Apparently, part of the Republican Party in Washington has been taken over by a religious cult. This cult is righteous, dogmatic, disciplined, intolerant and dictatorial. It is quite willing to hijack the legislative process to ensure that its demands are met.

As demonstrated in the last few days, its members are willing to become suicide bombers, threatening the entire U.S. economy if they don't get their way. These people are the American Taliban.

Our domestic Taliban adheres to several fundamental beliefs:

•No new taxes for anybody, anytime, whatever the circumstances. (Enforced by Ayatollah Grover Norquist.)

•"Starve the beast": Cut government programs to the point they are ineffectual, then eliminate them entirely. (Except in defense, which is untouchable.)

•The unfettered free market solves all problems. Anything that the free market does not attend to, such as environmental degradation, aging infrastructure, or lack of health care access, is by definition not a problem.

•Climate change is a hoax. It is of no concern to the free market, so it doesn't exist. The role of science is to support preconceived dogma.

This agenda is being forced down our throats despite the fact that its adherents represent a minority of the U.S. population and of Congress. Their program might increase corporate profits (already at record levels), but it does nothing to create jobs. If our homegrown Taliban is successful, the result will be the continuing decline of the middle class standard of living and an increasing concentration of wealth at the very top.

Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents need to wake up, buy some backbone, and confront these people. Those of us voters with a working adult brain need to use next year's election to purge these people, including Rep. Andy Harris, from Congress. Otherwise, we will all have to get used to life in the Corporate States of America — of, by, and for the wealthy.

George H. Kaplan, Colora