Saturday, September 28, 2013

True Colors

"I intend to speak in support of de-funding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand."-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas

With those words, the Tea Party-supported freshman Senator from Texas took to the floor of the Senate and embarked on a 21 hour, 19 minute exposition against the President's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare".

The speech wasn't entirely about Obamacare, of course.  No one could speak that long without resorting to repetition that would soon become mind-numbing.  He filled in with references to popular culture (quoting from "Duck Dynasty"), to the influence of his father, and he even read the Dr. Seuss classic, "Green Eggs and Ham" to his children.  Not surprisingly, out of 21 hours of material to choose from to make their reports, the national news media (the "Lamestream Media") decided almost universally to concentrate on green eggs and ham in an effort to ridicule and diminish Sen. Cruz and his argument.

Helping in this effort at media smearing are several of the establishment Republican power brokers.  Every single Republican who ran in the 2012 election ran on the platform of getting rid of and/or de-funding Obamacare.  The House of Representatives has held more than 40 (largely symbolic) votes to repeal the legislation, safe in the knowledge they were protected by the fact that the Senate would never even see the legislation.  They're very brave, when there's no one around to hold them to account, but now there's Sen. Ted Cruz.  Like Sen. Rand Paul before him, Sen. Cruz dared to take on the establishment.  He kept faith with those whose votes elected him for the express purpose of getting rid of Obamacare by any means necessary.  Unlike establishment Republicans, who are busy crafting excuses why they can't do anything ("We only have one-half of one-third of the government, there's nothing we can do."  "Obama will veto any bill that de-funds or repeals the legislation, anyway.", etc.) Sen. Cruz has been busy looking for ways to make it possible.  Instead of telling his constituents that they need to "be patient" until they have a chance to "take back the Senate in 2014" (if you remember, the Republicans did remarkably little to advance the causes of liberty and fiscal responsibility when they held all three branches of government), he has stepped up to the plate to promote actions, rather than empty speeches and never-to-be-fulfilled promises.

"This is the first time I've seen when Republican leadership is actively whipping the Republican conference to support Harry Reid and give him the power to enact his agenda. I'm quite confident this is not what Texans expect of me."--Sen. Cruz

In the process, he has stepped on some big Republican toes.  There's a culture in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, that junior Senators and Congressmen should "be seen and not heard" until it's time for them to vote along with the rest of the party faithful.  Following the path blazed by Sen. Paul before them, Sen. Cruz and others have flouted that "tradition" and in the process have overshadowed other, older, more senior members.  And they don't like it one bit.  Sen. John McCain of Arizona once famously called these young enthusiastic Tea Party freshmen "Wacko Birds" for their outspoken promotion of traditional conservative ideals.  Oddly, Sen. McCain was greatly offended when Sen. Cruz referenced that comment in his epic speech, saying that he and his associates were "proud Wacko Birds".

Getting back to the national media's treatment of Sen. Cruz.

Not one major outlet (excepting, perhaps FoxNews) reported even one of the many substantive points made in this speech.  Instead, they focused on the farcical interludes with Dr. Seuss and Duck Dynasty, followed by  the remarks of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D) Nevada that they had just witnessed hours of "wasted time" (not so, Harry.  Sen. Cruz's remarks were called a "faux filibuster" by the mainstream media precisely because his speech did not hold up any Senate business). 

For the viewers who didn't watch the majority of the speech and only saw the "highlights" of green eggs and ham, it did seem like a complete waste of time.  Entirely as intended.

Many websites have listed quotes and "talking points" taken from Sen. Cruz's remarks.  As an illustration of the deliberate attempt to misrepresent the Sen.'s speech, I'll use one such quote from the political blog and website, Politico.  One of their favorite quotes: "The moon might be as intimidating as Obamacare."  Doesn't make any sense, does it?  Here's the full quote:  "When President John F. Kennedy told this country “We are going to send a man to the moon.” There were a lot of people who said it can’t be done. It’s impossible. It cannot be done. And yet John F. Kennedy had the vision to say Americans can do things whatever we set our mind too….We get to Obamacare and what do all of those voices say: It can’t be stopped. It can’t be done. We cannot defund it. Now, Mr. President by any measure, Obamacare is a far less intimidating foe than those that I have discussed. With a possible exception of the moon, the moon might be as intimidating as Obamacare."

Reads a little different when put into context, doesn't it?

One of the most significant points made by Sen. Cruz in his speech, unreported by the major media, was just how much working people could expect their health insurance premiums to rise if/when Obamacare is fully implemented.  As reported via FoxNews and the Society of Actuaries,   "According to the Society of Actuaries, America’s leading organization of risk-analysis professionals, the cost of medical claims under Obamacare – the driving force behind the rise in insurance premiums – will increase by 32 percent nationwide.  The cost of medical claims is up 62 percent in California. According to the Executive Director of that state’s own Obamacare exchange, health insurance premiums for individuals are rising by between 64 and 146 percent.  The day the exchange opened, the average 25-year-old nonsmoking male in California saw his monthly premium rise from $92 to $184.  In Tennessee, the average premium for individual females is doubling. For men, it’s tripling. One Kentucky family famously saw their premium triple overnight."

Funny, isn't it, how the American media conveniently omits such important information?  The administration has put on a full court press, using all the avenues available to them to sell Obamacare to the public, hoping to quell the same kind of public outcry that  derailed their quest to limit the 2nd Amendment protections for legal gun owners earlier this year.  That's to be expected.  What's so discouraging is the enthusiastic willingness of our other so-called "representatives" to join them in their propaganda efforts.

As of this writing, the Senate voted for cloture 79-19.  The Republicans didn't "stand together" until it didn't matter.  The Senate then voted to pass the measure, stripped of the de-funding language, on a party-line 54-44 vote.  (That way, Republicans can still represent themselves as having voted against it)  The measure now goes back to the House.  The last chance to stop this rests with the Republican caucus (Rep. Boehner has already said he won't do anything to cause a shutdown).  If the rank and file stand firm, they can pass a bill with different language to restrict the implementation of Obamacare, they could refuse to pass the Senate version, or they could tie a one-year delay in the implementation to a vote on the debt ceiling (I wouldn't hold my breath, we saw how they folded like cheap lawn chairs in the debt ceiling fight last year).

In taking a stand, in keeping faith with his constituents and following through on his promise to do everything he could to get rid of Obamacare and restore the Constitution to primacy, whether or not he is successful in this particular fight Sen. Ted Cruz and his associates have shown their true colors.  In intentionally misrepresenting the issue, excusing themselves for not following up on their promises (while managing to exempt themselves from the obligation of following the mandates of Obamacare themselves), the national media and establishment Republicans have shown theirs, as well.


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