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October 21, 2013

Cruz remains unapologetic as senior Republicans criticize shutdown

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who was among the architects of the 16-day partial federal government shutdown, remained unrepentant as senior members of his party criticized his tactics in fighting President Obama's health care reform.

Asked on ABC's "This Week" if he would support another government shutdown unless the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is defunded, Cruz said Sunday he "would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare."

The entire effort "was a fool's errand to start with," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former presidential contender, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." He said the shutdown aimed at blocking Obama's signature health-care law hurt the Republican brand. "The question is, how deep and how long?"

Lawmakers reached an agreement Oct. 16 to open the government, which had been partly shuttered since Oct. 1 as Congress failed to compromise on the fiscal 2014 budget and raising the amount the U.S. can borrow. The deal funds the government through Jan. 15 and suspends the debt limit through Feb. 7, setting the stage for another possible showdown.

While strife over the budget and debt ceiling unsettled some investors, U.S. stocks rose last week, sending the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to a record as Congress reached the budget deal and speculation grew that the Federal Reserve will maintain monetary stimulus. Treasuries gained for the first time in three weeks.

Markets could face further uncertainty from Washington. Lawmakers are aiming to produce a budget compromise by Dec. 13, setting the stage for more conflict over taxes and spending on programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

The shutdown shaved at least 0.6 percentage point from the U.S. economic growth rate this quarter, Standard & Poor's said on Oct. 16. Americans in October were the most pessimistic about the nation's economic prospects in almost two years, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index.

"There will not be another government shutdown," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." "You can count on that."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that "tactically, it was a mistake to focus on something that couldn't be achieved."

Bush also said the Affordable Care Act would have proven itself not to work, and that the push to defund may have "crowded out" the problems it is now encountering. Online policy marketplaces launched this month have been fraught with technical glitches.

A White House statement said nearly a half million applications have been submitted nationwide through the state and federal marketplaces.

As the Democratic administration deals with getting the health-care law up and running, Republicans' favorability was at a record low of 28 percent, down 10 percentage points from the previous month and 15 percent below Democrats, according to a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 3-6.

Hillary Clinton, a potential Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, alluded to the 16-day stalemate over the weekend while speaking at a rally in support of family friend Terry McAuliffe, who is running for Virginia governor in the Nov. 5 election.

"When politicians choose scorched earth over common ground, when they operate in what I call the 'evidence-free zone,' with ideology trumping everything else, we've seen that families in Virginia and across the country have felt the consequences," Clinton said to the crowd in Falls Church, a suburb of Washington.

"We need to make sure that government does not go through another round of brinkmanship," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

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