Obamacare battles coming to Pgh

Published by Tim McNulty on .

2009 tea party

The escalating war over implementing -- and paying for -- Barack Obama's biggest legislative achievement will come to Pittsburgh late this month.

The CEO of the conservative Heritage Foundation, former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, iis headlining nine "Defund Obamacare" town halls through August, with one scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Sheraton Station Square. From a DeMint statement:

"I'm thrilled to be joining Heritage Action and to travel across the country to spend time with real Americans rather than Washington politicians. We want to hear directly from people in local communities who often suffer from Washington's out-of-touch policies. Fortunately, Washington doesn't have to win. We have an opportunity to change the direction of our nation by defunding Obamacare and advancing conservative policy solutions that will help place us back on the path toward fiscal responsibility."

At the same time pro-Obama groups will begin their own assaults in favor of the bill this month (with Congress on recess), in which they'll challenge Republicans on popular parts of the overhaul, such as guaranteed coverage for those with preexisting conditions and for young people up to age 26 on their parents' plans. The groups, including the liberal Americans United for Change, will deploy rapid-response teams and their own events in 10 key states including Pennsylvania, Politico reports.

"We are going to find a way to respond to those" Heritage town halls, said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change and the former spokesman for the DNC, in a conference call this morning.

The pro-Obama groups will also keep pushing for people to sign up for new health insurance when enrollment starts Oct. 1.

With the first health coverage from the health care overhaul coming up in January, conservatives led by freshman Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are threatening to approve no new government spending at the end of the Sept. 30 fiscal year unless all funding for Obamacare programs are stripped out. His ally Mike Lee of Utah is rounding up promises from fellow Republicans to promise they'll stick to the threat, and trigger a government shutdown if necessary.

(Above: Pittsburgh Tea Party gathering in Schenley Park, July 2009.)

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