WASHINGTON, September 29, 2013 — Some politicians go to the United States Senate to become effective lawmakers. They try to master the powerful institution, develop strong relationships with colleagues, and diligently work to turn conflict into consensus, all with an eye towards getting things done.
Others use the Senate as a platform to garner media attention, raise money and boost their national profile. They see their service in the Senate as a line item on their checklist to fame, a stop en route to the Oval Office.
Senator Ted Cruz is in the second category.
The Constitution only requires that candidates for the Senate be at least 30 years old, reside in the state they seek to represent, and have held U.S citizenship for at least nine years.
To become an effective Senator is more difficult. It requires patience. It calls for a willingness to work towards comity. It demands a certain level of respect and understanding of the rules, procedures, and history of the institution.
James Madison called the Senate a “necessary fence” against the “fickleness and passion” of public opinion. “The use of the Senate,” he wrote in the Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, “is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.”
Cruz’ latest effort to defund Obamacare was approached with neither coolness nor wisdom. His 21 hour talkathon was just a game, an exercise in futility and narcissistic grandstanding. He disingenuously led conservative grassroots activists into believing that Obamacare could be defunded without a single Democratic vote.
“If we can hold on to 41 Republicans in the Senate or 218 Republicans in the House, we can actually succeed in defunding Obamacare,” he told Sean Hannity on July 25th. Those that disagreed with his tactic became members of the “surrender caucus” or RINOs (Republican in Name Only). Anyone that can count votes should know that Republicans do not have the votes to defund the healthcare law.
Is the Affordable Care Act unpopular? Has the implementation had major setbacks? Yes and yes. In July, representatives of three of the largest unions sent a letter to Sen. Harry Reid, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, stating that Obamacare could “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
Some companies are cutting work hours to below 30 hours in order to avoid the Obamacare mandate. Others are cutting workers completely in an effort to reduce operational costs. The world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, for example, cited Obamacare as the reason for offering early retirement to 3,000 workers, and slashing five to six percent of its $6 billion annual budget.
Since Obamacare will not be repealed anytime soon, can’t both Parties work together to reform parts of the law? For instance, they could eliminate the medical device tax, otherwise known as the “stupid tax” to use Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s words.
The only way Republicans can defund or repeal Obamacare is to win back the Senate in 2014 and White House in 2016.
At that point, they can try to fulfill their pledge to repeal the healthcare law and replace it with — what again?
Ayobami is a graduate student in George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
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