Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is one of the most outspoken and continued critics of the Affordable Care Act, but an Iowa voter put him in the uncomfortable position of having to hear what the real-world implications of his rhetoric would be.
According to several reports, when Mike Valde stood up to address Cruz at a town hall meeting the Texas Republican was holding in Hubbard, Iowa, he first relayed a story to the whole room about his brother-in-law. Mike’s brother-in-law Mark was a barber, and Valde described him as a “small business man,” so the kinds of people that Republican politicians frequently try to position themselves as defenders of. But the story that Mike told of Mark reportedly left the entire room silent when he finished.
The New York Times quoted Valde in their article about this incident as saying:
“He had never been to a doctor for years,” Mr. Valde, 63, of Coralville, Iowa, said. “Multiple tumors behind his heart, his liver, his pancreas. And they said, ‘We’re sorry, sir, there’s nothing we can do for you.’ ”
So here we have it — the perfect example of someone who according to Republicans is the most important person in the world — a real-life job creator — and Mr. Valde’s story makes it abundantly clear that it’s not just people looking for a handout who have benefited from Obamacare’s passage. But it was when Valde pressed Cruz for what he’d replace Obamacare with that it became obvious Cruz doesn’t have a plan, and likely wasn’t even effected by the story that Valde told him.
“My question is, what are you going to replace it with,” Valde is said to have asked Cruz.
That’s when cynicism gland in Cruz must have started secreting because his response was essentially to blame the government for why Valde’s brother-in-law couldn’t afford insurance. It’s a talking point not uncommon in right-wingers — that there wouldn’t be a need for such drastic and draconian cuts to government programs that help the poor if the government hadn’t helped keep people poor with government programs. It’s how they think they can argue that government help is an addictive force, and they can do so by continuing to ignore reality.
Government regulations may have driven up medical costs in some regards, but the question has to be what the trade offs were, and if better, safer care and an ability to hold doctors and insurance companies liable for when they take a shortcut in care and it costs you life or limb, then how can they seriously argue that’s a bad thing? And the whole argument about how government makes health care more expensive is refuted by the more than 30 countries who currently have some form of a truly single-payer, taxpayer subsidized health care system and they spent less per capita than we do.
While the election season is just too damn long for the most part, the nice thing is that when politicians do have to go press the flesh, in the last two election cycles, bold, progressive voices have confronted conservative politicians in order to force them to terms with what their rhetoric means in real life. It’s pretty telling that Cruz, even when confronted with just one of the millions of stories of people who gained access to health care they might not otherwise have had that he simply reverted back to form and blamed the government, as if the insurance industry doesn’t have massively powerful lobbyists greasing the government wheels for them, as if government acts alone and that the private sector would never cut corners or short change patients for profit without the evil government playing its part.
Hopefully more people take Mr. Valde’s lead and force Cruz and the other Republicans who still demagogue the Affordable Care Act to reconcile with the truth — that is a flawed law, but a law that is helping millions of people nonetheless, and that only a truly heartless and out of touch bureaucrat would gleefully hurt those people over misguided and reality-free rhetoric.