Phoenix Pensions Looting the Taxpayers

By Bryon Schlomach, Goldwater Institute

Have you ever squeezed a balloon and had parts of it squeeze out between your fingers? Unless you pop the balloon with a pin, it will reemerge somewhere else when you squeeze it. Public employee pensions have become balloons, and abuse of public pension systems keeps oozing despite attempts to put the squeeze on it.

In 2011, after the Arizona Republic published a series of articles exposing pension abuses, a number of reforms to prevent costly abuses were put into place. One reform restricted what could be considered income for someone near retirement. Before the 2011 reforms, the pension amount was set based in part on the last three years of income. So a common abuse was to boost income during the last three years by counting income not part of one’s regular salary, including overtime and payouts for unused overtime and sick leave. Padding one’s income in this way set a higher pension level.

It turns out the practice is still alive and well – it has just emerged in a new place. The City of Phoenix is padding retirees’ pensions by counting compensation for unused vacation and sick time as income. The loophole is that Phoenix pays this compensation over time instead of in one big check, making the practice harder to discover. This is so lucrative that one retired employee is making more retired than when he showed up for work.

Lest you snicker at the cleverness of it all, keep in mind that all four of the state’s public employee pension systems are in financial trouble and taxpayers are paying more into the system to keep them afloat. Pension contributions have increased six times faster than the state GDP. We are paying more taxes and giving up services to fund lucrative retirements.

Pension plans will always be gamed. One loophole closed today will turn into another loophole tomorrow. There is just too much temptation in giant, multi-billion dollar funds for someone not to think of ways to loot them. Phoenix officials should be prosecuted for violating the law, but the only long-term solution for taxpayers is to pop the pension balloon and move public employees to defined contribution (410(k)-style) retirement benefits.

Tucson City Council Wants to Tighten Clamp on Gun Owners

Two firearms ordinances are on the 5:30 p.m., Tucson City Council agenda today at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is at 255 W. Alameda, in downtown Tucson.

The first ordinance will create a $100 fine if a person does not report the loss or theft of their firearm within 48 hours from the time it was stolen or the owner “should have known” it was stolen. Why go after the person who stole a firearm when they can punish the owner instead?

The second ordinance is an attempt to locally enact a bill (HB 2631) that failed at the state legislature. If a police officer believes a person, with criminal negligence (undefined), discharged a firearm within city limits, they may request a blood or breath test for alcohol levels. If you refuse, they may obtain a warrant and require you undergo a blood alcohol test. If you own a firearm you must an alcohol abuser, right?

These proposals may not sound all that threatening at first glance. But leftists — including those who dominate politics in Tucson — often use guile and incrementalism to slowly, but surely, take away freedom by attacking your constitutional rights. So do be alarmed at this.

Guidelines for those wishing to make comments during the meeting:

Persons attending the meetings shall observe rules of propriety, decorum, and good conduct, and refrain from impertinent or slanderous remarks. Violation of this rule shall result in such persons being barred from further audience before the governing body. A copy of the complete rules and regulations may be obtained from the City Clerk.

The Mayor and Council often schedules public hearings on topics of interest. Pursuant to Mayor and Council Rules and Regulations, public hearings last one hour. Interested persons are invited to attend and offer comments. Additionally, Call to the Audience is reserved for comments from the public.

To address the Mayor and Council:

Complete a speakers card and deposit it in the tray on the podium. Upon being recognized, state your name and address before proceeding into your subject matter. Speakers are limited to three-minute presentations.

Submit written comments to the Mayor and Council (via the City Clerk) prior to and during the meeting.

Call the Mayor and Council Citizen Comment Line at 791-4700.

Arizona GOP Exposes Hypocrisy of Democrats Barber and Kirkpatrick

AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham and AZ National Republican Committeeman Bruce Ash launched mobile billboard campaign today pointing out the hypocrisy of two Arizona Democrat Congressman – Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick, who support Obamacare and its enforcement by the scandal-ridden Internal Revenue Service.

