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Iceman

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While he continues his stout efforts to freeze Arkansas veterans out of a new veterans-aid facility, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is also extending his reach, aiming to deny government protection to even more Americans. Can nothing melt his cold, cold heart?

Griffin's latest meanness is a proposed "regulatory freeze," which his fellow Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee endorsed last week. Their endorsement was expected, since the legislation is really a Republican Party project, though Griffin got his name attached, like a remora on a shark. He's a resourceful fellow, as the truly unscrupulous usually are. Remember how he did in a U.S. attorney from his own party so he could get the job himself, and use it as a step up toward a seat in Congress? You should.

The "freeze" bill would impose a moratorium on "significant regulatory actions" until the national unemployment rate falls below 6 percent, an occurrence that economists say is likely five or more years off. In the interim, there would be no new protection for air, water and food, all of which have been made significantly safer by government regulation; no more protective improvements to automobiles; no new government intervention to save the lives and limbs of working people, or to limit their hours at work, or to raise the minimum wage, or to keep children off the assembly line, no matter how much that additional protection might be needed. And it will be needed. If there were reason to believe such protection wouldn't be called for, corporate interests wouldn't be trying so hard to stop it. Big Oil, Big Pharma and others have for years sought to limit regulation legislatively, and the Republican Party is solidly with them. Though the Supreme Court has said that corporations are people, Republican congressmen insist that corporations are super-people, more worthy of assistance than the average American. Thus the "regulatory freeze." Under an honest administration, regulations can be annoying to the corporate community.

Congressman Griffin's nemeses, the veterans, will get still more of the back of his hand, perhaps the backs of both hands, under his regulatory freeze. Promised benefits would be delayed, if not blocked entirely, for veterans suffering from long-term illness, and for those who stayed for prolonged deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. College students would not escape scot-free; Pell and other academic grants would be adversely affected. The elderly could never hobble fast enough to escape the bill's harmful effect on Medicare payments and services. Griffin has enough unkindness to spread widely.

After neighboring property owners objected to a large church's expansion plans, the North Little Rock City Council denied permission for the church to cut into a tree-lined hillside with homes on top. If he hears, Rick Santorum will call this War on Religion.

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