"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, January 22, 2018

Heart in the Deep of Texas Report: Government Shutdown Edition

Yeah, I know, Democrats "caved" today, and gave the government three more weeks of funding.  Which actually means McConnell holds the vote, or Dems walk away in three weeks and let the GOP hold the bag.

And if this is total capitulation for the Dems, why is Ted Cruz talking this way?

“They’re angry, they hate the president and demanding Senate Democrats oppose everything, resist everything, shut everything down,” Cruz said, and Hunt told him that reminded her of what he said more than four years ago. “Now i recognize that is a media narrative you love to tell, but it’s worth noting in 2013 –”

“‘Green Eggs and Ham?'” Hunt interrupted, reminding Cruz of the children’s book he read during a filibuster in 2013.

“In 2013, I voted repeatedly to fund the government, and in 2013 it was Harry Reid and the democrats who voted no, who voted to shut the government down just like this week Republicans voted to fund the government, and it was Chuck Schumer who voted to shut the government down,” Cruz said.

“We should not be shutting the government down,” Cruz said. “I have consistently opposed shutdowns. In 2013 I said we shouldn’t shut the government down. I went to the floor asking unanimous consent to reopen the government.”

Hunt wasn’t letting Cruz wriggle out of that.

“Sir, you stood in the way of that,” Hunt said, and Cruz insisted she was “factually incorrect. “It’s not, though.”

Cruz blamed Democrats for the previous shutdown — but Hunt again called him out by reminding him of his scheme to undo Obamacare before it could fully take effect.

“Sir, that’s simply not the case,” she said. “This was about Obamacare funding.”

Cruz accused the reporter of trying to debate him without any facts, but Hunt kept pushing.

“Why were all of your GOP colleagues angry with you if you didn’t?” she said.

Cruz then tried to escape blame by shoving it back on fellow Republicans.

“In 2013, unfortunately, Republicans were divided,” he said. “That was a mistake and I wrote a book a couple years ago called ‘A Time for Truth.’ I walked through what happened and said the mistake made then in 2013 by Senate Republican leadership was to turn and attack House Republicans, and fellow Republicans and to turn Republicans on each other. That was a mistake. I wish it had not happened and I’m glad it didn’t happen this time. This time Republicans actually stayed united.”

Let's start with Forbes in 2013:

The government “shutdown” properly should be called “the Cruz Crisis.” This indeed is a crisis in the Chinese nuanced sense.

The Chinese character, weiji, usually is translated “dangerous opportunity.” Actually it means “precarious pivot point.”  That describes perfectly where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) stands… and has pushed the Republican Party.  Ted Cruz has made himself the point man for the whole, melodramatic, government “shutdown.”  It is part of his high stakes play for the presidency driven by, those who know him say, an admixture of ambition and idealism.

The "shutdown" enamored the angry populists in the Tea Party with Cruz as it was meant to do.  Yet the round is not yet over.  Neither the GOP, nor Cruz, are out of the woods yet.  To pocket his winnings, Cruz needs to help extricate the GOP from peril (into which he helped placed it), neutralize, not heighten, the political negatives, play a major role in holding the House and installing a Republican majority in the Senate. Cruz, if he hopes to reunite America, first must reunite the party he helped divide.

Or maybe you prefer NPR from the same year:

In the second day of a partial government shutdown, Congress is at a stalemate.

On Tuesday night, House Republicans tried to pass three small bills funding popular parts of the government, such as the national parks. But they failed. The White House had already threatened a veto.

That strategy, as with others in this fight, is credited to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz looms large in this government shutdown drama. He's the one who spent the August recess campaigning for Republicans to insist on tying funding for the government to defunding the health care law.

On Monday night, just hours before the shutdown began, Cruz appeared on CNN and suggested the House take up smaller spending bills — one at a time — to fund bits and pieces of the government.

"We should pick the top, the critical priorities, the areas where, if the Democrats force a shutdown, the areas where there'll be the most pain, and let's address that — let's take them off the table," he said. "I think the House tonight ought to pass several continuing resolutions."
Ted is an old hand at blaming the media for his troubles:

Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it.

At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said.

Things got particularly heated when Cruz was asked point-blank if he would renounce attacks waged on GOP senators by the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group that has aligned itself closely with the Texas senator.

Cruz’s response: “I will not,” according to an attendee.
The closed-door Wednesday meetings hosted by the Senate’s conservative Steering Committee are supposed to be private, so senators interviewed for this article asked not to be named.

“It seems that there is nothing the media likes to cover more than disagreements among Republicans, and apparently some senators are content to fuel those stories with anonymous quotes,” Cruz told POLITICO. “Regardless, my focus — and, I would hope, the focus of the rest of the conference — is on stopping Harry Reid’s shutdown, ensuring that vital government priorities are funded, and preventing the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on millions of Americans.”

