It started out strong and then got progressively weaker.
I am talking about Ted Cruz’s op-ed in USA Today.
He decided to tell Republicans what their priorities should be for next year.
Cruz is still in his first term as a senator, but because he is such a rock-star with the base (Sen. Pat Roberts called him in to gin-up the Tea Party in Kansas, for example), he believes that he can take on the role of Republican leader.
He started by talking about a pro-growth agenda, which I think is vitally important, and should include things like corporate tax reform and regulatory reform. But in the Cruz world, economic growth only happens if we focus on energy production. I am all for Keystone, fracking, and exporting liquefied natural gas. But to be honest, we are already poised to become the world’s leader in energy production. And this is under an administration that is hostile to the whole idea. I suppose we could do more, but I think there are several other priorities that are far more important to prod economic growth, none of which Cruz mentions.
His second priority was repealing Obamacare. He wants Republicans to pursue every option to force the president to repeal his signature legislative accomplishment, which I am sure includes attaching it to a government spending bill and shutting down the government. Haven’t we already been down that road?
I am for the idea of passing fixes to Obamacare (which Cruz seemingly supports) and then passing free-market ideas, like allowing the purchase of health-care insurance across state lines. But I hope Cruz doesn’t want to cause another government shutdown. That would be disastrous.
His third priority is to stop illegal amnesty. I don’t even know what that means. If Congress passes a law giving amnesty, it wouldn’t be illegal. But Congress isn’t going to do an amnesty bill anyway. They should pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system.
His fourth priority is to rein in activist judges. By that, does he mean the Supreme Court? He might want to continue to fight against gay marriage. I suppose for a conservative like Cruz, that’s a very good fight to pick. Instead, Cruz seems to be picking a fight with John Roberts, which I don’t think is a good use of time. And on the long list of priority items, this is No. 4? Really?
Fifth, he wants to fight the culture of corruption. He wants to impose a lifetime ban on members of Congress from becoming lobbyists. That’s fine with me, but I assume that’s not fine with 534 congressmen and senators who want to keep their employment options open. He also makes the specious claim that the Export-Import Bank is a thoroughly corrupt organization because it helps American companies like Boeing sell more products overseas. He also claims that retailers who want Internet companies to pay the same sales taxes that they have to pay are equally corrupt. Finally, he wants to pass a constitutional amendment to impose term limits, despite the facts that most members of the House have been in Congress for less than six years. We have term limits. They are called elections. And they come every two years in the House.
Sixth, he wants to abolish the IRS. Yep, that’s pretty realistic.
Seventh, he wants politicians to have more control over the Federal Reserve. I understand why conservatives hate the Fed, but the dollar has never been stronger vis a vis the Euro, so I am not sure what all the complaining is about.
Eighth, he wants to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, probably not understanding that by enacting such an amendment, we would have to either get rid of Medicare entirely or increase taxes by the biggest amount in the history of mankind.
Ninth, he says we should repeal Common Core. But Common Core is not a federal program. We could, through the appropriations process, make it impossible for the Department of Education to use resources to fund the president’s Race to the Top program. That program gives incentives to states to improve their schools and make them more accountable. But Common Core is a state initiative, not a federal program.
Finally, he says that Republicans should deal with the twin threats of ISIL and a nuclear Iran. I agree that we should work with White House to come up with a plan on Islamic terrorism, but I doubt seriously if most voters want us to go to war with Iran.
Ted Cruz says Republicans should be bold, should be fully transparent, shouldn’t play any games, and should pass a serious agenda that resonates with the American people.
I am all for that. But the agenda he lays out is not serious, not transparent, won’t necessarily resonate with the everyday concerns of voters, and on many levels, is completely disingenuous.
Republicans aren’t going to get rid of the IRS. They aren’t going to pass term limits. They aren’t going to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. They aren’t going (nor should they) pass a life-time ban on lobbying for members of Congress. They aren’t going to repeal Common Core. They aren’t going to mess with the judicial branch. There’s no such thing as illegal amnesty. They aren’t going to prod the president into declaring war on Iran. They aren’t going to get rid of Export-Import Bank.
Republicans should be bold. They should be transparent. Most importantly, they should be straight with the voters. Cruz is not being straight with the voters. And it’s not right.
John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at http://www.thefeeherytheory.com/.