There was a late attempt at face-saving on the part of Democrats on Monday after they suffered an ignominious PR defeat in the battle of the government shutdown. The #SchumerShutdown, as the GOP successfully branded it.
That defeat was not due to the magic of spin or the mysteries of the human heart, but to the simple matter of a truth that was recorded and observable and not in doubt, and which was nevertheless made even more plain by the events of Monday morning. Truth will out, they say, and so it did.
So of course, they jumped on remarks by Ted Cruz to deflect the negative spotlight. We have a statement from Senator Cruz below. But first, an extremely abbreviated review.
We know the details already, so briefly: They tried to hold the CR hostage so they could get their way on DACA. The government, therefore, shut down. On Monday, they relented and agreed to the same agreement they’d have had Friday. And why? Because they shut down the government, and everyone knew they shut down the government, and it was untenable.
Now, let’s skip ahead to the attempt at face-saving.
After some wildly unsuccessful attempts to pretend their gambit had wrangled a more Democrat-y deal, they were scrambling for a message, any message, that didn’t consist of them getting owned by, of all people, Mitch McConnell. And that’s where MSNBC comes in.
Ted Cruz was taking questions and at one point said. “I have always opposed shutting down the government.”
MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt jumped in and began peppering the Senator with objections and debate. Now they had something to gnaw on. ‘How could Ted Cruz of government shutdown Dr. Seuss fame say with a straight face that he was opposed to government shutdowns?’ they asked with every sarcasm-filled sac in their lungs.
Senator Cruz has an answer, and he gave it to us.
RedState reached out to the Senator after the Kasie Hunt clip started shooting around social media, and he gave us this exclusive statement.
There have been few policy fights more important this decade than Obamacare – one of the most disastrous laws to both our health care system and Americans’ freedom over their health care. In 2013, we faced a critical turning point: whether to let Obamacare go into effect or to try and stop it — a choice of whether to transform our healthcare system into a socialist government-run, government-mandated enterprise, rather than a patient-centered free-market system, which everyone agreed needed serious reform. The reason that stopping Obamacare in 2013 was so important is because once it took root, it would be near impossible to reverse it. We’ve seen today the complexities surrounding the repeal and replace debate, even with Republican majorities in Congress and control of the White House, but nonetheless, we are still working to accomplish that goal, because it’s the number one thing voters elected us to do.
The goal in 2013 was to stop funding Obamacare, not shut down the government. Republicans voted numerous times to fund vital government services, and I fought for measure after measure to fund different government agencies, only to be blocked by Harry Reid and the Democrats time and again. They repeatedly blocked the funding of vital government services, including the military, veterans benefits, the National Guard, and National Health Institute, among others.
We saw the same Democrat obstruction this time around too. Despite what is being reported in the media, the truth is Democrats voted to shut down the government while Republicans voted to fund it.
None of the Republican senators wanted to see a government shutdown. Democrats, on the other hand, saw a political benefit from a government shutdown. They think it energizes and excites their far-left base. Well, that may be good for the extreme left, but it’s not good for the American people. It is unfortunate that we see such a partisan and divided Senate right now. For instance, last month, we passed historic tax cuts. In the past, tax cutting has always been a bipartisan endeavor. Over and over, Republicans and Democrats have come together to cut taxes. This time, in both Houses of Congress, zero Democrats voted for tax cuts. That’s really unfortunate and it’s a manifestation of just how radical and extreme Democrats have become.
There are many contemporaneous examples of Cruz opposing shutting down the government. Most of the outrageously outraged yesterday pointed to his infamous overnight filibuster, during which at one point he read aloud “Green Eggs and Ham”, as proof of his desire to shut the government down. However, during that very filibuster, the Senator made this statement.
“We should not shut down the government. We should fund every bit of the government, every aspect of the government, 100 percent of the government except for Obamacare. That is what the House of Representatives did. The House of Representatives — 232 Members of the House, including 2 Democrats — voted to fund every bit of the Federal Government, 100 percent of it, except for Obamacare.”
He also said, in an interview a few days later, that if there was a shutdown, it would be “because Harry Reid holds that absolutist position and essentially holds the American people hostage.” The absolutist position being that Obamacare was not negotiable.
Here is an important point.
Democrats on Monday, the very day they spent desperately trying to make the news cycle be about Senator Cruz’s statement, were out there saying that they oppose government shutdowns. In fact, they’ve been saying that since last week. You’ve seen them on air, on Twitter. Schumer and all the other Democrats have said over and over and over that they are opposed to government shutdowns … even as they deliberately orchestrated one!
Not incidentally, not merely creating the specter of a shutdown, but actually doing it. Shutting it down was their intent, and they succeeded. Yet even as they took this intentional action, they still claimed they were opposed in principle to shutting down the government. MSNBC argued that case on their behalf.
So perhaps they’ll pardon some eye-rolling at their feigned indignant disbelief that Senator Cruz would say he was opposed in principle to the government being shut down following the 2013 episode.
In 2013, the House sent multiple attempts to fund the government and delay action on Obamacare to the Senate, each shot down by Harry Reid. In the 11th hour, Senate Republicans attempted to go to conference committee to reach an agreement, and were shot down by Reid again, who said at the time “we will not go to conference with a gun to our head.” Reid and other Democrats spent months milking outrage over that shutdown. Months. Because they were “opposed” to it. Yet it happened when they refused to go to committee.
“We will not go to conference until we get a clean CR,” said Reid in 2013. It’s worth noting that in 2014 and again in 2016 the threat of shutdown loomed again, with Democrats pressing for policy concessions and Republicans, in turn, demanding a “clean” continuing resolution on the budget. Reid demanded a clean CR in 2013, Republicans demanded the same in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
Yet through it all, every Democrat and every Republican says they oppose the government shutdown.
Ted Cruz is right to be angry about being the only Senator who ever gets held responsible for a shutdown. He is the only Senator for whom the notion of opposing shutting down the government is mutually exclusive with the government being shut down. Everyone else gets to play politics with the endless Continuing Resolutions and still claim to be opposed to the government shutting down.
But unlike Chuck Schumer in 2018, Ted Cruz in 2013 didn’t try to or design to shut the government down. At worst he played with the same loaded gun they all play with. Only Schumer went in with the intent that government actually shut down.
Here is more transcript from the MSNBC moment. The Right Scoop has the full video.
CRUZ: Look, we should not be shutting the government down. I have consistently opposed shutdowns. In 2013 I said we shouldn’t shut the government down. Indeed, I went to the Senate floor repeatedly asking unanimous consent to re-open the government.
HUNT: Sir you stood in the way of that.
CRUZ: Okay that’s factually incorrect.
HUNT: It’s not though.
CRUZ: It’s a wonderful media narrative. But only one thing actually causes a shutdown. When you have Senators that vote to deny cloture on a funding bill. And when that bill comes up you have a vote. A yes means fund the government, a no means don’t fund the government. In 2013 virtually every single Republican voted to fund the government include me multiple times. Virtually every, in fact every single Democrat I believe in 2013 voted to shut the government down. The same thing is true here. Virtually every single Republican voted this week to fund the government, virtually every single Democrat voted to shut it down.
You will note that Hunt’s interruptions are not punctuated by question marks.