- Congressman: McAuliffe victory means gun control a winning message
- Clinton aide admits soliciting disgraced D.C. fundraiser; says actions were legal
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror recruiter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
‘Defund Obamacare’ push to challenge GOP candidates; battle cry of primary foes
The push to defund President Obama’s health care law is becoming a litmus test for GOP midterm primaries, where insurgent candidates are using the issue to bash incumbent Republicans balking at being forced to choose between funding the law or shutting down the government.
In Kentucky, businessman challenger Matt Bevin said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to embrace the “defund Obamacare” strategy shows he is out of step with the state’s Republican voters. In South Carolina, Nancy Mace, a small-business owner who just this weekend announced her Senate campaign, said incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham should be punished for his failure to take on the Obamacare battle.
“We are trying to defund Obamacare,” Mrs. Mace said Monday during an appearance on WTMA-AM news talk radio in Charleston. “Whether you are Republican or a Democrat, nobody wants to implement it, and there are some folks up in Washington who are looking at the effort to defund Obamacare, our conservative leaders who are trying to do that, and Sen. Graham called that a ‘bridge too far.’”
A breakaway group of conservative Republicans — led by Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — are pressing lawmakers to sign a pledge to block funding for the Affordable Care Act in this fall’s looming budget battles — even if the push results in a shutdown of the government reminiscent of the 1995 standoff between President Clinton and congressional Republicans.
Critics of the strategy, including many veteran Republicans on Capitol Hill, warn that the fight will be futile on policy and counterproductive on politics. They say Republicans are likely to be portrayed as obstructionists and be blamed if a shutdown materializes.
But the campaign challengers say the primaries will give the party’s most committed supporters a chance to send reinforcements to the insurgent Republicans.
“This race is about Washington and sending someone there who is principled and who will not waver once they get there,” Mrs. Mace said. “It is about reining in the power in Washington as well, and it’s about getting someone who is going to join Sen. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, because that is the direction of the Republican Party.”
Mr. Bevin drove home a similar message over the weekend at the 133rd Fancy Farm picnic in Kentucky. He told the crowd that Mr. McConnell, who has delivered a number of speeches critical of the health care law, hasn’t backed up his remarks with any tangible victories to stop Obamacare.
“Stop talking about yanking it out root and branch, and start voting in the U.S. Senate to kill it by defunding it,” Mr. Bevin said. “Stand with Sen. Mike Lee! Be a man! Stand up, and put your money where your mouth is.”
The McConnell camp brushes off the charge and is portraying his challenger as a tax cheat.
“When Mitch began leading the fight against Obamacare in 2009, Matt Bevin was busy dodging his taxes,” said Jesse Benton, the McConnell campaign spokesman. “No one has fought Obamacare longer or harder than Mitch McConnell.”
Still, Republican strategists say Mr. Bevin and Mrs. Mace are smart to use this line of attack because it resonates with the base of the party and primary voters who are not interested in hearing drawn-out explanations from the incumbents about why the strategy isn’t sound. It also gives Mr. Bevin and Mrs. Mace a way to tie the incumbents to the status quo in Washington.
Taking a stand
The Republican-controlled House has voted to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act more than 40 times, but none of the measures stood a chance of becoming law. The sense of urgency within the Republican ranks has increased as the Obama administration prepares to enroll Americans in state-by-state insurance markets Oct. 1, which also marks the beginning of the fiscal year.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- David Jolly wins in Florida, GOP keeps swing district seat
- Hard-fought congressional election in Florida is seen as a bellwether
- Former Iowa GOP chief takes post with Rand Paul PAC
- CPAC 2014: Straw poll signals Paul-Cruz showdown for conservative voters
- CPAC 2014: Poll shows GOP discontent, Congress frustration
Latest Blog Entries
- Most New Jersey voters say Gov. Chris Christie lied
- Political handicapper: GOP poised to win House seats in 2014
- Axelrod: Christie can recover from the bridge scandal
- ACLJ: Appointment of Obama supporter to lead IRS probe 'troubling'
- Americans support minimum wage increase, extending jobless benefits: poll
TWT Video Picks
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
- David Jolly wins in Florida, GOP keeps swing district seat
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- House Democrats trying to force unemployment insurance vote
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Redskins bypass big splash - for now - as free agency period begins
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again