Carnival barker Ted Cruz is destined to entertain us many times during his preposterous presidential bid – and sure enough, just two days on the trail, he’s doing it already.
On Monday, he assailed Obamacare’s supposedly “skyrocketing health insurance premiums” and vowed to repeal “every word” of Obamacare. On Tuesday, he said that he plans to enroll in Obamacare.
I swear, this guy is going to put satirists out of business.
Cruz has been covered by wife Heidi’s insurance – she works at Goldman Sachs – but that coverage is going away because Heidi is taking a leave of absence to stump with her spouse. So the Cruz family will soon be in the same soup as millions of other Americans who don’t have work-related coverage. What’s a zealot to do? Especially a zealot who hates Obamacare so much that he precipitated a multiweek shutdown of the federal government, in a failed attempt to kill Obamacare?
Well, he could look at COBRA coverage – the law requires that employers offer 18 months of insurance for a worker (like Heidi) who quits – but COBRA is very expensive. Or he could randomly buy a private health plan without going near the health exchanges that have been set up under Obamacare – but that’s probably not best for the family budget, because a random private plan might be more expensive than the range of choices offered in the Obamacare exchanges. So another option is for Cruz to get family coverage through his Senate job, via Obamacare.
Cruz has decided he likes the latter option. Oh, the irony. Yesterday he told the Des Moines Register: “We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care, and we’re in the process of transitioning over to that.”
Gee. Whatever happened to his right-wing applause line about Obamacare’s “skyrocketing health insurance premiums?” Apparently he and Heidi did some fact-digging and realized that his rhetoric is a crock.
By the way, when Cruz was asked on CNN how he squared his hate-Obamacare mantra with his decision to buy from Obamacare, he said this: “I believe we should follow the text of every law, even (a) law I disagree with.” Which is hilarious, because back in the fall of ’13, when conservative groups were actively working to dissuade young people from enrolling in Obamacare – urging them to defy the law and pay the fine for noncompliance – I don’t ever recall Ted Cruz saying that the tactic was wrong. I don’t ever recall him taking the high road and urging Americans to follow the text of the law.
But will this Obamacare episode undercut Cruz on the early primary trail? Nah. His aim is to galvanize the white religious right, and those voters are so invested in his delusional “train wreck” rhetoric that they can easily swing with the cognitive dissonance. The problem is, there aren’t enough of those voters to win a presidential election – and the average swing voter isn’t likely to abide a huckster who does things like sign up for health coverage that he wants to kill.
As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin points out, Cruz is “supremely unaccomplished and unqualified for the presidency.” As the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page said yesterday, Cruz is “probably wrong to think that conservatives alone, especially white conservatives, can elect the next president.” Which is why Cruz “is probably a dream come true for Hillary Clinton.”
But hey, the guy is performing a valuable public service. What better way to broaden Obamacare’s appeal than to count Ted Cruz as one of its enrollees?
I’ve finally transcribed the rest of my Barney Frank/Free Library interview – the second half, when we mostly talked policy and politics. (Transcribing is a laborious process, slowed even further when one has a competing full-time job. And slowed even further by the fact that Barney Frank talks like Elmer Fudd on speed.)
I’m going to parcel out Barneyisms for the rest of this week. For instance…
On Bibi Netanyahu’s speech to the Republican House: “Let me put it this way. If I had been there, I wouldn’t have been there. I think Netanyahu is doing great damage to Israel’s cause – by aligning himself with the Republicans, by saying he doesn’t want to have a Palestinian state, by the unconvincing way he says he didn’t mean it…These are terrible mistakes. Deliberately insulting the president, saying he prefers the Republicans, it’s going to have consequences. The best Democratic response is to say, ‘We still support the right of Israel to exist as a free and secure Jewish state, but Netanyahu is not pursuing that in the appropriate way.'”
On liberals’ complaints about the dominance of big money in politics: “That (complaint) is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In 2009, the committee I chaired passed the (financial reform) bill creating the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – and we had big money (against us) back then. Elizabeth Warren said (on the day of passage), ‘They told me the banks always win, but they didn’t win today.’ Money can be dominant, but votes can beat money if we mobilize them. Votes beat money on the financial reform law.”
Granted, he said, the Citizens United ruling has put a lot more big money in play, “but a 5-4 decision that controversial has no weight behind it. If Hillary Clinton is president, and gets to replace one of the five conservative justices during her time, then we’ll have that overturned. So the presidential election is very important in that regard.”