Ted Cruz's Amazing, Historic, Bladder-Tightening Distraction

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 25 2013 8:27 AM

Ted Cruz's Amazing, Historic, Bladder-Tightening Distraction

A big piece of health care news broke last night in Washington. Oh, no—it didn't happen in the Senate. On a conference call, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled the average prices of health care premiums under the new health care exchanges created by Obamacare. The average price overall would come to $249 per month; some people would pay less.

A 27-year-old in Dallas who earns $25,000 a year will be able to purchase a bronze plan for $74 a month, including federal tax credits to discount the price. A family of four in Dallas with a $50,000 household income could choose a bronze plan for as little as $26 a month, including the subsidies. A family of four earning $50,000 a year purchasing the least expensive bronze plan would pay $36 a month in Charlotte, N.C., $32 a month in St. Louis and $24 a month in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., including subsidies.

In New York, at the same time, Bill Clinton was devoting a session of his annual charity event to a highly touted pitch for the implementation of "Obamacare." The president of the United States sat across from Clinton, chat show-style, talking up how the plan would actually work. Last night, on a much much smaller scale, Slate started getting dozens of emails from people telling us they'd be signing up for health care exchanges, after we asked them to share their stories.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Advertisement

Ted Cruz's long speech on the Senate floor was tremendously effective in pushing other Obamacare news out of the political headlines. (It's not really a filibuster, as Cruz is not slowing down the clock on pending business; hence the Twitter nickname #TedTalks.) That's true of most of Cruz's strategies over the last month—brilliant from the PR perspective, rubbish at getting the policy he wants. Cruz's effort, which could last nearly 21 hours if he keeps it up till the vote proceeds, has absolutely shifted the narrative away from last weekend's "Cruz asked the House to write a check he can't cash" story. Oh, he still can't cash it!

But it looks like he worked himself ragged trying to do it. When Cruz walks into future conservative movement gatherings, he'll be welcomed like Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem. When other Republicans head home, they will be asked whether they Stood With Cruz, and pilloried if they didn't.

What's going to come out of this speech apart from PR? Well, Cruz and his colleagues, including Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and Lousiana Sen. David Vitter, used the time to demand votes on three amendments to the CR. They would be:

- Defunding the "Navigators" program, the $67 million being doled out to groups that are (supposed to be) promoting/explaining Obamacare to the uninsured. Cruz described this as "a slush fund basically being used to fund liberal special interests."

- "Protecting the privacy of our information" from the IRS. The details on this were less clear.

- Forcing all federal employees, who currently have their own health care plans, to enter the Obamacare-created exchanges without employer subsidies.

Meanwhile, in the House, Republicans are already mulling over a Plan B—funding Obamacare but attaching a one-year delay of the individual mandate to the CR. Their theory is that 22 House Democrats backed the idea when it was separated out in a piece of legislation, so enough Senate Democrats might actually be willing to pass it. But Cruz, early in his speech, ruminated on how the one-year delay would "conveniently" push the mandate and penalty beyond the midterm elections. Once again, no strategy for getting what he wants, but a brilliant sense of how to make sure people know what he wants.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The Simpsons World App Is Here, and Nearly Perfect

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Education
Oct. 22 2014 4:45 PM Welcome to 13th Grade! Several Oregon high schools are offering a fifth year of high school. Every district should consider it.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.