Think U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski is soft on Obamacare?
She offered a blistering attack on the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, as President Obama’s health care overhaul is more formally known, at a town hall meeting this week. She also inked a letter urging U.S. House leaders to strip the measure of funding in looming government spending talks. While the letter doesn’t call for a government shutdown, some strategists think if House leaders agree to the move, a shutdown or the threat of a shutdown, could result.
Every opportunity that arises to vote to de-fund Obamacare, “I’m going to vote to de-fund Obamacare,” Walorski, a Republican from Elkhart, said at the Rochester town hall meeting, according to a recording of the event.
She went on, citing the anti-Obamacare sentiment in the 2nd District, which includes Elkhart County.
“This district overwhelmingly has said repeal and de-fund Obamacare,” said Walorski, long a critic of Obamacare as a costly government intrusion. “So I can tell you — you can take just about any other congressman, especially in my freshman class, (and) you’re going to be hard-pressed to find somebody who’s on the mission I’m on to de-fund Obamacare.”
Still, her talk in Rochester on Wednesday, Aug. 21, wasn’t as strong on the notion of a government shutdown, and that irked Ty Bancroft, who attended the meeting. Bancroft, a businessman from New Carlisle and anti-Obamacare advocate, took part in a rally outside Walorski’s Mishawaka office last week to press her on the ACA question. He also put the Obamacare query to her in Rochester.
As Bancroft sees it, if a government shutdown is necessary to halt the ACA — part of the seeming strategy of conservative groups pushing the issue like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action — so be it. He wanted to hear similar talk from Walorski — who has backed numerous other efforts to halt Obamacare — but feels he didn’t get it.
“If it requires a shutdown of the government to get your point across, then I guess that’s what it’s going to take,” Bancroft said Friday.
Walorski, asked to comment on the prospects of a government shutdown, offered a more tempered statement in Rochester.
“Nobody in the House is talking about shutting down the government,” she answered. “The only person talking about shutting down the government is Barack Obama, and I’ve heard him three times now talking about shutting down the government.”
INCENTIVE TO COMPROMISE?
In fact, FreedomWorks implicitly acknowledges that a government shutdown, or the threat of one, is part of the anti-Obamacare strategy, despite the apparent opposition of some Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner. FreedomWorks, linked in an early incarnation to the conservative Koch brothers, pushed for the rally at Walorski’s Mishawaka office and other lawmakers’ offices around the country to promote the anti-Obamacare cause.
More specifically, the group is pressing House Republicans to support a bill to de-fund the health care measure as part of looming debate over a spending resolution to keep the federal government funded in the months to come. It’s also asking Republican lawmakers to sign on to a letter pressing Boehner on the de-fund strategy, an effort geared at forcing the hand of Democrats.
Walorski is one of 138 GOP co-sponsors of the bill;http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:HR02682:@@@P[/URL] and has [URL]signed on to the letter, along with 79 other conservative Republicans.
“(U.S. Sen. Majority Leader) Harry Reid and his Democrats will have no incentive to compromise unless they know the Republicans are willing to take a hard stance — even allowing the government to be shut down, if necessary — in order to stop the catastrophically unworkable and unaffordable health care law from taking effect this January,” says a blog post on the FreedomWorks website.
Per the FreedomWorks logic, if the GOP-led House passes a continuing resolution de-funding Obamacare, the Democrat-led Senate would be forced to go along. If Democrats were to balk, preventing implementation of a new appropriations measure, they would risk being blamed for the resulting government shutdown as appropriations for continued spending dry up.
Boehner, for one, warns against such a strategy and, in a conference call on Thursday with Republicans, pointed to backlash the GOP faced during a government shutdown in the mid 1990s, according to Reuters.
‘ON A MISSION’
In criticizing Obamacare, Walorski also rejected any notion of being beholden to Boehner or bowing to pressure from House leaders on the de-fund question.
“John Boehner doesn’t vote for me. I don’t ask John Boehner’s opinion,” Walorski said. “I don’t go soliciting advice from leadership. If you heard how my colleagues describe me, it’s, ‘Don’t set her off,’ and, ‘Look out if you get in her way.’... I’ve taken them on.”
She elaborated later on, saying her commitment is to the 2nd District.
“So the answer to the question is, I don’t care what John Boehner thinks about it. I’m not asking John Boehner,” Walorski said. “I have my marching orders, my marching orders are from you. And I’m on a mission.”