Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Money for Nothin'

When the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision on Citizens United it forever changed the course of our democracy. No longer are a candidate’s qualifications or quick witted performance on the stump the keys to victory. Now all an aspiring candidate needs is one well-heeled benefactor to become a player for the most powerful office on the planet. Now one individual with deep pockets can effectively alter the course of history.

You probably think I’m going to go on a tirade about Donald Trump. Trump is certainly a good example of how money and celebrity can “trump” qualifications as the keys to a successful campaign. But at least Trump is using his own billions to fund his Shermanesque rampage through the halls of Washington. Trump has earned his celebrity and his billions. He’s not living his dream off the benevolence of others.

No, when I think of a politician who would not rate a nanosecond of thought were it not for the support of well-heeled benefactors one name comes immediately to mind.

Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz’ Super PAC has raised roughly $38 million dollars to date. A paltry sum compared to the $100+ million raised by Jeb Bush but a significant amount none the less. Cruz has used that money to promote his presidential aspirations while at the same time shirking his duties as a US Senator.

While the Cruz campaign is long on rhetoric his senatorial career is short on substance. Cruz has one of the worst attendance records on floor votes and committee attendance of any of his colleagues. Of his 44 sponsored bills exactly “0” have shown any glimmer of a chance of becoming legislation.

While Cruz receives failing grades for his senatorial duties he has proven to be quite astute at alienating his colleagues in the chamber. To say Cruz is hated on the Hill is not a stretch. He has called Mitch McConnell a “liar”…feuded with John McCain…repeatedly derided and mocked his fellow lawmakers and tossed many of them under the bus when it suited his needs.

He met secretly with House Republicans to urge them to shut down the government rather than grant the president his funding requests. The House followed his lead to a disastrous end. 800,000 federal workers were furloughed…national parks closed…vacations ruined…$25 billion in GDP lost… and eventually a credit downgrade by Moody’s…the first downgrade in US history.

During the furor that followed Cruz told reporters that he “always thought shutting down the government was a bad idea but he admired the House Republicans for standing up for their principles.”

When the Obamacare rollout was having website difficulties Cruz was encouraging people not to enroll. He knew that for the ACA to be successful in needed an influx of young healthy applicants to offset the elderly, sick and infirmed. So Cruz focused on the younger crowd; telling them that enrolling in the ACA was a bad idea because the program would never get off the ground.

Noted for his intelligence, Cruz knew full well that by not enrolling in the ACA young adults were putting their financial future at risk. Cruz knew that one serious illness could be a financial disaster but he encouraged them not to enroll anyway.

Cruz later found himself and his family without health coverage when his wife quit her job to work Cruz’ presidential campaign. The Cruz family was covered under her former employer’s group plan. Did Cruz go without coverage as he had encouraged so many to do? No…he enrolled in Obamacare.

In spite of his poor political record and offensive personality Ted Cruz is a player in the upcoming elections. Why? Because four guys with fat wallets have decided to bankroll his campaign.

You see $36 of the $38 million that Cruz’ PAC has raised has come from four people: $15 million from fracking billionaires Farris and Dan Wilks; $11 million from hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer and $10 million from Cruz’ personal friend Toby Neugebauer.

On August 6 the GOP will host its first in a series of debates. Having a place on that stage is critical any Republican presidential hopeful. Ted Cruz will have a place on that stage. He will have a voice. Other more deserving candidates will see their campaigns end because Cruz took their spot at the podium. Not because he was more deserving or qualified. But because for guys with extra cash in their pockets decided he was worth the bet.

Money for nothin'

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