Jim DeMint was one of the most outspoken opponents to the president’s healthcare plan when he was in the Senate. Now, the conservative former South Carolina senator is going on the road this August in his new role as head of the Heritage Foundation to push for repeal of the law.
And while he may not have a vote anymore on funding the government, DeMint says he supports his former colleagues who say it’s all or nothing when it comes to defunding Obamacare. DeMint is backing threats from Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, who he helped elect, to not pass any funding bills unless health care implementation is blocked.
“What we know is, this law is unfair, it’s unaffordable, it’s unworkable and it's very unpopular,” DeMint said on Tuesday’s The Daily Rundown.
DeMint said the senators’ hardline stance against health care funding was the “right thing” to do.
“It's maybe our last chance to stop it, because millions of people are going to be signed up over the last few months,” said DeMint.
In last month’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, just 34% of Americans said they thought the health care bill was a good idea, with 47% seeing it as a bad idea.
In his new role as head of the conservative think tank, DeMint and Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham will hit the road for nine townhalls to drum up support to defund Obamacare, including Tampa, Nashville, and Dallas, where Cruz and his father will join them.
“If we're going to change the direction of the country, we have to build a consensus among the people of the right direction to go,” said DeMint. “That's not going to be expressed in political terms. it's going to be expressed in a way that people understand will make their life better.”
The possibility of a government shutdown has divided the GOP, especially Republican governors who told the New York Times over the weekend they worry about the effect such a move could have on their state’s economy.
And other members have also expressed skepticism and even outrage over GOP threats.
“The worst thing is being dishonest with your base about what you can accomplish, ginning everybody up and then creating disappointment,” Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told the Washington Examiner last week. “It’s a terribly dangerous and not successful strategy.”
But conservative groups could also use the defunding threat as leverage in primaries next year. While DeMint said Heritage wouldn’t be endorsing individual candidates, his former super PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, Tuesday morning noted they have had 15 Senate candidates sign their pledge to oppose all Obamacare funding, and that the “pledge will weight heavily in our endorsement decisions for the 2014 elections.”
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger, Matt Bevin, was among those who signed the pledge, and has pressured the GOP leader to block any funding, echoing a call he made at this weekend’s Fancy Farm.