Diary

Erick Erickson issued a major challenge to Cruz, Paul, and Rubio. Which one took him up on it?

Okay, so the title is just gut-driven conjecture on my part, but I do have some evidence for it.

One March 25, Erickson published this front page post:

Cruz, Paul, and Rubio — Time to Lead

In which he wrote:

Senate Republicans think they have push through a budget that does not manage spending, funds Obamacare, and contemplates the Obamacare tax increases.

In fact, the budget does nothing to change the direction of the country.

Senator Ted Cruz, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ], and Senator Marco Rubio are all running for President of the United States, even though Cruz is the only one to publicly announce so far. Republicans in Washington have been leaderless and rudderless since 2008. They have failed to paint a vision of a better America. They’ve been tacticians, not strategists. They’ve managed decline instead of worked for a resurgent nation.

It is time for Cruz, Paul, and Rubio to show us what sort of leaders they would be. Will they vote for a bloated budget hiding behind “increased defense spending” or will they oppose it because it continues to cripple our economy, hurt Americans suffering under the burdens of Obamacare, and grows the size and scope of the federal government.

This budget vote will be one of the first data points in how they’d lead. It will be one of the first data points in whether their actions match their rhetoric.

They should choose carefully.

Which brings us to the Senate floor on March 26 and the showdown that followed.

Politico published this headline:

2016 brawl breaks out on Senate floor

Here is what happened:

The tough words came in the aftermath of two votes that both failed Thursday, one proposed by Rubio that would raise defense spending — with no corresponding cuts — and another by Paul that would cut tens of billions from a range of different accounts. Rubio said all other issues are “elementary” when compared with the funding for a robust national defense.

As the Rubio plan was moving forward, Cruz was clearly torn. The Texas senator stood quietly at the well of the Senate chamber for several tense minutes, reading the text of the Rubio amendment and checking his smartphone.

Finally, with his colleagues watching, Cruz gave a thumbs-up sign, siding with Rubio in the growing debate inside the party between fiscal hard-liners and defense hawks that has dominated the GOP’s budget fight.

Erick specifically warned against voting for more spending in the name of defense. For some reason, Marco Rubio decided that increased military spending should not be offset. For some even crazier and more surprising reason, Ted Cruz agreed with him.

But [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] wasn’t having any of it it. Continued from Politico:

Perhaps in response to that concern, Paul came up with his own idea this week aimed at showcasing his belief in a strong military, while staying true to his calls to rein in big federal deficits. He proposed an amendment to increase defense spending by $190 billion over the next two years, but he offset that spending hike with cuts to science, education and natural resource programs.

“I think it was irresponsible and dangerous … and an inconsistent theme for anybody who wants to say that they are concerned about the debt,” Paul said in the interview. “I think it shows a lack of concern about the debt. I think it was a very, very important vote to see the contrast of the two different approaches.”

I guess we can set the 2015 Senate conservative leadership tally as follows: Paul 1, Cruz 0, Rubio 0.