The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 15, 2013

GOP shutdowncomments fall short

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Al DeKruif’s Nov. 7 column and Bob Jentges’ Nov. 9 letter were exasperating reads.

DeKruif begins with the right’s presumptive accusation: my classrooms are liberal indoctrination sessions (wrong). He complains about how unpopular “Obamacare” is (already addressed). Then, DeKruif whitewashes Republican extortion as “the power of the purse,” while Jentges calls it “operating under the separation of powers.”

Inconveniently for both, Republicans’ conduct matched well any dictionary definition of extortion. DeKruif’s absurd accusation of Democratic extortion relies on some unspecified, ridiculously fast and loose definition thereof, while I consistently have used the dictionary definition.

DeKruif yelps about “Obamacare” passing without GOP support — ignoring my several columns of solid, virtually unchallenged evidence on how extreme the Republican Party has become, embracing right-wing economic and social radicalism with messianic zeal. GOP extremism, thoroughly documented by me and other political scientists, explains the absence of GOP support.

Bob Jentges errs, too. Republicans weren’t seeking some innocuous, across-the-board negotiation spending reductions. Jentges cavalierly portrays the shutdown as nothing major. Really? A $24 billion hit to the national economy is serious. Jobless federal workers, and associated financial stresses, are serious. Mass closures of national parks and monuments are serious. Rattling domestic and global financial markets is serious. Economic hits to innumerable businesses (think: federal contractors, among others) are serious.

Meanwhile, some pro-Republican Free Press online posters argue: the shutdown didn’t affect me personally, so it just didn’t matter. They cannot be serious, and I forcefully rebutted them in my own comment online.

Tea Party hero Jim DeMint claimed uninsured Americans are better off “just going to the emergency room” than gaining insurance through “Obamacare.” He, too, can’t be serious.

Fred Slocum