Ted Cruz is now the central figure in the Republican attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act. Cruz and a sizable cadre of congressional Republicans are threatening to shut down the government if Senate Democrats and President Obama don't agree to defund Obamacare. Cruz is leading the reckless and craven effort, which is apparently stagnated at its current level of Republican congressional support.
On Chuck Todd's show, fellow Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said this of Cruz's effort:
CORKER: I think it's a silly effort and what people are really saying who are behind that effort is we don't have the courage to roll up our sleeves and deal with real deficit reduction and spending decisions. We want to take ourselves out of the debate and act like we are being principled to the American people by saying if there is one dime of funding for Obamacare we are not going to vote for the CR. I don't look at that as very courageous. Most of us see through it and realize these people are really just taking themselves out of the debate…I think people see through it and they understand what's really taking place.
It's a rare day when Corker is dead-on, but he is. And he's not alone among the Republicans. Last week, Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Cruz's effort was a “temper tantrum” that would backlash on Republicans. This seems to have solidified a distaste for House Republicans in Cruz. On Tuesday, he lashed out at House Republicans as feckless and showy.
“There are a lot of politicians in Washington who love empty symbolic votes. It's been one of my biggest surprises in the Senate, I guess I wasn't cynical enough when I arrived here,” Cruz said at a Heritage Foundation event. “I didn't realize how many Republicans love to have a fig leaf vote where they can go and tell their constituents, 'see I voted to do the right thing.' The House has voted what 39, 40, 41 times I can't keep track to repeal ObamaCare. Those votes were by and large empty symbolic votes they had zero chance of passing.”
Read more below the jump.That's a serious insult to all 234 House Republicans. Ted Cruz may have other senators, like Cornyn and Rubio, who have joined his threat, but Cruz is the only one taking such swings at other Republicans. Here's a nugget from a recent Politico article:
An former top Senate GOP leadership aide, who asked for anonymity, said Cruz's latest battle “isn't about principle and it isn't about party.”
“It's about promoting Ted Cruz's presidential ambitions, and he and his team are making clear that retaining the House or winning back a Senate GOP majority are all secondary to that goal,” the source said. “It's a shortsighted and selfish political strategy but one that fellow Republicans are unfortunately having to get used to.”
Ted Cruz is all about Ted Cruz's 2016 primary fight. Shutting down America's government, hurting fellow party members, doing nothing productive in Congress, all makes a certain type of sense. But you have to be Ted Cruz, or a rabid Ted Cruz supporter, to agree with it.
The term 'Obamacare' has been dragged through the media. Polls show people overwhelmingly supporting the bill's provisions – when you don't mention the term. The overconfident Cruz may think that Americans are vociferously opposed to the bill, but he is (a) wrong and (b) wrong to think they'll support a government shutdown over it.
Cruz is a natural leader of Republican extremists, but the direction he's taking his party is not one they (or the American people) benefit from at all.