Tea Party-aligned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), within days of being sworn in, is already calling for a government shutdown unless Congress agrees to massive budget cuts.
During an appearance on Mark Levin’s radio show Friday, Cruz waxed poetic about the last time Republicans successfully shut down the government in 1995, arguing that a shutdown leads to better economic policies. “Because Republicans stood strong in 1995, we saw year after year of balanced budgets,” Cruz said. He went on to call for a repeat as Republicans hold the nation’s fiscal solvency hostage in the debt ceiling fight next month. “If we hold strong we can do that again,” the Texas Senator declared:
CRUZ: What would happen if the debt ceiling isn’t raised is it would be a partial government shutdown. We’ve seen this before, we saw this in 1995, when Republicans in the House shut down the government. What happened was it was a partial shutdown, there was some political cost to be paid but at the end of the day, because Republicans stood strong in 1995, we saw year after year of balanced budgets and some of the most fiscally-responsible policies Congress has produced in the modern-era. If we hold strong we can do that again. It just comes down to Republicans. Are we willing to stand strong and face the wrath of the mainstream media criticizing us and the president saying nasty things about us?
Listen to it:
Were Cruz and his Republican allies to succeed in shutting down the government, the effects would be felt widely. Over 800,000 federal workers would likely be furloughed, Social Security processing could be delayed, newly-eligible Medicare patients wouldn’t be able to obtain benefits, police and public safety officials could be cut, and veterans’ services would be impacted.
In addition, a debt ceiling negotiation itself is costly; last time Republicans held it hostage in 2011, the debacle cost taxpayers $19 billion.
The larger problem, however, is that by not raising the debt ceiling, Congress risks defaulting on the United States’ credit. If Cruz and his allies block a debt ceiling increase, the Treasury won’t be able to pay all its bills. As Matthew Yglesias notes, “The result won’t be a ‘shutdown’ of government functions; it’ll be a deadbeat federal government. Some people won’t get money they’re legally entitled to.” That’s why House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned in 2011 that not raising the debt ceiling would cause “financial disaster” for the entire “worldwide economy.”
In his first week in Congress, Cruz is already earning a reputation as an unwavering firebrand. As he explained on Fox News Sunday this past weekend, “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise.”