“Indy, why does the floor move?”
“Hand me the torch.”
In “Raiders of the Lost Arc,” Indiana Jones deals with a cavernous well filled with snakes — and with flame as his only ally.
That scene comes to mind as the 115th Congress coils itself to strike at things that help a lot of Americans.
Congressional Republicans have designs that have fermented in darkened catacombs for decades. Almost every idea would harm those who need help and help those who don’t.
In President Trump they see their signal to strike with velocity and ferocity.
Ah, an opening for those who have resided so comfortably in their Fox News/Breitbart echo chamber, their seats gerrymandered out of the reach of actual democracy.
Their first and fondest hope is to wreck and repeal the Affordable Care Act. This despite the fact that four out of five people surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation say Congress should not repeal it without a fully vetted alternative.
Then there are the 20 million Americans who have health coverage because of it.
No wonder Donald Trump is hedging on how far he wants to go with this. The ACA has been the white whale of the harpoonists. As Herman Melville writes about Captain Ahab and a certain marine mammal: It matters not that the ACA has helped millions; “all evil” is “visibly personified” in Obamacare.
Speaking of maniacal crusades: Republicans have Planned Parenthood in their sights again, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that the new Congress will defund it. Such a move would have catastrophic consequences.
The Congressional Budget Office says that 400,000 women would lose access to health care, as Planned Parenthood clinics serve a multitude of health-care purposes, like disease prevention, cancer screenings and prenatal services.
Republicans say the $400 million yanked from Planned Parenthood could go elsewhere, but there’s no entity on the planet better suited or more willing to serve low-income women.
GOP leaders cannot snap their fingers and assume that the needs now served well by funding Planned Parenthood will be served by any other entity. Of course, they couldn’t care less.
Abortion? Ever dollar yanked from Planned Parenthood is one fewer dollar that will help women of meager means avoid unwanted pregnancies, meaning never ever having to ponder abortion.
Planned Parenthood prevents more abortions than any anti-abortion picketer, pompous preacher or religious-right lawmaker ever has or ever will.
These are realities that concerned Americans must express loudly and clearly. They must write. They must email and call. They must march. And let’s understand: The people can still be heard in Washington.
That’s what happened when schemers in the Republican House Caucus Room (“Temple of Doom” is copyrighted) attempted to lay waste to the Office of Congressional Ethics in a way that would make any disciplinary action secretive and toothless.
After a giant uproar — and a tweet from Trump about congressional priorities — the House GOP pulled the idea off the table.
What a slithery move. The Republicans hoped it would go unnoticed. Ultimately, though, it was the only thing that got noticed at all about the launch of the 115th Congress.
By the way, expect the GOP to attempt the ethics maneuver again. When you govern like corporations do, you confine untidy matters to the board room. But, of course, government is not like that.
A lot of Americans feel powerless at this alarming moment. They need to snap out of it.
In the movie, Indiana Jones fears snakes as much as anything — yet in the face of fanged adversaries he doesn’t lose his hat. Americans and a free press must hold the torch to this emboldened brood.