Conservative Activists Plotted Government Shutdown Shortly After Obama Reelection

Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Ed Meese (AP Photo)

Americans may think the government shutdown occurred quite suddenly. But certain conservatives first devised a strategy to link defunding of the Affordable Care Act (pdf) with the federal budget—and close down Washington if necessary—shortly after President Barack Obama won a second term.


Early in 2013, Edwin Meese III, former attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, gathered together a group of conservative activists in the capital to plot strategy for stopping Obama’s health care law from going into effect in October, according to The New York Times.


The meeting produced a “blueprint to defunding Obamacare” that Meese and leaders of nearly 40 conservative groups pledged to implement.


“It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans—including their cautious leaders—into cutting off financing for the entire federal government,” the Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mike McIntire wrote.


Those supporting the risky strategy included the Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, Club for Growth, Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, as well as the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David.


Together, they launched a lobbying and social media campaign intended to get all Republican lawmakers, including moderates, onboard with the plan.


On college campuses, young conservatives burned faux “Obamacare cards” and distributed scripted messages for supporters to use for calling local congressmen.


On Twitter, House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly told followers that “Obamacare is a train wreck”—a remark that belied what he and his colleagues were willing to turn Washington into to keep the healthcare law from moving forward.


“It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it,” Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota) told The Washington Post, adding that she and her Tea Party colleagues are “very excited” about what their efforts have accomplished.

She later told CNN that the Post had misinterpreted her comments.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning (by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mike McIntire, New York Times)

Tea Party Republicans Blame Obama for the Shutdown They Planned (by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

Congress Must Honor Sequester Savings and Defund ObamaCare Before It Is Too Late (by Matt Kibbe, FreedomWorks)

Little Used Rule Gives Just 17 Republican Representatives the Power to Halt the Government Shutdown (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)                     

Big Winners in Government Shutdown…Political Fundraisers (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)     


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