"Last week is a perfect illustration of everything that's wrong with Washington," Sen. Ted Cruz told CNN's Dana Bash, because the Republican majority had to use "trickery" on a critical vote to raise the debt ceiling. Which they only had to do, of course, because Cruz and other far-right Republicans have consistently and perennially misrepresented what the debt ceiling is.
Sitting down with Bash — in a bar somewhere? — Cruz explained why all of his Republican colleagues were what is wrong with American politics and why he is sole virtuous voice in our nation's capital (essentially). From Wednesday night's interview:
I think last week actually is a perfect illustration of everything that's wrong in Washington. What Republican leadership said is, we want this to pass, but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes then we can all cast a no vote and we can all go home to our constituents and say that we opposed it.
And listen. That sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating. In my view, we need to be honest to our constituents. And last week, what it was all about was truth and transparency.
This is either disingenuous or delusional.
The debt ceiling, as you hopefully know, is the legal cap on the amount of money that the government can borrow to pay its debts. Since Congress consistently approves deficit spending, the government consistently needs to borrow more money. The debt ceiling doesn't allow more spending; instead, it lets the government pay the bills, assuring that the country's credit trustworthiness is maintained. When Congress threatens to not raise the debt ceiling, investors get spooked, as they did last October.
But Cruz and other conservatives conflate the debt ceiling with debt, insisting that the government can just stop borrowing more money and then it will magically have retroactively stopped spending the money that resulted in those debts. It's fantasy. Rhetoric.
So when Cruz filibustered the debt ceiling vote in the Senate last week — after even the Republican-led House finally passed an increase — the effect was merely to put his Republican colleagues in a vice between the riled-up, misinformed base and the need to do what is required of Congress. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal disparaged Cruz's move, an article that his colleague Sen. John McCain called a "must-read."
Even to Bash, Cruz continued the misinformed argument. Raising the debt ceiling, he said, is "irresponsible. It is selling our nation's future down the road." Maybe that trickery, coming from a guy who wants to vacuum up conservative votes on the path to 2016, is part of the problem in Congress, too?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.