Sen. Ted Cruz: Conservative Policies 'Improve Opportunity'

By Susan Jones | January 7, 2013 | 5:59 AM EST

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, says he's a conservative because conservative policies work. (AP File Photo)

( - Ted Cruz, the new U.S. senator from Texas, says he's a conservative because conservative policies work.

"The reason I am a conservative is because conservative policies work, and they improve opportunity. They are the avenue for climbing the economic dream. And what I have been talking about for many years is opportunity conservatism, that every policy should focus like a laser on easing the means of ascent of the economic ladder that we should be championing the 47 percent, to take that now infamous comment.

"Look, the great thing about Americans -- Americans don't want to be dependent on government. Dependency zaps the spirit. It doesn't work," Cruz told "Fox News Sunday."

"Americans want to stand on their own two feet. And the best way to do that is have policies that allow entrepreneurs and small businesses to thrive and to create jobs and advance the American Dream."

Fox News Sunday substitute host John Roberts asked Cruz, "What's to prevent you from becoming a spineless jellyfish here in the climate of Washington?"

Cruz said he's coming into office "surrounded by and lifted up by those grassroots conservatives who I am happy to stand with over and over again."

"If we can stand strong and insist on, number one, structural reforms to fix the problems, and number two, pro-growth policies so we can grow the economy, we can get jobs back; we can get people back to work, I think we can win that debate and win that argument.

"I don't think what Washington needs is more compromise. I think what Washington needs is more common sense and more principle."

Cruz also said it seems like President Obama has "drunk the tea" and is "feeling very good about himself" -- good enough to nominate a defense secretary (former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska) who has Democrat as well as Republican critics. "He doesn't seem terribly concerned that there's not a lot of support for Chuck Hagel in the Senate," Cruz said of Obama.

Asked about the next treasury secretary -- White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew has been mentioned -- Cruz said he wants to hear real proposals for growth:

"You know, and this whole debate about the fiscal cliff, we've been talking about taxes, we've been talking about spending -- noticeably absent from this equation has been growth. And the biggest economic problem of the last four years has been the dismal economic growth."

It's not a popularity contest, Cruz said: "This is about fixing the problems that are affecting millions of Americans."

"If we can get GDP up to 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent, that will dramatically (raise) more revenue to pay off the deficit and debt. But the way to do it is through pro-growth policies, not new and additional taxes."