Then there's this from Texas Monthly about the present.  Reminder:  TM is a usually reliable Republican house organ:

That Ted-I-Am, that Ted-I-Am, he did not like Green Eggs and Ham. Senator Ted Cruz read aloud the Dr. Seuss book as part of 21 hours of extended remarks leading up to the government shutdown of 2013. He liked the book and said he was simply reading it as a bedtime story for his young daughters. But his reading, and the shutdown that followed, propelled the freshman senator to the front ranks of presidential contenders with the support of anti-government tea party activists who backed Cruz’s attempt to use a budget fight to kill Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

But here we are in the government shutdown of 2018. We can’t find that Ted-I-Am here. We can’t find him there. We can’t find him just about anywhere. Other than showing up in the Senate to give the leadership his vote to extend federal government spending until mid-February, Cruz was staying out of the news in the current budget battle. The old Ted Cruz seems to be missing in action.

Yeah, and they noticed something else, too:

This shutdown [in 2018, not 2019, please note], however, is just about everything Cruz might want to avoid as he faces a challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke for Senate reelection. It puts Cruz in a test of allegiance between the Republican congressional leadership and President Trump over issues that can only be resolved by negotiating with Democrats.

Just a bit more about that:

O’Rourke had no trouble deciding. He voted against the continuing resolution in the House to keep the government function.[sic] He said he wanted other issues resolved and a federal budget that would keep government operating for a full year, not a few months at a time.

“We have over $1 billion in transportation infrastructure projects authorized but not funded because of this erratic budget path,” O’Rourke said in an email. “And $81 billion in disaster relief, much of it allocated for those who are rebuilding after Harvey, continues to languish in the Senate while Congress remains unable to do its most basic job: fund the government for the full fiscal year. I voted against continuing on this reckless course because I believe that Congress must come to a bipartisan solution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.”
Which is actually a pretty sensible position.  Interestingly, O'Rourke represents El Paso, on the farthest western edge of the state.  Yet he's concerned about recovery on the Gulf Coast, the far eastern side of the state.  And Sen. Cruz?  About this he has nothing to say, although it's a big concern down here.

So what is Cruz doing?  Cruz comes from as reliably red a state as Alabama.  He's almost as certifiably right-wing as Roy Moore, with his own family history of Christian crazy to put up against Judge Moore's.    He's also up for re-election to his Senate seat.  So there are three convenient connections between the Jr. Senator from Texas and the would-be Senator from Alabama, who barely lost (but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades).  So maybe it's another comparison he's worried about:
Yeah, it could be that.  It could be Ted is sweating re-election, is very aware of the ghost of Roy Moore, can see that Beto O'Rourke has nowhere to go but up.  Yeah, he's been peddling the line since 2014; but it has a certain piquancy now that reporters aren't letting it pass unnoticed:

“That was an interesting exchange,” [Kasie] Hunt said. “I would just like to say, I was going back and forth with the senator. He’s technically correct about the way that the procedure of this played out, but there is no question about how the government shutdown unfolded in 2013, which is that Senate Republicans pushed to defund Obamacare.”

“Ted Cruz angered many of his own colleagues, there were testy meetings, he was essentially an outcast,” she continued. “Mitch McConnell was not happy with him, and the government shut down because clearly Senate Democrats were not going to go along with a budget agreement that defunded Obamacare. The dynamics were a little different, but if there’s any comparison to be made here it would be in this particular case Democrats obviously do not control the Senate. They were making certain demands about what is included in a measure, refused to provide the votes for a shutdown. So I think if you want to make a comparison, you can compare Senate Democrats to Ted Cruz.

We'll let Shep Smith have the last word on what Ted said:

“[Cruz is] very much against shutdowns,” Smith joked. “I heard him say it today so I know it’s true.”

And if you look at the pictures here, Cruz in the Democratic stronghold of McAllen was predictably not showered with affection; but O'Rourke, in the GOP stronghold of Lubbock, was.

Shutdowns are not good for anybody.  The primary burden should fall on the GOP who, controlling both houses and the White House, can't even put a budget together.  Three weeks from now, we'll be doing this again; and everyone will be blaming everyone else for it.  What's interesting is how badly burned Ted Cruz is.  One wonders why he didn't follow John Cornyn's example and keep his mouth shut.  He probably thought he should remind the voters he's available.  Funny way to do it, though.  Tells you something about government shutdowns, doesn't it?  And maybe something about the political future of Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz isn't the only one who realizes now the shutdowns are not popular, and you don't want to be blamed for them:

This shutdown was always going to be decided by the “blame game,” as annoying as that is to say. As each side made their arguments in recent days, Republicans had the more straightforward one—Democrats were responsible for the shutdown because they filibustered a funding bill in order to secure something else. A DACA fix is popular; shutting down the government over one is much less so, especially in many of the states Senate Democrats are trying to hold in November. The polling was beginning to gravitate in Republicans’ favor.

“I hear our numbers are dropping like a rock,” Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York told Bloomberg on Monday.
The real problem is, the Republicans haven't let the Democrats pass a budget in years, and now they aren't capable of passing one themselves.  That's the issue that will resonate with voters in November:  not who shut the government down, but why the government is being funded by CR's instead of a budget.  Trump was right about that, though he stupidly linked it to the filibuster rule without realizing he lost 4 GOP votes on the CR the first time around, and without a budget to vote on, even 51 votes is useless (although that's exactly what reconciliation is about in the Senate):

CR's are the problem the Democrats need to run on; not who is to blame for government closures.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home