At a Manhattan summit on Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that if Republicans could not make progress on major legislation in the next year, the party could be headed towards an electoral disaster in the 2018 midterms.
“If tax reform crashes and burns, if on Obamacare, nothing happens, we could face a bloodbath,” Cruz said. He said the Republicans in Congress could be staring at a “Watergate-level blowout” if they did not meet the commitments they made on the campaign trail.
It is not at all clear that the party will be able to pass the kind of sweeping tax reform preferred by the White House. Some in the leadership, including President Trump’s new foe, Bob Corker, are concerned that cutting taxes could blow up the deficit in a way that doesn’t make fiscal sense. Others, including Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, say that concern is secondary to a big move that could inject new life into the economy. In an interview earlier in the day with CNBC, Cruz said he wanted to see legislation that would actually make a difference in the lives of middle-class Americans.
“I think we should be going much bigger and bolder,” Cruz said of the legislation currently in the Senate budget resolution, which calls for a $1.5 trillion tax cut. “I think this should be an unapologetic tax cut. Not just tax reform, but a real tax cut to generate economic growth.”
As far as perception goes, Cruz is absolutely right about the importance of putting a tax reform plan through to the president’s desk. The GOP cannot afford to follow up their Obamacare failure with another high-profile disaster. Not only will this give the Democrats an opening to make a pitch to the American people that says, “These turkeys can’t even govern,” but it will mean big trouble for incumbent Republicans who want to hold onto their Washington power. Insurgent conservatives are already lining up to challenge these Republicans around the country in what promises to be one of the most explosive primary seasons in political history. With people like Steve Bannon declaring war on the establishment, the best inoculation against a “bloodbath” is to get on the same page, support President Trump’s agenda, and pass legislation that will actually help working Americans move beyond eight years of stagnation.