Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
WASHINGTON – Fed up with his refusal to consider defunding Obamacare, protesters took the fight right into the backyard of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
A “Pull the Plug” rally was held Tuesday afternoon at Boehner’s congressional district office in Troy, Ohio.
Activists are trying a new tactic, threatening to pin the blame for Obamacare on Boehner if he doesn’t try to stop its implementation.
Protest organizers said they will begin referring to the federal health-care law as “Boehnercare” unless the speaker uses the House’s power of the purse to remove all funding for the Affordable Care Act.
“If he funds it, he will own it,” said Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, adding that Obamacare must be stopped to prevent the IRS from deciding who lives and who dies.
The protest was aimed at Boehner after 80 members of Congress signed a letter to the speaker asking to “defund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress.”
“The speaker needs to listen to his base instead of liberal Democrats and the media who will never support him,” said Lori Viars, vice president of Warren County Right to Life.
“Congress controls the purse strings, and Republicans control Congress,” she added. “Speaker Boehner has the power to stop Obamacare; we are calling on him to use it.
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell declared, “Symbolic votes against Obamacare are great, but now it’s time to pull the plug on funding the monstrosity that threatens our lives and livelihoods.”
The congressman leading the anti-funding effort in the House, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told WND, “The will of the majority of the American people is with us in wanting to move money we would have to spend on Obamacare to other critical areas that have seen substantial cutbacks.”
Because so many GOP lawmakers feel this is the last chance to stop implementation of Obamacare, they are resorting to a bold but politically risky strategy outlined by WND last month, to put Democrats on the defensive and make them rescue the increasingly unpopular and imploding law.
Instead of approving any bills with funding for the implementation of Obamacare, House Republicans would approve a series of bills funding all government services except the health-care law.
GOP lawmakers hope passing all the bills needed to keep the government running would prevent Democrats from accusing Republicans of pushing for a government shutdown over Obamacare.
The idea is that would put the burden on the Democrats to keep the government running and force a showdown in which GOP lawmakers could essentially tell them, “Take it or leave it.”
While Republicans have the constitutional power to defund Obamacare, because their control of the House gives them the power of the purse, the question is whether they will act on it.
However, Boehner has remained unwilling to take that risk and has expressed concern that Republicans will take the blame for a shutdown, even if Democrats are responsible.
On a conference call last week, he warned GOP House members against pursuing a defunding strategy, reminding them Republicans took the blame for the government shutdown in 1995-1996.
Instead, Boehner has advocated passing a short-term measure to fund the government, including Obamacare, until around December while keeping in place the spending cuts known as the sequester.
Boehner reportedly told colleagues, “We will also continue to implement the plan to stop Obamacare that I outlined last month. The delays the administration has been forced to implement in the health-care law have given us a golden opportunity to talk about fairness: If big business gets relief from the president’s health-care law, families and small businesses should, too.
The Obama administration already has begun to blame the GOP for the prospect of a government shutdown.
A letter sent Tuesday by BarackObama.com states, “It appears that the extreme heat in Washington is starting to get to some members in the House. That’s the only conclusion you can draw when 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have proudly come out in support of shutting down the government before providing any funding for Obamacare.”
And Organizing for Action, the group pushing the president’s agenda, sent a letter stating, “In case you missed it, here’s the latest plan being pushed by some members of the House: Cut all funding for Obamacare, or shut down the government.”
Still, many Republicans are willing to take the risk of being blamed for a shutdown because they see this as the last chance to stop Obamcare for two reasons: 1) The law goes fully into effect at the start of 2014, and 2) there’s an approaching Sept. 30 deadline for appropriations.
Congress has been keeping the government running in recent years with stopgap measures known as continuing resolutions. This year those laws expire just as open enrollment begins for the health-care exchanges called for in Obamacare.
Many Republicans also believe the time is right to try to stop Obamacare because of its growing unpopularity.