Ted Cruz doesn't want to replace Obamacare, he wants to replace President Obama.
Ted Cruz made his appearance at this year's Texas Tribune Festival in front of a "Come and Take It" flag, ironically it was via Skype and he was actually in Washington D.C. It was though, the perfect metaphor for a conversation that gave insight into the real reasons behind his grand stand on the Senate floor -- his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
This act of self-aggrandizement has drawn some parallels to what Wendy Davis did this summer but besides polar opposite motivations (preserving access to care vs. denying it) Ted Cruz defied both his party and the majority of individuals who do not support the Affordable Care Act.
Even though Texas has the highest uninsured population, Cruz will personally benefit greatly with Republican primary voters by appearing as the one individual who made a last stand against the funding of Obamacare.
Evan Smith asked, "What did you intend to accomplish and what in the end did you accomplish?" and Cruz responded,
Click below the jump to find out how Ted Cruz is really just like those other "squishy" politicians, only better...
"Well my hope was this week would serve a role helping elevate the public debate the harms that are coming from Obamacare. After 3 1/2 years after it has passed it is now clear this thing isn't working. and there are millions of Americans who are suffering under Obamacare."
It's interesting that Cruz says the law "isn't working" even as he still fights to defund its implementation.
Cruz' real intention is to posture himself for a Presidential run. Cruz' plan seems to be working according to the latest poll by PPP that shows him leading the GOP field for 2016, but he is already starting to sound just like any other politician.
When asked about his jetsetting around the country and recent visits to early primary states, specifically Iowa and New Hampshire, he said he was going where the grassroots led him, and not sizing up a presidential run. When asked about endorsing his colleague John Cornyn, Cruz declined, saying that he would stay out of incumbent primaries. Evan Smith pushed back against Cruz's Tea Party dog whistle saying,
"you now have a bunch of good Tea Party folks in Texas, who may be taking their cues from you, but in any case after the last couple of days are calling for his (Cornyn's) head. You could put a stop to this, and endorse him right now, will you do it?"
Cruz declined and Smith continued to press him,
"You understand Senator that the practical effect of declining to endorse Senator Cornyn, that it is read by a lot of people that you are opposing Senator Cornyn."
For Cruz the only practical effect is the elevation of his own profile and the ever present threat of any insufficiently conservative politician to be thrown under the bus for opposing his tactics. He told his interviewer, "I don't think most Texans or Americans care about politicians," yet he was in this month's GQ magazine. Cruz is well aware of his image and this "feauxlibuster," as it was referred to by the staff of the Texas Tribune, was the perfect resume builder.
Cruz spent nearly a day talking about "the harms of Obamacare" but America still hasn't heard a Republican plan. Evan Smith said,
"Regardless of what happens this week we have a problem in the state of Texas. A quarter of your constituents have no health insurance. We're first in the nation and it's a chronic problem not a new one. Yet we hear there is a better answer out there than the one the federal government is offering. Let me take you at your word and then ask you can you please tell me what that answer is...I've heard a lot from you and opponents if the affordable care act about what you are against. Please tell us what you are for, what the alternative is."
After 3 1/2 more minutes of attacking Obamacare Cruz finally laid out some changes he would make to our healthcare system. The first of course is to repeal Obamacare. Others include the creation of a marketplace to lower costs for catastrophic care (which Obamacare does), health savings accounts, and finally he would delink employment-based insurance. He got his last point right, but of course this wouldn't be issue with a single-payer style healthcare system progressives wanted in the first place. What he got wrong on the issue is concluding that delinking health insurance to employment would "go a long way to solving the problem of pre-existing conditions." The whole concept of "pre-existing" is that the conditions exist before one is able to obtain coverage, so absent a requirement there is no guarantee a preexisting condition will be covered.
Ted Cruz doesn't need an alternative to Obamacare because ensuring Americans have access to affordable insurance is not on his agenda, but defeating Obama is. Major disruption to the function of government only props up his rhetoric that government is incapable of compently dealing with critical issues like healthcare. Mainstream Republicans understand they'll likely be blamed for a shutdown and realize the damage Cruz is doing to his own party. But Ted Cruz himself is more interested in his individual ambition than party politics and being quite literally the stand-alone voice fighting Obamacare is precisely the outcome he was looking for. It is an act far removed from the 2016 cycle but believe me, he looks forward to reminding you about it when the time comes.