Witness to the GOP's implosion
Donald Trump is a monster of the Republican Party's own making. He is running rampant and destroying the establishment wing of the party.
Their hell-no stance of obstructionism has resulted in some unintended consequences. It has proven to the people that government in its present form does not work. The electorate has had enough, is mad and has turned on the creators of the monster instead of the monster himself. They want change from the same old way Washington does business. Everyone knows the current crop of candidates is beholden to big money and special interests; the exceptions being Trump and Bernie Sanders.
As a registered Republican I intend to cast a protest vote against the Republican Party and support Trump in the primary, but will vote for Sanders or Hillary Clinton in the general.
The Republican Party has become the victim of its own creation. May it rest in peace — violin music optional.
Alan Raun, Largo
A rotten record helping jobless | Feb. 22, editorial
Benefits can boost economy
Florida does seem to be vying to be the worst state in the country when it comes to protecting the unemployed with unemployment insurance, which we all pay for one way or another whether we are employed or unemployed.
It is remarkable that legislators forget or ignore the fact that a significant amount of unemployment insurance paid to qualified recipients comes right back to the state in the form of taxes. It doesn't take a genius to know that all of unemployment compensation gets spent and generates a significant amount of taxes for the state, offsetting the outlay. It thus keeps the unemployed off welfare and other state-sponsored programs for the poor.
On the other side of the coin, people applying or having already applied for unemployment compensation should be willing to document to the state proof that they are indeed actively searching for employment. It is reasonable for the state to request that.
Gary Cecil, Tampa
Safeguarding tax money
I fail to see the issue with providing documentation of your employment search to continue to receive benefits. Unemployment insurance is a temporary assist while you are between jobs, not a free handout but a positive reinforcement in your search to again be gainfully employed.
Abuse of government assistance programs is rampant and this is an example of how, with a little effort, aid can be fairly given to those doing the right thing. The state should not reward those who are just using the system while making zero effort to gain employment.
Daniel Donohue, New Port Richey
Beware of refund fraud
Even as you watch mailboxes and email in-boxes for tax documents to arrive, some thieves are using this time to file fraudulent tax returns in tax refund scams. In 2015, the Internal Revenue Service estimated the cost of tax refund fraud would exceed $20 billion by this year.
A scammer will file a tax return using a stolen identity early in the tax filing season. The refund is electronically transferred to a debit card or delivered to an address where the scammer has access to the mail. By the time you file your legitimate tax return, the IRS has already issued the refund, the scammer has stolen your money, and IRS records show your refund and tax records have already been processed.
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk. File your taxes as early as possible. If you are filing online, be certain you are using a secure Internet connection on a trusted computer and never on a public domain. If you mail your tax return, take it directly to the post office; do not leave your tax return in your mailbox. Shred all documents containing personal identifying information. Never give out personal identifying information in response to unsolicited calls or emails, even those claiming to be from a financial institution or government agency. File a complaint immediately with the Federal Trade Commission and local law enforcement if your identity is stolen. Additionally, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 if you believe you are a victim.
If your identity is also used to open credit cards or take out loans, your credit may be damaged as well. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation offers an online Consumer Knowledge Center. Visit www.flofr.com to learn more.
Drew J. Breakspear, Tallahassee
The writer is commissioner of Florida's Office of Financial Regulation.
Florida GOP slow to warm to Trump | Feb. 24
The truth comes out
I was astonished at the statement by state Rep. John Tobia regarding Donald Trump's character. He is quoted as saying, "Mr. Trump is an honest, straight-speaking, results-oriented individual. These traits, while valued by the electorate, are foreign to us."
When I use the term "us" it typically includes "me," and in this case a vast majority of Tobia's Republican colleagues. No wonder the Republican Party is in such disarray. It was nice of the representative to be so straightforward. I wish him luck if he ever runs for public office again.
Ken Eckert, Sun City Center
The people will be heard
The people of Florida have seen fit to give Donald Trump a 20-point polling lead. They will decide who wins the Sunshine State, not a group of back-room dealmakers. This is driving members of the establishment GOP crazy because they are more malleable to corporate lobbyists than state officials anywhere else.
Trump's boasts of excluding lobbyists and corporate shills and his constant promise of not leaving the most vulnerable Americans lying in the streets has Florida's elected Simon Legrees nervous that both their pockets and social conservatism are under attack.
Chris Curley, Sun City Center