Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pushed back against Republicans who have criticized his efforts to shutdown the government in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, arguing that they are trying to harm the American people “and hope we benefit politically.” Cruz’s remarks signal a growing rift between conservative and more moderate establishment Republicans over how to combat President Obama’s health care law as uninsured Americans begin to enroll in coverage.
While some — including Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and John McCain (R-AZ) — are urging the party to refocus on other issues, pointing to Obamacare’s rocky implementation as proof that the law will unravel on its own, Cruz, joined by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and groups like FreedomWorks and the Heritage Foundation, says that Republicans should seize future budgetary fights to defund the measure.
The impasse was on full display this Sunday. “Obamacare is going to fail on its own right,” Coburn said during an appearance on Meet the Press. “The fact is the sick people are signing up, the healthy aren’t and they’re not going to because the deductibles are so high and the cost is so high. The penalty is not enough to force them to do it.”
McConnell agreed. “[F]ull-scale repeal is obviously something that’s not going to be achievable until I’m the majority leader of the Senate and we have a new president,” he told CBS’ Face The Nation. He conceded that Democrats may support undoing parts of the law “depending upon the amount of heat they get from their constituents because of rising premiums, because of job loss, because of the chaos of the exchanges, they may be open to changes.”
But during an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Cruz dismissed the GOP leader’s wait-and-see approach. “I consider that very — the Bad Samaritan theory,” he said. “Basically inflict a bunch of harm on the American people and hope we benefit politically from it. What a terrible, cynical approach.” “I’m not interested in seeing the American people suffer just because my party might benefit politically if they blame the Democrats for the foolish policies that have been imposed,” he added.
Republicans have expressed concern about repealing the law once uninsured Americans begin receiving coverage, likening the strategy to taking away Medicare or Social Security benefits from current retirees. For now, the party has united around scrutinizing the Administration’s rocky implementation process, pressuring Obama officials to testify before Congress and relying on outside conservative groups to urge Americans not to sign-up for insurance.