The Tea Party has a new obsession: killing Obamacare by stripping the funding needed to implement the law. Thirteen Republican senators have signed on to the effort, which would likely lead to a government shutdown, since Democrats and President Obama are unlikely to agree to gut the president's signature domestic achievement.
Many Republicans are deeply skeptical of the idea, fearing it is yet another suicide mission by the far right that will hurt the party politically. Republican Senator Richard Burr, for example, called it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard of." The Beltway conventional wisdom is that this idea is doomed to fail.
But activist groups say their members are passionate about the idea, and they plan to keep the heat on politicians to join the fight. The groups include Heritage Action, which is spending $550,000 on online ads in Republican districts and holding rallies in nine cities; an event in Dallas featuring Senator Ted Cruz drew 1,000 attendees on Tuesday. The Senate Conservatives Fund is airing radio ads against three non-supportive Republican senators, including Burr. Meanwhile, two more national grassroots organizations, the Tea Party Patriots and ForAmerica, are teaming up on their own six-state tour and online ad campaign, which involves calling eight Republican senators "chickens" for refusing to support defunding.
Like many in D.C., I have struggled to understand what the endgame is of all this. To get some answers, I spoke to the campaign manager of ForAmerica's "Defund Obamacare" campaign, Scott Hogenson. This is an edited transcript of our interview.