Grassroots conservatives who want to stop ObamaCare are making their voices heard. There is evidence that their elected representatives are starting to listen, and it is good.
When Congress left Washington for its August recess, the voices demanding action to prevent American taxpayers from paying for ObamaCare – described by its chief Senate author, Democrat Senator Max Baucus as a ‘train wreck’ – were faint and few.
Senator Mike Lee drafted a letter calling on the Senate to fund everything in the upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR), except ObamaCare.
Every Republican in the Senate is on the record calling for defunding, but only a handful would agree to put their name on the letter.
In the House it was more of the same. The GOP leadership in both chambers refused to lift a finger to help.
The response to this indifference was seismic. Thousands of Tea Party Patriots and like-minded citizens rallied in town halls across the nation in August. Tens of thousands flooded Congressional offices with phone calls, furious at this betrayal.
House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were rattled enough to float a plan defunding ObamaCare in the CR. Or so they hoped conservatives would believe.
That CR was doomed to failure from the start. Another CR was in the works, this one fully funding ObamaCare, and this one would surely pass.
The cynicism was breathtaking.
Republicans would vote to fund ObamaCare while telling their constituents they had voted to defund ObamaCare.
The grassroots were not fooled by this sleight of hand and thousands more rallied on the steps of the U.S. Capitol September 10 demanding an end to the chicanery. Tens of thousands more telephoned their representatives and told them they’re not buying this silly trick.
Within 48 hours, more than 30,000 Americans signed a Tea Party Patriots petition to send a message to Congress to stop the gimmicks.
Conservative members of Congress were equally outraged. Within 24 hours, the House leadership pulled the prepared CR. They did not have the votes.
During the course of this debate, those opposed to defunding—including many moderate and liberal Republicans—have relied primarily on false arguments.
Some have argued that ObamaCare cannot be defunded because much of the money is in the form of mandatory spending. This is a canard. Congress absolutely has the Constitutional authority to rescind mandatory spending and has already done so regarding portions of ObamaCare.
Another false narrative concerns the prospect of shutting down the federal government. But the CR would fund the entire government except ObamaCare. Any shutdown would be the result of Senate Democrats blocking the CR or President Obama vetoing it. It is they who would have to explain why they closed down the government to keep alive a disastrous law the
majority of Americans don’t want.
The liberal media, with a heavy assist from establishment Republicans, are pushing the angle that Republicans will face terrible retribution at the polls, as they supposedly did following the 1995 shutdown. Except that storyline is also untrue.
After the 1995 shutdown the Republicans added two Senate seats in the 1996 elections and lost only two in the House. Claims that Republicans will suffer massive defeat at the polls after a government shutdown are ignorant of the historical record. Or dishonest.
The more people learn about ObamaCare, the less they like it. In fact, support—below 40 percent—for this mess is at an all-time low.
To suggest that defunding ObamCare is a losing issue is ludicrous. The opposite is true.
Republicans will pay a brutal political price in 2014 if they don’t live up to their promise to do all they can to rid America of ObamaCare.
When constituents stand up at town hall meetings next August, with graphic examples of the damage ObamaCare is inflicting, how will their GOP representatives defend the decision to fund it when they could have stopped it?
If Mitt Romney thought his vote defections were high, he should ponder how Speaker Boehner will feel after the drubbing he’ll suffer next year.
Republican leaders can and must confidently defund what the Chicago Tribune labeled a “clumsy monstrosity" just a few weeks ago.
Voters across the political spectrum know how unfair ObamaCare is. They see the delays for big business, the special carve-outs for Congress and big labor, and the dramatic increases in premiums that will accompany a decrease in the quality and availability of health care. That is why they have rallied this summer and raised their voices in opposition to the law and to being forced to pay for it.
The path forward for congressional Republicans is simple. They must band together and tell Americans the truth, openly and unapologetically.
The best effort we have seen comes from Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) whose bill to fund the government throughout the coming year while defunding ObamaCare through 2015 is something all congressional Republicans should support -- immediately.
If President Obama shuts down the government, he will have to explain his petulance to the nation.
Success for the GOP lies not in capitulation to the left but in standing and fighting for the people who elected them. Principles and promises matter.
What began as an effort characterized by opponents as quixotic has become a powerful statement by the people. Americans are fed up with politicians who say one thing to get elected and do the opposite once they’re in office.
Congressional Republicans are now facing their own "Read My Lips" moment. They can either do what they pledged and defund this terrible law, or they can side with President Obama and the rest of the Washington ruling class.
Let us be clear: If Republicans vote to fund ObamaCare, they too will own it. The people they represent will judge them next November based on that vote. The choice is theirs.
L. Brent Bozell III is founder and president of the Media Research Center.
Jenny Beth Martin is co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, a national grassroots organization with more than 3500 chapters.