Conservatives in Iowa and New Hampshire are preparing a hero’s welcome for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after he showed up Senate Republican leaders during a crucial vote on the debt limit…
“A tickertape parade,” said Steve Deace, a conservative radio host based in Iowa when asked what kind of reception Cruz will receive from activists next month…
Chip Saltsman, a Republican strategist who managed Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign, predicted Cruz would have a difficult challenge trying to explain his procedural moves in the Senate to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“At the end of the day Ted Cruz made McConnell have a 60-vote limit and the debt ceiling still passed. It’s not like he stopped the debt limit from being passed,” he said.
Watching the chaos from the side of the chamber was the man who caused it: Cruz, his hands in his pants pockets and a satisfied grin on his face. The Texas Republican strolled to the clerk’s table to check on the vote count and was met with a look of disgust from Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). And the feeling was widespread: Moments after Cruz walked into the Republican cloakroom, four senators emerged from it and changed their votes to “aye.”…
His actions suggest Cruz has put himself before his party and even the nation’s solvency. And in this sense his actions are typical of the 2016 GOP presidential field. Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Rand Paul are mucking up the gears of government in ways that will earn them favorable attention in the primaries…
To nobody’s surprise, Paul and Rubio sided with Cruz in Wednesday’s debt-ceiling filibuster. Had they prevailed, and had 12 of their GOP colleagues not been more responsible, the likely default would have added far more to the national debt than the legislation did. It also would have caused markets to crash, the economy to swoon and American standing to decline.
But for Messrs. Paul, Rubio and Cruz, those aren’t the top considerations.
“We were confronted with a clean debt ceiling in the Senate or default. I believe I have to act in the best interests of the country, and every time we’ve been confronted with a potential crisis, the guy you’re looking at is the one who stepped up to solve the problem,” McConnell told reporters, according to Associated Press video.
McConnell then explained his leading roles in evading the fiscal cliff two years ago and his work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to reopen the government and avert default last October.
“It was clear that we needed to produce enough procedural votes to get to a debt ceiling vote in order to avoid a default. My job is to protect the country when I can, and to step up and lead on those occasions when it’s required. That’s what I did,” said McConnell, who faces both primary and general election opponents in a tough path toward reelection.
DeMint argued Cruz was merely holding to normal procedure: ”The normal rule is you take 60 votes to move to a final vote, [which] they call cloture. I think that several members, including Ted Cruz, were simply asking, ‘Let’s keep the normal rules here.’ And that didn’t suit some folks.”
“The reason there’s a 60-vote rule in the Senate, and the reason Republican leadership fought so hard to keep it for nominations, is it requires some bipartisan working-together to pass something,” DeMint said. “The debt limit and just giving the president a blank check is an important vote, and to say we’re going to waive the rules to make it easier — if Ted Cruz hadn’t required standard procedure, there are several others [Republican senators] who would.”
Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn are cowards. They were in a conundrum. Their constituents did not want the debt ceiling raised. But McConnell and Cornyn wanted the debt ceiling raised. So they shut down Ted Cruz’s filibuster knowing the Democrats would raise the debt ceiling without their votes. They, like their House counterparts, enabled this to happen.
In all their moral preening about what’s good for the country and economy, they were too chicken to actually vote their conscience — they were too chicken to do what they thought was right.
And that is why people hate Washington. Here are two of the most senior Republicans in the Senate who both believed the right thing to do was raise the debt ceiling, but were too chicken to actually cast that vote themselves. Insteaad, they arranged the deck chairs on the Titanic so the Democrats could do it without them. They threw Ted Cruz under the bus only to vote the same why he did on final passage…
We need boldness. We need principled leaders. We have too many moral cowards in Washington.
Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t want to let McConnell and the rest of the Senate GOP Conference get away with this approach. Cruz and allies say this maneuver is all about misleading the conservative base. If Republicans really oppose a suspension of the debt limit, then they should use the filibuster to block it. Republicans who are fine with such a suspension, Cruz reasons, ought to vote for it…
But Vote No; Hope Yes has featured prominently in Tea Party tactics. These days, you’ll hear Cruz and Mike Lee, along with Heritage Action and the Club For Growth, praising and defending automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. But when sequestration passed, the Tea Party warriors voted against it as a sellout compared to their balanced-budget plan. Lee, Jim DeMint, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, and Rand Paul all voted no on sequestration. But they were all glad it became law…
Democrats played this game last decade — railing against debt-limit hikes (think Senator Obama) and holding votes to defund the Iraq war — while happily letting the GOP win in the end. The result: a pacified Democratic base, and Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008.
McConnell would like to repeat that play. Cruz won’t let him.
Reagan also said that many of Cruz’s colleagues are facing difficult reelection bids in 2014 and that Cruz appears to have no concern about alienating them.
“He seems to want to run for president, but has it occurred to him that he might enjoy the help of his Senate colleagues?” Reagan said.
Reagan also agreed with a panelist who suggested the GOP is headed towards a civil war and added that Ted Cruz is at the center of creating the tension.
“Ted Cruz apparently thinks that somebody has got to rise out of the smoking ruins that is the Republican Party… and apparently he feels that somebody can be him. He first has to create the smoking ruins, of course, and he’s doing a pretty good job of that,” Reagan said.
As was the case in last fall’s CR/shutdown battle, this week Senator Cruz did not have a legislative strategy with an endgame. He neither presented an alternative strategy to his colleagues nor pursued one as a lone wolf on the Senate floor. In both cases he simply made a single aggressive tactical legislative move that didn’t point toward an alternative outcome, then accused his colleagues of being cowardly, unprincipled, and deceptive for not following his lead into a blind canyon.
Some will say, “At least Senator Cruz was willing to fight!” Unfortunately, this argument always stops there, and never explains how a willingness to fight without a strategy translates into a policy win. Legislative conflict is not a schoolyard tussle in which the bigger or tougher guy usually wins. It’s not a Hollywood movie in which the hero triumphs simply because he is virtuous. Legislative conflict is more like chess in that the battle is waged according to strict rules. Those who favor bigger government know how to play chess and some of them are quite good at it. Many of those who favor smaller government now seek praise for tipping over the board or eating the pieces. While momentary rebellion is flashy and can feel good for a moment, it’s not a strategy to win, not how you change policy. And the goal is to change policy for the better, not just to build a bigger mailing list, right?…
But having the right policy goal isn’t enough to succeed, to change policy. You also need a legislative strategy with an endgame and some chance of success. As best I can tell Senator Cruz didn’t have one last fall and he didn’t have one earlier this week. His tactical legislative moves, then and now, need to be considered in that context. The same is true for his public comments surrounding those legislative moves. His objection this week served only to expose that Republicans were boxed in, forced to choose between facilitating passage of a bill they didn’t like and an even worse policy outcome. And they were boxed in because they could not build sufficient support for a unified legislative strategy that had a chance of success.
I hope that in the future Senator Cruz can use his intellect, political savvy, and external base of support to produce effective strategies that produce the good policy results we both support, instead of using his prodigious skills and resources only to assign blame for the bad outcomes.