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Politico's Roger Simon: 'Extreme Right-Wing' Is Taking the GOP 'Hostage'

On CNN Tuesday, Politico's Roger Simon slammed the "extreme right-wing" for using "food as a political weapon," for taking the GOP "hostage," and for denying "health care to eleven million people" in favor of a shutdown.

"The extreme right-wing of the Republican Party has taken that party hostage, at least in the House of Representatives," Simon ranted. He summarized their current position on the shutdown: "[W]e would rather shut down the government than extend health care to 11 million people."

[Video below. Audio here.]

In his tirade, he claimed that Congress is also okay with "800,000 people" being "out of work":

"I think there's sort of a meanness of spirit that has crept into our politics and into our daily lives that's become the new normal. And people are going to say well, 800,000 people are out of work. That's okay, I've got my job. Let's just keep it this way."

Simon also slammed Republicans for using "food as a political weapon":

"Look at the one of the few things this House has actually done. The week before last they passed a bill to cut $40 billion from food stamps. Food stamps! Do we really need to use food as a political weapon?"

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on October 1 at 9:34 a.m. EDT:

CAROL COSTELLO: When it comes to those House members, though, my next guest calls them, quote, "frauds on the hill who are targeting President Obama." Roger Simon is the chief political correspondent for Politico. He now joins me from Washington. Good morning.

ROGER SIMON, chief political correspondent, Politico: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: Care to make a prediction on how long this partial shutdown will last?

SIMON: I was here for the last shutdown and I'm more pessimistic this time. I think there's sort of a meanness of spirit that has crept into our politics and into our daily lives that's become the new normal. And people are going to say, well, 800,000 people are out of work. That's okay. I've got my job. Let's just keep it this way.

COSTELLO: Really, you've become that cynical?

SIMON: Well, you know, I don't think it's cynical this time. I really think it's realistic. I mean look at one of the few things this House has actually done. A week before last, they passed a bill to cut $40 billion from food stamps. Food stamps! I mean, do we really need to use food as a political weapon? That makes me pessimistic about who we're dealing with.

COSTELLO: You write in your piece last night, you wrote, quote, "we live in a time when outright buffonnery passes for statesmanship, when a 21-hour non-filibuster filibuster by Senator Ted Cruz leads not to general hilarity, but serious consideration of how it will help Cruz run for president in 2016." Now, in fairness, many conservative Republicans admire Ted Cruz for doing just this because they're afraid that Obamacare will affect their lives adversely.

SIMON: They do. And you use – you use the word fairness, and that's a proper use – proper word to use. Nothing would please me more than to say, the Republicans are partly guilty, the Democrats are partly guilty. Come on, you guys, just hug it out. Let's solve this thing. But rarely have I seen an instance when one party is so much more responsible, guilty, than the other. The extreme right –  

COSTELLO: You know what – you know what Republicans out there are saying right now? You're just partisan and Politico is a liberal blog.

SIMON: I'm not partisan. I am a columnist. I'm allowed to have opinions. I've run columns attacking the President. But I don't have to prove my journalistic, you know, instincts and credo by attacking a side that shouldn't be attacked. The extreme right-wing of the Republican Party has taken that party hostage, at least in the House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is a decent man. He's not an extremist. But he's a weak man. The old phrase comes to mind, I could carve a better man out of a banana. He is not going to challenge the extremists in his own party because he wants to hang on to his job.

COSTELLO: But –

SIMON: One – yesh

COSTELLO: But couldn't you argue – I mean there is a Democratic president in the White House and the Democrats still control the Senate. So why are they powerless, you know, against this small group of what you call extremists in the House of Representatives?

SIMON: Because all they can do is block things if you only control one house of Congress. We are a system when both houses of Congress have to agree to pass things, including a budget. And this isn't the dilemma we are in. The Republicans are saying, give in to us because we don't want – we would rather shut down the government than extend health care to 11 million people. That's our position.

The other side, the Democrats should accept that as the starting point and then we'll let people go back to work. The Democrats are saying, ObamaCare was passed by Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court. He ran on it a second time in 2012 and was re-elected by 5 million votes. This is the law. It's operating today. That is the flaw in the Republican thinking. Even shutting down the government does not shut down Obamacare. So what are they accomplishing?

COSTELLO: Well, we'll see if they accomplish anything today. Roger Simon, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

— Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matt Hadro on Twitter.