Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program as the House was voting on the big shutdown-debt ceiling deal, to denounce the agreement. Cruz called it “a lousy deal for the American people.”
Cruz repeated the litany of ills ObamaCare is inflicting on the American people, from ruined health care plans to lost jobs, making particular note of the dwindling opportunities young people face in a high-unemployment market where so many jobs have been converted to part time. The failure of his drive to defund ObamaCare means the rusty pipes of the Affordable Care Act are still chugging out their corrosive sludge of malaise and confusion, not to mention the swarms of online bugs and zombie bureaucrats. (Hope you enjoyed that bit of seasonal imagery. Happy Halloween, everyone!)
Cruz is playing this exactly right, and his colleagues would do well to take note. He’s doing what a Democrat would do: making the other side pay for their “victory,” and reminding the majority of Americans that they’re real losers in all this. Democrats never confuse the failure of a tactic with the defeat of an issue. Cruz has the added benefit of knowing the issue of ObamaCare’s failure is still very much alive… or shall we say, undead. There’s no reason smart Republicans cannot profit from public memory that they took a strong stand against it.
Also, as Cruz noted, the rallying effect on the energized GOP base is not to be undersold… or frittered away, as Democrats and their media allies would very much like the Republican leadership to do. Of course, the rules of the political game have been written so that only the Left is allowed to do things that energize their base. It doesn’t sound like Cruz and Lee are going to play by those rules.
Both Senators were strongly critical of the Republican leadership in their chamber. Cruz accused them of undermining House unity, comparing Senate Republicans to an “air force dive-bombing” their House colleagues. Lee more modestly allowed that some of the conference meetings “weren’t pretty” and “people said some things they might regret saying later.”
Lee described the shutdown deal as a “missed opportunity.” Lee applauded the House for passing bills to keep the government funded, all of which were killed by Senate Democrats. That’s another talking point the Republicans should never give up repeating. There’s no reason to pretend Shutdown Theater, Obama’s bungle of veterans’ benefits, or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wondering why he should do anything to help kids with cancer, when so many furloughed federal employees were hurting, never happened. Everything the Democrats did during the shutdown should be a wound that never stops bleeding.
“We’ve really got to emphasize the fact that this is just the end of the beginning,” said Lee. “This is a fight that’s going to continue.” He mentioned the call by President Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, for a one-year delay in ObamaCare. That’s another data point every Republican official should mark down in his media interview notebook. (A few of them will have to make room by tearing out the pages covered with crayon doodles of the Red Angry Bird with Ted Cruz’ face.)
The Chicago Tribune editorial Senator Lee referred to is entitled “Why ObamaCare Is a Mess,” with the subheading “The Administration has to fess up and promote changes.” But of course, he’s never going to do that, and the Trib editors know it. King Barack I does not admit errors, or allow his underlings to admit error. Every now and then, somebody gets a few weeks of paid administrative leave because the easily-distracted media needs a scapegoat to write about, but that’s as far as it goes. Come to think of it, the shutdown could be described as this entire bloated and corrupt government getting put on paid administrative leave for a couple of weeks until the controversy surrounding its many failures simmers down.
The other reason the Chicago Tribune is indulging in fantasy about Obama “fessing up” is that they’re not just criticizing the software “glitches.” They mention the sticker shock hitting those unlucky souls who do manage to get through, from the $8,000 deductible plans to a specific anecdote of middle-class horror. And we all know how much more strongly the public reacts when these things get personal:
Wait. It gets worse. Those who have managed to browse the marketplace have often been hit by sticker shock. Take Adam Weldzius, a nurse practitioner and single father from Carpentersville. He sought the same level of coverage on the exchange as he and his 7-year-old daughter have now, with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals. At best, Weldzius found, his monthly premium of $233 would more than double. If he chose a plan priced at the same level, the annual deductible would be $12,700, more than three times his current $3,500 deductible.
“I believe everybody should be able to have health insurance, but at the same time, I’m being penalized. And for what?” Weldzius told the Tribune’s Peter Frost. “For someone who’s always had insurance, who’s always taken care of myself, now I have to change my plan?”
Cruz also made a point of relating a personal anecdote about a family struggling with ObamaCare costs during the Hannity interview. Again, Republicans, take note – this is how you do it. Conjure up the human faces of ObamaCare suffering in every… single… interview. Let no encounter with the media pass without dipping into your mailbag and reading something from a desperate or angry constituent. “More people are hurting as a result of this law every single day,” said Lee. He’s right, and they’re handing his colleagues all the sustenance they should require for the long fight ahead.
For good measure, the Tribune castigated the Obama Administration for delaying key elements of the exchange setup until after the 2012 election, for political reasons, and brazenly lying about how heavy demand for ObamaCare was causing the online meltdown.
And yet, after all that, the Tribune concluded that the one-year delay we very obviously need is “not going to happen.” America is trapped in a nightmare fueled by Democrat partisan politics, rigid liberal ideology, and Obama’s towering ego. Common sense has become unthinkable. Inside the Beltway, everyone is shivering with excitement about the political ramifications of the Democrats’ shutdown “victory.” But why would anyone outside the Beltway be happy about slipping back into the knife-fingered grasp of Freddy Krueger, following an unsuccessful attempt by conservatives to shake the political establishment awake?