Located on the far right, it’s unsurprising that Tea Party members have been integral in the anti-ObamaCare holdup with the spending bill — and the resultant government shutdown. In fact, many Republicans have pointed to Tea Party-endorsed Senator Cruz (R-Tex.) as the leading strategist behind the shutdown. But what exactly is the strategy here?
According to Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder and national coordinator for the Tea Party, the plan is simple — protect American’s from ObamaCare at any cost. Though the specifics of that plan may still be vague.
“What we [Tea Party members] have done is made sure that the Americans across this country who are loosing their jobs, and their hours, and their wages, and their health insurance, and their doctors because of the ObamaCare law — they are having the opportunity now to speak to congress and make sure that this law is not funded,” said Martin in an interview with NPR.
When asked why Republicans would bring ObamaCare back onto the table for debate — long after the legislation had passed — Martin explained that while Republicans “worked to make that case,” the Democrat controlled House and Senate at that time passed the Affordable Care Act, and “ignored the will of the people … and still the majority of Americans do not want to live under ObamaCare.”
Most Democrats, notably Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), argue that the use of the spending bill as leverage towards other political goals is an inappropriate time and place for the argument. “The fact is that you’ve got to dig a little bit behind the surface here of what this is really about,” said Boxer in an interview, according to the Washington Post. “Whatever the issue is, this is about government by threats, government by one side making its demands.”
Conversely, Martin talked about the situation more in terms of a legitimate democratic process. “Elections count and … the votes in Congress count, and so the election results from last year elected Republicans to control the House of Representatives.”
Tea Party sentiment is that, as a majority in Congress, it is reasonable to make progress towards improving government by utilizing whatever resources are at hand — for example, the spending bill. President Obama criticized this viewpoint in an interview with the Associated Press, referencing his own time working in Congress. “I certainly didn’t go around trying to shut down the government,” said Obama.
“I recognize that in today’s media age, being controversial, taking controversial positions, rallying the most extreme parts of your base, whether it’s left or right, is a lot of times the fastest way to get attention and raise money — but it’s not good for government,” said Obama.