August 11th, 2013
10:18 AM ET
9 years ago

RNC chair not picking sides on GOP Obamacare tactics

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(CNN) – The Republican divide over whether to shut down the federal government in a bid to end President Barack Obama's health care law is merely a tactical split, rather than a larger ideological rift, the party's national chairman said Sunday.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," said he wasn't picking a side on the issue, which has pitted establishment party members against their younger colleagues.

"I am not advocating for one tactic or the other, but what I am advocating for is to set the record straight that the Republican Party is the party that is totally unified in defunding and delaying and getting rid of Obamacare. It's the Democrats fighting each other over the overall picture of whether or not we should keep Obamacare in place," Priebus told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

To illustrate the Democratic split, Priebus pointed to July votes in the House on delaying the individual and employer mandates in Obamacare, which garnered support from 22 and 35 Democrats, respectively. Those handful of Democratic lawmakers, he argued, represented more of a divide than do Republicans squabbling over the best way to end the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010.

"The real story here is the Democrats in the Senate and the House, the ones that are vulnerable and want to be re-elected, have turned their back on the president, and that's the story. Not the tactics on the Republican side of the aisle," he argued.

Those tactics will come to a head in late September, when the current measure funding the federal government is set to expire. Some Republicans have said they'll oppose any new continuing resolution that doesn't strip Obamacare of its funding.

Leading that fight are three Republicans elected to office on waves of tea party support: Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

In Iowa Saturday, Cruz amplified his calls for using the upcoming government funding fight as leverage to defund Obamacare, but said fellow Republicans threatened to stall his efforts.

"A lot of politicians in Washington, in both parties, are telling the American people, 'It can't be done.' Why? Because Barack Obama will always stand for his principles, so America, apparently conservatives, have to give up on ours," he said at a gathering hosted by the evangelical organization Family Leader.

Instead of working together on a real plan to get rid of Obama's health care law, Cruz argued that establishment Republicans were simply putting on a guise of opposing Obamacare without taking real action.

"This thing ain't working, but I can't count the number of Republicans in Washington saying we can't defund it," he said. "We can pass symbolic votes against it, but we can't actually stand up and take a risk and potentially be blamed."

Republicans who oppose a government shutdown fight include GOP Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn, as well as last year's GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who told a crowd of Republican donors in New Hampshire last week that "the people of the nation would not be happy" if Republicans help trigger a shutdown.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has also tamped down on talk of government shutdown threats, saying in an interview with the National Review that "no one is advocating a government shutdown."

But in Iowa, Cruz's calls for defunding Obamacare were met with enthusiastic applause - something he said was unlikely to be replicated in Washington.

"If I were sitting in the Senate cloakroom, the reaction to that statement would be fundamentally different. I don't think I'm quick enough to dodge all the things that would be thrown at me," he joked.

Filed under: Health care • Reince Priebus • Ted Cruz
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Randy, San Francisco

    RNC chairman Priebus won't admit it publicly but the Republican Party is having a desperate fight for the heart and soul of the party, moderate establishment Republicans versus conservative extremist Tea Partiers. If the conservative extremist Tea Party wing wins, it will be a hollow victory because the national Republican brand will be irrelevant and relegated to a minority party with only local regional influence.

    August 11, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. onlyfacts

    Go ahead, shut down the government. There are thousands and thousands of republicans who have pre existing conditions, have kids with pre existing conditions, have been dropped because they actually filed a claim with their provider. Defunding Obamacare doesn't only hurt the people that are for it. It also hurts those that have been misled into believing it's a bad thing. There are thousands of Independent voters out there who know Obamacare will benefit them. So go ahead shut down the government, defund all you want, we are all going to be affected by this. Thousands of Republican gov't employees will be negatively affected by a shut down. No one will be negatively affected by Obamacare. I will love to watch the final death blow of the GOP. Please proceed!

