Monday, November 25, 2013

What's Texas Teabagger Ted Cruz Packin'?


2016 GOP ticket?

It's an unfortunate given, but there are people, mostly far right extremists divorced from both the mainstream and from reality, who pay attention to what the overly ambitious junior senator from Texas has to say. But not many other people do-- except the media, knowing Cruz is always willing to say anything at all to grab some headlines and raise himself some money. His latest is that Obama made the Senate Dems rein in the filibuster so that Obama can pack the courts to protect Obamacare. Normal people dismiss that kind of crazy talk, but, remember, Cruz wasn't a pig-in-a-poke when he was elected in Texas and even beyond that, polls show he's one of the leading contenders in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. PPP reported last week, for example, that Cruz is the top choice of Montana Republicans. "20% pick him to 14% for Rand Paul and Chris Christie, 11% for Jeb Bush, 10% for Paul Ryan, 8% for Marco Rubio, 4% for Rick Santorum, 3% for Bobby Jindal, and 2% for Scott Walker. Cruz is dominating among voters describing themselves as 'very conservative,' getting 28% to 16% for Rand Paul and only 6% for Chris Christie." Same thing in Mississippi. Cruz is first choice for 19% of Mississippi Republicans to 17% for Chris Christie, 16% for Jeb Bush, 12% for Rand Paul, 8% for Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, 5% for Rick Santorum, 4% for Paul Ryan, and 1% for Scott Walker. "As is the case everywhere Cruz's strength is based on his support from 'very conservative' voters who give him 27% with Rand Paul next closest at 13%."

And back home in Texas, he's the overwhelming favorite to be the next GOP nominee, although, there is some queasiness from Texas Republicans.
He gets 32% to 13% for Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, 10% for Rand Paul, 6% for Bobby Jindal, 5% each for Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, and 3% each for Rick Santorum and an incredibly weak on the home front Rick Perry. Cruz's 19 point lead over the GOP field is up from 12 in late June.

Although Cruz has abysmal favorability numbers in most of the rest of the country, his net approval rating in Texas is the same as it was in June. 47% of voters approve of him to 41% who disapprove. It was 42/36 last time around so he's better known now but as his profile has risen equal numbers of voters have grown to approve or disapprove of him.

And then there's the bad news:

50% of Texans say that Cruz has been bad for the state's reputation to only 37% who think he's been good for it. Among independents those numbers are even worse with 58% feeling he's hurt the state's image to only 36% who think he's been helpful.

Even in Texas 56% of voters say they opposed the government shutdown to only 38% who were supportive of it.
His explanation of the filibuster rules change is-- like everything-- all about Ted Cruz. "The heart of this action is directed at packing the D.C. Circuit because that is the court that will review the lawless behavior of the Obama administration implementing ObamaCare… President Obama and the administration refuse to follow the plain text of the law, and the D.C. Circuit is the court of appeals that has been holding the administration accountable." So, he avows, Obama wants to "pack the court"-- i.e., fill the 3 vacancies-- with rubber stamps. Politifact looked into the claims and this is how they rated the absurd Republican contentions:

In the Rose Garden on June 4, 2013, President Barack Obama named three nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a pivotal moment in a long-simmering partisan fight over the nation’s second-most influential court.

That prompted Republican lawmakers to sharpen their rhetoric, accusing Obama of trying to "pack" the court-- a phrase that invokes the 1937 proposal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to increase the size of the Supreme Court by as many as five justices.

…Our experts agreed that Obama is trying to put his imprint on the court-- but they said he’s doing so within the bounds of his constitutional duty to fill court vacancies. Ironically, the experts said, Grassley’s bill comes closer to the kind of structural meddling typical of court packing than does Obama’s approach, even if Grassley’s bill would result in a shrinkage.

The experts agreed with Grassley that judicial resources could be better allocated, but they added that this question is better addressed by a more politically insulated entity such as the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Arguing for efficiency wasn’t enough to shield FDR from backlash, Shesol said. "Everybody knew the game," Shesol said. "The fact that he was dishonest about it was what really hurt him."

..."If the Democrats eliminate the filibuster, I would call that hardball," Roosevelt said. "But it’s a change to the Senate rules, so it’s not an attack on the integrity and independence of the judiciary in the way that court-packing is. It’s also something that the other side can benefit from later, which neither packing nor shrinking really is."

The claim that Obama is "packing" the D.C. Circuit Court largely runs counter to American legal and political history.

Genuine court packing has involved one branch of government proposing to change the structure of the courts, either expanding or decreasing the number of judges. That's not what Obama's doing. We rate the claim False.

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