You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Editorial columns

  • At 125, tower still stirs fancies, fears of Paris
    Pop the bubbly. It’s time to toast the 125th birthday of the Eiffel Tower, that iron, lattice-work marvel that scholar Roger Shattuck called “the first monument of modernism.
  • Tax code’s disincentive to marriage
    In a few short months, I’ll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears – before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love – that she’s willing to pay a much higher tax rate.
  • Tea party’s assimilation into GOP now complete
    Say what you will about Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, but they know a train wreck when they see it.
Advertisement
Associated Press
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks against Obamacare in the Senate. He spoke for 21 hours Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cruz weakens GOP with futile anti-Obamacare effort

Democratic politics is a constant tug-of-war between principle and practicality. In a well-functioning system, legislators accept that fact and compromise accordingly; the electorate rewards them for maturity and realism. In the United States, however, democracy is not functioning particularly well at the moment.

And so we have Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Many – including, privately, many within his own Republican Party – accuse Cruz of grandstanding. Even accepting his objection to Obamacare as a matter of high conservative principle responsive to the wishes of his constituents, the course he has chosen, with fellow freshman Mike Lee, R-Utah, and a handful of other senators, is patently futile and counterproductive.

A Congressional Research Service analysis has demonstrated that most of the health law would still be implemented even if Congress excluded funds for it from a temporary spending bill. Meanwhile, that bill, whose ultimate passage Cruz is obstructing, would peg the overall budget at the truncated level set in the sequester – a limitation some regard as indiscriminate and ill-advised but that the GOP could trumpet to its grass roots as a victory for small government, if not for Cruz’s noisy crusade. And, of course, there’s the public backlash that might hit Republicans if Congress can’t pass the bill by Monday, forcing a partial government shutdown.

Cruz’s attempt to mount a legislative Battle of the Alamo is not worth waging even in terms of its benefits to conservatism. Nor does it make sense on the merits, since the health care law represents a step toward universal coverage and controlling costs.

And that’s not to mention the real-world effects of a shutdown, actual or threatened, on federal programs and the workers who operate them.

The political and procedural reality in the Democratic-controlled Senate is that Cruz and Co. will fail; a continuing resolution with no defund-Obamacare language will probably pass near the Monday deadline. What happens in the House is anyone’s guess, given that pressure from Mr. Cruz on conservative House back-benchers forced Speaker John Boehner to tie a defunding provision to the spending bill that’s now in the Senate.

According to some conventional wisdom, even if Cruz loses, he wins, gaining popularity among the GOP base and, hence, clout on the Hill. In that view, Boehner would be under pressure once again to use the spending bill for another symbolic attack on the health care law. Boehner and a large majority of his party should learn a different lesson: that Cruz’s extreme path is a road to ruin, for Republicans but, more importantly, for the country.

Advertisement