The Heritage Foundation, the right-wing think tank headed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), has been on the front lines of the war against the health reform law over the past year. Over the summer, Heritage launched a town hall tour to try to drum up support for defunding Obamacare. The group was instrumental in advocating for the current government shutdown over the health law, and has repeatedly attempted to keep the funding negotiations focused on Obamacare. To justify the strategy, DeMint has claimed that Obamacare poses a bigger threat to the country than a government shutdown.
But now, the conservative group appears to be shifting its rhetoric to admit that getting rid of Obamacare isn’t actually feasible.
In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, the CEO for Heritage Action — the group’s political activist arm — acknowledged that “everybody understands that we’ll not be able to repeal this law until 2017.” CEO Michael Needham conceded that “we have to win the Senate and win the White House” in order to get rid of the health reform law.
Indeed, Republicans in the House have already wasted over 40 separate votes on efforts to dismantle Obamacare, all of which have gone nowhere. Shutting down the government didn’t actually do anything to halt the law, either.
Heritage claims that “repeal” and “defund and delay” are two separate strategies, and a spokesperson for Heritage Action began reiterating that on Twitter after the Fox News segment aired. But even though they may be different end goals, they ultimately rely on the same political tactic that Heritage acknowledges is doomed to fail. Just like Democrats won’t approve a piece of legislation that repeals Obamacare, they also won’t agree to pass a bill that delays or defunds it.
That reality isn’t lost on the increasing number of mainstream Republicans who are growing weary of the current shutdown fight. GOP senators have pointed out that “defunding Obamacare did not work” and it’s time for a more realistic strategy. Veteran Republicans are accusing the Tea Party of creating a distraction by focusing on Obamacare at the expense of the GOP’s reputation as a whole.
The American people haven’t been swayed by Heritage’s unsuccessful anti-Obamacare crusade, either. The vast majority of the public doesn’t support delaying or defunding Obamacare, and the health law has actually gotten more popular since Republicans shut down the government over it.