Graham held at 10 am press conference in Phoenix, while Ash delivered a similar message an hour later at Pima County Republican Headquarters in Tucson.
“Obamacare is a terrible policy and it threatens our health, our healthcare system, and the freedoms we’ve long enjoyed as Americans to make our own healthcare decisions,” said Graham. “Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick are trying to take our rights away, and they have given us all the proof we need that Obamacare is a disaster — because they’ve decided to make themselves exempt from it.”
Sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the mobile billboards will travel throughout the two Democrats’ congressional districts with a message exposing their plan and urging voters to call a phone number to voice their objections.
“These hypocrites in Congress are up for reelection in November of 2014, but we’re here today because the fight for liberty is never over,” Graham concluded.

What Does the President Mean by Invoking the Word ‘Forward’ so Frequently?

From the book “They Fired the First Shot,” a book written anonymously:

On May 1, 2012, President Obama announced his new campaign motto for the 2012 election: “Forward.” That was also the title of his 7-minute campaign video, which was played on the eve of the major communist “nationalist” day. In Obama’s 2008 “The Blueprint For Change,” he says it is critically important “… how we will move forward.” He repeatedly used the word ‘forward” in campaign speeches and continues to use it frequently.

May 1, or May Day, is well known as a day associated with communism.

“Forward” was a theme song of the Hitler Youth. Obama began the organization “Opportunity Youth” for low-income, disconnected and unemployed youths, and uses the word “forward” in connection with this movement.

“Forward” is also the title of a Marxist magazine. Lenin had a publication called “Forward.” The word “forward” has become a generic name for socialist publications. “The name “Forward” carries a special meaning in socialist terminology. It has been frequently used as a name for socialist, communist and other left-wing newspapers and publications.” (Victor Morgan, “New Obama Slogan has long ties to Marxism, Socialism,” Inside Politics, April 30, 2012.

Mao called his economic plan the “Great Leap Forward.”

Marxists believe it’s just a matter of time before nations leave capitalism behind to embrace socialism and communism. It is the “march of history,” moving “forward” towards an inevitable event. To many people around the world waiting for that day, “Forward” is a key watchword.

Pelosi Absolves President in Spate of Scandals

John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News

Folder2 104House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) sought to absolve President Obama from any blame in the burgeoning plume of scandals surrounding his Administration by forcefully asserting that “he doesn’t necessarily know anything about any agency of the federal government.”

The Congresswoman brushed off reports that IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman visited the Obama White House 118 times over a two year period during which conservative groups were targeted as indicative of anything. “The White House is a big place,” Pelosi said. “Just because Mr. Shulman and President Obama were in the building doesn’t necessarily mean that they met. And even if they had, it doesn’t prove that they discussed tax matters. I understand Shulman says he was there for the Easter Egg roll.”

Pelosi also dismissed the idea that a chief executive has to take responsibility for the actions of his appointed minions, calling former President Truman’s famous “the buck stops here” “worthless political grandstanding. A successful chief executive always has a pre-planned escape route. It is the underling’s responsibility to step forward and take the blame. It’s like sacrificing a pawn to save the king in a game of chess. In fact, the sacrificed pawns should be grateful that they have the opportunity to play a role in advancing the President’s agenda.”

In related news, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md) worries that the exposure of IRS abuses may have a chilling effect on IRS bureaucrats. “People loyally trying to carry out the wishes of the President should not have to fear repercussions for doing as they are told,” Cummings asserted. “As long as they are just following orders or genuinely taking actions they believe the President would want them to take they ought to be immune from penalties or further scrutiny.”

Gitmo Inmates to Be Transferred

Seeking to dampen criticism of his handling of the War on Terror and the Internal Revenue Service’s selective intrusion into the views of his political opponents, President Obama announced that the detention center at Guantanamo would be closed and it’s inmates “redistributed as seems most appropriate.”

