In the wake of 40 votes to defund Obamacare and a growing movement that threatens to shut down the government, Tea Partiers are shifting the blame for health care law's continued existence onto an unlikely person: Republican Speaker John Boehner.
A group of Tea Party activists held a rally outside of Boehner's Ohio office Tuesday, threatening to start calling the Affordable Care Act "BoehnerCare" if the Speaker doesn't block all spending legislation which doesn't include a retraction of Obamacare. The filibuster these right-wing groups advocate would result in a government shutdown on Sept. 30th, the deadline for passing another continuing resolution to fund the government for the next fiscal year.
"BoehnerCare" is the brainchild of conservative radio host Mark Levin.
"I think I’m going to call it BoehnerCare, if I can remember from time to time, certainly more often, because Boehner won’t even fight," Levin said on his show last week. "Boehner, he’s just-–is the word ‘pathetic’ appropriate? I think it's appropriate.”
Janet Porter, president of Tea Party group Faith2Action, turned Levin's Boehner-blame into something of a slogan: "If he funds it, he will own it."
For his part, Boehner seems to be ignoring the pressure. Last week he said in a statement that the House GOP's "intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels."
The Speaker and those who protested outside his Ohio office Tuesday represent the two Republican postures toward the Affordable Care Act. As Brian Butler writes in Salon, while "the entire [Republican] movement is united behind the belief that Obamacare needs to be repealed, only part of it has accepted the obvious fact that the 2012 election put that goal nearly out of reach." Stymied, one side is attacking the other for acquiescing to a law that almost certainly won't be repealed in a divided Congress, with a Democratic president whose name is the law's colloquial title (or used to be).
Even Mitt Romney, whose presidential platform included a day-one repeal of Obamacare, has come out to warn fellow GOPers against a government shutdown, fearing that Obamacare would get its funding in the end, and all the GOP would have to show for itself is a few days when soldiers didn't get their paychecks. Most Republican party leaders have the same attitude.
Still, 80 congressional Republicans (more than a third of the caucus) have insisted Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor hold firm for the shutdown. In their letter, these members quote James Madison's Federalist papers: "Power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon...for obtaining a redress of every grievance."
In styling the Affordable Care Act "BoehnerCare," Tea Partiers may be hoping that name-calling proves to be an even more complete and effectual weapon.