RICH JAMES: Rokita's taste for tea bagged his sensibility

2013-10-20T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Rokita's taste for tea bagged his sensibilityBy Rich James
October 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Let there be no doubt, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita is part of the small group that held the nation hostage for 16 days.

It’s kind of scary. The Munster native has become a loose cannon.

Rokita, who now hangs his hat in Indianapolis, represents a district that includes Jasper and Newton counties.

Rokita was among the minority that voted against an agreement to reopen government and raise the debt ceiling.

What’s really disconcerting is he believes he was right.

Yeah, this is the same guy who a week ago told a CNN anchor she was “beautiful,” and in the same breath strongly suggested she didn’t have a clue as to what the government shutdown was all about. And the next day, he refused to apologize for his sexist remark.

As it turns out, all Rokita knew was that his benefactors — the Tea Partiers — wanted him to take the stand he did. And Rokita knew full well that if he did, he could be a congressman for as long as he likes.

Just two days before the vote to raise the debt ceiling, Rokita said on an Indianapolis radio station the nation has the cash flow to meet its debt, but would then have to choose which bells and whistles (such as Social Security) the country also wanted to pay for.

While Rokita blew off the Oct. 17 debt deadline as nothing more than a date on the calendar, virtually every economist in the country forecast gloom and doom if the nation didn’t extend the debt ceiling.

Billionaire Warren Buffett said the move by Rokita and company was “a political weapon of mass destruction that shouldn’t be used.”

Other economists said not extending the debt ceiling would cripple the global economy and plunge the United States into a deep recession.

Nonetheless, Rokita liked the thought of putting millions of employees out of work as the size of the federal government was slashed.

Rokita said it would hurt the economy in the short term, but not to fear.

“In the medium and long term, you would see with this contraction of government an explosion of the private sector where people can keep their money again," Rokita said.

Rokita defended his plan to gut government by saying, “Are we living here and now, or are we living for the children of tomorrow?” The easy answer is we are living for both.

Like his sexist remark on CNN, Rokita got heat for wanting to let government burn.

Aw shucks, he said, you know how people sometimes say things in the heat of battle.

But, what if Rokita’s vote had been needed to extend the debt ceiling?

Perish the thought. He’s had too much tea to think rationally.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at The opinions are the writer’s.

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