    August 11, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. don in albuquerque

    Let me see, kiddies;
    -We are about the only industrialized country in the world without single-payer or some type of govt sponsored health care
    -We pay more for health care then any other people in the world
    -We rate way down the list of quality of health care (meaning our quality is one of the worst)
    -We allow companies like Monsanto to continue destroying our food supply (directly related to your health)
    When someone takes the first baby steps to try to fix it-
    -He a socialist
    -A nazi
    -A commie
    -A Kenyan
    -Anti-Colonist (Huh, wonder what George Washington would have thought of that)
    the GOTP-
    -Still searching for eternal war and unending supply of money for such
    -Health care for the elite
    -Let the poor and elderly die quickly
    -No plan for how to fix anything (much less health care)
    -Still trying to dictate morals while they demonstrate none
    -And By-God we will just shut the gubmint down if we don't get what we want. Let the people who depend on it starve!

    Does this post sound disjointed, and confusting? Intended to be. Just like the the GOTP. Vote every last member out of office.

    August 11, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. wendel

    the republican party as usual is in disarray . Trump on tv this morning spouting off. Palin taking sides. When will this group of morons realize the American public wants help not all this nonsense. They can not come up with one single thing that helps the middle class but plenty of complaints about the administration. Many of us find the affordable care act has helped us. Only people that have coverage seem to dislike it.

    August 11, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. ST

    Can't this man see the danger of shutting the government down? Hasn't he ever put anything on a weighing scale and see what side weighs more? I do not see the bright future of GOP if they continue having leaders like Priebus.

    August 11, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. jpmichigan

    If one want to change what is the problem with the new Healthcare Law, one has to give the American people a better solution. So far , this has not happened. Those who passed the Law without first reading it, are those who are excluded from the Law. The Real American tax payer, is the one who is not. The President gave extensions or wavers to others, except the American tax payer (the middle class) for you see the Healthcare Law is a TAX that must be paid in order to survive. The way to help American tax payers is to come up with some of the important parts of the bill and change the regulations, NO ONE Democrat or Republican has done that.

    August 11, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. don in albuquerque

    Sorry misspell should have been anti-colonialist However anti colonist might also work if you include retentive as well.

    August 11, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. labman57

    The GOP is something like "O for 40" in their efforts to repeal the ACA.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures, and tea party brown-nosers among the House Republicans are becoming increasingly desperate in their efforts to undermine any and all progress in the current Congress.

    Ever since it was signed into law, the Congressional GOP has been determined to make their proclamation that "Obamacare is a failure" become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    The all-too-real fear was that the public would grow wise to all of their hype about "the socialist evils of Obamacare" and their prognostications regarding "the end of society as we know it" ... once the legislation was fully implemented.

    They're well past terrified - they are pretty much resigned to the realization that the nation will not fall asunder, insurance rates will drop significantly in those states that have implemented the policies, more people will be able to obtain affordable coverage, and the GOP will be peeling dried egg from their faces for the next two election cycles.

    The Republican Party leadership once again stands at a political precipice - this time in the form of an Ahab-esque obsession regarding the ACA, contemplating whether to back away slowly, oblivious of the mindless tea party stampede heading straight toward them that threatened to send the entire party over the cliff.

    August 11, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Gunderson

    Veel, dots see here,
    Should we shut down government. Uh, yes or watch Rome Burn to ground. Uh, no. watch all jobs dissappear and see no money to fund big social program, and watch Rome burn to ground.

    Old Gunderson say Fund Government, let people that vote for this plan pay for it, no? Don't forget to send money, you no got to pay for big social program. If you have to live on Food Stamps remember you vote for it.

    August 11, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Name


    August 11, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. slalom5

    onlyfacts: how does one make a claim on insurance for a pre-existing condition unless you've lied on the initial insurance applicaton claiming that no such "condition" existed?

    August 11, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Barbara

    The fact that the Republican leadership reelected him as chairman speaks volumes. This man is an idiot of major proportion and represents what is wrong with the GOP.

    August 11, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Lisa

    The GOP promised to get all new leadership when they botched the 2012 primaries and they are still all the same corrupt people.

    August 11, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    GOP can bark what all they can and spew venom on the law. Yes, it is now THE LAW, John Roberts upheld.

    August 11, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |

    Now all of a sudden Rapheal Cruz talks about a PARTIAL Government shutdown while Preibus floats his red herring to switch the press away from The Guns Over People Shutdown Government tea potty's mistake in allowing loose cannon
    Rapheal Cruz to tell the truth about a government shutdown in the first place. Priceless. Cruz and the many other loose cannons are not done yet. This is just the start.

