Topics: House of Representatives

Morning Examiner: House Republicans looking for sweet spot on Obamacare defunding

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If you were hoping that members of Congress were going to face noisy protesters demanding citizenship for illegal immigrants at their town halls, so far this August has been a complete disappointment for you. President Obama’s Organizing for America’s plan to push amnesty at Republican town halls has been a total fizzle.

The conservative movement’s push to defund Obamacare, however, has produced plenty of summertime fireworks. Tea Party activists across the country are confronting House Republican members about their support for Sen. Mike Lee’s, R-Utah, push to defund Obamacare via the forthcoming Continuing Resolution, and they are not liking some of the responses they are getting.

‘You got your answer’
In one typical exchange, Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., was asked by a constituent in Charlotte, “This is what the Tea Party wants to know: Will you vote with Mike Lee to defund Obamacare? Yes or no.” Pettenger then dismissively responded, “No. You got your answer.”

That response did not sit well with the crowd and Pittenger’s office was forced to issue a clarification later: “Because Democrats control both the Senate and White House, I am also pushing efforts to repeal the most damaging portions of Obamacare,” Pittenger’s statement reads, “including a provision that would force student workers and single parents to purchase insurance they don’t need or can’t afford.”

But Pittenger still refused to fight Obamacare through the CR. “While I support efforts to defund Obamacare, the political reality is that goal is not currently achievable. … Voting for this sort of collateral damage is irresponsible and a misguided effort to fight Obamacare.”

Conservatives just want Republicans to fight
Pittenger’s refusal to fight Obamacare through the CR will not be tolerated by his constituents, and conservatives nationwide will not tolerate surrender from the House leadership either. During the Charlotte town hall exchange, a woman can be heard yelling, “Will you make a stand to get conservatives back on board?… It doesn’t matter what Harry Reid does, we need to show the American people we stand for conservative values.”

Another constituent shouted a similar sentiment at a Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. town hall in Lincoln Monday. “We elected Republicans to fight for more conservative policies,” the Nebraskan unhappy with Fortenberry’s refusal to fight Obamacare through the CR said.

Something must be done
While a complete defunding of Obamacare through the CR may not be attainable this year, some conservative activists in Washington are uniting around a strategy that attacks other pillars of Obamacare through the CR. American for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Wednesday, urging House Republicans, “to insist on, at minimum as part of any final deal, a one-year delay of all 2014 provisions (including mandates, subsidies, and taxes) in the upcoming CR and in fiscal negotiations with the White House.”

The letter, signed by respected conservative health care experts like James Capretta and Avik Roy, goes on to say, “Without a complete, workable verification system to protect taxpayers it would be reckless to allow tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to flow in subsidies. And there is a real risk that navigators, in their zeal to enroll people, will accidentally or even intentionally induce people to accept subsidies for which they do not qualify, risking steep IRS fines and audits. The money should not flow when the law’s verification provisions are not ready to be enforced.”

The Republican town halls so far this August have shown that a complete surrender on Obamacare in the CR is simply unacceptable to the base. Something must be done. The challenge for House leaders will be finding the right hill to fight on when Congress returns after Labor Day.

From The Washington Examiner
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Joel Gehrke: Emails show Ron Paul campaign negotiated to buy Iowa senator’s endorsement
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Tim Carney: In defense of populist rhetoric
Conn Carroll: Taxes rising faster under Obama than under any other president
Phil Klein: Obamacare and the shift to part-time work
Michal Conger: HHS-IG fears Obamacare co-ops will run out of money before enrolling first customers
Susan Ferrechio: Darrell Issa says FEC coordinated with IRS on tax-exempt groups
David Drucker: Republicans debate who would get blame in government shutdown

In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, Diplomatic Rift With Putin Grows as Obama Cancels: President Barack Obama’s decision to pull out of a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next month punctuates a steady decline in relations and represents an unusually sharp rebuke for an administration pledged to engaging adversaries.
McClatchy Newspapers, Security concerns jeopardize October opening of health insurance marketplaces: The opening of the health insurance marketplaces in October – key to Obamacare – is in jeopardy because of looming questions about information security. The problem stems from tight deadlines that must be met to ensure the security of data moving through an information system that supports the marketplaces, sometimes referred to as exchanges, according to a new government watchdog report.
Reuters, IRS manual detailed DEA’s use of hidden intel evidence: Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
The New York Times, Broader Sifting of Data Abroad Is Seen by N.S.A.: The National Security Agency is hunting for messages that mention foreigners under surveillance, not just communications with the targeted individuals themselves, officials said.

Lefty Playbook
Greg Sargent advises Democrats on how to win the war over Obamacare.
David Dayen says Obama’s Plan for Fannie and Freddie Just Repeats Old Mistakes.
Think Progress attacks six states for for wanting “To Allow Health Insurers To Deny Coverage To Sick People.”

Righty Playbook
The Heritage Foundation posts 5 Immigration Questions to ask at townhalls.
Michael Mazza on Obama’s ‘Cold War mentality’ cop out.
Avik Roy on Crony Capitalist Hospitals.

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