Ted Cruz’s Shameless Obamacare Hypocrisy

How you look at things.
Sept. 23 2013 10:47 AM

The Passion of the Cruz

Obamacare, partisanship, and the shameless hypocrisy of Ted Cruz.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during the "Exempt America from Obamacare" rally on Capitol Hill, Sept. 10.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 189 to fund the government for the rest of the year only if the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, doesn’t get a cent. Essentially, the resolution tells the Senate and President Obama: Accept our demand to gut Obamacare, or the government shuts down.

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

For those of you doing the math at home, 230 ayes on the roll call means that 53 percent of House members voted for the ultimatum. Republicans pushed it through on a party-line vote. As Slate’s David Weigel points out, Democrats voted against it, 188 to 2.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, congratulated his House colleagues on forcing the resolution through. “Today was a victory for House conservatives,” Cruz declared on Fox News. “It was a victory for House leadership, for Speaker Boehner.” After asserting, without apparent irony, that the vote was “bipartisan,” Cruz called on “Senate Republicans to come together and to support House Republicans.” In a press release, Cruz exhorted his colleagues: "Now is a time for party unity; Senate Republicans should stand side-by-side with courageous House Republicans.”

That was Friday. On Sunday, Cruz reappeared on Fox with a different message. In the Senate, he told Chris Wallace, “The first order of business is going to be to ask Harry Reid if he will agree to allow amendments to be subject to a 60-vote threshold. And that's typical in the Senate.” By requiring 60 votes, the GOP could prevent the Senate’s Democratic majority from amending the resolution to fund the entire government, including Obamacare.

Cruz lamented that Reid would probably reject this procedural ploy, “because he wants to use brute political power to force Obamacare funding through with just Democrats.” In that case, Cruz concluded, “the majority leader is abusing his power,” and Republicans should filibuster the resolution.

Wallace was puzzled. “You say this is brute political power,” he told Cruz. “It's Senate Rule 22, which has been around for years. It says you allow debate, after you take cloture, that you can pass an amendment by a simple majority. That's the rule.”

Cruz was unmoved. “What's good for the goose, it's good for the gander,” he replied. “You're right, that is one rule. But there is another rule that says it takes 60 votes to get cloture. And that's the reason the Senate generally, on controversial votes, we work out an agreement for it to be subject to a 60-vote threshold.” That way, “if the majority is going to run the minority over with a train, the minority has the ability to stop them.”

So this is Cruz’s position: When Republicans ram an ultimatum through the House on a 53-percent party-line roll call, using the threat of a shutdown to gut a bill they lack the votes to repeal, that’s unity and courage. When Democrats threaten to use their 54-percent majority in the Senate to restore Obamacare to the resolution—which could then be voted up or down, or filibustered by the GOP—that’s abuse of power.

Every politician fibs now and then. Some do it better, more often, or more passionately than others. Even among the elite of his profession, Cruz stands out for the sincerity and deep feeling with which he can tell you one thing on Friday and the exact opposite on Sunday. He’s a national treasure. I can’t wait to see what he’ll say next.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.