Smug CNN Lectures Ted Cruz to 'Deal With Reality'

It didn't take long for new Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to get lectured by liberal CNN. After Cruz told anchor Wolf Blitzer that he opposed the fiscal cliff deal, Blitzer reproved him and told him to "deal with reality."

"[Y]ou're in the minority in the United States Senate. You've got to deal with reality. You can't just be -- you can't just be overly idealistic on those issues," said Blitzer, who shed his objectivity to lecture a sitting congressman on what he should do.

"You've got a divided government. You've got to make concessions, you've got to compromise. If you're just going to come into Washington and say 'do it my way or the highway,' you're not going to get anywhere," Blitzer continued.

Cruz threw Blitzer's sermon back in his face:

"Look, Wolf, this President campaigned saying he supported spending cuts and his deal had zero in spending cuts and $330 billion in new spending. The person who's saying 'do it my way or the highway' is the President."

"And if there wouldn't have been a deal, Senator, all the economists made the same prediction that within a few weeks there would be a lot more unemployment. We could potentially be going into a recession," Blitzer told Cruz earlier. "Look, it wasn't a perfect deal. Nobody was thrilled by it, but you got to deal with what's doable in a divided Congress like we have."

Meanwhile, Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) got much softer treatment by her CNN hosts, who helped her jump on board their agenda of "compromise."

"At some point, our elected leaders need to stop following and start leading," insisted CNN's Kate Bolduan. "We're having -- I'm fearing we're having a similar conversation that we've been having with the senators and congress – and our congressmen and women for an entire session now. How is it going to be different?"

"[W]hat are you going to do to try to make it different?" Bolduan teed up Gabbard to preach about being "servant leaders" and finding "common ground."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 3 on The Situation Room at 6:17 p.m. EST, is as follows:

KATE BOLDUAN: Senator, I had the opportunity to speak with you just the day after the election. And during our interview, you said that if President Obama followed the model of President Clinton and worked with Republicans, you'd be happy to work with him on many issues. So you are here today, you're finally not senator-elect, you are Senator Ted Cruz. What does that mean now that you are in – you are here, you are in Washington, and specifically, when you've seen the debacle and the fight that has gone on over the last few weeks?

Sen. TED CRUZ (R-Tex.): Right. Well, I think the deal that was cut on the fiscal cliff was a lousy deal. I would have voted against it.

BOLDUAN: You would have?

CRUZ: It raised taxes by $620 billion. I think that's going to kill jobs. I think that's going to hurt small business, and I think that's going to hurt Americans.

WOLF BLITZER: You would have voted against it?

CRUZ: I would have voted against it. And it combined tax increases with not spending cuts, but $330 billion –  

BLITZER: You would have voted against it even though millions of Texans would have seen their – middle class families would have seen their taxes going up?

CRUZ: I would have voted against it. The only reason their taxes would have gone up is because President Obama and Harry Reid were pushing to raise taxes.

BLITZER: Except in the real world, the only reason their taxes would have gone up is because you would have voted to see their taxes going up.

CRUZ: At the end of the day, I think we need to be solving these problems. And jacking up taxes and increasing spending makes the problems worse. We need economic growth. The nice thing is, part of the reason we got a lousy deal is that when you have divided government, whoever owns the defaults, whoever wins if there is inaction, has the advantage. With the fiscal cliff, if there was inaction, there would be a massive tax increase. That gave President Obama an advantage. Moving forward to the debt ceiling, I think it is the mirror image, and I am hopeful we will see some serious reforms to rein in our spending and to address these fiscal –

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you real quick about that. Part of that lousy deal you're describing, that was cut by your leader, Mitch McConnell, working with Vice President Joe Biden. So what are you going to tell Mitch McConnell about that lousy deal and how you're going to work with him going forward?

CRUZ: Well, what I've said is I would have voted against it. But the reason we got a lousy deal is, as I said, because the terrain was incredibly favorable to President Obama.
 
BOLDUAN: Because it sounds like you're – while you're saying you want to work with President Obama, it sounds like it's going to be pretty tough for you to get to a place where you're ready to work with President Obama.

CRUZ: I'm happy to work with him if he's actually being productive solving our problems. I think jacking up taxes and increasing spending hurts growth, costs jobs, makes the lives of the American people worse –  

BLITZER: Congresswoman, how would you have voted?

Rep. TULSI GABBARD (D-Hawaii): I would have voted for it. Because I think what we have to remember here is how many middle class families all across the country would have seen that tax hike immediately, and by making those tax cuts permanent for the middle class families, I think, is incredibly important. I think there's no doubt about the fact that we have a lot of work to do. There are many reforms that need to be done. There was a tight deadline here. And when you're looking at working families, families who are struggling just to put food on the table, you've got to work with what you have and have a plan for how to go forward.

BLITZER: And if there wouldn't have been a deal, Senator, all the economists made the same prediction that within a few weeks there would be a lot more unemployment. We could potentially be going into a recession. Look, it wasn't a perfect deal. Nobody was thrilled by it, but you got to deal with what's doable in a divided Congress like we have.

CRUZ: The only reason this lousy deal happened is because President Obama and Harry Reid wanted to raise taxes on Americans. I think that's going to hurt growth and it's going to hurt the middle class and working class because –

BLITZER: But, remember, the President was re-elected. Harry Reid is the majority leader in the United – you're in the minority in the United States Senate. You've got to deal with reality. You can't just be -- you can't just be overly idealistic on those issues.

CRUZ: But let me say two things. Number one, the same voters that re-elected the President re-elected a Republican majority in the House.

BLITZER: But not in the Senate. And not in the White House. You've got a divided government. You've got to make concessions, you've got to compromise. If you're just going to come into Washington and say 'do it my way or the highway,' you're not going to get anywhere.

CRUZ: Now who's saying 'do it my way or the highway'? Look, Wolf, this President campaigned saying he supported spending cuts and his deal had zero in spending cuts and $330 billion in new spending. The person who's saying "do it my way or the highway" is the President.

BLITZER: I'm just saying 89 senators out of 100, including almost all of the Republicans, voted for it.

CRUZ: Well, I'm going to make a prediction. That was driven because the advantage of the default gave President Obama the leverage. Fast forward a few weeks to the debt ceiling, it's the mirror image, and I think we're going to see, I hope we're going to see real reforms to address these problems.

BOLDUAN: You know, congresswoman, the dysfunction of Washington, the dysfunction, specifically, of Congress and its inability to work together and with the White House is why Congress' approval rating is at an all-time low. It is the worst in Washington. And you are walking straight into it. At some point, our elected leaders need to stop following and start leading. We're having -- I'm fearing we're having a similar conversation that we've been having with the senators and congress – and our congressmen and women for an entire session now. How is it going to be different? How can-- what are you going to do to try to make it different?

GABBARD: Well, it has to be different. Like you said, it's up to us. We've been sent here to serve the people in our communities and the people of this country, and people are demanding that we be those servant leaders, who focus not on negativity and not on the blame game, but saying, okay, we can disagree on some things, but how can we find a point of agreement, find that common ground? Because at the beginning and the end of the day, we all come from a place where we care very much about, we care very much about the families, the young people, our seniors in our communities who are trying very hard just to get by every single day. So if we stay positive and stay focused on the opportunities that we have to work together, than I think that's the only way that we can make progress. 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014