Ted Cruz vs. CNN Anchor On Obamacare: "I Appreciate Your Trying To Lecture Me"
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Obamacare, the rollout is a fiasco. You say you believe you feel vindicated because to you this proves that you were right about the law, correct?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Well, the people who I think are vindicated are the millions of Americans all across this country who spoke up and who said this law isn't working. It is a disaster, and we've seen in recent weeks that what all those millions of Americans were predicting, all of that and more is coming to pass. Already over 5 million Americans have lost their insurance because of Obamacare.
And, you know, three and a half years ago, reasonable minds perhaps could have differed on whether Obamacare would work. Today, that's not possible. In my view, coming together to stop Obamacare is the essence of pragmatism because it is self-evident this isn't working. Nobody's defending it.
And the reasonable common sense thing to do is simply to start over and to say this is killing jobs, and over 5 million people are losing their health insurance, premiums skyrocketing across the country. This isn't working, let's start over.
CUOMO: How can we say it's not working when it isn't implemented yet? How can you say premiums are skyrocketing when they haven't put the plans into effect yet? You're being a little dangerous with how much political spin you put on something that's so central to the well being of so many families?
CRUZ: Well, I appreciate the adjective you tossed my way.
You know, John Adams famously said facts are stubborn things. Here are some facts: about 100,000 people have signed up and gotten new insurance under Obamacare. About 5 million people have lost their insurance because of Obamacare. Those are facts, and those are real people that can't be spun away.
You know, when I go back to Texas, I travel the state and I see people all the time who come up to me, men and women across Texas, and they grab me by the shoulder and they're afraid. They say, "Ted, you know, I just lost my health insurance. I got a child with diabetes. I'm scared. Please stop this from happening."
Those are real facts.
CUOMO: What do you say to them, Senator? When they say, "Please help me", what is the fix that you offer them? I looked at the list of bills that you've sponsored. There's not one that offers a solution to the current problems with health care except to get rid of the existing law. Is that enough?
CRUZ: Well, that's the only solution that will work. All of these Band-Aid fixes that the president is pushing, the congressional Democrats are pushing won't fix the problem. Every one of those bills, they have great titles, like "if you like your plan you can really, really, really keep them", but if they were passed into law, it wouldn't fix the problem for the 5 million people who have lost their health insurance, they wouldn't get it back.
The way to get -- CUOMO: You don't think you have a responsibility as a U.S. senator to do better than that in terms of offering a solution for what to do next?
CRUZ: Well, I -- I appreciate your trying to lecture me in the morning. Thank you for that.
CUOMO: No, not all, Senator. I'm worried, the same as you. Anybody who looks at the situation has worries. Families need health insurance.
CRUZ: So, if you're worried, did you speak out for the 5 million people who lost your insurance?
CUOMO: Absolutely. We've been covering it doggedly. We've been covering it doggedly and you know that I'm sure you watch the show. The problem is I don't have the power to fix it; you do. That's what a U.S. senator does, is you sponsor law. You know this. It's not a lecture, it's a concern.
I'm asking, what are you going to do about it?
CRUZ: Well, and I share that concern and have every day been working to highlight the millions of people who have lost their job because of Obamacare, the millions of people who have been forced into part-time work, there are single moms, there are young people, Hispanics, African-Americans, people struggling who are now on part-time work. You can't feed your kids with 29 hours a week. There's over 5 million people who have lost their health insurance.
And the way to fix that is to stop this broken law. It was broken at the outset, and all of the bills that have been proposed by the Democrats, they're designed to be political Band-Aids. Their effort is to cover their political rear ends, not to fix the problem. And the common sense reasonable thing to say is this thing isn't working.
Now, in addition to that, you want a positive, affirmative solution? You know, the single best thing we can do is expand competition. Let people purchase health insurance across state lines. If you want to expand access, what you want to do is increase choices and drive down cost.
What Obamacare does is decreases choices and drives up cost. It doesn't make sense, and it isn't working.
CUOMO: And how does that --
CRUZ: I'd like to see something that empowers consumers, not Washington bureaucrats.
