Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted on Wednesday to end debate on a bill to increase the nation's debt ceiling because "he didn't want to have a government shutdown or bill stalling in the Senate because of him when he had a general election that was tough," political strategist Dick Morris told Newsmax TV on Thursday.
"But in his mind, the villain is Ted Cruz," Morris told John Bachman on "America's Forum." "The Democrats were perfectly prepared to pass this and let all the Republicans vote against it.
"The American people get more and more sophisticated as each of these things happen — and they realize the debt limit is now just a political football" he added. "In 2011, right after the tea party controlled the House, it became very good because we got a trillion dollars in cuts.
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"Everybody was so scared by the abortive October shutdown that they're not willing to do it again — and everybody realizes the debt limit is just a symbolic fight that doesn't mean anything anymore."
In the run-up to Wednesday's vote to increase the nation's borrowing authority, Kentucky Republican McConnell came forward to cast a vote
toward ending debate on the bill and sending it to the full Senate floor for a vote.
McConnell's "aye" vote, along with Minority Whip John Cornyn's, bucked Cruz's demand that a 60-vote threshold be in place to end the debate, or to invoke what is called "cloture."
Ten other Republicans joined McConnell and Cornyn to end Cruz's filibuster. That final vote was 67-31.
The bill, which suspends the nation's debt limit through March 15, 2015, later passed the Senate on a 55-43 vote along party lines. It was expected to be quickly signed by President Barack Obama.
Both Cornyn and Cruz are from Texas, and McConnell and Cornyn face tough primary elections this spring against candidates backed by the tea party.
In his Newsmax interview, Morris, who was an aide to President Bill Clinton, said that Republican leaders supported ending debate because "the Senate was a bit chaotic because the Democrats control it, so it was hard for the Republicans to orchestrate.
"Raising the debt limit is unpopular in the United States," he added. "Borrowing more money without cutting the budget is unpopular."
Morris explained: "The debt limit is not about borrowing the money for 2013; we've already done that. It's about borrowing the money for '14 and '15 and '16. We haven't done that yet.
"It's fully appropriate to make cuts in those out-years, because it's not a question of the bills coming due. All that's coming due is your intention to buy it."
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