Republicans learned their lesson from the disastrous government shutdown and will approach the next round of fiscal deadlines differently, according to Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist.
The push to defund Obamacare spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz was "a very expensive mistake," Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, told The Atlantic's Steve Clemons at Wednesday's Washington Ideas Forum. "But here's the good news: You have a united Republican caucus in the House and Senate for the next step of the budget fight." These lawmakers will demand maintaining sequestration spending levels, no tax increases, and perhaps a partial delay of the Affordable Care Act—"whatever the Democrats are willing to concede"—in exchange for raising the debt limit and funding the government again in the spring.
Norquist was a harsh critic of Cruz and the defund strategy, saying at the time that the Texas senator had "pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away." On Wednesday, he stood by that criticism, likening the possibility of the president agreeing to gut his signature domestic achievement to the idea that "we're going to invade Iraq and then it will turn into Kansas."
However, as Clemons cleverly noted, Norquist was once the bad boy of the right, the bogeyman liberals blamed for dragging Republicans away from reasonableness; he's now lost that title to Cruz.