He was referring specifically, of course, to squishy Senate Republicans who tried to obfuscate how they voted on raising the debt ceiling last Wednesday. The Hill caught the transcript of Sen. Cruz’s remarks:
“In the 13 months I’ve been in the Senate it has become apparent to me the single thing that Republican politicians hate and fear the most, and that is when they’re forced to tell the truth. It makes their heads explode,” Cruz told radio host Mark Levin Thursday.
Cruz tried to filibuster a vote in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling Wednesday, forcing the approval of 60 senators instead of a simple majority. That required Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take a politically risky vote in favor of the increase.
“Make no mistake about it, this was their desired outcome,” Cruz said. “A lot of the Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama wanted, exactly what Nancy Pelosi wanted, exactly what Harry Reid wanted, which is to raise the debt ceiling, but they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish, gullible constituents back home they didn’t do it.”
Cruz is of course right. The desired outcome was to raise the debt ceiling without a fuss, thus avoiding another government shutdown until after the 2014 midterm elections, allowing Republicans to hammer Democrats on Obamacare and the economy without any distractions. This was a political calculation that eventually won out, even though some conservatives (although not all) wanted to include building the Keystone XL pipeline or some other Republican-backed initiative as part of the agreement. In the end, Republicans helped raise the debt ceiling and got nothing tangible in return. And the manner in which they did so, to put it bluntly, was disgraceful.
Indeed, there is actual evidence that Senate Republicans schemed and plotted to hide how they voted. Surprise:
After hoping the measure passed without their fingerprints, McConnell and Cornyn were forced to own part of it by allowing it to move to a final vote with their consent, even persuading several of their colleagues to switch their votes. The leaders later voted against final passage. But McConnell decided not to block the measure because he concluded it wasn’t worth repeating yet another crisis-like atmosphere similar to the government shutdown last fall. …
That internal debate spilled into open view on the Senate floor. A grim-faced McConnell stood next to the white-haired Cornyn, who quietly discussed a way forward with Murkowski, Collins, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a handful of other senators. Tension filled the room as the vote was kept open for more than an hour. The clerks were informed not to announce the names of the senators who had voted, allowing the leaders to urge senators to switch their votes.
Allahpundit notes these two vulnerable Republicans made a bad situation worse. How, you ask? Firstly because even though they voted “nay” on final passage, they ensured it would pass by voting to override the filibuster; and secondly, by trying to cover up their tracks, they merely lent credence to the idea that politicians care more about the next election cycle than their constituents. Nice work, guys.
Not surprisingly, McConnell and Cornyn -- and every other Senate Republican, for that matter -- can go back home and tell their constituents they fought the good fight, and tried to stop Harry Reid and the Democrats from raising the debt ceiling. I suspect low-information voters might even swallow that lie. But the truth is, as Cruz points out, the measure never would have passed without Republicans’ consent.
So don’t be surprised if they pay for it later.