Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has some new ideas for how to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, he believes in abusing the filibuster to stop anything that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will do, and that includes filibustering a cloture vote on the House’s continuing resolution, which strips funding from the ACA. What he thinks the House should do next, if Sen. Reid doesn’t do what he wants, is start playing games with individual departments and force the Senate into a corner by seeing if they’re willing to shut down the military. In a discussion with Chris Wallace, of Fox News Sunday, Cruz said,
“If Harry Reid kills this bill in the Senate, I think the House should hold its ground, and should begin passing smaller continuing resolutions, one department at a time. It should start with a continuing resolution focused on the military. Fund the military, send it over, and let’s see if Harry Reid is willing to shut down the military just because he wants to force Obamacare on the American people.”
This is the type of political brinksmanship that Cruz and his ilk have become famous, or rather, infamous for. The Tea Party is rigid and uncompromising, and is the source of much of the gridlock that goes on in Congress. The Tea Party is also one of the causes of the GOP’s civil war. The senator’s statement that voting to allow debate on the resolution, with funding for the ACA put back in it, “is a vote for Obamacare,” riled up some of his colleagues. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) believes that any Senate vote on the issue has to be based in reality, and the reality of the fact is the Senate GOP just does not have the votes to defund the ACA. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) agreed with him. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) supports the bill and won’t vote to block it, and while he hopes some Democrats join him and the rest of the Senate Republicans in voting against an amendment to put the ACA’s funding back in, he doesn’t believe that will happen. Still others in the GOP say he’s fighting the wrong fight, and fiscal conservatives are increasingly frustrated with some of the Tea Party’s groups focusing harder on getting rid of the ACA than they are on addressing overall spending problems.
According to a CBS analysis, Republicans trying to defund or repeal the ACA are only appealing to their conservative base, and less to moderates and independents over their intransigence. 59% of their conservative voters want the law repealed entirely, but only 34% of their moderates want that. 41% of their independents want that; the moderates and independents are more likely to support repealing some, but not all, of the ACA. The numbers are based on numbers from CBS’s exit polls during the 2012 election.
As far as defunding it goes, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a majority of Americans overall don’t feel that defunding the ACA is the way to go, and they don’t like GOP efforts to use the budget battles to try and do so. Furthermore, in many places, the ACA is, in fact, bringing premiums down, and figures are showing that it’s not likely to hurt business as much as the GOP has been saying it will.
So what’s happening, then? Are Sen. Cruz and the Tea Party really that afraid of the ACA working that they’ll keep risking government shutdowns and defaulting on our debt just to look good? Despite cries to the contrary, it was these same types of games that caused the S&P to downgrade the United States’ credit rating for the first time in history in 2011, saying at the time:
“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.”
They also believed that a budget deal reached between President Obama and Congress didn’t go far enough to address serious issues with our financial picture. Since the 2010 midterm election, obstructionism, brinksmanship and just plain games with the economy, with the government, and with the lives of everyday people, has been the name of the game. Tea Party groups even wrote a letter of warning that the country couldn’t afford compromise or bipartisanship anymore to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
It’s not Sen. Reid abusing his position here, and it’s not Democrats causing the problems. It’s Ted Cruz, and those who would rather shut the government down, or shut individual departments such as the military down, than try and work out a compromise, who are abusing their positions and causing the problems.
Watch Sen. Cruz’s comments here: