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Republicans shooting themselves in the foot

WASHINGTON – The Barack Obama regime lurched for more power over American industry on Friday by announcing new job-killing rules on power plants using coal. These White House moves, like so many of its botches, foreign and domestic, are going to wind up in court or before some other forum, upsetting a lot of folks and not really doing a lot.

With Democrat Obama dreamily bypassing Congress and the Constitution in so many ways, the Republicans’ path to success in next year’s midterm elections should be clear: “We, the Grand Old Party, are the people of moderation, of reason and respect, of Main Street, and we will hold the country together in spite of this guy.” Inevitably, one form of excess leads to another. And the other Republican Party that exists out there somewhere keeps getting offered the Kool-Aid of extremism. Just like the 900 who perished in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, more and more keep sampling it.

The latest potion is the so-called tea party drive to kill the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Readers of this space understand the original grass-roots tea party of four years ago no longer exists, but is a dumb reporters’ term for a collection of ultra right-wing selfish interests.

Under hapless Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, the House on Friday passed a bill to continue emergency funding for the government on Oct. 1, with the proviso that it kills the Affordable Care Act. Two Western New York congressmen, Chris Collins of Clarence and Tom Reed of Corning, were among the Republicans who voted for this careless bill. If they can’t kill it now, they warn they’ll tie it to the debt ceiling issue next month.

GOP House members in marginal districts should pay dearly for this foolish vote. While Obamacare has a number of flaws that need correction, it has already shown it is good for many New Yorkers. New York is among nearly two dozen states that are creating federally assisted insurance marketplaces where individuals are saving money on premiums. According to the Commonwealth Fund, another seven states are creating these marketplaces, while most others are working on plans.

Is it Boehner’s, Collins’ and Reed’s idea to tear these all down and throw their constituents on the mercy of marketplace magic? Or shut down the federal government in the midst of a fragile economic recovery?

A 17-state study by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows the Obamacare exchanges are already helping young families and that the insurance business is responding helpfully to the competitive pressures of the exchanges.

The goofy behavior of the Republicans is not impelled by any public interest. It is driven by the insurance industry and the prevarications of hate-radio merchants Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity competing for market share.

Among their falsehoods is that Obamacare is driving up premiums. A Rand Corp. study said such predictions are “overstated.” Republican alternatives to the health care law, even after four years of whining, are sketchy at best: Medical savings accounts that throw the least healthy Americans on the grace of the government; and cross-state insurance that evades state regulation.

This GOP offers no protection against cancellation of insurance because of high medical cost, or denial from pre-existing illness, and mandated coverage for offspring up to age 26, and enhanced state regulation of health insurance costs – all of which are part of Obamacare.

The pity of this situation is not just the Republicans’ distraction from the people’s real work, but their self-imposed disqualification as a dependable curb on this president’s wantonness and incompetence. The country needs an alternative to this regime. This brand of Republicanism doesn’t look like it.