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U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows said a proposal to block the money for Obamacare is different from 40 previous House votes to repeal it because the defunding question would force a vote in the Senate.
"We have voted some 40 times for repeal," he said during an appearance before the Tea Party-oriented FreedomWorks organization Monday in Hendersonville. "Some people ask me, why is this different? Well, the difference is if we put this particular language in whatever funds the government forward, it has to have a vote in the Senate.
"The 40 times that we've had before, they can just say, 'Well, thank you, House, we're glad that we're going to do it,' but Sept. 30 we're going to have to vote to say what we're going to do for funding (for the 2014 budget). That's why the Senate is going to have to take it up. Don't you think it would be good for Kay Hagan to take a vote to let us know exactly where she stands on this?"
It was a guaranteed applause line for the gathering of Republicans, who are part of the grassroots effort the GOP is counting on to oust the first-term Democrat.
FreedomWorks calls itself an "action tank" instead of a think tank, an army of volunteers "engaging in the debate on the ground where the real decisions are made."
"We play hardball," it boasts in a brochure. "In the street fight for the heart and soul of America we have taken on well-financed special interest groups in America for over 20 years — and won." (New York Times columnist Bill Keller called FreedomWorks "the love child of Koch brothers cash and Tea Party passion.") Among the material it offered the local audience was an attack on U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the popular second-term incumbent, as "another Lindsey Graham Republican."
Meadows, the freshman congressman in a district the state Legislature reshaped into a safe Republican stronghold, delivered plenty of red meat to the supportive crowd at the Chariot.
"I can tell you the reason why we are fighting this fight" to block Obamacare, he said. "It is for freedom and it is for the people in this room and the people in this great country to make sure that we build back our walls and have a land that truly honors the Constitution and protects all Americans."
"The reason why is because, as Nancy Pelosi said, eventually once you pass it you have to read it, and we are now reading it to find out what it promised is not what will be delivered and we have got to make sure that we change that."
"We were promised lower premiums, and what we're finding out now is that not only are we not getting lower premiums but we're getting much higher premiums. We were promised that everybody in America would have health insurance. We know now that we will have some 31 million people still without health insurance. We only have 50 million that are without it now...
"So we're not getting lower rates, we're not getting everybody covered, and then all of a sudden, they said it will cap your out-of-pocket expenses. We found out the last couple of weeks, well, it's not going to cap our out-of-pocket expenses at least for the next year or so. But don't fret because employers are going to have to make sure they provide health insurance so everybody will be covered. But well, hold on, we're not going to make the employers do it. We've delayed that mandate but yet we're making sure that everybody still has to go out and pay for insurance. ... If we're going to delay the employer mandate don't you think we ought to delay the individual mandate as well?"
Meadows asked the like-minded opponents of the law to spread the word that Obamacare must be stopped.
"Obamacare is not ready and it's not fair the way it's being implemented, and we need to make sure we trumpet that message over and over: it's not ready and it's certainly not fair," he said.
He said the letter calling on Congress to block the law by denying it money had drawn 77 signers. After his remarks he dodged a question from the audience about House Speaker John Boehner's view of his plan.
"What the strategy is I'm not sure in terms of answering," he said. "I want to say we are united in trying to make sure we can do whatever we can to make sure that Obamacare is not implemented."
He urged the FreedomWorks audience to help him gain more votes to block the health law.
"Ronald Reagan had a great line, he said, 'If you can't make 'em see the light you need to make 'em feel the heat,' and I think what we have to do as a people is to make sure our elected officials feel the heat."
Meadows said he expected that on the summer break he would hear from constituents opposed to defunding Obamacare. Instead, he said, people across the 11th District have expressed support.
"Over and over and over again I have heard people say we must find a way to stop Obamacare," he said. "And why should we have to do that? Because it's going to hurt seniors, it's going to hurt the middle class, it's going to hurt families and lastly it's going to hurt our freedoms."
The Affordable Care Act, he said, is not a piece of legislation that can be fixed with a tweak or two, as Obama has suggested.
"He likened it to an iPad or an Iphone," Meadows said. "He said even when they came out they needed a few little tweaks. There's a big difference between that and health care. If you have a glitch on an iPhone maybe your app doesn't work and maybe the game that you're playing says 'game over.' When you're dealing with health care, 'game over' has a totally different meaning and we need to make sure that we keep health care between a doctor and a patient, not a government."