CUOMO: And I think those are strong ideas that need to be developed as plans. We haven't really heard them in a great way. That's what people are waiting for, what are the better ideas, but you do also have to think, how do you deal with the problems of the system as it existed before, pre-existing conditions, caps on service, slow walking of claims, that the insurers had too much power. That was a big part of what this law was about, not to mention the 20 plus million uninsured people. You can't forget about all that, senator, can you?
CRUZ: I am not remotely forgetting about that, but the tradeoff in this plan was in order to cover roughly 15 million to 20 million people who don't have insurance, which is about a third of the population that doesn't have insurance. What Obamacare does is it jeopardizes the health care of 200 million Americans who do have health insurance and it's a tradeoff that Obamacare made that -- you know, the five million who've lost their health insurance is just the first shoe to drop.
The next shoe to drop is going to come and it's coming now that more and more people are going to discover they can't keep their doctors. Texas oncology, one of the largest oncology providers in Texas just announced it's not going to participate in Obamacare. I have friends who are cancer survivors, who have discovered they can't keep going to their doctors.
The next shoe to drop is small businesses and small plans are going to begin canceling plans in large numbers, and after that, you're going to see premiums this spring go up dramatically because so few people are signing up and the final shoe to drop is there are roughly 140 million Americans in large plans by employer-provided health care and up to 100 million of them may lose their health care because of Obamacare. I think that's unacceptable.
CUOMO: And that's why we need solutions and what I want to ask you here before I let you go to get back to the work in Washington, Senator, is going forward, are you willing to work together with other members of Congress to find solutions instead of shutting down the government, to help find laws that fix debt, that deal with fiscal crises we have coming, that deal with health care. Will you do more than just fight and oppose?
CRUZ: Let's be very clear from day one. I've been willing to work with anyone, Republicans or Democrats. I don't think we should have shut down the government. The reason there was a government shutdown is President Obama and the Democrats refused to negotiate, refused to compromise, refused to do anything about the millions of people being hurt from Obamacare and let me give you an example of working together that is before the Senate just today.
I am a co-sponsor with New York's Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, of an amendment to change how sexual assault is prosecuted in the military. Sexual assault has been a terrible crisis in the military. Our military commanders have worked hard to fix it, and yet, it has persisted. Senator Gillibrand has proposed changing the way sexual assault cases are prosecuted so there's a decision to prosecute would be made by an impartial military prosecutor.
I'm a co-sponsor with her and we're working hard to build a bipartisan coalition so that we can make sure the men and women of our military are protected and safe and not victims of violence at home. Their job, their responsibility in what they step forward to do is to protect our nation.
CUOMO: That is great. And as you know, the members of that constituency wish it hadn't taken this long, but it's great to see the bipartisanship. Is this your green eggs and ham moment, perhaps, Senator where you've now tried it and it turns out that you like it? You like working with members from the other side and you can get to work on finding solutions instead of just opposing Obamacare and helping with debt relief?
CRUZ: See, you're starting with the premise that I've just opposed Obamacare. I am happy to work with everyone. My top priority in office is restoring economic growth bringing back jobs and the reason is simple.
That's the top priority of 26 million Texans and I'm happy to work with anyone to do that, throughout the Obamacare fight, throughout the shutdown, I was reaching out to Democrats saying let's work together to provide meaningful relief for the millions of people who are being hurt because of Obamacare, and what President Obama and the Democrats said is we will not negotiate, we will not compromise.
In fact, President Obama invited all of the Senate Republicans over to the White House in the middle of the shutdown. We all sat there. He called us in a room and said, 'I called you over here to tell you I'm not going to negotiate; I'm not going to compromise on anything.' That's not reasonable. That's not how you get anything done. I think it is clear and I wish they would stop being partisan in how they approach that.
CUOMO: That is clear, but certainly, that is the wish for both sides. We all know that the shutdown didn't work. It punished families unfairly. I know you know that. Hopefully, we don't see a repeat of it. I appreciate you coming on the show this morning, senator.
CRUZ: It's good to be with you.