In the fall, Congress will decide the details of next year's federal budget. Ted Cruz is leading a charge right now that is no more than a wild threat: to shut down the government if Congress doesn't repeal Obamacare. That would require the Democratic-led Senate to vote the funds down, and then President Obama to sign a budget that defunds his own landmark bill.
Cruz is currently joined by twelve other Republican senators, including our own John Cornyn, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Florida's Marco Rubio. They sent Harry Reid a letter last week vowing not to vote for the upcoming government funding bill unless it defunds Obamacare. A full 66 House Republicans, more than a quarter of the conference, sent a similar letter to Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Why is Ted Cruz doing this? Read more below the jump.In a condescending way reminiscent of Mitt Romney's proud disregard for 47 percent of the country, Cruz charge said this on Saturday: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in,” Cruz said at the Western Conservative Summit. “Once those kick in, it's going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration's plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.”
It must be noted that Cruz thinks of the American people as little more than potential “sugar” addicts whose loyalty comes down to freebies. Not an independent people capable of making their own decisions. You don't have to guess whether Republicans dislike Americans; they tell you directly.
Cruz is willfully ignoring that Obamacare has nothing to do with any type of giveaway. The bill reduces premium costs by reining in unconscionable price gauging, bars pre-existing condition care denials, allows children to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26, and makes the health system more efficient. In New York, Americans have already seen their premiums cut in half. What Cruz and his Republican followers are worried about is Obamacare working too well.
The bill takes full effect in 2014. Cruz is leading the faction so virulently opposed to its implementation that they want to shut down the government to prevent it. The problem is twofold. One, they make the Republican Party look (accurately) extreme, unreasonable, and dangerous. Government shutdowns are dangerous, hampering the function of American democracy almost completely. Two, their demand is so unrealistic that it is certain to fail. Digging their trenches further solidifies the Republicans as the anti-Obamacare party. Once the bill takes full effect, Democrats will be able to run on being the party that made the bill. If the Republicans weren't so extreme (and bought out by the health care industry), they'd tout the parts of the bill they contributed (there are more than you might think), and maybe even the fact that it is essentially the conservative Heritage Foundation's proposed health care reform from the 1990s.
Other Republicans see that the Cruz coalition's threats are destructive. “It seems to me there are appropriate ways to deal with the law but shutting down the government to get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation is a political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum,” said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole last week. “It's just not helpful.”
That's a Republican saying Ted Cruz and his followers are throwing a “temper tantrum”. In recent years, Republicans were able to leverage their extreme faction to demand President Obama come further right wing on budget negotiations. This strategy was successful in 2011, for example, when Boehner bragged that “I got 98 percent of what I wanted” in the debt ceiling agreement (to cut entitlements). It also succeeded in January of this year, when far right-wing denunciation of any new taxes brought President Obama very far right, closing the fiscal cliff deal by making 82 percent of the Bush tax cuts permanent.
The numbers of shutdown threat-makers in the Senate and the House shows how far the extremist faction of the Republican Party has become the Republican Party. Reckless, unproductive, and actively opposed to American progress.