I hate my nickname, “Ted”, at least when it is used by Rafael Edward Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, elected last November with overwhelming Tea Party support. Therefore I will refer to him hereafter as “Teddy”. This 42-year-old man says he is “Cuban, Irish, and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist”. In just nine months in the U.S. Senate, he has also stirred up a hatred among liberals (and some of his fellow Republicans) not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy, to whom he bears a striking resemblance, in looks and speech. What’s wrong with this guy?
Teddy was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the son of Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson Darragh (born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware), and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, who was born in Cuba and emigrated to the U.S. at age 18. At the time of Teddy’s birth, his parents owned a seismic-data processing firm for oil drillers in Calgary, and both of them were college graduates (Texas and Rice). In 1974, when Teddy was four years old, they returned to Texas. His parents later divorced, and his father is a pastor in Carrollton,Texas, near Dallas; he became an American citizen in 2005.
Teddy’s Education and Legal Career
Teddy was educated in the Houston, Texas, area, at Baptist schools, and graduated as valedictorian in 1988. He later graduated cum laude from Princeton, where I am told that his first year roommate so disliked his nasty, arrogant personality that he pleaded to get another roommate after only a few weeks rooming with Teddy. At Princeton, he was a brilliant at debate, winning national and international awards. He then attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude and serving as an editor of the Harvard Law Review (much like President Obama) in 1995. He is quoted as saying that in law school he would only study with students who were undergraduates at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and not graduates of “lesser Ivies” like Penn and Brown. He recently accused Harvard Law School of harboring a dozen Communists on its faculty when he studied there.
HIs brilliance continued to shine after law school, where he was a law clerk to a Fourth Circuit judge and Chief Justice William Rehnquist, followed by several years with a Texas law firm. He joined the Bush-Cheney campaign team in 1999 as a domestic policy advisor, and assisted in putting together the Bush legal team, plan strategy and draft pleadings in the Florida and U.S. courts during the 2000 Florida Presidential recounts (I was also involved in this effort, for Gore). Typically, while working on the Bush effort to win the election, he alienated many of his fellow workers with his relentless self-aggrandizement and belittling middle-of-the-night e-mails to his colleagues. Consequently, after his Supreme Court mentor Justice Rehnquist and his Republican cronies awarded George Bush the Presidency in December, 2000, Teddy did not get a plum White House job but was exiled to the position of Director of Policy Planning at the FTC and later as an associate attorney general in the Justice Department.
In 2003, he was appointed Solicitor General of Texas, serving until 2008, and authored more than 80 Supreme Court briefs and made 43 appellate oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court. He was involved in some landmark cases, such as U.S. v Heller, in which the Supreme Court struck down the D.C. handgun ban as infringing upon the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. He also successfully defended the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, and authored a winning Supreme Court brief defending the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.
In 2008, he left the Solicitor General position to work for a large Houston law firm, where he remained until he was elected to the Senate last year in an upset victory. He does not believe in climate change, is a gun-rights supporter, and opposes same-sex marriage. He is married to a woman (born Heidi Nelson) who is head of the Southwest Region of the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs, and who previously worked for Condoleezza Rice in the White House and in New York as an investment banker.
Teddy’s Habit of Lying
Teddy undeniably has a formidable intellect, but like Joe Biden, sometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brains. Politifact, the organization that ranks politicians according to their truth-telling and their “Pants on Fire” lies, finds that 20% of Teddy’s statements are true or mostly true, 20% are half true, and 60% are mostly false, false or “Pants on Fire” false. Here are some of his whoppers:
- He said the Obamacare-caused paperwork will annually absorb 190 million hours or more. Politifact estimates the the total additional paperwork resulting from this complicated act would be less than half of what Teddy estimated. Teddy’s number relies on some unexplained holes, miscalculates some burdens and folds in paperwork associated with non-healthcare programs such as student loan changes, and significantly, 46 million of Teddy’s hours were impossible to calculate with any certitude. The ranking: MOSTLY FALSE.
- He said that “under Obamacare, 7 million people will lose their employer-sponsored insurance”. His statement was based on a Congressional Budget Office figure, but it cherry-picks and misinterprets the data, which says that in four years, 2017 and 2021-2023, seven million fewer workers will have employer-based plans than if Obamacare were not law. The study indicates that compared to 2013, more workers will have employer plans in all but one year of the decade. Teddy skews a cherry-picked number, but ignores the fact that the CBO report also indicates that many Americans will obtain coverage from other sources. MOSTLY FALSE.
- Teddy bloviates that “”President Obama just granted all of Congress an exemption” to Obamacare, using his favorite phrase: “the wheels are coming off this”. Teddy make it sound like Congressmen get to opt out of Obamacare; it is exactly the opposite: they will use new marketplaces alongside the uninsured and small businesses. In fact, Congress got a clarification about the law’s effect on contributions toward their health insurance – which they will purchase on Obamacare’s marketplaces. FALSE
- Teddy asserts that the Senate immigration bill “has immediate legalization…and the border security is sometime in the future, and just like in 1986, it’s designed never to come into being”. Politifact replies that the legalization process would not be immediate, but according to the CBO, it would come before the border is fully secured. By and large, immigrants could not apply to receive permanent legalized status until border security meets certain benchmarks. The Senate measure also appropriates more than $46 billion for border security and makes that money available immediately. MOSTLY FALSE
The “Trainwreck” Ahead
Teddy loves to use the term “trainwreck” to characterize whatever it is that Obama is currently proposing to become law. But the trainwreck is largely of Teddy’s own making, if he is able to force the federal government to shut down and the U.S. to default on its debt. Here is what would happen if the federal government shuts down for an extended period:
- Soldiers would have to report for duty, but they would not be paid, and their families would go hungry.
- All national parks and monuments would be forced to close, and all guests would be evicted within 48 hours.
- Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would get unpaid furloughs.
- If Obamacare is ultimately dumped, the costs of preventive healthcare and prescription drugs would increase for millions of older Americans, and insurance for children across the country would be cut off.
- Federal student loans and other federal loans could not be granted.
- No passports could be issued.
- No federal gun permits could be issued.
Social Security checks would continue to go out, Medicare would keep paying doctors and hospitals (but the claims processing systems would be severely disrupted), and the Postal Service would continue operating. The White House would have wide latitude to decide which federal workers would be considered essential, which agencies would close entirely, and how chaotic the closings would be. Interestingly enough, President Obama could easily declare the workings of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to be essential to life and property, and thus would continue to operate during the term of the shutdown.
And if the debt ceiling increase law is not passed, the U.S. and even the world economy could fall into a deep recession or depression. (Recall that S&P blamed the REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS for causing the last steep market decline in 2011 as a result of their opposition to increasing the debt ceiling, and the resulting lowering of the American credit rating. (NOTE: Mr. President, you could take care of this problem by declaring the Debt Ceiling Law unconstitutional and stating that you will not enforce it, and will continue paying America’s debt obligations, as I have suggested in a previous LAProgressive article.)
Unfortunately, we will have to live with Teddy’s daily bloviating for over five more years, unless he is censured, like Joe McCarthy in the 1950s shortly before he died of alcoholism, or chooses to quit the Senate, or, of course, if he is elected President in 2016. But this may not be possible, as he was born in Canada to a Cuban-born father and an American-born mother. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico of parents who fled the U.S. to avoid persecution as Mormons, but he quit the 1968 Presidential race before this became an issue. John McCain was born on a military base in Panama to American parents, but this did not become an issue. But the issue has not been raised in the exact situation that Teddy has, and I would be happy to become a “birther” if he chooses to inflict his Presidential candidacy on us.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013