Topics: Obamacare

Ted Cruz challenges 'conservative intelligentsia' on defunding Obamacare

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Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering,Obamacare,Tea Party,Mitch McConnell,Health Care,Ted Cruz

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said people outside of the nation's capital constantly tell him the defund-Obamacare movement did the right thing.

"Now this is a room in Washington, D.C., where there are a lot of people who are living in the cauldron of all of these voices saying 'This is a terrible, terrible fight.' There are even a few people in this room who have expressed those sentiments," Cruz told the American Spectator's annual dinner.

"It's interesting," Cruz said, because "if you ask that question, should we have fought this fight, just about anywhere in the country other than Washington, D.C., the room immediately bursts out with an answer. If you get out of Washington, there is no ambiguity on this question."

Cruz defended the movement, which divided Senate Republicans, by pointing out that most of the "conservative intelligentsia" in Washington insisted that it was only a disagreement in tactics.

"I'm going to suggest to you, in my view, that is complete hogwash," Cruz said, because those who disagreed with the defunding effort failed to offer tactical alternatives in the fight against Obamacare.

Some Senate Republicans were more concerned about preserving sequestration cuts than fighting Obamacare, Cruz said in a pointed allusion to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's vocal opposition to the defunding movement.

The 2.5 percent sequestration spending cuts are important, Cruz said, but Republicans should instead focus on Obamacare, which would have a bigger impact on the American people.

Cruz mocked the idea that the American people were passionate about preserving sequestration cuts.

"Sequestration sounds like an exotic wildlife disease, nobody has any idea what the heck that is," he said.

Cruz also argued that Republicans should not simply allow Obamacare to collapse under it's own weight because doing so runs the risk that in the process, it will also "destroy the private healthcare system."

"Once that happens, you can't unscramble those eggs," Cruz warned, pointing out that President Obama and Harry Reid saw the Affordable Care Act as merely a step to single payer health care.

"No one here is wearing a tin foil hat — I left mine in the car," Cruz said. "This is what they say. If you listen to Harry Reid and President Obama, they will tell you that this is designed to lead to single payer."

Cruz also panned the tactical approach to repeal of the medical device tax.

After admitting it was a "terrible tax," Cruz reminded the audience that it's repeal was a priority of K Street lobbyists.

If that was the only concession Republicans could get from Democrats, Cruz suggested, it would be a terrible message to the American people.

"If the only outcome of this whole fight is that we tell the American people that you, too, can get relief from the harms of Obamacare if only you had tens of millions of dollars to hire lobbyists on K Street," he said. "What a terrible message."

Cruz rejected accusations that Tea Party Republicans are "nutters" who went too far by demanding a full defunding of Obamacare.

He argued that Republicans "could have and still can defund Obamacare," but that it was part of their negotiating strategy by starting with bold demands.

Although they lost that fight, Cruz said Tea Partiers are winning the messaging war against Obamacare, citing the recent reports that Obama was considering delaying the individual mandate.

Grassroots activists were greatly energized by the effort and Democrats were on the record with a number of embarrassing votes in support of Obamacare, he said.

"The way we're going to win the war is to keep fighting back," Cruz said.

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