While it is expected that a majority of the detainees will be repatriated to the Middle Eastern Hell-holes from whence they came, those with exemplary skills are likely to be transferred to positions within the IRS.

“The fact that people are openly criticizing the IRS is the best evidence we have that it has failed in its mission,” Obama said. “Obviously, the fear of being harassed and audited is insufficient to induce the level of compliance needed. If properly armed and aimed the most fanatical of the Gitmo detainees could ramp up the pressure to levels that only the tiniest few could resist.”

The President sought to reassure that “those in full compliance with IRS directives need have no concerns for their own safety. The Gitmo detainees will be working under the close supervision of higher authorities under my control. Only those who have deviated from the required path will be targeted.”

In related news, Larry Conners, an anchorman for KMOV in St. Louis, was fired for publicly questioning whether the IRS targeted him after he asked President Obama some tough questions in an interview last year. KMOV president and general manager Mark Pimentel called the firing “a simple precautionary move. There’s no sense in us exposing everyone at KMOV to possible IRS retaliation. Better safe than sorry.”

Weiner Challenges Rivals to Be More Forthcoming

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner challenged his competitors for New York City Mayor “to put their packages out there for Voters to see. As everyone knows, I’ve gone far beyond the bounds of what a typical candidate is willing to do to inform voters about my qualifications.”

Weiner who resigned from Congress after getting caught sending lewd photos of himself to women asserted that he has “learned from that mistake. I resigned before considering the full nuances of the reaction. This time there’ll be no holding back. Rather than limit my sexting to a narrowly constrained few I will bare all for all the voters. The people of New York deserve to know what kind of man they’re getting for their mayor. With me there’ll be no secrets. Are any of my opponents willing to be as open?”

The candidate hinted that more lewd photos may come out, but did not expressly commit to a schedule for when or where they might appear saying that “my opponents can avoid humiliation by dropping out of the race.”

Kerry Says Israeli Prosperity “an Impediment to Peace”

US Secretary of State John Kerry complains that Israeli economic prosperity stands as “an impediment to achieving peace in the region.”

“On the one hand, it is a constant ‘in-your-face’ reminder to the Palestinians and their supporters that Jews are better off than they are,” Kerry explained. “It’s an insult that inspires a sense of grievance amongst the poorer Muslim and Arab communities.”

“On the other hand, it serves as a persistent temptation,” Kerry added. “The idea of killing the Jews and taking their money and property becomes an irresistible urge. Killing and robbing a Jew seems less onerous than trying to build a business, learn a trade, or work hard to make a living.”

Kerry advised the Israeli Government “to implement policies to even out the disparities. A broad redistribution of wealth would serve the dual purpose of immediately assuaging Palestian feelings of inadequacy, while simultaneously acting to moderate the recompense to historically powerful inclinations of Jewish avarice.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres rejected Kerry’s advice calling it “the kind of time-worn, run-of-the-mill anti-Semitism Jews have been battling against for more than two thousand years.”

Ohio Secretary of State Insists Vote Fraud “Not Epidemic”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted tried to reassure voters that the 135 possible voter fraud cases his office is pursuing do not constitute “an epidemic.”

“We feel confident that the majority of elections are probably decided in an honest fashion,” Husted said. “To believe otherwise would lead to truly frightening conclusions. We’d rather not go there. I mean, if people lose faith in elections how will we choose who will govern? Living with a little corruption is surely better than undermining the whole premise of democracy, isn’t it?”

Criticizing Obama “Offensive” Says Aide

Daniel Pfeiffer, Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy and Communications, denounced criticism of President Obama in strident terms this past week, calling critics “uppity.”

“Here we have the leader of the free world, a Nobel Prize winner, being accosted by people unfit to lick his boots,” Pfeiffer complained. “How low has our civilization sunk that such effrontery is tolerated?”

