There’s a lot of chatter today on Twitter about this video, which shows GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina getting prodded by Tea Partyers to say whether he will vote to defund Obamacare.
Pittenger’s answer: A flat “No.” He tries to explain himself by noting that Obamacare is not going to get defunded while Democrats control the Senate, but his Tea Party listeners don’t appear persuaded by that explanation:
I checked in with Pittenger’s office, and his aides were very eager to demonstrate that the Congressman’s anti-Obamacare bona fides are unimpeachable.
His office pointed to at least a dozen bills that Pittenger has co-sponsored that involve the repeal of Obamacare in some way or other. In a statement, Pittenger said:
While I support efforts to defund Obamacare, the political reality is that goal is not currently achievable. Senator Harry Reid would never let it pass the Senate, and President Obama would never sign it into law.
Of course, all the Obamacare repeal bills Pittenger supports are no longer good enough. Nor is the claim that defunding Obamacare is unrealistic. Indeed, in one of the more telling moments in the video, a heckler responds to Pittenger’s suggestion that Harry Reid won’t let the Senate defund Obamacare by saying: “It doesn’t matter. We need to show the American people we stand for conservative values.” Emphasis mine.
All of which illustrates yet again, as Marco Rubio has now helpfully confirmed for us, that simply arguing against Obamacare and even advocating for its repeal no longer count as real opposition to the law. If you are not willing to shut down the government — doing untold damage in the process — to force an outcome that even proponents of a shutdown confrontation appear to know is never going to happen, your opposition to Obamacare is now suspect.
UPDATE: In a subsequent statement, Pittenger added:
If we shut down the government, as some advocate, Obamacare remains in full force. Most of Obamacare is in the law as mandatory spending, which continues during a shutdown. What would not continue would be pay for our brave soldiers, treatment for our veterans, and funding for critical services for our seniors. Voting for this sort of collateral damage is irresponsible and a misguided effort to fight Obamacare.
UPDATE II: Here is full video of the exchange, provided by Pittenger’s office: