Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 25
It would be wrenching for the country to be faced with another showdown over the federal debt ceiling. But the solution should not be, as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner recently suggested, to dispense with the debt ceiling because it is an inconvenient impediment to ratcheting up the national debt.
Geithner said on Nov. 16 that the debt ceiling — the cap on federal indebtedness that requires congressional approval to raise — should be eliminated.
The idea is preposterous. The debt ceiling is the only thing that forces Congress and the president to confront the results of their out-of-control spending....
Doing away with the ceiling would stoke problems down the road in exchange for short-term expediency. President Barack Obama cannot stand for re-election, and Geithner already is on his way out the door, so long-term solutions to the nation's burgeoning debt will not top their agendas and there will be no penalty for their irresponsibility....
Voters retained the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Democrat edge in the Senate despite very low approval ratings for congressional incumbents overall. This virtually guarantees a replay of some of the gamesmanship over the debt, taxes and spending cuts that accompanied last year's failed attempts at a "grand bargain."
Warren Tribune Chronicle, Nov. 25
If a bill introduced last week to ban Internet cafes turns out to be over-reaching, then the state should at least regulate and tax the "gambling" operations.
Prosecutors, county commissioners, law enforcement organizations and the Fraternal Order of Police have implored state lawmakers to act. State Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, responded. The Republican majority floor leader for House Speaker William Batchelder introduced the bill to ban Internet cafes by redefining sweepstakes....
At Internet cafes, customers purchase phone or Internet time. Based on how much they spend, they are awarded points to play games on computers. Points won in games can be exchanged for money.
Some do not consider the practice gambling. They make comparisons to corporate scratch-off games like the McDonald's restaurants sweepstakes, saying customers pay for the product and get to play the sweepstakes games for free. ...
Nationwide, this is a $10 billion industry that has struck a nerve with the owners of casinos and racetracks, such as those approved by Ohio voters, for siphoning off their customers. With that kind of money, lobbying will continue to be forceful.
For that reason, Huffman's proposal might end up labeled as too over-reaching, especially toward the existing cafes. If so, strict regulations, including fees, are the minimum standards that should be passed.
The (Canton) Repository, Nov. 25
When it comes to the state government in Columbus and big issues involving Ohio's public schools, there are more big unknowns than knowns at the moment.
One consolation: The decision on the fate of the Ohio Graduation Test went just the way we hoped it would. The test will be dumped in favor of using a college entrance exam, along with exit exams in several subjects.
. Unknown: Whether the Legislature will adopt letter grades for schools on their state report cards. The lame-duck session of the General Assembly is expected to take up a House bill that would substitute grades A to F for the labels such as "excellent" and "continuous improvement" to which Ohioans have become accustomed....
. Unknown: Who the next superintendent of public instruction will be. Superintendent Stan Heffner resigned in August after a state inspector general's report said he should not have testified in favor of legislation that could have helped a company for which he planned to work.
. Unknown: Where the attendance-rigging scandal ultimately leads. State Auditor Dave Yost has found instances of data manipulation in four districts....
. Unknown: How Kasich wants to fund schools. He is expected to include his recommendation for a new funding formula with his 2013-2014 budget plan, due in February. The administration isn't saying anything about anything concerning an alternative to the current formula. But you can bet that it will challenge — or force — school districts to find new ways to collaborate.
The Lima News, Nov. 21
Would it really be so much to ask that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders drop the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" act? Couldn't they just forget the posturing and get to work on a deficit reduction package that includes fixes to everything else looming at the edge of the "fiscal cliff"?
Alas, it probably is too much to ask. The problems are enormous and have been allowed to fester for decades. The election left a divided White House and Congress in status quo-ante. Lobbyists are lined up from K Street to the Capitol, each one representing interests that insist on being left whole, or better. To mix a couple of metaphors, there are too many fingers in the pie and too many oxen that stand to be gored.
That all of this could be allowed to drag on through the holidays, with the same kind of sniping that characterized the last two years, simply would be reprehensible. Sooner or later, everyone will have to accept some variation of 2010's Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan. It should be sooner....
The precise mix of tax cuts, spending cuts and loophole-closings is subject to negotiation, and that's what should be taking place right now. Put Simpson-Bowles on the table, invite key leaders into the room, lock the doors and don't let anyone out until it's done. Spare us the drama.