Pfeiffer labeled inquiries about Benghazi, the IRS and phone taps of reporters “fishing expeditions. They think they’re going to find some ‘smoking gun’ linking the President to one or more of these incidents in some substantive way. Well, I’m telling you it’s not going to happen. The President has insulated himself from culpability for whatever may occur. There are strict rules about who may tell the President what that ensure he will honestly be able to disavow all knowledge of what is going on.”

“On top of this he has an enormously wide array of options for eliminating disloyal and uncooperative elements both inside and outside his Administration,” Pfeiffer pointed out. “Those chafing over getting hassled by the IRS ought to consider themselves lucky that sterner measures weren’t used against them.”

“It all comes down to whether people are going to show proper respect for the President,” Pfeiffer concluded. “We cannot sit by and allow the office and the great man who occupies it to undergo the type of heedless questioning of its authority that we have seen over the last few weeks. Rest assured that the President will do whatever it takes to assert and wield that authority. The alternative is too scary to contemplate.”

McCain Hammers GOP for Impeding Dems’ Agenda

Maverick Senator John McCain (R-Az) lashed out at his Republican colleagues in Congress for actions he says “go too far.” The tiff arose over Democrat maneuvers to raise the debt ceiling.

“It’s alright to express an opinion and have a debate, but in the end we’ve still got to let the Democrats govern,” McCain insisted. “Repeated efforts to stymie legislation we don’t like is downright uncollegial.”

The Arizona Senator discounted arguments that Democrats make no effort to be collegial from their side saying that “two wrongs don’t make a right. Didn’t your parents teach you that? Didn’t Jesus bid us to turn the other cheek? That’s all I’m suggesting here.”

“It’s not as if the substance of this issue is crucial,” McCain argued. “What difference does it really make whether we raise the debt ceiling? The Government is never going to be able to pay that money back anyway. Why get our panties in a wad over it? It’s just a lot of useless motion without result.”

A Satirical Look at Recent News

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Live Free or Die!

Generations of Americans have been taught falsehoods about liberty, and we think it is time once again to bring back Mark Steyn’s speech at Hillsdale College, Michigan, “Live Free or Die!” We’ll start it here and let you continue on to the host site. This is a long speech, but it is fundamental that if we are going to survive as a free people against the government onslaught against freedom, we must get back to the basics. This is a crucial read, please read it and pass it on to as many people as you can. Thank you.

Live Free or Die

Mark Steyn

March 2009 speech at Hillsdale College, Michigan

MY REMARKS are titled tonight after the words of General Stark, New Hampshire’s great hero of the Revolutionary War: “Live free or die!” When I first moved to New Hampshire, where this appears on our license plates, I assumed General Stark had said it before some battle or other—a bit of red meat to rally the boys for the charge; a touch of the old Henry V-at-Agincourt routine. But I soon discovered that the general had made his famous statement decades after the war, in a letter regretting that he would be unable to attend a dinner. And in a curious way I found that even more impressive. In extreme circumstances, many people can rouse themselves to rediscover the primal impulses: The brave men on Flight 93 did. They took off on what they thought was a routine business trip, and, when they realized it wasn’t, they went into General Stark mode and cried “Let’s roll!” But it’s harder to maintain the “Live free or die!” spirit when you’re facing not an immediate crisis but just a slow, remorseless, incremental, unceasing ratchet effect. “Live free or die!” sounds like a battle cry: We’ll win this thing or die trying, die an honorable death. But in fact it’s something far less dramatic: It’s a bald statement of the reality of our lives in the prosperous West. You can live as free men, but, if you choose not to, your society will die.

My book America Alone is often assumed to be about radical Islam, firebreathing imams, the excitable young men jumping up and down in the street doing the old “Death to the Great Satan” dance. It’s not. It’s about us. It’s about a possibly terminal manifestation of an old civilizational temptation: Indolence, as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a republic. When I ran into trouble with the so-called “human rights” commissions up in Canada, it seemed bizarre to find the progressive left making common cause with radical Islam. One half of the alliance profess to be pro-gay, pro-feminist secularists; the other half are homophobic, misogynist theocrats. Even as the cheap bus ‘n’ truck road-tour version of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, it made no sense. But in fact what they have in common overrides their superficially more obvious incompatibilities: Both the secular Big Government progressives and political Islam recoil from the concept of the citizen, of the free individual entrusted to operate within his own societal space, assume his responsibilities, and exploit his potential.

