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FreedomWorks Summit Takeaway: Washington Versus America

Bloggers and activists from around the nation gathered at FreedomWorks this September 6-8 for a Defund ObamaCare Summit, where they discussed the consequences of ObamaCare and the strategies being used by Democrats and some Republicans to keep the law in place.

Attendees at the summit learned to counter the most substantive arguments – many of which have been ironically formulated by Republican congressional leadership – to support the funding of ObamaCare. The message was simple: Why fund a law that no one believes will work with money the federal government doesn’t have?

Effective messengers – like Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee – clearly explain that their intent is to shut the entitlement program down—not the government. Unfortunately, few would argue that Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor are principled leaders or effective messengers. So Boehner and Cantor’s only option is to try to appease Democrats, hoping that Democrats will occasionally lob a compliment their way.

One misguided rationale by the GOP establishment is that defunding ObamaCare would be unpopular. Karl Rove’s group Crossroads conducted a poll asking if Americans would a support a “government shutdown” in order to defund “healthcare reform.” They said no by a margin of 64 to 29 percent. Yet when wording changes to reflect that it is “Obama’s Health Care Law,” support withers to less than 40 percent.

Another flawed compromise is that Republicans should work on repealing the most unpopular parts of the law. In other words, Republicans should do Democrats’ work by improving the law – by eliminating “death panels,” the medical device tax, and so on – until it’s just short of being too intrusive or expensive enough to work. Their claim is that Republicans shouldn’t work to limit government; they should simply work to make bad programs more effective.

You can find more of the arguments, courtesy of FreedomWorks Legislative Affairs Manager Josh Withrow, by clicking here.

Jackie Bodnar, FreedomWorks Communications Director, suggested that conservatives should address health care issues from a place of compassion. “More choices in any marketplace means a better quality of life for you and the people you care about,” she explained. “We should be listening to people’s stories and explaining why a one-size-fits all mandated program ends up hurting the people it was designed to help. And if our representatives won’t engage constituents on the issues that matter and stand up for good policy when it counts, then we will take it to them instead.”

If the week to pass has been any indicator, conservatives are already taking that message to heart. Katrina Pierson (R-TX) announced Thursday that she would challenge House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions in the Republican primary next year. Sessions recently attacked Sen. Ted Cruz & Rep. Michele Bachmann for trying to defund ObamaCare, making the bizarre claim that he could not get a copy of the legislation from them. (The legislation, sponsored by Cruz in the Senate, is S.1292; in the House, authored by Reps. Tom Graves & Jim Bridenstine, it is H.R. 2682.)

If Sessions and his friends put half the effort into attacking Democrats that they put into attacking conservatives, they would face fewer challengers and be more “electable.” That is, after all, what they claim to be after when they work against overwhelming public opinion on issues like ObamaCare and American involvement in Syria.

Matt Kibbe closed the weekend out with a speech on Sunday, remarking, “It’s no longer Republicans versus Democrats… It’s Washington D.C. versus America.”