Even as someone who has followed politics for years and years, I have struggled to understand Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his crusade against the Affordable Care Act. While other conservatives such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) took largely a backseat, Sen. Cruz blustered ahead running roughshod over Republicans and Democrats alike.
With degrees from both Princeton University and Harvard Law School – and let’s not forget those citizenships from both America and Canada – it’s hard to believe he simply isn’t as smart as his Republican colleagues who are fighting more traditional conservative battles such as tax reform and entitlement regulation.
However, after considerable thought, I think I have arrived at the only plausible conclusion, and I wanted to share it with you: Sen. Cruz likes the sound of coughing. At first, I thought it might be that he had an affinity for that quick staccato punch of a good sneeze, or perhaps the clicking melody of an arthritic knee or two, but after careful consideration I've decided it’s that traditional, deafening cough that’s gets him going in the morning.
With healthcare exchanges rolling out across America on October 1, there was a fearful chance that the nation might have to carry on with fewer coughs, and Cruz couldn’t have that. So the sensible plan was to put “defund Obamacare” language into the Continuing Resolution, then filibuster that very same Continuing Resolution while reading Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor. Next, push for a government shutdown which resulted in the furloughs of 800,000 people and the non-payment of the very Capitol Police who protected Cruz and other law makers when shots rang out on October 3. But I guess…as he always says…“Don’t … Blink!”
My father died because of numerous health issues and problems with healthcare. I think the biggest weakness of the current Affordable Care Act critique is the lack of ideas for an alternative solution. We must not forget that the stunning problem in America which leaders from Roosevelt to Truman to Johnson to Nixon to Clinton to Obama have tried to fix is that many Americans lived but one illness away from economic ruin or worse. The Affordable Care Act is at least an attempt to fix this problem, and – this is the best part, people – a fairly conservative one at that.
forget that The Heritage Foundation, an unabashedly conservative think tank,
liked the idea of the individual mandate, which is the integral to today’s healthcare
law. Check the adjacent picture. I found
it on page 61 of this attached PDF (download link) of The Heritage Foundation’s own “Critical Issues” publication about healthcare in the 1980s. (Site link here.)
And who can forget what Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the Republican House, and architect of the 1994 “revolution” said on Meet the Press in 1993: “I am for people, individuals — exactly like automobile insurance — individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance.” .....Oops??
Of course, since at the time President Clinton was advocating for pure government control, Speaker Gingrich naturally went to the right of him. But when President Obama went against many on the left and backed this more conservative and market-based approach to universal healthcare, I guess Sen. Cruz had nowhere left to go.
And we’ve all heard the usual hysteria: “If it stands, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” Hold on a second, wrong quote: the above is not regarding the Affordable Care Act at all. It’s actually an old Reagan quote about Medicare over 40 years ago. Last time I checked we are still free! Phewww…boy, was that close! And check out these adjacent pictures of headlines from the 1960s. You’d think that Medicare was going to end the world! And how is Medicare doing now? Do you think more people like Medicare or dislike Medicare? Well, numerous polls have shown that Americans support it. I think there are parallels here.
But back to Sen. Cruz. There is still a lot to learn about how the Affordable Care Act will look in the coming years. There are some who argue that the cost will be driven down by the larger pool of participants created by the individual mandate (which is Constitutional, as it turns out). There are those that argue that the exchanges will create more competition in the healthcare marketplace. Some believe that the Affordable Care Act will incentive corporations to create more part time workers, but my instinct is that as the economy continues to recover this incentive will be less potent because there will be increased full time labor demand. Some argue that there are religious liberty questions or that the law may lead to a lower quality of care. Though I believe that expanded healthcare is a very good idea, there certainly will be tweaks to make in the future. What we do know is that more Americans will be covered now than ever before, and that more Americans will go to bed secure at night than ever before. If you’ve ever seen what someone goes through when they are ill, it’s hard to imagine anything more important than that.
Sen. Cruz should focus on amending the Affordable Care Act or he should merely posit other plans. It’s always easier to criticize than create. Despite an impressive background, Cruz has not shown adequate concern for the pain that many people endure. These are people, like my father, who often suffer through no fault of their own.
I have always believed that many years from now, when people look back on societies, we will be judged on how we cared for the most vulnerable among us. Expanded healthcare is a step ahead in that regard.
Given these contentions, it finally became clear to me that Sen. Cruz enjoyed the sound of coughing, and thus a compromise dawned: surely there’s an app for that.