Tuesday, September 24th, 2014, 2:41 p.m. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) began a talk-a-thon on the floor of the United States Senate in opposition to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010. Sen. Cruz spoke for several hours on a public stage aired by C-SPAN to vote against cloture. You may ask, what is cloture? Cloture is a senatorial process in which a time limit is put on debate and is one of the only ways to stop a filibuster. Still confused? The cloture rule–Rule 22–is the only formal procedure that Senate rules provide for breaking a filibuster. A filibuster is an attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter. Under cloture, the Senate may limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours of debate.
Last week House representatives of the Republican party came together and voted for a bill to further fund the government after the fiscal year ends next week, October 1st, but only if the PPACA is completely de-funded in the process. That bill passed in the majority held House of Representatives and was forwarded onto the Senate. Pushed by Sen. Cruz’s urging.
Now, before cloture can be called for to end the debate, Sen. Cruz is launching an all out verbal attack on the PPACA and for voting against cloture or, in layman’s speak voting against the continuation of ending the debate and in turn allow voting on the resolution of which he has long been a sponsor because by doing so he would give way to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s ability to amend the resolution by stripping away the healthcare defunding and voting only on continuing to fund the government into the next fiscal year.
Mitch McConnell said outside the chamber while Sen. Cruz was in the middle of his speech Tuesday afternoon,
“Well look, I think we’d all be hard pressed to explain why we were opposed to a bill we were in favor of.”
And so even Republicans have no idea what their end game is. Or how to continue to keep progress from rolling on.
Sen. Cruz is going to grandstand and throw a tantrum of political procedure. All the while knowing that his dream of government shutdown, unless healthcare is de-funded, is dead when he stops speaking. Additionally, there is no foresight on how to continue when he is done with his attempt to speak longer than any other senator in history. He’ll have to uphold his vow to speak “until I am no longer able to stand” until 3:00pm on Wednesday to break the current record, which is held by Strom Thurmond from a 1957 filibuster which lasted a little over 24 hours in opposition to a civil rights bill.
Surely Sen. Cruz will attempt to enter the history books and challenge the record with an equally meaningless stand against legislation that is designed to achieve social equality, much in the same way civil rights did for a generation preceding even Sen. Cruz himself. What esteemed company. A true mark of achievement. To stand in opposition of a law that will help many, for longer than anyone ever thought reasonable or sane. The thing is though, what Sen. Cruz is doing isn’t a filibuster. It’s just a really long meaningless speech which will serve no purpose. It will hold no sway or garner any support inside the Senate or his own party. It’s going to be known as the longest single waste of time in political history.
This sick idea of governing will never get past the Senate. But even if it did, President Obama would veto it as soon as it hit his desk. The president’s signature legislation will remain through his tenure in office, which will include implementation into real world application beginning at the first of the upcoming year. Republicans are trying every scare tactic and drastic measure they can think of to try to stop this from happening, including the culmination witnessed beginning yesterday and onward, of a small group of lemming leaders acting in a last bastion of desperation and obstructionism. Anything other than actually working toward a solution to the problem of providing healthcare to all of our nation’s citizens. It would be comical if it weren’t for the reality that these senators actually think they are making a difference and positioning themselves for a takeover in 2014 and 2016. If this is a preview of government of the immediate future I want no part of it. Ever.
At the 5 hour mark Sen. Cruz literally read “Green Eggs and Ham”. No, seriously Dr. Seuss was read, quite enthusiastically, with different voices and all, on the Senate floor of the most powerful country in the world by the esteemed and distinguished gentleman from Texas. And was followed by a cheerful review and long winded question of no real circumstance by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).
In hour eleven Cruz invoked the wisdom of the TV show “Duck Dynasty”. Brilliance, sheer brilliance. A senator, from what is considered by many to be the greatest country on earth, sampled the wisdom and religious theology of a pseudo-reality show in an effort to sway opinion about a law designed to provide affordable health care to every American citizen. At this point I no longer need to point out what is wrong with the Republican mindset or the inefficiencies of government procedure. But the best part, or worst depending upon your opinion, is this Tea Party caucus that rambles off song lyrics and reality TV like it was, for lack of a better term, gospel is actually receiving approval through the social media outlet Twitter in what appears almost a cult-like following.
