Tea Party allies and rising-star Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) headlined the demonstration to build momentum for defunding the health care law when Congress is forced to consider legislation to continue government spending beyond the end of September. Tuesday’s event, sponsored by ForAmerica, Tea Party Patriots and Young Americans for Liberty, took on an uncompromising tone characteristic of the fight.
“Do you want half of Obamacare?” Paul rhetorically asked the audience to a unified reply of “No!”
“How about a quarter of it?” Same response.
“How about we defund the whole damn thing!” Then came the rousing applause.
Speaker after speaker sustained the uniform stand for defunding the law, with most invoking anti-Washington rhetoric and pointing to the unpopularity of Obamacare across the country. A Rasmussen Reports survey from as recent as early September, for instance, showed that a majority of respondents disapprove of the law.
“Obamacare is not controversial — it is universally despised [outside the Beltway],” Lee said.
Featured guests, including Cruz, called on those in attendance to carry that sentiment forward in the “defund Obamacare” effort.
“I can’t win this fight,” Cruz began. “Mike Lee can’t win this fight. Rand Paul can’t win this fight. No elected official in Washington can win this fight. Only you can win this fight.”
Advocates on Tuesday were firming up their stances in response to reports that House leadership was weighing the possibility of introducing two plans — one that defunded Obamacare and the other a “clean” one to fund the government — leaving open the possibility that a spending agreement without the Obamacare provision could be enacted. Cruz said that such a strategy amounted to “procedural tricks”.
“It’s abundantly clear here, yet it’s a little confusing in that building,” Cruz said, pointing to the Capitol.
The rally’s attendees were an engaged and well-equipped bunch, with many waving flags of different colors and captions: one group held an Indiana state flag, many others flew the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flags of the Revolutionary era, and one coupled a Marine flag with an American one seemingly large enough to dwarf the Capitol reflecting pool. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), a speaker at the event, called such an enthusiastic reception “fantastic, especially on a hot day like this.”
Two individuals who weathered such elements were Charles and Lucy Ruhl of the Roanoke, Va. area. Ms. Ruhl said that she made the journey from southwest Virginia to stand with others embracing liberty and opposing the invasiveness of the health care law.
“Nothing is a choice between a patient and their doctor anymore,” she said. “The law is an albatross.”
Charles Ruhl added that while lifting its weight through the defunding tactic is “clearly a risk”, it’s a warranted one given what he said lawmakers were sent to Washington to do.
“In the 2010 election, that’s what swept so many Republicans into the House — that they would stand against Obamacare.”