WASHINGTON — Critics accuse Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, of having no real plan to defund Obamacare and say he’s just grandstanding to promote himself and his career.
But the senator went to great lengths to spell out a highly detailed “multi-stage” strategy he said has been in the works for months, and WND was there when he revealed it to a small group of reporters in a conference call Thursday.
Cruz made it evident he is motivated by one fact.
“Three-and-a-half years ago, people could reasonably disagree on whether Obamacare might work,” he said. “Today, it is now clear to any objective observer that Obamcare isn’t working.”
The senator hoped his 21-hour speech supporting the defunding of Obamacare would help focus the debate on the plight of the American people.
“For a long time, elected politicians in both parties in Washington have not been listening to their constituents.”
Although he sounded a bit weary and soft spoken the day after his marathon speech, he also appeared optimistic, because, he said, “Any senator who listens to his or her constituents on Obamacare, who hears the pleas for help, as people are losing their jobs or being forced into part-time work, or losing their health insurance … will vote now to defund Obamacare.”
Then he spelled out his plan.Energize the grassroots
Cruz said his first step, “back in July and August, was to energize and mobilize the American people, and so I spent much of the month of August touring the state of Texas, touring the country, working to energize grassroots activists.”
He said that has now paid off with more than 1.8 million Americans signing his online petition to defund Obamacare.Pass bill defunding Obamacare
The second step was for the House of Representatives to pass a continuing resolution defunding Obamacare.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, almost every political commentator in Washington said that was impossible — the House was not going to do that,” Cruz reminded reporters.
“Last Friday, the House voted overwhelmingly to defund Obamacare using the continuing resolution. And they did so, because the grassroots were united. They did so because House conservatives stood strong. And they did so because House leadership, to their credit, listened to the American people and voted to defund Obamacare.”Unite and conquer
Cruz explained the battle has now reached a third stage in the Senate, “where two things have to happen.”
The first is to unite Republicans.
“The second thing that has to happen is we have to start picking off Democrats,” he explained.
The problem is, “Until we unite Republicans, we will not succeed in picking off any Democrats.”
He continued, “Right now, by all appearances, Senate Republican are not united. As long as Senate Republicans are divided, as long as they are Sentate Republicans publicly saying they’re gonna vote with Harry Reid on cloture, no Senate Democrat is going to break with their party.”Key turning point
Cruz said everything hinges right now on the next vote in the Senate, which will come Friday or Saturday.
That’s a vote on cloture, a proposal to cut off debate, and it will determine whether there will be a 50- or a 60-vote threshold for making changes to the bill.
If it passes, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could easily add language to the bill restoring funding for Obamacare, because he would need only 50 votes.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, would need to get only 41 out of 46 Republican senators to vote to block cloture, but he announced Monday he does not support the effort.
McConnell and other establishment Republicans fear they would take the blame for any government shutdown, even though the House bill is specifically designed to force Democrats to be the ones to shut down the government, should they refuse to defund Obamacare.
Cruz said the key is unifying Senate Republicans before that cloture vote.
“If we see 41 Republicans standing together on cloture, the Senate continues to debate the bill,” he explained. “Now, at that point, once Republicans are united, the pressure, I believe, will begin to focus on Democrats, and, in particular, red state Democrats.”Pick off Democrats
Cruz pointed out there are seven Democrat seats up for re-election in 2014 that were red states. Mitt Romney won in six of those seven, and Barack Obama got 42 percent of the vote, or less.
The senator mused, if the GOP can win the cloture vote, “the focus, I believe, will shift heavily to those red state Democrats. And if you’re a (Sens.) Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) or a Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and you start getting 5,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 calls from your constituents, that changes the calculus significantly.”
However, Cruz saw none of those red-state Democrats flipping as long as Republicans remain divided.
“Every Republican who throws at rocks at the effort to defund Obamacare is ensuring that no Democrat will cross the aisle,” he said.
Back to the House
However, if the GOP does win the cloture vote, the Texan believes the House would play a critical role in what happens next.
“If we defeat cloture, and Harry Reid digs in and will not allow the Senate to move forward on any continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare, then I believe the House is in a position to stand its ground and to begin passing smaller continuing resolutions focusing on our most critical priorities,” he said.
And that first bill, Cruz insisted, should be one “that simply funds the military, that does nothing else, that doesn’t mention Obamacare. It simply says, ‘We’re going to fund the men and women in the military’ and send that over to the Senate.”Call Reid’s bluff
Cruz suggested it will “speak volumes” if Reid is willing to kill a smaller continuing resolutions “because he is so determined to force Obamacare on the American people.”
“In my view, it would be utterly indefensible for Harry Reid to explicitly refuse to fund the men and women in the military because he wants leverage to force Obamacare on the American people,” he said.
That could also turn up the pressure on red-state Democrats who hesitate to jump ship immediately but might feel the heat as time goes by.Plan B
The Texan said all hope is not lost if he and his cohorts do lose the key cloture vote.
“If enough Senate Republicans vote to give Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare, that does not mean the fight is over,” he said. “A bill to fund Obamacare will still go back to the House. House Republicans can, and should, continue to stand their ground.”
Cruz pointed out there is nothing forcing the House to ever approve a bill funding Obamacare.
“If the House hold firms, Harry Reid has no ability to muscle the House of Representatives.”
He described the most important role that he and like-minded senators such as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, can play: “to serve as a cheerleader supporting House Republicans to stand with the American people.”
Why is Cruz fighting so doggedly?
Because, he said, of “the strong will of the American people who understand Obamacare isn’t working.”