I always say that when ideology runs head long into reality…reality usually prevails. Ted Cruz just got a reality check.
Ted Cruz is well known as the standard bearer for the fight against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). You will seldom see him in a public forum where he is not calling for its repeal. Two days ago he officially announced that he was running for president. In his very important first speech as an official candidate Cruz asked his audience to imagine a congress that repeals “each and every word of Obamacare.” Repealing Obamacare sits at the very core of his political principles.
Or does it?
24 hours after giving that speech we learned that Cruz and his family are signing up for Obamacare.
Senator Cruz’ wife has a high profile job at Goldman Sachs. The Cruz family has its health insurance through Mrs. Cruz’ employer. Mrs. Cruz has elected to take an unpaid leave of absence to work on her husband’s campaign. Her decision means that the Cruz family will not only lose her pay check but the family’s health insurance as well.
The Cruz family finds itself at the same crossroads faced by millions of Americans in the days before Obamacare. The loss of a job or some other significant event that causes a reduction in income are two of the main reasons that people lost their health insurance…and in part the reasons why the Affordable Care Act exits. Unlike many unfortunate families in the days before Obamacare, the Cruz family has some options. Senator Cruz can buy coverage, if he wants it, through his employer, the federal government. In fact he is required by law to do so.
Back in the days when the president and the Democrat controlled congress were trying to pass the ACA Republicans attempted to torpedo the bill by attaching an amendment requiring that all members of congress purchase their insurance through the federal the exchange. In essence Republicans were saying: “If Democrats think that government provided health care is such a good idea then they should be forced to buy their coverage through the program just like any other citizen. Republicans believed the amendment would scare off the Democrats and kill the bill. But Democrats believed in the legislation and passed the bill with the amendment attached.
When the story leaked that Cruz was purchasing insurance through the federal exchange the media sought him out for an explanation. He said he had no choice…that he was required by law to do so. “This is one of the good things about Obamacare" he said. "Members will be on the exchanges without subsidies just like millions of Americans…Members of congress should not be exempt.”
This is what we call “spinning.” Cruz had another option.
He could have stood on principle, paid the fine and opted out. He could have taken a stand against the hated, socialist, big government program. He could have joined over 6 million of his fellow Texans and gone without coverage. Cruz’ great state of Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured people…6 million uninsured…over 1 million of them children. Uninsured in part because Cruz and his fellow state Republicans opted out of the ACA and federal funds that came with it; denying Texans the opportunity for affordable health care. Ted Cruz could have made a principled stand and joined his fellow Texans. But he didn’t. The basic kitchen table need to protect his family took precedence. Cruz made the prudent and logical choice. Unfortunately Cruz and his Republican state legislators didn’t allow his fellow Texans the same opportunity.
Ted Cruz isn’t the first politician to see his ideology wither in the face of reality. He won’t be the last.