Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 8, 2013

EDITORIALS: Two views of the government shutdown; Chicago Fire anniversary


CNHI News Service

Bitter rhetoric makes compromise difficult

(The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.)

Who would sit down at a negotiating table with people who have publicly lambasted them as terrorists, hostage takers and  anarchists? No one in their right minds, that’s who.

So Republicans in Congress would do well to hang tough on the government shutdown until Senate Democrats and the Obama administration conclude their temper tantrums or pass out from hyperventilation.

Democrats - champions of “civility” and “compromise” - have heaped derision on Republicans since the GOP-led House passed a measure Monday that linked funding for government operations with cutting funding for and delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act for ordinary citizens.

This is nothing more than the same deal President Obama has handed out to businesses, unions and other favored groups. But Senate Democrats rejected the Republican measure, forcing a shutdown of nonessential government operations. Obama had promised to veto the measure even if the Senate had accepted the deal.

Democrats, with a supportive media, then cast Republicans as villains. And the Obama administration was careful to maximize the pain on the general public from the shutdown, trying to lock veterans out of war memorials, closing national parks and highlighting the children who would be denied cancer treatment at government hospitals.

The reality is that many Americans believe Obamacare is a job-destroying mess that is dragging down the economy, and that runaway government spending spells the nation’s ruin. If Democrats put any stock in their high-minded principles, they would stop savaging Republicans and work with their GOP colleagues who represent the views of a great many Americans.

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Republicans should release their budget hostage

(The Herald-Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.)

The Affordable Care Act passed into law. It withstood challenges in court. And its implementation began four years ago. So what are House Republicans doing by stalling the budgeting process, shutting down federal government services and demanding that President Obama modify the ACA? The answer: Undertaking an exercise in futility, wasting time and diverting the attention of the American people.

Whatever you think of the Affordable Care Act, it's the law of the land. It is happening, here and now, and there is no turning back. That's the message that Obama has delivered to tea party Republicans, who've done nothing but serve as obstructionists.

Don't forget, the Affordable Care Act was written during Obama's first term in office. Then he was re-elected to a second term by American voters. Talk about the will of the American people.

The recent launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace, a key provision of the ACA, is tangled in red tape. It has problems, without a doubt.

But the thrust of the ACA - to provide affordable health care and health insurance to millions of Americans who cannot afford either - is noble. House Republicans should give up this silly charade that portrays it as something that can be negotiated away. Above all, they should stop holding the federal budget hostage.

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Remember fire's anniversary with preparedness

(Kokomo, Ind., Tribune)

The Great Chicago Fire broke out Oct. 8, 1871, killing more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless. The anniversary of the disaster has been remembered for nearly a century  with efforts to spread the word about fire dangers — Fire Prevention Week, it now is called.

Still, too many Americans are unprepared.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they have a home fire escape plan, according to the National Fire Protection Association, but only a quarter has actually practiced it.

Two years ago, home fires injured someone every half-hour, according to the association. Eight people died in fires every day.

Times have changed in the 142 years since the apocryphal story of Mrs. O'Leary's cow tipping over a lamp in Chicago: The leading cause of fires and fire-related injuries today is cooking, though smoking materials are blamed for a quarter of the fire-related deaths.

Experts say properly installed smoke alarms are vital to reducing those injuries and deaths. But while 96 percent of U.S. households claim to have at least one smoke alarm, firefighters report not finding one in 60 percent of the homes that burn.

All of us should remember this week's grim anniversary by making sure our home has a working smoke alarm, and just as importantly, having a plan for what to do when they sounds.