DENVER–Sen. Ted Cruz is accustomed to doing the impossible. Against long odds, he won his Texas Senate seat in 2012, and shortly thereafter helped derail federal gun-control legislation that was speeding toward passage.
His latest impossible task? In a Saturday speech to the Western Conservative Summit, he announced that he wants to prevent Obamacare from being implemented in January by convincing the House and Senate to remove the program’s funding from the Sept. 30 continuing budget resolution.
“On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in,” said Cruz. “Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare.”
Cruz urged the estimated 2,000 summit attendees, including those watching via remote feed in Arizona, to put pressure on House and Senate Republicans by signing a petition, Don’t Fund It, at www.dontfundobamacare.com.
The grassroots pressure is crucial, said Cruz, because many Republicans are “terrified” at the prospect of being criticized in the media for holding up the budget resolution and threatening a federal shutdown.
“Right now we don’t have the votes. Right now we’re not even close,” said Cruz. “There’s only one way we’re going to get 41 Republicans in the Senate and 218 Republicans in the House of Representatives, which is if they hear from the American people in overwhelming numbers.”
Speakers at the summit were unanimous in decrying the Affordable Care Act, but not everyone agreed with Cruz’s prescription.
Republican strategist Dick Morris opposed the defunding plan, saying that the GOP would be better off allowing the national health-care program to take effect, saying Republicans should “let the consequences of Obama’s policies happen.”
“I believe it would be a serious mistake for us to insert ourselves in between Obamacare and the federal government by defunding it and shutting the government down,” said Morris. “Because if we did, that would become the story . . . But if we don’t get in the way, if we let the president screw this up on his own, people are going to understand all over the country how flawed and terrible this program is.”
If that happens, “the mandate for its repeal will resonate with heavy Republican victories in 2014, and then we really will be able to repeal it,” he said.
Cruz argued that by then it would be too late. “The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society,” he said.
To those who say it can’t be done, Cruz pointed to the battle over federal gun-control bills proposed in reaction to mass shootings in 2012 in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn. The bills, backed by President Obama, looked at first like a done deal, he said.
“I have to tell you in Washington the momentum was entirely with the president on this. The conventional wisdom was that this was unstoppable,” said Cruz.
Even so, he and two other Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, threatened to filibuster the bills, which he said slowed things down and gave voters a chance to consider the proposals.
“The American people lit up the phones, stood together, and we saw one senator after another come back,” said Cruz. “And when [vice-president] Joe Biden came to the floor of the Senate preparing to gavel in gun-control legislation, every single proposal of President Obama’s that would have undermined the Second Amendment was voted down.”
He chalked up the gun-rights victory to “the power of the grassroots. It’s how we win–getting the American people engaged.”
Saturday’s summit speakers included former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a FoxNews commentator, who said the Republican Party’s support for conservative social values wasn’t the reason the party lost the 2012 presidential election.
“When people say Republicans lost because of their message, I say we lost because Republicans never found their message,” said Huckabee.