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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heritage Action: Fight Against Obamacare Will Go On

The Conservative lobbying group, Heritage Action for America, remains firmly opposed to any deal in DC that leaves what it calls, “the fundamental flaws” of the Affordable Health Care act intact.

Heritage Action for America has played a key role in the government shutdown and the impasse over raising the debt ceiling.

In an email yesterday, the group blasted a House Republican plan to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government saying, “the proposed plan will do absolutely nothing to help Americans who are negatively impacted by Obama Care.”

That email is widely credited with sinking the House plan before it could get to a vote.

The proposal advancing in Congress today leaves Obamacare essentially intact.

Heritage Action’s Dan Holler told Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson that the new healthcare law is “hurting people.”

“[There are] stories that come out everyday in the paper of people having six, seven, eight hundred dollars a month in new health insurance cost that they can’t afford, how they’re having their hours cut back at work, how their spouses are losing coverage,” Holler said.

Holler says Heritage Action is going to continue fighting the law.

“This isn’t the end of it,” Holler said. “I think a lot of folks are hoping to say, ‘You guys had your fun, now just go off and we’ll just ignore this.’ We can’t ignore it.”




And I imagine a lot of Americans are happy to hear signs of a deal in Washington, but here is a perspective on today's news that's a bit different: Senate ignores America, undercuts the House. That is the word from the conservative lobbying group Heritage Action for America, which opposed any deal on the debt ceiling and the government shutdown that left the Affordable Care Act intact.

An email from that group is widely credited with sinking a House Republican plan yesterday before it could get to the floor for a vote, but the proposal advancing in Congress today leaves the Affordable Care Act essentially intact, as Rick just said. Dan Holler is communications director for Heritage Action for America. He joins us now from Washington. Dan, welcome.

DAN HOLLER: Hey, thanks a lot. How are you?

HOBSON: Doing well. So did Heritage Action lose this fight?

HOLLER: You know, Washington tends to be focused on who won, who lost, who's up, who's down. That's really the wrong focus. And I'm sort of struck by a story from yesterday. I talked to a guy who's an independent contractor. He does camera work. He told me that his family is going to have to pay $800 a month in new health insurance costs because of Obamacare.

That's really what this whole thing is about. So it would be irresponsible not to have tried to do something on Obamacare. And let's be clear. This isn't the end of it. I think a lot of folks are hoping to say, well, you know, you guys had your fun, now go off and we'll just ignore this. We can't ignore it.

This law is hurting the American people right now, and if you care about folks at all and the impact it's having on them, you're sort of compelled to try to take action and change the law.

HOBSON: But you could say, of course, that the government shutdown is hurting people. It's hurting federal workers. It's hurting people who had planned trips to national parks. It's hurting people who are waiting for clinical trials and things like that. Didn't your action on this issue and your push to try to defund Obamacare in exchange for shutting down the government and not raising the debt ceiling potentially also hurt people?

HOLLER: This is one of the amazing things, is that House Republicans have shown a tremendous willingness to keep the government open. Every single thing you just mentioned the House Republicans passed a bill to fund, and Harry Reid and the Senate stopped that from happening. President Obama threatened to veto it because they are so committed to Obamacare that they don't want to open parts of government.

I mean, that is an outrageous thing. Not only are people being hurt by the law that they all passed, it is their signature legislation, but they refused to open parts of government.

HOBSON: Well, they refused to open parts of government but because they wanted to open the whole thing.

HOLLER: Yeah, they wanted to open the whole thing, including Obamacare, and you know, that was a red line for a lot of members of Congress. It was a demand that they heard from their constituents over their August recess, and their constituents said, hey, when you guys go back to Washington, D.C., you have to fight to defund Obamacare, and they listened.

That is an incredibly empowering thing in a representative democracy. Now, the problem is that the Senate and the Obama administration didn't get that message, and there's a lot of work to do, but the fact is that the House acted responsibly, and they showed tremendous unity throughout this whole thing. And you know, hopefully we can expect more from the Senate in the future.

HOBSON: But we've been talking to economists who are extremely concerned about what has just happened here, which is that the U.S. has faced the prospect of a default on its debt which could have ripples across the world. People have said it would be worse than 2008. Aren't you worried about what has been done here as a result of your push and Republicans' push to defund a law that was passed and upheld by the Supreme Court?

HOLLER: Well, again, the House Republicans offered to increase the debt ceiling, and President Obama said no. And pretty much at every single turn, the story is the same, that the president says no, and he has refused to come to the table, he's refused to negotiate...

HOBSON: Well, but you have said no to a law that, as we said, was passed and was in place. I mean, the reason that we're in this situation is because your group and Republicans wanted to defund a law.

HOLLER: We wanted to have the House use their constitutional authority to control the power of the purse, and I think that's a completely reasonable thing. There is this notion in Washington, D.C., that because President Obama is in the White House, that he gets to dictate terms, and everybody has to fall in line. That's not the system of government we have. But if that's the system of government that the president thinks we should have, he needs to go out there and be very clear that our Constitution is wrong and should be amended.

