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State panel's actions are proof of GOP psychosis

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wisely stayed out of the debt-ceiling maelstrom. But New York's struggling Republican State Committee plunged right in, probably pressed into it by some of the GOP's crazies down here.

The state committee blasted Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand last week for failing to "lead" in solving the country's credit rating crisis and for "kicking the can down the road." It might make sense for the state Republican Party to poke at the floundering Democratic president. But tying itself in the People's Republic of New York to Washington's legislative behavior is vacuous.

The product of the top of the House GOP leadership is the most backward-looking, reckless string of bills in 120 years. Meanwhile, 90 House Republican freshmen are generating a brand of mindless gridlock not seen here since pre-Civil War days.

These so-called tea partyers have frightened House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, into preclearing major initiatives with the hate radio maestro Rush Limbaugh. Pathetic.

The old guard Republican top and the freshmen at the bottom are united in the goal of using the debt to leverage the dismantling of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the remnants of the Great Society.

With unemployment in the construction industry at 16 percent, Republicans are holding up $2.5 billion worth of airport construction because they want to block airline employees from joining a union.

Families USA says a spending bill that passed the House, and for which Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, voted, could idle 200,000 from the ripple effect in the state's health care industry. The legislation could cost New York up to $10 billion a year in federal Medicaid money.

That's half of what it gets now. The effect on county taxpayers could be devastating.

The House majority passed legislation that guts the Clean Water Act that is supposed to protect the nation's rivers, streams and wetlands.

The Republican-led Energy and Commerce Committee has moved to the floor a bill that would ease limits on mercury air pollution and smog.

House Republicans want new trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but they spurn proposals to help retrain and compensate Americans who will surely lose their jobs as a result of these deals.

This agenda has sales potential in the old plantation districts of South Carolina, and the deserts of Texas and Utah, and maybe even in catatonic Wisconsin. It will be viewed as subversive in liberal New York. In terms of the debt ceiling, nothing in modern times matches the irresponsibility and recklessness of this House majority in its first seven months.

That the Republican State Committee was moved to denounce Schumer and Gillibrand for voting against destructive House bills -- for it to even recognize what is going on among its ranks down here -- is testament to the psychosis gripping the party.

But don't blame Republicans entirely. President Obama incited this last December when he backed extending the Bush tax cuts for another two years. Obama dug a $900 billion hole in the deficit with that timorous act. It was like throwing chum into a swarm of great white sharks. Many Democrats realized then they were "going to need a bigger boat."

This chapter has its ironies. The Republicans last week chided Schumer for producing a video in the 2006 Senate campaign when he was chairman. The ad criticized then Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, for voting to increase the debt limit. Schumer declined to comment.

e-mail: dturner@buffnews.com

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