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Poll: A GOP shutdown is a terrible idea
Tea Partiers get a dose of bad news from a Republican pollster
Don't do it, Boehner.
Don't do it, Boehner. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
T

he last-ditch effort by Republicans to block ObamaCare by yanking its funding kicked into gear this week, with the launch of Heritage Action's campaign to rally reluctant GOP lawmakers behind the plan.

The idea is to use the impending debate over a bill to fund the government to defund key elements of President Obama's health care law. Tea Party Republicans say they want to fund other programs — just not ObamaCare. However, unless they give in, the hostage situation could lead to the hostage getting shot, aka a government shutdown, which mainstream Republicans are determined to avoid.

A new poll — done specifically for congressional Republicans by an adviser to the House GOP leadership — finds that the public, Republicans included, also thinks that shutting down the federal government to block the Affordable Care Act is a terrible idea.

Pollster David Winston told respondents, "Some members of Congress have proposed shutting down the government as a way to defund the president's health care law," and asked them whether they approved of the move. Seventy-one percent — including 53 percent of Republicans — opposed a shutdown. Only 37 percent of GOP respondents liked the idea.

Heritage Action, the advocacy arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, was undeterred. "Unfortunately, Winston polled a strategy that simply does not exist," says Dan Holler at Heritage Action, citing the group's ostensible position that it does not want a government shutdown. Heritage Action, he says, wants to attach a rider to the new, must-pass spending resolution prohibiting any money from being used to implement or enforce the Affordable Care Act.

It is common knowledge that shutting down the government would not defund ObamaCare, which is why those pushing to defund ObamaCare are also pushing to fund the government. In short, Winston has conducted a poll based on a straw man argument that Republican leaders will now use to fight conservatives, thereby preserving ObamaCare. [Heritage Action]

Well, yes and no. Proponents of defunding ObamaCare know that, even though they are not technically proposing to shut down the government, there's no way the Democratic-controlled Senate or Obama would allow ObamaCare to be defunded. The only way to fight the program is to block the whole shebang. Here's Byron York at the Washington Examiner:

There is no doubt defunding advocates anticipate a possible shutdown; their hope is to persuade the public to blame President Obama, and not Republicans, for it. The new numbers suggest they will have a lot of persuading to do. [Washington Examiner]

Indeed, the GOP may already be moving on to another potential hostage: The debt ceiling.

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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