The Times West Virginian

Headline News

September 22, 2013

‘Obamacare’ plan unnerves some in GOP

WASHINGTON — Ted Cruz and Mike Lee stand as the Senate’s dynamic duo for conservatives, crusading against President Barack Obama’s health care law while infuriating many congressional Republicans with a tactic they consider futile, self-serving and detrimental to the party’s political hopes in 2014.

Cruz, the Texan who’s been anything but a wait-your-turn freshman, and Lee, the tea party-backed giant slayer from Utah’s 2010 election, spent months this summer pressuring Republicans to link any stopgap spending bill to keep the government running with permanently starving President Barack Obama’s health overhaul of money.

The two former Supreme Court clerks are determined to reverse what the conservative court of Chief Justice John Roberts upheld in 2012 — Obama’s signature domestic law.

The senators scored a win Friday when the Republican-led House, pushed by rambunctious rank-and-file members, passed a spending measure that would unravel the law. But the approach faces near-certain defeat in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where lawmakers in both parties complain that Cruz and Lee have pushed a losing cause.

In the meantime, their strategy has roiled many in the GOP, with plenty of public and private carping. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, subtly challenged Cruz and Lee to back up their words next week.

“I expect my Senate colleagues to be up for the battle,” Boehner said.

Several Republicans complain that the tactic could lead to a government shutdown on Oct. 1, the start of the new budget year, that would undercut the GOP politically as the party faces a Democratic president weakened by missteps on Syria.

They question Cruz and Lee’s uncompromising approach, which has raised money for outside conservative groups and provided them with more than 1 million signatures on a “Defund It” petition; those are names that could be mined for future fundraising. Cruz’s recent political moves have stirred talk of a 2016 presidential run.

Some Republicans privately fume that Cruz and Lee, stars of “Defund Obamacare” ads from the Senate Conservatives Fund, come off as the only two Republicans opposed to the health care law when in fact Republicans were united for months against Obama and the Democrats in trying to head off the law in 2009 and still vehemently oppose it.

Looking ahead to next year’s elections, Republican Sen. Bob Corker said he held a fundraiser at his Tennessee home for the state’s senior senator, Lamar Alexander, a steady conservative who is seeking a third term.

“Now he’s (Alexander) using that money to defend himself against ads that Republicans are helping create,” said Corker said, questioning whether the defund ads were “a thoughtful way of going about changing policy.”

Alexander has countered any misperceptions with a commercial spot that highlights his 23 votes against the health care law, describes him as leading the “conservative fight against Obamacare” and shows his winter 2010 exchange with Obama over premium costs at a White House forum with lawmakers.

The internecine fight, brutally on display in GOP primaries in Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, could undermine the GOP’s legitimate shot at winning a Senate majority next year. Twenty-one Democratic seats are on state ballots next year compared with 14 Republican, and the GOP will need to gain six seats to win control of the 100-member chamber.

“I hate Obamacare,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “I think it’s one of the worst things that’s been peddled off on America. I don’t blame anybody for doing what they can to try to kill it, but there should be an end game.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called the combination of defunding “Obamacare” and the spending bill a “political ploy.”

Still, Cruz and Lee press ahead, with a showdown in the Senate this coming week. Conservatives and tea partyers are ecstatic.

JoAnn Fleming, an activist in the Kingwood Tea Party in East Texas, praised Cruz for his singular quest. She commended him for cutting through the noise, which she defined as “those people in the Republican Party who always have an excuse for not doing the right thing.”

“They think a freshman is just supposed to come to Washington and sit down and shut up, and Ted Cruz is not at all like that,” said Fleming, who also heads the citizen’s advisory committee to the Tea Party Caucus in the Texas Legislature. “We didn’t elect him to go to Washington to just sit down and fall in line with the rest of them. And so he’s done exactly what we sent him to Washington to do.”

Fleming said people lined up three hours to four hours in advance for one of Cruz’ “defund” tour stops this summer in Texas. An activist for 21 years, Fleming said she never saw anything like it.

The 42-year-old Cruz stunned the Republican establishment in 2012, capturing the GOP nomination from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who had the money and the backing of Gov. Rick Perry.

Cruz, a Cuban-American with an Ivy League resume, time as Texas solicitor general and a Supreme Court clerkship with the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, created headlines in his first few months in the Senate with a fierce challenge to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s nomination.

Cruz promised this past week to do “everything and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” including a possible filibuster, describing the law as a job killer.

Lee said that although the conventional wisdom is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has the votes to stop their effort, “in the meantime, those of us who feel strongly that Obamacare needs to be defunded will continue with our message.”

In several fundraising appeals, Lee has warned that Obama, Democrats, the media and “even some from own party” are lying about his efforts to defund “Obamacare,” saying he’s trying to shut down the government. Not so, says Lee, who argues that he’s trying to keep the government operating and end the health care law.

“The point is Obamacare ought to be able to stand on its own merits,” Lee said. “The law is increasingly unpopular with the American people, causing increasing amount of uncertainty among Americans. Most Americans currently believe that Obamacare’s impact will make their family health care situation worse, not better.”

The health care law and the tea party’s furious response helped propel Lee to Washington in 2010. The 42-year-old Lee, the son of President Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, Rex Lee, and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, snatched the Senate seat from Republican Sen. Robert Bennett.

He challenged Bennett over the incumbent’s backing for the 2008 financial bailout. Lee has remained steadfast in sticking to his conservative approach without compromise.

“I will not vote for spending legislation that votes for Obamacare,” Lee said.

Cruz and Lee continue to appear in the Senate Conservatives Fund ads, and the organization reported raising $1.8 million so far this year, according to the Federal Election Commission. The ads are running nationwide — in Republican and Democratic leaning states.

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Senate changes House bill for highway funds

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued transportation programs in recent years.

    July 29, 2014

  • State close to national average in credit card debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills.

    July 29, 2014

  • New VA secretary confirmed by Senate

    The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board to meet on dangerous animals list

    CHARLESTON (AP) — A board tasked with compiling a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia will consider one that’s shorter than a list suggested earlier.

    July 28, 2014

  • Clinton impeachment shadows GOP lawsuit against Obama

    The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily.

    July 28, 2014

  • Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 28, 2014

  • Obama Exporting Pollu_time.jpg ‘Not in my backyard’: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

    As  the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.
    This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of this exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure, or even talk about.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S.: Russia fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border.
    The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

    July 28, 2014

  • Plan to simplify health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.
    Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.
    If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they’ll owe the tax man later.

    July 28, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads