Media freakout over Ted Cruz buying ObamaCare insurance reaches day two

Alternate headline: “Man who wants to abolish IRS continues to pay taxes.”

Lay aside the obvious point that there’s no inconsistency in obeying a law you oppose. Are people really so stupid that they don’t see why Cruz is doing this?

“We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care, and we’re in the process of transitioning over to do that,” Cruz, a Republican candidate for president, told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday.

Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is going on an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs to join Cruz full time on the campaign trail, Cruz told the Register…

Asked whether it chafes to have to rely on Obamacare, Cruz told the Register: “Well, it is written in the law that members will be on the exchanges without subsidies just like millions of Americans so that’s — I think the same rules should apply to all of us. Members of Congress should not be exempt.”

Cruz currently gets his insurance through his wife’s plan. That insurance is suspended once she takes a leave of absence to campaign with him, leaving him with three options. He can decline to purchase insurance, which no husband and father with the means to get coverage would ever do. His wife could use COBRA to keep her Goldman Sachs insurance intact for another 18 months, which would cost the family a bunch and would leave them uninsured circa October 2016 when the coverage lapses (assuming Mrs. Cruz hasn’t returned to work by then). Or he can follow the Grassley rule and buy an unsubsidized ObamaCare exchange plan, as federal law requires of members of Congress. Why, oh why, might Cruz prefer what’s behind door number three notwithstanding his ferocious opposition to ObamaCare? Anyone want to guess why a guy running for president as a loud-and-proud populist might choose to subject himself to the same unpopular program that millions of Americans are coping with right now?

Dave Weigel offers a remedial lesson on politicking for the pundit class:

Cruz is finding a political advantage in his unhappy journey into Obamacare. In an interview with CNN, Cruz contrasted his sacrifice with the law-dodging ruthlessness of the Obama administration. “I believe we should follow the text of every law, even law I disagree with,” Cruz told CNN’s Dana Bash. “If you look at President Obama and the lawlessness, if he disagrees with a law he simply refuses to follow it or claims the authority to unilaterally change.”

Cruz is deftly using the oddly-enough angle of this news—Obamacare-hating senator forced into Obamacare—for a populist cause. He’s not the first Republican to do so. In his successful 2014 campaign for Senate, Colorado Representative Cory Gardner repeatedly talked about the family plan he’d held onto until it was scrapped for not meeting the ACA’s standards…

Why was Gardner on the endangered plan? Because he declined the coverage available to him as a member of Congress. At personal cost, he took a decision that made him more relatable and vulnerable to the insurance market. And now Cruz has done the same.

And Gardner won. So here’s Cruz with a decision to make: Does he stick with his wife’s Cadillac plan from Goldman Sachs, at great personal expense, while he’s out in Iowa trying to convince farmers that he’s just like them? Or does he suck it up, take the ObamaCare plan, and use it as proof that not only does he play by the same rules average voters are forced to play by, he’s a rule-of-law stickler who won’t try to dodge statutes that discomfit him, like Obama routinely does on war authorizations and immigration?

If this were any other candidate, the media would see right through it. As Chris Hayes said last night, in terms of his educational and professional credentials, Cruz is “the elite of the elite of the elite.” He needs to polish his populist cred at every opportunity to remake that image; buying an ObamaCare plan is one simple way. But because the media hates him, they can’t get past the seeming hypocrisy and see the basic strategy underneath. Ted Cruz, the commander-in-chief of the anti-ObamaCare movement, is buying … ObamaCare! Can ya believe it?

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Jazz Shaw 10:01 PM on January 31, 2023