In most of the developed world, the state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood—health care, child care, care of the elderly—to the point where it’s effectively severed its citizens from humanity’s primal instincts, not least the survival instinct. Hillary Rodham Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. It’s supposedly an African proverb—there is no record of anyone in Africa ever using this proverb, but let that pass. P.J. O’Rourke summed up that book superbly: It takes a village to raise a child. The government is the village, and you’re the child. Oh, and by the way, even if it did take a village to raise a child, I wouldn’t want it to be an African village. If you fly over West Africa at night, the lights form one giant coastal megalopolis: Not even Africans regard the African village as a useful societal model. But nor is the European village. Europe’s addiction to big government, unaffordable entitlements, cradle-to-grave welfare, and a dependence on mass immigration needed to sustain it has become an existential threat to some of the oldest nation-states in the world.

And now the last holdout, the United States, is embarking on the same grim path: After the President unveiled his budget, I heard Americans complain, oh, it’s another Jimmy Carter, or LBJ’s Great Society, or the new New Deal. You should be so lucky. Those nickel-and-dime comparisons barely begin to encompass the wholesale Europeanization that’s underway. The 44th president’s multi-trillion-dollar budget, the first of many, adds more to the national debt than all the previous 43 presidents combined, from George Washington to George Dubya. The president wants Europeanized health care, Europeanized daycare, Europeanized education, and, as the Europeans have discovered, even with Europeanized tax rates you can’t make that math add up. In Sweden, state spending accounts for 54% of GDP. In America, it was 34%—ten years ago. Today, it’s about 40%. In four years’ time, that number will be trending very Swede-like.

Read on

Be Careful what You Wish for, Homosexual Activists

That crowing you hear is from the homosexual pressure groups, jubilant from their semi-capture of the Boy Scouts of America. BSA announced today that boys struggling from same-sex attraction can join scouting troops, but self-identifying homosexual adults cannot lead Boy Scout troops.

The homosexual activists have been out to conquer the Boy Scouts for decades. They’re halfway there now. But God has a way of taking of what some intend for evil and turning it around for good.

Here’s what I mean. In whose company would boys with sexual confusion most benefit?

From the Gay-Straight Alliance in their public schools? It’s a politically pressure group working from within to whip public schools into compliance with homosexual activist demands.

Or in the presence of Christian scout leaders teaching moral codes?

Same-sex attraction is extremely rare in the U.S. Only about 2 percent of the population struggles with same-sex attraction. Most Boy Scout troops probably won’t have anyone with same-sex attraction involved. There are thousands of small towns in America where boys are well-bonded with their own gender and don’t have these unfortunate struggles. So for many troops, this will be a non-issue.

Perhaps in girly-man towns like San Francisco, some troops will be entirely made up of boys with same-sex attraction. But that will be the exception to the norm.

Men and boys with healthy male identities can provide healthy role modeling for boys who are confused. And in today’s climate of moral relativism, a weekly dose of Judeo-Christian morality will be extremely valuable to boys who are struggling. And in fact, therapists who work with males going through these struggles encourage them to engage in activities with males in order to develop healthy male bonding.

Now this isn’t to say that there won’t be some problems, and that condemnation of the BSA’s foolish decision today isn’t justified. The Left is falling back on its tired and worn-out clichés again today.

Chris Wallace, of Fox News, was on the Mike Gallagher Show today, making trite, senseless, typical leftist points (remember, he is the son of Mike Wallace):

  • “Times have changed.” So what. Morality has not changed, Chris.
  • “Laws used to prevent inter-racial marriage.” That was about race, not gender, Chris. This argument has never worked for the Left.
  • “They aren’t going to jump ‘em in the tent!”

