Tea Party Organizer: Open Government, Shut Down Obamacare
A Tea Party congressman is in the spotlight for confronting a park ranger at the closed World War II memorial this week, saying the ranger should be ashamed for letting veterans into the monument, while keeping the rest of the public out.
We hear from a Tea Party organizer who asks, if furloughed government workers are considered non-essential, why do we need them at all?
She wants Democrats to negotiate with Republicans to re-open the government, and she wants Republicans to hold firm on delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
Well, we know that the shutdown has angered leaders in the Republican Party, who say it reflects poorly on the party and distracts from other issues. And that anger is reportedly boiling over behind closed doors. The New York Times writes about a private luncheon Wednesday in which Republican senators - like New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte - excoriated Ted Cruz of Texas for being friendly with groups attacking more moderate Republicans. And senators also demanded to know his exit plan. He didn't have an answer. One senator is quoted as saying that started a lynch mob.
The Tea Party-backed Cruz insisted on tying a budget vote to defunding the Affordable Care Act. Let's get the view of one Tea Party activist of the shutdown that resulted from the political stalemate. Diana Reimer is national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. Diana, welcome back. And your thoughts on the shutdown: Was it a good idea?
DIANA REIMER: Well, I'm proud of our Republicans for standing firm. I mean, they want to negotiate, and the other side doesn't want to negotiate.
YOUNG: Well, as you know, the other side, the Obama administration and many Democrats say that what the Republicans and Tea Party-backed Republicans in particular are asking for is to have a law that already exists overturned. This isn't a battle over dollars and cents. This is about a law that was passed and upheld by the Supreme Court. Is it fair to use this method to overturn a law?
REIMER: OK, we need to open government, and we do not want to fund Obamacare. And the reason is we're asking for fairness for all. The president has no problem with changing a law that's already in effect, which he has done. He has given waivers to big business and to unions. We're asking for the same fairness to the American people.
YOUNG: So you're pointing out that the president has already said that there should be delays of some aspects of the law because of problems implementing them. But would you push for using a government shutdown to overturn Medicare?
REIMER: But where does Medicare come in with this fight? You know, all we want is fairness. Republicans have come forward with many amendments, many offers, and there's just no negotiation in the Senate.
YOUNG: Well, polls do show that there are a lot of Americans who also have questions about the Affordable Care Act. But as far as the shutdown itself, do you think it's been a good thing?
REIMER: Well, let's look at this. The shutdown eliminated - and I have a big question about this - nonessential workers. So if they're nonessential, then why are they even being paid?
YOUNG: But as we are seeing, many of these workers who were deemed nonessential actually are. Safety inspectors who have furloughed have not gone to inspect that deadly bus crash in Tennessee. Cancer researchers had to be called back so a man on Cape Cod could get cancer drugs. Weather Service and FEMA workers have been called back to respond to that storm that's coming into the Gulf Coast. This is what...
REIMER: I haven't looked in - yeah, I'm sorry, I haven't looked into that enough. I would like to know what nonessential workers are.
YOUNG: Well, what do you say to the people who have said that this shutdown is a good thing because we need less government?
REIMER: Well, we do need less government. We believe in fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. And the government keeps expanding, expanding, expanding, and I'm sure there's a lot of duplication that could be, you know, combined.
YOUNG: Are you worried about the government workers who might be hurt by this shutdown?
REIMER: I really, I have to apologize, I haven't really given it much thought.
YOUNG: Really? They have been very public about how they're losing pay. Many of them are very low-paid government workers. You haven't given that much thought?
REIMER: Well, then I have to apologize for that, and yes, I do feel sorry for them.
YOUNG: Well, and we know you're heading for the World War II Memorial. It's been closed because of the shutdown, although the couple of rangers that have been left there are letting in World War II veterans, but not the public. Wednesday, the Texas Republican representative Randy Neugebauer, who's a Tea Party candidate, was there, as well. And he blasted a park ranger for the fact that the monument was closed to the public. Let's just listen.
REPRESENTATIVE RANDY NEUGEBAUER: How do you look at them and say - how are you are going to deny them access? I don't get that.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's difficult.
NEUGEBAUER: Well, it should be difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is difficult. I'm sorry, sir.
NEUGEBAUER: Park Service should be ashamed of themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm not ashamed.
NEUGEBAUER: Well, you should be.
YOUNG: Diana, your thoughts about that, blaming a park ranger, a government worker, for the shutdown she had nothing to do with, and he, as a part of Congress, did?
REIMER: Right. And I certainly wouldn't do that. I mean, they're following their orders.
YOUNG: But do you understand why a monument might be closed? The monuments are closed because of fear not of World War II veterans making the trip of a lifetime because they're so elderly, but because of vandalism and graffiti? That's why you have park rangers guarding monuments, and that's why monuments have to be closed when there's a shutdown. There's not enough park rangers to keep...
REIMER: Well, according to the veterans, it shouldn't be closed. And yes, I do understand that, and the monuments do have to be protected.
YOUNG: But that's government.
REIMER: Yeah, well, the government's all over.
YOUNG: Well, Diana Reimer, national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, thank you so much for speaking with us.
REIMER: Thank you. It was good talking with you again, Robin.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
And a brief update now on Miriam Carey, that Connecticut woman shot and killed after leading Capitol police on that car chase yesterday. Periodontist Brian Evans of Hamden, Connecticut says she was fired from her job as a dental hygienist a year ago, shortly after she was hospitalized with a head injury suffered in a fall. She was told at that time by the hospital that she was pregnant. Her mother told ABC News she was suffering post-partum depression.
We're back in a minute, HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.