NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A grassroots effort among conservative opponents of President Barack Obama's health care law could persuade skittish Republicans to take funding away from the law and overcome Democrats' arguments that any resulting shutdown of the government would be the fault of the GOP, Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday.
"We have to stand up and win the argument," Cruz said to spirited applause on the opening day of the annual RedState Gathering, a meeting of conservatives highly critical not only of Democrats, but also of many established Republican leaders.
Cruz, R-Texas, and Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were opening day speakers. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who launched his 2012 Republican presidential bid at a RedState Gathering, speaks Saturday.
Cruz has long suggested that one way of taking money from the law would be to hold up a continuing funding resolution to keep government agencies running after Sept. 30. That effort should start in the House, he said, with passage of a resolution that would fund government with the exception of the health care law.
"We don't have the votes right now. In fact, to be honest. We're not close," Cruz said. But, he noted, he won a come-from-behind victory in Texas' Republican Senate primary last year with strong grassroots support, beginning with conservative bloggers.
He spoke on the same day liberal groups announced a campaign in Louisiana and nine other states to counter criticism of the health care law and encourage those who need insurance to enroll in the state exchanges established under the law when the enrollment period opens Oct. 1.
Michael Beychok, a Louisiana political consultant working with the groups Americans United for Change and Protect Your Care, said congressional critics of the program have failed to inform their constituents about all aspects of the law. "What our positive information campaign hopes to do is to let people know through having events around the state that this is what is available, this is what's coming and you can start enrolling in a couple of months," Beychok said.
Cruz on Friday echoed opponents who have said the law will cost jobs and weigh on workers, saying some companies will cut employees and work hours to avoid coverage requirements.
Backers have emphasized expanded availability of coverage and requirements that insurers no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, while allowing parents to keep dependent offspring covered until age 26.
"We're going to talk to the American people about what they're getting with Obamacare," Brad Woodhouse of Americans United for Change said, adding the groups also emphasize what benefits would be lost if the law was repealed.