The latest Cruz-o-gram has me rubbing my eyes and giving my head a quick shake, double- and triple-taking.
The message and accompanying photos depict Cruz on August Congressional recess back in his home state. It looks like a typical boring legislative newsletter, and it doesn't begin with any vitriolic rhetoric about the Kenyan Usurper or the Stalinist Affordable Care Act. You have to look a little more deeply to see What's Really Wrong With This Picture. What's wrong with it is what isn't there.
In Dallas, he met with business leaders—oop, sorry...job creators—including representatives from the Young Presidents Organization, and took a tour of the Dr Pepper facility. He bitched about federal regulations strangling small businesses.
In Corpus, he met with officers and city officials and took a tour of the facility. He had a roundtable with some veterans in their American Legion and VFW costumes, and he bitched a little about the Veterans Affairs medical care program.
"Unfortunately, our veterans struggle with the VA on a daily basis. The VA’s mismanagement, extended wait times, and bogus bookkeeping are disgraceful. I remain committed to empowering veterans to choose their own doctor and am confident that by working together we can craft bold and innovative solutions that provide veterans with the quality care that they deserve.”
“Houston continues to be the epicenter of good paying jobs and economic prosperity, and a vibrant and thriving Port of Houston is a critical engine for that economic growth,” Sen. Cruz said. “Not only is the port a catalyst for Texas’ robust economy, it is also central to our national security and the safety of every American. I’m grateful for the hard work of each and every person at the port, and I’m proud to continue working with the Port of Houston Authority, CBP officers, and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure this port remains a strong economic driver for our state and for the country."
Perhaps Cruz did actually meet with the hourly workers at these facilities, but we'd never know it from the email whether he had any actual conversations with them.
Cruz's proposal to give veterans more choice of health care providers is similar to how he and other movement conservatives would like to give families a choice of where their children go to school. As everyone knows, public schools suck, because public schools, like the VA, are creatures of the government, and nothing that comes from the government is any good anyway, right?
Yes, in too many ways, health care from the VA is probably as bad as Cruz says his veteran friends say it is. Yes, giving veterans more choice of doctors is probably a good idea, as long as the government is willing and able to pay for it and veterans don't have to. But, like public schools, government programs that are chronically underfunded tend not to perform so well. Also, we have a federal government that keeps creating more physically and psychically wounded veterans, mostly so that defense contractors can keep reaping their multi-billion-dollar profits.
In 2011, still in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse, the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature slashed state expenditures for public education. Tens of thousands of teachers were laid off and forced to compete for a diminishing supply of jobs. Plenty of other states faced similar difficulties finding money to keep their educational systems afloat.
A huge nexus of interacting factors led to the Wall Street collapse and the resulting recession, from which the nation eight years on has not fully recovered. But after the Bush administration squandered the surplus that it inherited, after it borrowed and spent a few trillion dollars on lethal fool's errands in Afghanistan and Iraq, having that money available to fix our schools, hospitals, and infrastructure sure would have been sweet.
Ted Cruz has told us repeatedly how he hates the federal government. Lots of people, right, left, and center hate the federal government, but Ted hates the very idea of a federal government. Trouble is, the federal government exists to protect people, institutions, and the natural world from human stupidity and greed whenever state and local governments or the private sector cannot. In that sense, it is a necessary evil. The way to make government work for the people is not to starve it. Limiting its powers is wise; limiting its ability is idiotic. For such a smart and well-educated guy, Cruz has some awfully idiotic ideas.