Carroll County Times

Tom Zirpoli: GOP 'fanaticism' harming country

If you are a Republican and both Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove are dismissive of your desire to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded, you should probably pay attention. Unless, of course, if you are a member of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where being dismissive of everyone is the new norm.
House Republicans voted for the 42nd time last week to defund the Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as Obamacare. But this time the House Republicans told the Senate and Obama that they were willing to shut down the U.S. government unless they get their way.
O'Reilly called this latest attempt "fanaticism." "Fanaticism on the right is also harming the country" and is "destructive" to the Republican Party, O'Reilly said on his television show last Friday after the House vote.
Destructive or not, House Republicans are fixated on preventing millions of Americans from obtaining health-care coverage and the related medical care associated with this insurance. This appears to be their mission in life. Meanwhile, their budget resolution protected their free, government health-care coverage, ensuring that they and their family members will receive the best health care available.
When not trying to take away people's health-care coverage, House Republicans are taking away food stamps from active duty military families and veterans (they spend over $100 million in food stamps on military bases alone), the elderly and poor children. Never mind that each member of Congress receives a daily meal allowance of $127.41, or 91 times the average daily food-stamp benefit. Instead of cutting their food aid, House Republicans cut $40 million of food aid for the poor. While they were at it, they maintained generous farm subsidies to American farmers, including the chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Republican Congressman Frank Lucas, who received $40,000 in farm subsidies last year, paid by our taxes.
Isn't it amazing how much aid members of Congress provide for themselves while they cut aid for the rest of us? Socialism, it appears, is a good thing if you are a member of Congress, but not so much for poor Americans who actually need the aid.
Karl Rove, a Republican strategist, stated that the strategy to defund Obamacare will backfire on Republicans and would "strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it." But they will not reject it because they can't help themselves from hating anything related to President Obama, especially a social program aimed at helping ordinary Americans receive affordable health care.
"It's up to Senate Democrats to follow House Republicans and show some responsibility," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said after the vote to defund the Affordable Care Act. But Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, said that it was his fellow Republicans who were not acting responsibly and that their actions were "not rational."
Not all House Republicans are supporting a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act. U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-NY, called Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been the Republican leader in the effort to defund Obamacare, "a fraud" and his efforts to defund Obamacare "a suicide mission" for the Republican Party.
Honestly, it would be fine with me if Republicans shot themselves in the foot on this issue. However, they plan to bring the rest of us down with them by shutting down the government. But that's not all. After this budget fight there will be the fight to raise our nation's debt ceiling so that we can continue to pay our nation's bills. Obama says that the debt ceiling, routinely raised by Democrats and Republicans until these fanatic Republicans - if I may borrow a term from my friend O'Reilly - took control of the House, is not negotiable. "This is not a deadbeat nation," Obama said.
We may not be a deadbeat nation, but the president is dealing with a deadbeat Republican Party that protects generous health care, food subsidies and farm subsidies for themselves while screwing the rest of us.