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Columns

November 10, 2013

HOWEY: Defunding and the stupidity, trickery of intellect

On the morning of Oct. 16 - with the United States government shuttered three weeks and just hours away from the first federal default in history - U.S. Sen. Dan Coats was incredulous.

Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said of Obamacare, “Well everybody understands that we’ll not be able to repeal this law until 2017. We have to win the Senate and win the White House. Right now it is clear that this bill is not ready for prime time. It is clear the bill is unfair.”

It was Heritage Foundation, headed by former senator Jim DeMint, and the Heritage Action PAC that had fanned the flames of the Obamacare defund movement that found ardent disciples in Indiana U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita and Jackie Walorski. On the brink of the vote, Needham had revealed just how cynical, stupid and reckless things had become in Washington.

Coats heard that and thought, ‘We went through all of this for him to say that?’”

There were plenty of people beginning last summer who saw the defund movement take shape and knew that the math was not there. With President Obama in the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate 55-45 after Republicans had booted away a Senate seat in Indiana and five other states, there was never a scenario for it to work.

Last summer, the Indiana Congressional delegation met to discuss the scenario. Since Coats became the state’s senior senator following Dick Lugar’s 2012 primary defeat to Tea Party-inspired Richard Mourdock, he has gathered the delegation together to coordinate on state matters and talk through issues.

Asked to describe the Indiana delegation meetings as the defund effort gathered steam, Coats explained, “There was good communication. Obviously we didn’t come out as one vote in the end. I respect people’s difference of opinion because it was a complicated issue.”

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