have ever agreed with Leonard Pitts, but on this article I did. Claiming to be a Christian is one thing and living like one is another. Pitts is correct when he said God hates Phelps' wasted life. In fact, the people Phelps hated are some of the very people God loved so much He came and died for them so they could be reconciled to Him.
Carol Cameron, Tampa