(CNSNews.com) - If defunding Obamacare isn't worth fighting for, nothing is, says Jim DeMint, the former U.S. senator from South Carolina who now serves as president of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Fox News's Greta Van Susteren asked Demint Tuesday night if he thinks it's "wise" for Republicans to risk a government shutdown by insisting that no taxpayer money go to funding Obamacare:
"There's no question, Greta, that if this isn't worth fighting for, nothing is. I've never heard a Republican say they want to shut the government down, and that's not the goal," DeMint said.
"The relevant question is, will Obama shut the government down in order to save his failed law? It's unfair. It's unworkable. He's given waivers to Congress, waivers to big business, but not to the average American. So if the president chooses to shut the government down, it's on him. I think Republicans should fund the government, but they should not fund Obamacare."
DeMint said he thinks a lot of Republican lawmakers will "change their mind" about funding Obamacare "when they hear from their voters." The effort to pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government at current levels will begin in earnest when Congress returns after Labor Day.
Van Susteren asked DeMint if he thinks its "appropriate or not appropriate" for President Obama and his Health and Human Services Secretary to link their health care law to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
"Well, it's hard to imagine that something that is going to be so harmful to America can be associated with the civil rights movement," DeMint said. "The president is promising health care for everyone, but he promised it would cost less. He promised people could keep their own insurance. Millions are losing it. He promised, Greta, it would create jobs, improve our economy. People are being moved from full-time to part-time. His promises are not holding true.
"And what they're doing, as you know, Greta, is pushing a lot of people onto Medicaid programs that fewer and fewer doctors will see. There are better ways to get health insurance to people. And to wrap it into a package of civil rights is certainly not a fair representation of this. I think civil rights involved freedom and equality, and Americans have a right to own their own health plan and not to be dependent on the government and some bureaucracy to decide what kind of health care they're going to get."
DeMint is about to wrap up a nine-city "Defund Obamacare" town hall tour, an attempt to boost grassroots support for defunding the Democrat-passed law. The final town halls take place tonight in Pittsburgh and tomorrow in Wilmington, Delaware.
While Republicans have taken dozens of "symbolic votes" to repeal Obamacare, "the real act of courage is if they get back in September and they pass a bill funding all operations of government except Obamacare," DeMint told a crowd of at one of the town halls organized by Heritage Action.
He told Van Susteren he's heard from "thousands of people," including "a lot of small businesses," on the nationwide tour.
"Thousands of Americans are standing up saying, 'We need to stop this bill before it goes any further. We know it's going to hurt health care. It's going to hurt people. It's not going to fulfill the president's promises.' So we think by September, millions of Americans are going to be saying to Congress, Stop this bad law. Let's improve the system we've got. It's the best in the world. Let's don't go down this socialistic health care road."