Monday, September 23, 2013

Descent into madness. Ted Cruz, The Republicans and the ACA

               I believe Albert Einstein, a smart guy, once stated the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result. The House of Representatives voted 41 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Each time they knew it would not pass the Senate. Or if by a miracle it did it would be vetoed before the ink on the bill dried. In spite of that they held 41 votes to repeal. Did they actually expect a different result or was it cynical political theater or a combination of both? And dies it really make a difference?

Along comes the junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. By all reports, this is a smart guy. It does appear though he may suffer from the smart guy syndrome. "I'm the smartest guy in the room. I am sure I know better how a couple hundred year old institution should be run. It doesn't matter I've only been here less than a year but trust me. I know what we should do and how to do it. You experienced politicians take is wrong. I am right."

Since he is a smart guy he knows what buttons to push to inflame the Tea Party into a frenzy. OBAMACARE!! DEFUND!! Let's hold the country hostage. Trust me, the Dems will blink and defund the President's signature accomplishment. No problem. And is it a bad thing to shut down the Government? Naw. After a summer of beating this drum the Crazy Caucus of the House signed on. The fact that the Heritage Foundation is running ads, holding rallies in favor of defunding the ACA at all costs helped. Carrot and stick. Sarah Palin and other groups weighed in implying primary challenges on no votes. The prospect of an actual campaign scares incumbents to death.

Now hard as it is to believe there are still some political realists in the GOP. You know things are weird when Karl Rove is a voice of reason. There are conservative Republicans in the Senate who realize extortion is not a good move.Some actually remember what happened in '95. The GOP shut down the Government. They suffered major losses in the House, though still maintained a majority, and an embattled Democratic President was resoundingly reelected. Oops.

Now Ted Cruz is toying with a Presidential bid in 2016. Were I a cynic, I would think he is simply building a mailing list and raising cash for political groups that buy his rhetoric. I'm pretty sure he wants these groups on board should he tilt at windmills in a POTUS bid.

This Quixotic fight has exposed divisions in the Republican Party. It seems the Establishment has been turned on by their creation. When you embolden zealots and put them in positions of power you invite disaster. By their nature true believers are hard to control. Once you aim them at a target they go all tunnel vision and will not stop until their goals are reached. If they have to burn down the House to stop something they vehemently oppose, they'll turn a flame thrower on a fuel tanker to accomplish their objective. And then block the firetrucks.

Things are hostile between the factions we are seeing the acrimony leak out into the public arena. Senator Cruz has called the Senate GOP Caucus,"The Surrender Caucus" which will only endear him to them.  You have Senator John McCain saying this defund/shutdown plan isn't rational. Karl Rove said Cruz launched this strategy without telling the party. They only find out his plans when he goes public. Senator after Senator has called Cruz's plan ill advised which is the nice way to say bat shit crazy.

Former Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) has gone after Cruz and his cohorts. "The political babble of a few has become has become the mainstream of Republican political thought." He goes on to say they're playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded revolver. Also you never take a hostage you can't shoot. Which it seems they have, Senator Gregg.

Senator Rand Paul has backed off recently after being gung-ho on the extortion plan. He says he supports it but it won't succeed. Last week Cruz said the same thing as he also told the House to stand firm. This set off a fire storm in the House as Members said, rightly so, Cruz was hanging them out to dry. That got the Senator from Texas's attention. He vowed a filibuster to delay action by the Senate. He is also calling for the Majority Leader to suspend rules to make it easier to delay action. That'll happen. So what he wants to do is filibusterer a Republican bill to prevent a Republican bill from being considered. The Surrender Caucus recognizes this is absurdity. There may not be the support there Senator Cruz is counting on.

For when the CR gets stripped of the defund language and is sent back to the House Cruz announced Plan B.  The House should pass small spending resolutions and attach ACA defunding to them one at a time. Starting with military spending. He wants to have this done over and over till the Senate caves and force a veto. So, Senator Cruz wants the House to hold the military hostage while we have troops in harm's way. Because it's the patriotic thing to do. Now, should they decline to participate in this scenario I expect to see a lot of Primary battles. The Heritage Foundation, Freedom works, Sarah Palin and others will use a sane vote as a cudgel to gin up the rabid base in an attempt to push the Party even further right. Purity tests will be the norm.

This civil war is being played down in public. Mostly. Chris Wallace received opposition research from Republicans to, wait for it, hammer Ted Cruz. So, I am stocking up on popcorn and sitting back. This is going to get interesting.

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