He needs to be very clear that he doesn't think we should have a debt ceiling, that we shouldn't have annual appropriation bills. He needs to be clear that he doesn't think that our country is set up the right way. And if he wants to make that case to the American people, more power to him. I don't think it's going to go over well. But you should not blame - he should not blame House Republicans for representing their constituents.

HOBSON: Are you going to push for another fight if this get pushed back and the debt ceiling is raised through let's say February or January? Are you going to do the same thing again?

HOLLER: Yeah, I mean I think it's too early to tell how all this stuff plays out. But the idea that the fight over Obamacare will just sort of go away I think is foolish. There are real concerns about what's happening, and it's stories that come out every day in the paper of people having, you know, $600, $700, $800 a month in new health insurance costs that they can't afford, how they're having their hours cut back at work, how their spouses are losing coverage.

These things are really difficult to ignore, yet the Obama administration is walking onward like none of this stuff is happening. And that's, you know, not even talking about the problem they've had rolling out their exchanges.

HOBSON: Dan, I just want to ask you, because I'm sure that there are some people who are listening to this who agree with you that they don't like the health care law, and they don't think it should be the law of the land, as it is. But there are also going to be people who say why are they so concerned about a law that we don't really know the impact of yet, that some people are saying that their premiums are lower now. Some people have access to health insurance and didn't before.

HOLLER: Yeah, there's sort of this notion that the health care system was working before, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who said the pre-Obamacare system was great and didn't need improvement. It definitely needed improvement. There are huge problems with it.

But the idea that we passed a law in this country that is forcing premiums to go higher, in some cases so high that people are just giving up on coverage and saying I can't afford insurance, that's a terrible thing that the government has caused this sort of dislocation among folks. And that's something that needs to be addressed.

So you can say absolutely the previous system was broken, no doubt about it, but the idea that we don't know the impact of what this law is doing, you know, these aren't just sort of anecdotes, as Secretary Sebelius says. These are real people being hurt. So let's find a way to fix the health care system, absolutely, but I think it's pretty clear that this isn't the way to do it.

HOBSON: Dan Holler is communications director for Heritage Action for America. Dan, thanks so much for joining us today.

HOLLER: Hey, thanks a lot, appreciate it, Jeremy.


Well, now that we're going just down to the wire, and it seems as if the Senate does have a deal to avoid hitting that debt ceiling, what do you think? What do you think of this last-second deal? Let us know at Facebook.com/hereandnowradio. Stay with us, HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Joe Braunwarth

    Jeremy, thank you very much for trying to hold Dan Holler accountable for his lies and obfuscations. The Affordable Care Act is law. It is not Obama that wants to change the way our government works, it is the Republicans. Congress does have the power of the purse but it is a power shared with both Houses and must be signed by the President. Perhaps it is Mr. Holler who wants to change the Constitution; let’s see him make that case to the American people.

    Does he really think that shutting down the government in order to prevent poor and sick people from getting health care is the morally right thing to do? History will tell.

  • Aaron Mason

    Stick a fork in these Talibangelical Teahadists. Good riddance SHlTBAGS!


    Where was Dan Holler during the Bush/Cheney years when they (the Republicans) were spending like drunken sailors by creating two winless wars in the Mideast and giving themselves a tax break that ruined the economy that we are now digging ourselves out of? Where are these mythical families going broke because of the Affordable Healthcare Act which has not even started yet? Why doesn’t Here & Now ask Mr. Holler to produce the names and numbers, the states of these mythical families where they are going broke? All Mr. Holler is producing is Jim DeMint Heritage Crank Tank Foundation fear information without hard number fact information paid for by the Koch brothers. Mr. Holler has the options to take the lowest grade of the Affordable Healthcare Act insurance offered policies that have a higher deductibles with a government paid subsidy. All Mr. Holler and his family have to do is remain healthy and quit watching and listening to Fox T.V. and Rush/Beck programs. Watching and listening to these fear hate programs lowers one’s immune system to protect one or his or her family from the disease caused by fear propaganda.

  • This Machine Kills Fascists

    I turned off this program about 2 minutes after the paid liar from the far-right Heritage foundation came on, spewing misinformation. It is insulting to the intelligence of the average american to have to hear this complete nonsense from these antidemocratic fanatics. It’s only sophistry, intended to confuse people and instill fear…same old same old from the far-right. Why was this deemed significant by the show’s producers, exactly? Do they think their audience is, well, kinda dumb?

    “[There are] stories that come out everyday in the paper of people
    having six, seven, eight hundred dollars a month in new health insurance
    cost that they can’t afford, how they’re having their hours cut back at
    work, how their spouses are losing coverage,” Holler said.

    Yes, there are stories like this, because they are manufactured by people like the above liar, and evidently this program agrees that spreading misinformation is a public good.

