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Government shutdown and the wine debate in Tuesday's Forum

Staff Report • Oct 18, 2013 at 9:15 AM

I recently read the transcript of an interview Congressman Phil Roe had with National Public Radio on Sept. 30. I was interested to learn of his views on a government shutdown. When asked why government spending should be held hostage because of his party’s disagreement with Obamacare, Roe response included, “This is nothing unusual. It’s American politics. It’s the way it works.” I wonder how Roe’s answer of “politics as usual” was received by those depending on government services no longer available.Please don’t feel I am solely blaming Roe for the current state of affairs. There is plenty of blame to go around. However, the Republicans do stick out like a sore thumb by challenging, as you put it, “the law of the land,” in such a disruptive manner. I also found Roe reminiscing about the shutdown in the mid 1990s interesting. He stated he was “pretty busy delivering babies and practicing medicine” and “hardly noticed” that shutdown. Roe also said he believed that’s how it would be with the current shutdown. I’m going to guess that the federal employees in his district have noticed — both those who are at home without pay and those who are still working without pay. I also bet the folks who are having difficulty getting a replacement Social Security card or proof of their income for energy assistance have noticed. Probably the only folks who haven’t noticed the shutdown that much are Roe and his colleagues on Capitol Hill since they are all still being paid. I would hope voters remember everyone who has been involved in this debacle and impose term limits the only way it will ever happen — by voting incumbents out of office. Hopefully, members of Congress will all wake up soon and take care of the nation’s business.JAMES NAGYJohnson CityGOP hostageWe are being badly represented by (U.S. Rep.) Phil Roe. He and his tea party Republican ilk have been agitating for a government shutdown for over a year and now they have succeeded. Just like a terrorist group, they are holding the U.S. economy hostage unless we give in to their outrageous demands. This is ironic because a clean budget bill would pass the House if the Republican leadership would only allow such a vote. Instead, they are being held hostage by Roe and his minority. It will only get worse because they also plan to default on the U.S. debt by failing to raise the debt ceiling. Remember, the debt ceiling has nothing to do with new spending but only authorizes the government to pay for things Roe and Congress have already authorized.As a further irony, all of Roe’s fulminating and lying about the Affordable Care Act have failed, since the act is largely funded outside the annual budget process and in fact went into effect on Oct. 1 to large public acclaim. While Roe is probably safe since his seat has been gerrymandered by Tennessee’s Republican Legislature, that does not make what he is doing right, but rather un-American and will likely lead to serious damage to our economy.URS GSTEIGERJohnson CityWine debateI have watched the wine in grocery stores issue in Tennessee with much curiosity. Personally, I drink so little that it would make no difference to me if no alcoholic drinks were available. However, I believe that any responsible adult who does wish to drink should have alcoholic drinks available. Some of my concerns are how will this legislation impact local wineries and small business owners? Will the big-box stores sell local made wine and will the big box stores cause the small liquor and wine stores to close? It is my opinion that our local small business people should be considered first before our legislatures take what could be devastating action for them. On a recent trip to Destin, Fla., I saw a Walmart liquor store. It was separate but in the same building. We all know when there is competition between the small stores and the big-box stores, the big-box stores win. It is interesting as to why our Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is so adamant about passing this legislation and the pressure that has been applied to state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, to also support this legislation. When I first heard that Hill had voted against making wine more available, he earned my short-lived admiration. I expected Hill to explain that his Christian convictions prevented him from voting affirmative, but he did not say that. Which brings me to another question: Where are the churches on this issue? What is their position? I have not heard a peep from them.Is it possible that the churches that have been so vocal on issues in the past have become more Republican than Godly? Whether perceived or real — the appearance is the same. BRUCE DOTSONKingsport

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