Oh, no, Chris? There are going to be 17-year-old boys with same-sex attraction taking advantage of younger boys on camping trips. And that’s where the threat lies. These boys should not be allowed to have a free run at younger, vulnerable boys. The supervision now must be on red alert. Remember, many homosexuals were tragically molested/raped as youngsters, and they learned unhealthy sexuality as a result. What better opportunity for an older homosexual boy to take advantage of younger boys on a night in the woods? It’s the same tempation faced by many pedophiles working at Disney Land, and by many priests with access to young boys.

But the new rules being what they are … all you boys with unwanted same-sex attraction desiring a scouting life … be sure to bring your Bible to next week’s meeting. You’ll learn a lot about how to be morally straight and about God’s plan for male-female marriage. Take notes; it will do you good. And be sure to drop your membership in the GSA at your local school; it does NOT have your best interests in mind. God bless you.

Center for Arizona Policy’s Medicaid Expansion and Abortion Fact Sheet

From the Center for Arizona Policy:

In the current debate over whether Arizona should expand Medicaid services pursuant to the federal Affordable Care Act, questions have arisen regarding the funding of abortion providers. To clarify the misinformation surrounding this issue, Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) has provided the following analysis of the concerns raised along with our recommendation on how the Legislature might address the issue.

Medicaid Expansion Pro-Life Issues Q & A

Question: Will Medicaid expansion result in additional money and benefits for abortion providers in Arizona?

Answer: YES. There is no law currently in force to prevent abortion providers from receiving payment from AHCCCS for providing family planning or medical services other than abortion. These taxpayer dollars subsidize the abortion business by freeing up additional money to be spent on abortion services.

Additionally, an AHCCCS patient who receives family planning services from an abortion provider might not otherwise have had a relationship with an abortion provider. Once that relationship is established, the patient will be more likely to return to that abortion provider if that patient has an unexpected pregnancy.

Thus, abortion providers’ participation in Medicaid necessarily benefits them both financially and through creating a stream of patients for the abortion side of the business.

With the proposed expansion of Medicaid to cover additional childless adults, the likelihood of this “patient stream” benefit is magnified because the population being covered is the prime target of the abortion industry.

Question: But doesn’t federal law already prohibit using Medicaid to pay for abortions?

Answer: YES, but the prohibition only applies to direct funding for abortion.

Currently, because of state law and the federal Hyde amendment, Medicaid dollars cannot be used to pay directly for abortions, except under the following circumstances:

  • Federal law requires AHCCCS to pay for abortions resulting from rape and incest.
  • State law requires AHCCCS to pay for abortions to save the life of the mother.
  • The Arizona Supreme Court decision in SIMAT requires the state to pay for “medically necessary” abortions for indigent women.

There is no evidence to date that these categories are currently being abused, but an unscrupulous abortion provider could be found stretching the definitions in an effort to receive government funding for abortions.

However, the concern is not generally these limited categories. As explained above, the concern is primarily that taxpayer dollars funding Medicaid subsidize the abortion business and provide new patients to abortion providers who participate in AHCCCS.

Question: Didn’t the Legislature address this last year through HB 2800?

Answer: YES, but that law is not currently in force.

Federal district court Judge Neil Wake issued a permanent injunction preventing the State from enforcing HB 2800 to exclude abortion providers from AHCCCS. His ruling is based on federal Medicaid statutes and rules, and the decision is currently being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether to take a similar case out of Indiana.

Question: Can the Legislature do anything to address the issue?

Answer: YES, but until we receive a favorable court ruling or see Congressional action, there are only limited steps the State may take to partially restrict the benefits of Medicaid to abortion providers.

Some potential incremental options for amending Medicaid expansion include:

  • Clarifying that Medicaid dollars cannot be used either directly or indirectly for performing, assisting, or encouraging abortions and requiring AHCCCS to conduct audits to ensure compliance.
  • Prohibiting abortion providers from performing abortions on AHCCCS members who have come to them previously for family planning services.
  • Enhancing abortion reporting requirements to include information about which abortion providers are receiving AHCCCS money.

