The Fox Civil War Over Republicans' Obamacare Defunding Strategy

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In recent weeks, Fox News' conservative hosts and contributors have clashed over the Republican strategy to defund Obamacare by threatening to shut down the government. Some Fox personalities have said the strategy is "the right thing to do" and "anything less is a betrayal" while others have labeled it "fanaticism" and part of a "suicide caucus."  

House Republicans Again Vote To Defund Obamacare

House Of Representatives Passed Measure That Would Defund Obamacare And Shutdown Government. The Huffington Post reported:

Ignoring the wishes of the White House and the Senate, the House of Representatives passed a stopgap funding bill Friday that will shut down the government unless Democrats agree to defund President Barack Obama's marquee health care law.

While the House voted 230 to 189 to pass the measure that Democrats have called unacceptable, Republicans insisted their bill does nothing to shutter the federal government.

"It simply keeps the lights on in our government," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee,on Friday.

Rogers, whose committee is effectively short-circuited by the three-month stopgap bill, said almost nothing about the Affordable Care Act, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) made clear that the main point of the measure is to block the health care law.

"This resolution will also protect the working middle class from the devastating effects of Obamacare," said Cantor. "Let's defund this law now, and protect the American people from the economic calamity that we know Obamacare will create."

The vote marked the 42nd time that the House Republican conference has said yes to gutting Obamacare. While some tweaks have been made to the program, the Senate has ignored nearly everything the House has pushed for. [Huffington Post, 9/20/13]

Fox News Figures Cheer Obamacare Defunding Efforts

Host Sean Hannity: "If [Republicans] Can't Take A Stand Here When It Matters, They Have Lost Me." From his Fox News program:

HANNITYMy big question is this -- why is there this mysterious reluctance and resistance? Every Republican that I know ran on the platform to get rid of Obamacare. Now they have the constitutional authority to fund the rest of the government, defund at least certain parts of Obamacare. Why not do it? Why is it controversial?

[...]

HANNITY: I have said it this and I will say it again. If they can't take a stand here when it matters, they have lost me. I'm already a registered conservative. I'm not a registered Republican. If they won't fight for this, which is the single biggest entitlement growth in a generation, then they are basically a carbon copy of the Democrats. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/9/13, via Nexis and FoxNews.com]

Hannity has been one of the most vocal media proponents of defunding Obamacare, labeling the issue "the hill to die on." Hannity has also declared that he is "not gonna support anybody that doesn't vote to defund Obamacare" and told Republicans "we'll primary you and we'll get rid of you" if you don't defund it. [Media Matters8/12/13Media Matters8/7/13Media Matters7/25/13]

Contributor Erick Erickson: Shutting Down The Government Over Obamacare Is "The Right Thing To Do." From the September 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

ERICKSON: You've got dozens and dozens of Republicans who ran into office and got elected saying they were going to do every single thing they could to stop Obamacare. They have a choice now right now to defund it. And now they're saying, "Oh well we can't do that because we might get blamed for a shutdown." So what? It's the right thing to do. American companies are shutting down because they won't shut down Obamacare. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/13/13, via Media Matters]

Contributor Monica Crowley: Republican Efforts To Defund Obamacare Are Justified Because It's "Socialized Medicine." [Fox News, America Live9/18/13

Contributor Sarah Palin: "We Need To Repeal The Whole Darn Thing, And That Starts With Defunding It." Palin attacked President Obama's health care law on Facebook, calling it an "enormous train wreck" and urging Republicans to defund it. She added: "Demand a full repeal, an immediate defunding, and some resignations." [Facebook.com, 9/12/13]

Fox News Radio Host Todd Starnes On Defunding: "Anything Less Is A Betrayal To The People." Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes called on Republicans to defund Obamacare even if it means a government shutdown:

Push will come to shove and Republicans need to be willing to shove back. If that means a government shutdown in October -- so be it.

"If there's ever been a time for politicians to take a risk on their next election, it's stopping the government takeover of healthcare," said Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. "This is not about political party or political calculation."

We need men and women who share DeMint's fortitude in the House and Senate. We need lawmakers who are willing to stand their ground and stand up for the American people.

[...]

It's time for Republicans to stand up and do the job they were elected to do. Anything less is a betrayal to the people who sent them to Washington, D.C. [FoxNews.com, 9/20/13]

Fox News Figures Warn Republicans Away From Defunding Efforts

Host Bill O'Reilly: GOP Push To Defund Obamacare Is "Fanaticism." From the September 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: That being said, fanaticism on the right also harming the country -- responsible lawmakers have to find a way to deal with their opponents in Congress. There's no way Obamacare is going to be defunded. It is not going to happen. So why bother alienating Independent Americans by embracing a futile exercise? [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/19/13, via Media Matters]

Contributor Charles Krauthammer: Republicans Pushing Defunding Efforts "Are In A Suicide Caucus." From the September 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

KRAUTHAMMER: It is not going to happen. If there was any impetus for it to happen it would come from the unions, who are intensely unhappy about the fact that employers have gotten a postponement for a year and workers are really getting screwed on this. They are going to lose their benefits. The unions are going to lose members because they're going to dissipate the advantage of being in a union. They are very unhappy. But it is not going to come from a relatively small number of conservative Republicans in the House. You cannot govern from one part of one half of the Congress. The law passed. And yes, they were elected to go and defeat Obamacare, but they are two years late.

BAIER: So what's the out?

KRAUTHAMMER: The only out is for these people to realize that they are in a suicide caucus. The way to win this thing is to let it go into effect, which it will because Obama controls the veto. Let it fall apart on its own as it is. Let all of the contradictions be exposed, let the unions and Democrats oppose it, win the election next year, and then attack it. That might work. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/12/13, via Media Matters]

Contributor Karl Rove: Republicans Should Reject "Ill-Conceived Tactic" Because It "Would Strengthen The President While Alienating Independents." In his Wall Street Journal column, Rove warned Republicans away from defunding efforts. 

The desire to strike at ObamaCare is praiseworthy. But any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively.

The defunding strategy doesn't. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it. [Wall Street Journal9/18/13]

For more on Media Matters' coverage of previous disagreements within Fox over defunding Obamacare, go here and here

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