    How about getting some intelligent and honest conservative voices, instead of anyone whose job is “public relations,” which is simply propaganda-speak for “propaganda.” We don’t need this pollution on the air. If there are no honest conservatives to be found that oppose affordable healthcare, then maybe that speaks for itself. Koch brother propaganda is intolerable. I do NOT APPRECIATE being lied to and having my intelligence insulted by these bufoons, so please stop giving them airtime. Get better and more thoughtful guests from the conservative perspective, and no more of these unthinking corporate drones with a script to deliver. Nobody needs a reminder of these stale, mostly false, and hyperbolic “talking points,” about “obamacare,” as they are as common in the U.S. today as fat people. If I wanted to hear that, I’d watch television news. It’s shameful and embarrassing that such things actually pass as “public conversation” on U.S. airwaves, particularly on public radio. This program is under no obligation to “play along” with this far-right charade. So stop it.

  • Robin Epstein

    Dan Holler exhibits symptoms of a syndrome peculiar to right-wing extremists who confuse the meaning of opposing concepts such as “helping” and “hurting”, “right” and “wrong”, “forward” and “backward”. Perhaps the Heritage Action Foundation should hire a spokesman with a better understanding of the English language.

  • Dave

    Angrier than I should be at this. The standard revisionism is in full play. Let’s not forget the real causes of this ridiculous set of maneuvers that was orchestrates by the far right.

  • nonyabizzz

    Holler is full of it.

    History Lesson:

    “Oct 2008: “You’ll never get elected and pass healthcare.”
    Nov 2008: “We’ll never let you pass healthcare.”
    Jan 2009: “We’re gonna shout you down every time you try to pass healthcare.”
    July 2009: “We’ll fight to death every attempt you make to pass healthcare.”
    Dec 2009: “We will destroy you if you even consider passing healthcare.”
    March 2010: “We can’t believe you just passed healthcare.”
    April 2010: “We are going to overturn healthcare.”
    Sept 2010: “We are going to repeal healthcare.”
    Jan 2011: “We are going to destroy healthcare.”
    Feb 2012: “We’re gonna elect a candidate who’ll revoke healthcare NOW.”
    June 2012: “We’ll go to the Supreme Court, and they will overturn healthcare.”
    Aug 2012: “American people’ll never re-elect you-they don’t want healthcare.”
    Oct 2012: “We can’t wait to win the election and explode healthcare.”
    Nov 2012: “We can’t believe you got re-elected & we can’t repeal healthcare.”
    Feb 2013: “We’re still going to vote to obliterate healthcare.”
    June 2013: “We can’t believe the Supreme Court just upheld healthcare.”
    July 2013: “We’re going to vote like 35 more times to erase healthcare.”
    Sept 2013: “We are going to leverage a government shutdown into defunding, destroying, obliterating, overturning, repealing, dismantling, erasing and ripping apart healthcare.”
    Oct 2013: “WHY AREN’T YOU NEGOTIATING???””

  • June B.

    One question you might have asked the Heritage crackpot is where the person resides who is facing higher insurance costs. So many right-wing governors have doomed their citizens to this financial jam by rejecting federal funds intended to buffer these effects.
    Have you heard the conversations with critics who say (with a straight face!), “We must stop Obamacare before too many people benefit from it and start to like it. Then we’ll never get rid of it.”
    I recently heard a great interview with the gov of Kentucky who is very proud of using all tools available to help the poorest and neediest of the constituents he’s sworn to serve.

  • pm05

    And, please explain why you give this “jerk” any air time!!! He can’t take it, Republicans can’t take it that WE voted for Obama TWICE! WE the people have spoken. The Republicans are just one mean, nasty bunch as the Heritage person just showed!!!

    • IrishHarp

      So how do you answer to the people who now have to pay $800.00 a month? The idea of Obamacare is good but this is to big and should start smaller. How do you answer that Congress does not have to take Obamacare? No Republicans are not mean, I am tired of paying my hard earn money to people who DO NOT DESERVE IT! Pretty sad NPR is going to the Left.

  • Lloyd

    Say what? This was a mind boggling example of obfuscation and, quite possibly, self delusion. Who pays such nitwits to spin this stuff?

  • IrishHarp

    you need to remember the people in the house were VOTED in there for a reason. Sorry they do not just roll over and follow a take it or leave it White House. That is why we have two houses.

  • Blarney Bucks

    It is my understanding that you do not have to purchase coverage if will cost more than 8% of your income. Let’s do the math, shall we? If this “poor independent contractor” is REQUIRED to pay $800/a month for insurance, that means $800 is less than 8% of his monthly income (or that 800 x 12 months = $9,600 is less than 8% of his annual income) therefore, his monthly income is at least $10,000, (8% of 100 is 8, 8% of 1,000 is 80, and 8% of 10,000 is 800) or his annual income is AT LEAST $120K. I find it kind of hard to feel sorry for him, since I’m getting by on less than 1/10th of that.

  • jim

    Dan Holler (apt name) should win The Doublespeak Award hands down.

  • jwk.Capt.

    To;Leftest Soviet Democates; Sequistrian is not negoaiatable.

  • jwk.Capt.

    Defund NPR and OBOMACARE!

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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