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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Senator Ted Cruz On Defunding Obamacare

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HH: Senator Cruz, thanks for joining me.


TC: Hugh, it’s always a pleasure to be with you.


HH: I want to get to the substance of this debate on Obamacare, but first I have got to ask you about the fact that, Joe Scarborough is going to join me next hour, and Joe took out after you


TC: [laughing]


HH: yesterday on Morning Joe and I just want to challenge him on the fact that I actually think you’re doing the right thing whether people agree with you or not, raising arguments and making arguments not, not insignificant but important arguments.


TC: Well, I’ll confess to you. I don’t know Mr. Scarborough. He has had a number of colorful things to say about me and I suppose he is entitled to his opinions and people say things for different reasons. It was interesting yesterday, Chris Matthews shared his view that he thought I was terrorist and on Joe’s show the view was shared that they thought I was in the Taliban. So, you know they are entitled to express their views and I suppose on television people make, make decisions that they think will cause people to watch their shows.


HH: Senator Cruz, just for the record, how many times have you argued before the United States Supreme Court?


TC: Nine times.


HH: Okay. Has anyone to your knowledge in the media anywhere on MSBC or any of the networks ever argued before the Supreme Court?


TC: I’m not aware of it.


HH: Do you think you have to go a little slower with these folks  is what I’m asking actually?


TC: Ah, look, you know, they’re—they have their own motivations. I’m not going to speculate as to them. They are entitled to their opinions and, I will say, that I was amused by a tweet that one fellow put out late last night which is that he suggested an iron clad rule going forward. That if you call political opponents a terrorist, you are heretofore prohibited from accusing anyone of demagoguery.


HH: [laughing] That’s a good, good tweet! Let me ask you about the substance of this now and the disagreement with Senator Coburn, frequent guest, my guess a friend of yours, what


TC: Oh sure.


HH: What is the disagreement between you and Senator Coburn and is he a member of the so-called surrender caucus, a term I know you did not use yourself.


TC: [laughing]. Well, Tom Coburn is a good man. He’s someone I like and respect and there is a difference of opinion among the Republican caucus as to the best way to go forward, and consistently in these debates I have avoided speaking ill of any of my colleagues and I intend to continue to follow that practice. But to make the argument on the merits that I believe right now is the single best opportunity we have had to defeat Obamacare, to permanently defund Obamacare and I also think it is in all likelihood our last opportunity to do so.


HH: And why do you think that, because if we end up with a shutdown government, Fred Barnes made the argument, and I’m persuaded by it, so we disagree about this, that the argument will switch to the Social Security checks not coming out in the monuments being closed and we will be off the disaster that is Obamacare and on to the inconveniences of a temporarily shuttered federal apparatus.


TC: Let me make a quick note on what Fred said and Fred is a very smart and incisive commentator, but there is factual error in that comment which is that what happens when a continuing resolution passes the word shutdown is a misnomer. It is actually a partial temporary shutdown and indeed mandatory spending continues. So, Social Security checks don’t stop. We’ve seen partial temporary shutdowns before. We saw it twice in 1995. Social Security checks continued to flow, Medicare continues, our military continues to be paid, the interest on the debt continues to be paid. What happens in a temporary partial shutdown is non-essential government services are temporarily suspended, and I would note that that happens every single week on the weekend when government buildings are typically closed. It’s not obviously sustainable over the long term. It’s not a good outcome, but it also we have seen in the past is not the end of the world. It’s worth understanding what one is talking about because people throw out invectives like stopping Social Security and that’s not what anyone is talking about here.


HH: Does the Pentagon remain fully alert, fully deployed and fully functional?


TC: Yes. As a matter of law, defense functions protecting our troops, all essential government functions continue as a matter of law.


HH: All right. So that, that’s a big difference. Now the key is though, will the media ever allow a Republican argument that’s sophisticated to be made or will it be that your pushing granny over the cliff and you’ve put the aircraft carriers into port. Even if it’s not true


TC: Right, right.


HH: as was said yesterday, I think to me on air, if the media says blue is red, it doesn’t matter blue is blue if you persuaded the public that blue is red.


TC: Look, there is no doubt the Democrats will make that argument loudly. The White House is a big bully pulpit and the main stream media will parrot that argument word for word. But let me tell you why I think this is our in all likelihood our last opportunity to do it, and I actually think—look, Hugh, I think you are a smart, careful thinker. I actually think on the merits you make sure to reconsider if we walk through this. Um, and the reason that I think this choice makes sense is 2 simple propositions. Number 1, on January 1st the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in. The Obama Administration’s plan is very simple. They want to get the American people addicted to the subsidies, addicted to the sugar because they know that in modern history, no major entitlement has ever gone into effect and been unwound, and so once those subsidies kick in, in all likelihood it will prove impossible to repeal Obamacare. Now, if that proposition is true, and I yet to hear anyone give a credible refutation to it, it raises the second point that is critical which is the continuing resolution is the only option that anyone has suggested that has a chance of defunding Obamacare and stopping it. And so the question I would encourage you to ask when you’re talking to Republicans who are nervous about going down this road is a very simple question: What is the alternative? If you don’t like this path, what is your alternative that has any chance at all—just a non-zero chance of actually defeating Obamacare, because if you don’t have an alternative, you should be very clear what your saying. What your saying is essentially we surrender, we will allow Obamacare to become a permanent feature of the American economy, and to me, this law is so damaging, it is so failed, it is so ineffectual that that is an outcome that doesn’t make sense.


HH: Is the alternative to win the Senate in 2014 as a consequence of the train wreck and the skyrocketing premiums, the subsidy not being effective enough to off put that and then with majorities in both houses present much more easy to defend legislative remedies in smaller bites to the President for his veto an unpopular polarization, polarizing effect?


TC: Look, it’s certainly possible. I think we are well situated for Republicans to take a majority of the Senate in 2014, but if the subsidies have kicked in, they will never be repealed. If you go back, I would challenge anyone who’s a skeptic on this to point to a single subsidy the federal government has ever put in place that has been unwound. You like at our farm subsidies, those can be traced back to World War I, temporary wartime support and 7-8 decades later they are still with us. Once subsidies kick in, the people receiving the subsidies fight to preserve them. So, could there be tweaks in the future? Yes, but if we don’t do this now, we never will.  Let me urge your listeners, go to, to stand with us on this fight.


HH: Senator Ted Cruz, thank you. for more information. I look forward to talking to you again soon, Senator.


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