In Washington budget war, hype and hyperbole seize the floor

Reuters

(Fixes spelling to Jan Schakowsky instead of Jean Schakowski inparagraph seven)

* Hot air gives way to fire breathing in Congress

* Analogies veer from Armageddon to Civil War

By Fred Barbash

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - To those not watching theCapitol Hill debate over funding the government and Obamacare:You don't know what you're missing.

It's "high noon," cautioned Democratic Senator Tom Harkin,"as dangerous as the breakup of the Union before the Civil War."

No, actually, it's not the Civil War, said Republican Representative Roger Williams.

Williams likened the budget battle before Congress to theRevolutionary War. "It's truly our generation's Valley Forge."

But wait, what about World War Two? That was the analogy ofU.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the Texan who compared fellow Republicansenators who didn't agree with him to appeasers of Nazi Germany.

Republican John McCain said he resented the Cruz comment.But then again, he has called Cruz and his allies "wacko birds."

"A kind of craziness," was how Democrat Jan Schakowskydescribed the scene on the Hill. The eight-term congresswomanfrom Illinois added that, "combined with the craziness is ameanness that I haven't really seen before."

Such is the rhetoric that has infused the debate over awonky-sounding bill entitled "Continuing Appropriations ForFiscal Year 2014."

That is the bill that would fund the federal government whenthe previous appropriation runs out at midnight Monday, causinga partial shutdown.

Republicans are demanding that in exchange for their supportof the funding bill, President Barack Obama and his Democratsmust agree to delay the health care reform law enacted in 2010after a bitter debate.

That was Armageddon, now-Speaker of the House John Boehnersaid at the time, the biblical war between good and evil, thelast battle.

Well, maybe next-to-last.

Three years later, another battle rages. The warriors aretarred with unforgiving labels. The Republican's conservativeTea Party wing is the "weird caucus" to Senate Democratic leaderHarry Reid. Democrats, in turn, are the "political rulingclass," to Senator Mike Lee. In time, Reid's "Tea Partyanarchists" came up against Lee's "crony capitalists" who -according to Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama - happen tofavor "socialized medicine."

Many Republicans have vowed to repeal the health careoverhaul designed to provide coverage to millions of uninsuredAmericans.

To them, Obamacare isn't just a bad law.

It's "the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed inCongress," said Representative John Fleming of Louisiana. (Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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