Georgia Says

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on the GOP's suicide pact:

Republicans are about to choose between suicide and assisted suicide.

The federal government is running out of money again, and Congress needs to pass legislation to fund the 2014 fiscal year, which starts in October. Thus, Congress and the president will soon be debating whether to raise the limit on the nation's credit card.

Conservative Republicans see the coming debt limit and federal funding debate as an opportunity to pull the financial rug out from under Obamacare.

Led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, they say they're prepared to shut the government down rather than authorize any money to implement the health care reform law.

Pressure mounted this week, when over 50 conservative organizations and luminaries wrote a letter to House Republicans urging them to use the government spending bill to defund Obamacare.

We appreciate the spirit of the argument. Obamacare is opposed by a majority of Americans: support for it is in the 30th percentile and opposition to it is in the 50th percentile in most polls.

And that doesn't begin to explain the growing unpopularity of Obamacare. Perhaps this does: A week after three major labor unions warned of the destruction of the middle class by Obamacare, the National Treasury Employees Union asked its members to write their elected representatives in Congress to oppose their being included in Obamacare health-care exchanges.

The union's membership might interest you: It includes employees at the IRS, the very agency charged with enforcing the law!

That's when you know you're losing the crowd.

But despite all this, we're not sure Obamacare is sufficiently unpopular that Republicans will look like heroes to much of the public by blocking it - particularly if they have to shut down a good bit of the federal government to get that done.

The last big government shutdown, in the 1990s, was a public relations disaster for congressional Republicans. There's no reason to think it wouldn't be this time, either. Consider: The main result of the GOP blockade of Obamacare would be to deny many folks of its benefits, including subsidies that begin Jan. 1, to millions of voting-age Americans.

The former mainstream media would no doubt savage Republicans for doing so, and for shutting down non-essential portions of the government.

The principal effect might be to make Obamacare more popular than it deserves to be, and to ensure Democratic control of the Senate in next year's midterm elections. It might even endanger Republicans' hold on the House, too, according to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., perhaps the party's leading fiscal hawk.

It may be a form of assisted suicide, but Republicans had their chance to win over voters in last year's elections and failed. All that may remain may be for the electorate to take its bitter medicine - and for conservatives to pick up the pieces later, if there are any.

The Brunswick (Ga.) News on state's lack of education may be root of welfare:

Georgia legislators have a pressing issue to tackle when they convene for the 2014 session of the General Assembly in January. They must focus on the reason or reasons for the state's growing food stamp population and determine what can be done to improve economic conditions in all 159 counties.

It's not something that can be ignored. Recent statistics on the number of individuals and families requiring food stamps for day-to-day survival are indeed alarming. That Georgia has risen to being a state with the sixth highest food stamp rate in the nation from 15th is profoundly startling, to say the least. Someone in state government should already be asking questions and demanding answers.

According to reports, in 2012, 1.91 million Georgians were subsidizing their diets with the food giveaway. Since then the number has grown by 40,000, even at a time the economy is said to be on a gradual upswing. All and all, the report goes on to point out, the number of recipients has nearly doubled since 2007. That's just six years ago.

Often it's not a matter of having a job. Some 58 percent of adults eligible for and obtaining food stands are employed. They have jobs, but the positions just don't pay enough, obviously, to keep them from applying for government assistance.

Education, or the lack of it, could be at the root of the problem. The state's literacy rate is anything but impressive. It's hard to say, however, whether this a small or large contributing factor.

Commissioning a study would be a great start in unraveling the cause of this explosion in food stamp recipients. Georgia cannot continue along this path. How can our state be a national leader when 20 percent of the population can't even feed itself?

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