“What Republicans don’t often do well is focus on, ‘How do we win?’” said Texas senator Ted Cruz, speaking to bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington Tuesday afternoon.
Cruz says he is focused on winning on Republicans’ most important issue, Obamacare, by pushing to defund the whole law in this fall’s upcoming budget battle. “I think defunding Obamacare, the fight in the next 62 days, is likely to prove the most important battle that this Congress faces,” Cruz said.
Last week, Cruz introduced legislation to strip appropriations bills of all funding of Obamacare and is threatening to hold up Congress’s next budget fight over the issue. Cruz said this budget battle is the “best” and perhaps the “last” chance for conservatives to cripple the law.
“If we don’t do it now, in all likelihood, we never will,” Cruz said. “On January 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in, and the Obama administration’s plan is very simple. It is to get as many Americans as they can addicted to the subsidies, addicted to the sugar, because they know that in modern times, no major entitlement, once it was implemented, has ever been unwound.”
Polls show that while Americans oppose Obamacare and support repealing and delaying the law, fewer support defunding it. Asked about this, Cruz dismissed the polls and said it’s incumbent on conservatives to “stand and fight” and make a public appeal.
“Polls like that are largely useless. Those are not real polls. Those are polls designed to make an advocacy point,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is the right thing to do, I believe, and the principled thing to do. It is a strategy, it is the only strategy I’m aware of that can work. If we do not pursue this strategy, we are saying, ‘We surrender.’ Obamacare will remain a permanent feature of the American economy.”
Cruz also disagreed with the idea that Republicans might be better served by pursuing a strategy of delaying large parts of Obamacare, as the administration has already done with the employer mandate, rather than defunding it. “Delaying it takes affirmatively passing legislation,” Cruz told me, noting that with Democrats in control of the Senate, passing delay legislation would be futile without a GOP majority. “We should fight it on a terrain where we’re opposing something bad rather than voting for something good.”