Recommendation: Center for Arizona Policy requests that the incremental steps listed above be included in the final adoption of any Medicaid expansion measure.

Gang of 6 RINOs no Friend to Taxpayers

From the East Valley Tea Party:

This “Gang of 6” Republican Senators voted with the Democrats to pass the budge WITH Medicaid Expansion in it. !!

Top left to right… John McComish (LD18), Adam Driggs (LD28), Steve Pierce (LD1), Michele Reagan(LD23) (voted YES for the budget with the expansion amendment in the 3rd read) ,Bob Worsley (LD25) Rich Crandall (LD16)
Governor Brewer has manage to tear the Republican Party apart all while selling her soul to the Federal Government who is involved in scandal after scandal.
Obamacare is crumbling before our eyes and yet she jumps into the fire expecting the Federal Government will have the funds to expand our Medicaid program.
What was she thinking?  What were these 6 Republicans thinking?

Sen. Cruz: McCain out of Touch with Senate GOP

By United Press International

Senators who John McCain, R-Ariz., once called “whacko birds” are the real Republican mainstream, said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, daring McCain to prove him wrong.

Cruz, a freshman senator endorsed by the Tea Party movement and the libertarian Republican Liberty Caucus, said on the Senate floor Thursday he and fellow deficit-hawk Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida were not a crackpot fringe for standing in the way of negotiations with the House to reconcile the two chambers’ competing U.S. budget proposals.

Indeed, they represent the GOP majority philosophy, Cruz said.

Cruz, Paul, Lee, Rubio and other conservative lawmakers with close Tea Party ties say they adamantly object to the appointment of a House-Senate conference committee to bridge the vast gap between the House and Senate budget versions unless the lawmakers are guaranteed negotiators won’t agree to link a budget deal to a debt-limit increase.

If that were to happen, such an agreement would let a debt-ceiling increase be approved in the Senate with a simple 51-vote majority, rather than the 60-vote supermajority usually needed for controversial measures.

McCain, a senator since 1987, called his upstart colleagues’ defiance obstructionist and said their demand for a guarantee showed their ignorance of how the Senate works.

“It’s not the regular order for a number senators — a small number, a minority within a minority here — to say they will not agree to go to conference,” McCain said Thursday.

“We’re here to vote, not here to block things,” he said. “We’re here to articulate our positions on the issues and do what we can for the good of the country and the let the process move forward.”

He said the budget blockade was the latest example of the small senators group pursuing a strategy that will “paralyze” the Senate process. He said it could provoke Democratic leaders to take extreme steps to change Senate rules to crack down on delaying tactics.

McCain previously criticized Tea Party tactics on other issues, including efforts to block votes on Cabinet nominations and gun-control legislation.

Two months ago he told The Huffington Post he considered them “whacko birds” after they filibustered John O. Brennan as President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA until he guaranteed Washington wouldn’t use aerial drones to kill Americans in the United States.

“I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not,” McCain said in the Post interview, published March 7.

Cruz said Thursday McCain was “impugning all 45 Republicans in this body” by suggesting Cruz and his colleagues were a small troublemaking minority of the GOP for continuing to stand in the way of the House-Senate conference committee and pressing the debt-ceiling issue.

“There may be more wacko birds in the Senate than is suspected,” Cruz said.

He challenged McCain to test the senatorial waters by seeing how many Republican senators are willing to sign a statement saying they supported letting the Senate raise the debt ceiling with a simple majority.

“I believe he will find that his representation to this body — that it is only a minority of Republicans that oppose that — is not accurate,” Cruz said.

Cruz challenged McCain, saying if the Arizona Republican can produce a document showing a majority of the Senate GOP supported the McCain position, “I will offer here and now to go to a home game of my Houston Astros wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks hat.”