By Ethan Rome – Executive Director, Health Care for America Now
It was a big surprise that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, unlike President Barack Obama, was indeed born outside the United States and that he is a citizen of both Canada and the U.S. It makes things a little awkward for him inside the tea party that spawned the baseless, mean-spirited and totally whacked birther movement, but he's working that out.
What's not a surprise is that Cruz is crusading across the country threatening to shut down the U.S. government and wreck our economy unless Congress defunds Obamacare, a law enacted nearly four years ago and upheld in 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court. He's been a demagogue since his first day in the Senate.
Cruz's extortionary crusade will hurt millions of people and seriously disrupt our economy. Doing anything like that is unconscionable, especially since it's all about Cruz's likely presidential campaign. Naked ambition is the only explanation for Cruz's reckless behavior. He figures that being seen as a tough guy with principles will give him an advantage over his Republican primary opponents.
Cruz's stated goal is that he wants to repeal Obamacare. He may have noticed that the Republicans in the House have voted 40 times to get rid of the health care law and failed. That might deter some politicians. Not Ted Cruz.
Repealing Obamacare would take away consumer benefits and protections that are changing the lives of millions of Americans. But Cruz doesn't care. He wants to fan the flames of the increasingly extreme and radical Republican base.
As Cruz barnstorms across the country promoting his irresponsible plan, he does not mention that repealing Obamacare will take away the health and economic security of America's seniors and families. He's happy to put people at the mercy of health insurance companies and restore insurers' power to deny our care, drop our coverage and jack up our rates whenever they want.
But Cruz's constituents in Texas aren't letting him dodge the truth about what it would mean to people if Obamacare were repealed. That's why activists from Texas Organizing Project, a Health Care for America Now partner organization, shut down a Ted Cruz anti-Obamacare diatribe during a stop on the Heritage Foundation-sponsored “Defund Obamacare” Tour.
Cruz doesn't just want to repeal Obamacare. He also hopes to prove to his party that he's the most ideologically pure fighter against the big hand of government and other threats to our freedom, like liberals and Obama. Cruz would like us to believe he's a man of conviction who's willing to disrupt the functioning of our country to block a law that will deliver quality, affordable health care to 25 million uninsured Americans and end insurance company abuses for everyone with coverage.
Ted Cruz tells his followers that “this is a fight that we can win.” But it's not, and he knows it. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have said they don't support the Cruz plan, and several Senate Republicans have trashed it from day one.
Here's what the New York Times had to say about it:
Whether out of pure self-preservation or a sudden attack of common sense, a growing group of Republicans is saying no to the strident extremists who want to shut down the government this fall if health care reform is allowed to proceed. “I think it's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of,” Senator Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina, said recently.
Cruz isn't interested in governing, so he doesn't care what his more reasonable colleagues think, even if his strategy to repeal Obamacare is a political disaster that's tanking with thepublic. The Republicans are imploding and are getting pummeled at nearly every public meeting by constituents who oppose repeal because they are benefiting from the law like millions of other Americans.
Cruz isn't concerned about voters right now. His goal is to show the extremist Republican base that he's the most unbending ideologue, and he's willing to go to any length to prove it – even if it blows up the economy, the Republican Party, or both.
Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida share the same extremist ideology, and they also want to be president. They say they're willing to do whatever it takes to defund Obamacare. Thankfully that's not true. Paul, for example, is already acknowledging that defunding is not going to happen. Not Ted Cruz. He wants to be president so badly he's willing to destroy the country to win it. The Canadians must be relieved that he didn't stick around and go into politics there.