Trade deal will benefit Florida
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has become a highly contested issue in recent months. The TPP is intended to bring economic growth and create new opportunities for employees and businesses. This will contribute to raising living standards, benefiting consumers, reducing poverty and promoting sustainable growth.
The most recent TPP agreement includes import and export agreements with 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Of the 11 countries, six (Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Singapore) are current U.S. Federal Trade Agreement partners.
Florida already has strong trade and investment ties with FTA countries, and we have statistically shown increased investment, positive trade results and economic benefit each year. Trade data shows U.S. trade exports and imports of goods and services with FTA countries provided nearly 942,000 jobs in Florida. It also shows that we exported $12.5 billion worth of goods to FTA countries in 2014 and that there are nearly 1,400 FTA companies who are already invested in Florida's economy.
The additions to the TPP will be able to eliminate approximately 18,000 taxes as well as other trade barriers on American products across the countries that currently put American products at an unfair disadvantage. This would be the first trade deal with a chapter focused specifically on the needs of small business, with provisions that make it cost-effective and efficient for Florida to get products to market.
We can only benefit from the opportunities created by the TPP, and we encourage Congress and the president to enact legislation that will implement it. With all of the benefits that we expect to see here in Florida, we especially encourage members of the Florida delegation to get behind the TPP and vote for it.
Julio Fuentes, Lake Worth
The writer is president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the only statewide economic development organization dedicated to serving the needs of the Hispanic business community. The chamber has 38 chapters in Florida and works with more than 80,000 minority-owned businesses.
Our own worst enemy
All of our government has an extremely low approval rating. The members of Congress are holding up a vote on a proposed new member of the Supreme Court. They are also holding up money to help combat the Zika virus.
Yet, we the people have voted to return to both houses of Congress those in whom we don't have any faith.
Can someone explain why we are cutting off our noses to spite our face? Aren't we smart enough to know we are heading for more of the same stalling and party politics that have pretty much stopped the nation from moving forward?
John Pisculli, Brandon
Don't let fear rule your life
We should not let fear rule our lives. The news of the Zika virus spreading to the United States has caused a frenzy of hype, fear and uncertainty for residents and travelers.
As an OB/GYN, I have not yet had to treat a patient with Zika, but I tell my patients to evaluate the risks and live their lives. Women who are pregnant or couples trying to conceive should take all necessary steps to avoid contact with mosquitoes. That means regularly applying bug spray with DEET, wearing long-sleeve clothes, avoiding travel to regions with local Zika transmission and practicing safe sex. While Zika can have devastating effects on a woman's pregnancy, those who aren't pregnant or trying to conceive have little to fear.
In addition to being a doctor, I'm also an avid traveler. My advice to travelers is make decisions based on facts, not fear, and the fact is you have little to worry about Zika if you're not pregnant or trying to conceive. So for those who have trips planned or are considering visiting an area where Zika exists, grab a bottle of insect repellent, follow the CDC guidelines and don't let fear hold you back.
Jason James, M.D., Miami
The writer is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Baptist Hospital in Miami.
Bill can help end disease
In the United States, more than 40,000 women and 440 men will die of breast cancer this year. Over the past few decades, this nation has invested billions of dollars in breast cancer research and technology, but the statistics have not changed significantly. We continue losing the women and men we love to this dreadful disease.
As a breast cancer advocate, I believe in the power of public policy action. A bill in Congress, the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act (HR 1197), would go a long way toward ending this disease once and for all. It focuses on identifying strategies for the primary prevention of breast cancer and identifying methods to prevent breast cancer metastasis, or the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body. Metastasis is responsible for over 90 percent of breast cancer deaths.
HR 1197 was introduced by Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. It is bipartisan, noncontroversial, does not require additional federal funding, and will accelerate the progress already made toward ending breast cancer. It has 272 bipartisan co-sponsors. That means that 272 out of 435 members of Congress want this bill to become law. It is unheard of to see such strong bipartisan support in today's political climate. But does their word mean anything?
To date, 18 other Florida representatives have co-sponsored Castor's bill. I applaud these representatives, but for their support to mean anything, we need them to push the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to send HR 1197 to the full House for a vote. A majority of that committee supports this legislation.
Continuing programs that encourage "awareness" is simply not enough. We don't need more pink ribbons and hope. We need action.
Tracy Leduc, Clearwater