September 27, 2013

Senator Ted Cruz has now taken aim at Speaker John Boehenr over Obamacare and funding the government.

On a Thursday conference call, a group of House conservatives consulted with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas about how to respond to the leadership’s fiscal strategy. Sources who were on the call say Cruz strongly advised them to oppose it, and hours later, Speaker John Boehner’s plan fizzled.

It’s the latest example of Cruz leading the House’s right flank.

The private call came together after Boehner unveiled his strategy at a Republican conference meeting earlier this week. Boehner’s plan — to focus on a debt-limit package, rather than a drawn-out CR battle — made many conservatives uneasy. As they mulled a response, they reached out to Cruz.

On the call, Cruz told them that Boehner was making a mistake, and urged his friends to fight until the end on the CR. The group agreed, and they complained that Boehner’s shift to the debt limit was a diversion. Senator Mike Lee of Utah joined Cruz on the call, and both senators said they’d stand with House conservatives as they opposed the leadership.

By the call’s end, there was a consensus: until the CR talks are complete, Republicans should whip “no” on Boehner’s debt-limit plan, as a way of preventing the leadership from directing the strategy. And that’s exactly what happened late Thursday afternoon: GOP whip Kevin McCarthy worked the floor, but couldn’t find the votes for Boehner’s debt-limit plan. After McCarthy reported back about the Cruz-inspired uprising, the leadership shelved it.

I'm sure John Boehner is furious right now. I don't feel bad for him since Republicans voted to put these nuts in office, but if Tea Party wackos do shut down the government, then America is in for a world of hurt. And no matter how much damage they do, Republicans will still vote them into local offices to gunk up the works for the rest of us.

I don't remember a senator being involved with the House like this in a long time and Ed Kilgore agrees:

This is some genuine intrigue involving a massive breach of congressional etiquette by Cruz. And it’s also just weird: House and Senate members rarely deal with each other directly. They inhabit different realms that do not usually intersect.

Something tells me Cruz doesn’t mind that at all. Such intraparty outlaw behavior is yet another thing he has in common with his look-alike bullyboy predecessor from back in the day, Joe McCarthy.

By the way, Ted Cruz now leads the Republican pack as the the GOP's great white hope in 2016 via PPP's new poll:

PPP's newest national poll finds Ted Cruz is now the top choice of Republican primary voters to be their candidate for President in 2016. He leads the way with 20% to 17% for Rand Paul, 14% for Chris Christie, 11% for Jeb Bush, 10% each for Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, 4% for Bobby Jindal, and 3% each for Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.Cruz has gained 8 points since our last national 2016 poll in July while everyone else has more or less stayed in place. He's made himself the face of a government shutdown over Obamacare, and the Republican base supports that by a 64/20 margin. It's not surprising that Republicans identifying as 'very conservative' support a shutdown 75/10, but even the moderate wing of the party supports it by a 46/36 margin.

That poll reminds me of the hilarious 2012 GOP primary when every fruitcake in the Republican field took a turn leading in the polls for the general election. Even Herman Cain led the polls for a while and he ran on a nutty 999 economic plan.

Digby opines, the entire Republican party is bonkers.

The problem isn't that the Tea party is crazy. It's that Republicans are crazy. Only 18% of them can be described a moderate. I suppose the good news is that they are in a minority in the nation at large so they are unlikely to succeed at national politics. But these people are in gerrymandered districts and very deep Red States where the crazy is concentrated. They'll continue to act crazy as long as the lunatic Republican base --- which is most of the party --- supports this crap.

And don't think for a minute that reality must bite one day and they'll be forced to admit their folly. If they shut down the government or refuse to raise the debt ceiling and all hell breaks loose, they will not wake up one morning, look in the mirror and say to themselves that they went too far. That will never happen. They'll just blame the hippies, the blacks, Obamacare or Big Gummint. They never, ever, ever blame themselves.

Amanda makes the point that technically Ted Cruz can be in the Senate and bethe Speaker of the House if members picked him to lead them.

On Friday, the National Review reported that a group of conservative House Republicans, unsure of how to respond to Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) proposal for dealing with the debt limit, decided to consult Cruz, who isn't even in their chamber. Cruz "strongly advised them to oppose it," which they did. Cruz could possibly do more than simply advise House Republicans; he could lead them. While every speaker of the House has been a member of that chamber, the U.S. Constitution is actually not explicit that it has to be that way:

"The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their Speaker and other Officers." If House conservatives did decide to choose Cruz, it certainly would set up an interesting constitutional fight.Democrats were already playing up this possibility on Friday, with the super PAC American Bridge directing the website to the National Review's story.

Now that would be really fun to behold, but I doubt it will happen. He's got almost as much power there without the headache of leading that body.

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