The political wellbeing of the Republican Party is not foremost among Michael Needham's priorities. "There is nothing in my mission statement that says anything about the Republican Party. Our mission is to advance the conservative agenda," he told The Wall Street Journal.
The top lobbyist at Heritage Action, the powerful advocacy arm of the conservative, 40 year-old Heritage Foundation, and one of the key behind-the-scenes strategists in the current showdown to block implementation of President Barack Obama's signature health program, took the GOP to task for not being sufficiently single-minded in stopping Obamacare.
Others may waver but not Needham, who helped craft the grassroots Tea Party small-government message at Heritage into a coherent policy.
"The only acceptable way out of this is some sort of deal that funds the federal government without funding Obamacare," Needham said, according to ABC News.
Needham, 31, graduated from Stanford University with a degree in business and began his professional career as a speech writer for Heritage founder Ed Feulner, ultimately becoming his chief of staff. When former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint took the helm, Needham stayed on at the foundation.
Feulner inculcated the tenet that "in the war of ideas there is no room for pacifists," a stance Needham has taken fully to heart.
Needham and Tim Chapman, the chief operating officer of Heritage Action, had pushed within Heritage for a powerful lobbying machine to pressure for the conservative message. Now, Needham's lobbying budget stands at $7 million, out of the annual $75 million Heritage budget.
Needham would accept a temporary debt-ceiling extension to avoid distraction from the campaign to stop Obamacare. "The strategy from day one once [Obamacare] passed was repeal, repeal, repeal," he says. "We're not going to tweak it, we're not going to fix it, we're going to get rid of the whole law."
If the line against Obamacare is not held now, the United States will be saddled with a single-payer system down the line leaving the government totally running health care, he warns.
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