Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 1, 2013

JOSH LEDERMAN: What's behind all the budget bombast?

Both parties work hard to deflect blame

Even for a town accus-tomed to hyperbole, the political sparring over spending, borrowing and health care has produced more than its share of over-the-top rhetoric.

Yes, most people may tune it out. But it’s a good bet the nastiness won’t make it any easier for the two sides to come together on critical issues.

Consider the words used by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., when she suggested what could happen if Republicans didn’t overturn “Obamacare,” President Barack Obama’s health care law.

”Let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens,” Bachmann said.

Republican opponents of the law claim it will drive up costs, making it harder for people to access health care. Obama and other Democrats disagree.

There’s nothing in the law that would require the government to kill its citizens.

”The purpose is to get attention, to bring my issue to the forefront and position it in the mind of the public,” said Craig Smith, a presidential speechwriter in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. “What you risk down the road, when the fire has gone out, is people looking back and saying, ‘That guy was a little bit crazy. I’m sorry I fell for it.’”

GOP efforts to strip money for the law have been at the heart of disagreements over how to fund the government before a threatened shutdown kicks in today. Lawmakers are also bickering over behavior as Congress and Obama wrestle over increasing the debt ceiling to avert a first-ever default.

The White House has accused Republicans of holding the budget hostage, demanding ransoms and threatening to burn down the house unless they get what they want.

Former Vice President Al Gore on Friday accused Republicans of “political terrorism.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has called her GOP colleagues “legislative arsonists” in a fundraising email and TV interviews.

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