SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The Affordable Care Act has been at the center of the budget debate that shut down the U.S. government. Tea Party Republicans in the House have led the charge to try to repeal or delay what's called Obamacare in exchange for funding the government. They were cheered for taking on the health law by Tea Party activists across the country, including Jenny Beth Martin. She's the cofounder and national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots and she joins us now. Ms. Martin, thanks so much for being with us.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: Thanks for talking with me.
SIMON: Do you feel that you have accomplished something?
MARTIN: Well, what we have done is made sure that the Americans across this country who are losing their jobs and their hours and their wages and their health insurance and their doctors because of the Obamacare law, they are having the opportunity now to speak to Congress and make sure that this law is not funded.
SIMON: But didn't they, and you for that matter, have the chance to make that case when the actual legislation was being debated?
MARTIN: We worked to make that case and yet even though the majority of Americans did not want the law to pass, the Democrat-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate went ahead and ignored the will of the people and passed the law anyway. And still the majority of Americans do not want to live under Obamacare, and they are speaking up and they're talking to their congressmen and their senators and letting them know.
SIMON: But I mean, Congress passed the law when it had the chance to vote on it. I mean, polls are very interesting, but what counts is elections and the vote in Congress.
MARTIN: You know, you're absolutely right that elections count and that the votes in Congress count and so the election results from last year elected Republicans to control the House of Representatives. The Constitution gives Republicans the authority to initiate bills that fund the government and they're acting absolutely within the scope of their power, within the rule of law, and they are doing that based on election results.
SIMON: And of course, as I don't have to tell you, those same elections returned this president to office.
MARTIN: Exactly, which is why we understand that we're not going to be able to repeal the law right now, but we've seen repeatedly that this law is not ready for implementation. All we're saying is don't spend our tax money on this law that clearly isn't ready and that big business and that Congress is not going to have to live under the way that it was passed originally back in 2010 and that labor unions have said will destroy the 40-hour work week and shatter their employees' health care.
SIMON: Ms. Martin, are you just reading one finding in the polls? I mean, are you - are you not reading the polls that say the American people are overwhelmingly opposed the shutdown, and not only that, are blaming a lot of the candidates you've supported for?
MARTIN: I don't want the government to be shut down, and I want the government to be funded. I simply do not want Obamacare to be funded and paid for with my tax dollars. I'm not looking for blame. I want to make sure we find a resolution to the situation that is at hand. And the House is passing these continuing resolutions; some of them are passing with bipartisan support, and we are looking for ways to reopen the portions of the government that we agree with.
I really don't understand why the Senate has refused to take up any of these measures. We've made compromises. We're saying we understand we can't repeal this law and if we want to we'll have to change the makeup of either the White House and/or the Senate, and so we understand that elections have those consequences and we cannot do that. So we've said defund the law.
SIMON: Jenny Beth Martin is the co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. Ms. Martin, thanks so much for being with us.
MARTIN: Thank you so much for having me.