When House Republicans passed a temporary spending bill to keep the government running through September -- its "continuing resolution" -- they picked a small fight over sequestration, but left the bigger fights for another day. Some on the far-right pushed GOP House leaders to go further, but Speaker John Boehner demurred, unwilling to push towards a government shutdown.
Soon after, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he hopes to block the stop-gap spending bill unless Congress delays funding of the Affordable Care Act. The reaction from nearly everyone, including Republicans, was a whole lot of eye-rolling -- not just because Cruz has positioned himself as an unserious crank, but also because no one seriously believes GOP lawmakers will shut down the government in order to block "Obamacare" implementation.
But in a curious twist, Cruz now has an ally: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Greg Sargent reports this morning:
This just in, from Rubio's office: RUBIO TO OPPOSE STOP-GAP GOVERNMENT FUNDING BILL -- UNLESS IT DEFUNDS OBAMACAREIn so doing, Rubio joins Senator Ted Cruz, who has said he'll object to any bill that continues to fund the government unless it cuts off funds from Obamacare. One imagines that continuing to feed the Obamacare repeal fantasy is a requirement for anyone who wants to be competitive in the next GOP presidential primary.
Quite right. Rubio, responding to the wishes of right-wing activists, is now saying he'd rather see a government shutdown than see the Affordable Care Act continue to be implemented over the next six months.
The Florida Republican justified his posturing during an interview on a far-right radio show, telling Hugh Hewitt that he wants to "defund this health care bill ... that is going to be an absolute disaster for the American economy." Rubio made the comments before this morning's jobs report, which helped show the law isn't a disaster for the American economy.
Wait, it gets worse.
To put this in some additional context, Rubio, fresh off his votes against the Violence Against Women Act and against disaster relief for Sandy victims, is now to the right of House Republicans when it comes to funding the government. Sure, Cruz is just as foolish, but Rubio wants to be taken seriously as a credible national leader of his party.
What's worse, Rubio is likely engaging in this right-wing posturing because he hopes to advance his national ambitions. Instead of becoming more serious about policymaking and improving his stature, Rubio is convinced he's more likely to succeed in national Republican politics by becoming more extreme.