    August 11, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. Tom

    No, nothing to see here. Those flames coming from the GOP clubhouse don't mean anything. It's just one big, happy party. I think the only real question is whether Priebus is lying or delusional? Okay, he's a Republican, so it's probably both. The Republican party is coming apart at the seams and, unless someone emerges as a leader of the party, will probably fragment into divided camps of Tea Party wackos and the surviving moderate Republicans.

    August 11, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. onlyfacts

    Slalom5, not sure what you're asking. I had a few surgeries back in 1999. After those surgeries I lost my job (co. Went out of business) so therefore I lost my insurance. Every insurance company I applied at turned me down because of my pre-existing condition. Finally one provider agreed to insure me for everything but if I needed the same type of surgery again they would not cover it. I had no choice but to take this plan. In 2014 insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage for my so called pre-existing condition. Pretty simple. Did that answer your question?

    August 11, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Pete

    Go ahead Priebus take a side because your party of obstructionists is imploding and you know it..Either way its just another nail in the republicans coffin and republican posters here know it!!

    August 11, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. stars

    The rethug is dying right before our eyes and faster than the know it. A damn shame.

    August 11, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. king

    i wonder when they kick 30 million folks out of healthcare, how would they feel the next day. since obamacare was enacted we left from losing 800 thousand jobs a month, and have been creating jobs for 40 straight months we've been. this turn around happened after obamacare. lesson folks our big private businesses had abandoned us for china, furthermore you see what private big oil have been doing to this country with their outrageous prices, i wonder what the repubs will do if obama regulate and tell them to stop from slamming the american people. now obamacare was the only substitute as a rock to this country for average America after big business left our shores to china. i have 2 sisters working because of obamacare and a host of family members in the healtcare field. i wonder if the repubs are successful on killing obamacare, will business move back to china since the rock of our economy has been destroyed.

    August 11, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. USAPeasant

    It amazes me that Priebus is still the chairman of the GOP. So 10 reasons why Reince Priebus = epic fail.

    For one he messed up big by supporting a Dead on Arrival candidate like Mitt so early on (probably bribed to do so.) For two the guy is weak on ideas. For three Priebus seems unable to support anything that the American people want. For four Priebus has lead his party to defeat. For five, the way Priebus treated Ron Paul pretty much caused the Great Rift that threatens to destroy the GOP. For six I am pretty sure that when Priebus barred the Ron Paul delegates from casting their futile votes (they were going to lose anyways, you could have at least let them speak though) was illegal, and if not illegal is at the minimum deeply un-American. For seven it seems that the politicians and most certainly the American people have about 0 respect for Priebus. For eight, since Priebus has been chairman the GOP has not passed any significant legislation. For nine since Priebus has been chairman the GOP hasn't prevented the dems from passing a single piece of significant legislation. For ten what the heck kind of name is Reince?!

    Reince Priebus should have been sacked a LONG time ago. It quite frankly surprises me that he is still going. Do yourself a favor GOP, sack Priebus before the 2016 elections, because you all ready know he's just going to lead you to another crushing defeat. Quite honestly I'd even sack him sometime soon before the 2014 elections, because he will probably lead you to defeat in those elections as well, despite the fact that the GOP traditionally does better in the midterms.

    August 11, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. Pete

    WoW ,no republican posters trying to deflect what can't be deflected...Hey you so called sanctumonious conservatives come out and defend your once proud group of obstructionists and hope you can save some momentos of a party that once was and I mean once!!!

    August 11, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Winston Smith

    When will the populace awake to this one strict fact. Republican(s), care only for those that have, not those who don't. And their first goal is to make sure they get first crack at everything. And everything means everything.

    August 11, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  24. J.V.Hodgson

    Slalom, insurance contracts ( invented by the brits) have a fundamental underlying requirement.
    They are a contract that is "uberimae fides" you don't know what that means so I will tell you it means a contract in the
    "UTMOST GOOD FAITH" So you lie on the application form about a pre-condition and are in hospital being treated for something else but co incidentally Doctors have to note your pre-condition to treat you... you lose a) for perjury b) you invalidate cover for any treatment c) after that lot go try to get insurance cover anywhere until PPACA becomes fully law federally.
    Sheesh, the banality, stupidity of some comments is unbelievable.

    August 12, 2013 05:32 am at 5:32 am |