At 3a.m. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah engaged Sen. Cruz in a contrived question and answer session, which included such things as how long was the 100 years war and what color is the black box on commercial airliners. Sen. Cruz acknowledged that he was not able to ask Sen. Lee a direct question but could, through procedural protocol, ask the body of the Senate a rhetorical question, and should Sen. Lee choose to respond to that rhetorical question with yet another question he could feel free to do so. Eventually, he claimed that the Affordable Care Act was not at all what it seemed to be or what it was portrayed or designed to be. And the mockery of our political process continued through the wee hours and on into the next day. Sen. Lee called out again at 3:30 a.m. that, had the ACA been called a tax in the first place and not misnamed that it wouldn’t have been voted for. And that made me draw pause long enough only to weigh that same notion onto the Right to Work Law which takes away individuals work rights and instead gives that power to companies.
Consider for one moment that had right wing Republicans not obstructed this law from it’s inception what may have been. Where might we be within the process today? How, if employers, instead of taking the tack of denying both health insurance and full time work hours to achieve that manipulation in order to skirt the law, but instead, were forced through collective bargaining to pay a living wage that included benefits befitting the honor, health, and well being of the American worker. Consider how this healthcare law isn’t designed to hurt or punish the youth of America but instead relies on a simple insurance principle of pooling risk. That the young and healthy have always subsidized the sick and the elderly. That’s not a political prose. That is playing the odds and doing the morally honorable thing in the process. You pay in now, when you don’t need it so much, and the next generation does the same in return for you. Republicans would have that ideal crushed under the weight of corporate profit margins. Job makers exalted; workers be damned.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the House Speaker came together to propose a different approach: by forcing Democrats to vote for continuing to fund the healthcare law, thereby forcing Democrats to stand for what they believe in and being able to stand proudly in opposition. Ted Cruz is quoted in the Washington Post in response to the idea from GOP leadership by saying earlier on Tuesday:
“We don’t need fake fights. We don’t need fake votes. We need real change. We need a better economy. We need more jobs.”
Yes, Sen. Cruz we do. We need the jobs of navigators, that Obamacare would provide. We need an economy stimulated by a healthcare law that goes into implementation without obstruction and provides lower premiums. We need change from the norm on the hill that has branded your time in office as the Do Nothing Congress. We need change from that, Congress. Not the continuation of asking questions and speaking loudly, but never putting answers into the motion of change, and carrying a big stick of progressive action. We don’t need fake votes or meaningless speeches. We don’t need fake fights or senators. We have plenty of real fights which need real work and real legislators to take action and propose real votes. We need to bridge gaps and compromise for the well being of the many instead of posturing for the approval from a few against a bill that is now law. A law that has survived 41 attempts to repeal it and was judged constitutional by the Supreme Court. Stop the obstruction and selfish egomaniacal political dance and get on with the implementation and real world application of a law that will be around long after you are long since gone.
At quarter past four Sen. Cruz read excerpts from his “favorite book ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand.” A political idolatry of the aforementioned selfishness. And he did so immediately following a diatribe on religious freedom. If you can’t see the flawed character of this man and his followers then I am at a complete loss on how to further demonstrate it to you.
At 5:13 a.m. Sen. Cruz took a moment to pat himself on the back and state that even though no member of the Senate remained, since most had long ago gone to bed in preparation for the next day’s work, that at 5am he was trending 1,2,3, and 4. Although, admittedly ‘Duck Dynasty’ was trending #2, and since he mentioned them earlier he was taking credit for it. And do you know why he was trending in the top 4 positions, he asked. While he proclaimed himself champion of the people, I found myself answering, “because you’re making a fool of yourself at 5 am on a Wednesday morning and nothing is as entertaining. But, Cindy Crawford is talking about anti-aging cream on another channel and she is much easier on the eyes. Me though, I’m going to find out more about the coffee maker extraordinaire on the Food Network infomercial but you Mr. Cruz, you take the cake.”
Anyone who chooses to follow this lemming leader off a cliff is welcomed, even encouraged to do so. This man is no a champion of the common man. This man is a charlatan politician trying to appease an already out-Fox-ed constituency. And, nothing is so dangerous to real governance as a politician who garners the support of low information and/or manipulated voters.