Last evening conservative favorite Ted Cruz, the insurgent candidate in the Republican Texas Senate Primary who is closing the gap as we hit less than two weeks from primary voting day, gave me 15 minutes of his time for a few questions about taxes, term limits, immigration and Sarah Palin’s endorsement. Below is our conversation.
Dustin Siggins (DS): 12 days out, you’re closing in the polls, Sarah Palin endorsed you…what are your thoughts on how things are going?
Ted Cruz (TC): The campaign is going extraordinarily well. The momentum is off the charts. Sarah Palin endorsed us last week and we had a thousand contributions come in within 48 hours. We have conservatives of all stripes backing us: grassroots leaders, Republican women – everyone is coalescing behind our campaign.
DS: In a recent interview with Kathleen McKinley at Smart Girl Nation (transcript posted at RightWingNews.com), you said you opposed Democratic amnesty proposals as well as “Democrat-lite” proposals from Republicans. Can you elaborate upon this a bit?
TC: We have a crisis on illegal immigration. Neither party is serious about stopping it. I strongly oppose illegal immigration. I categorically oppose amnesty. I support legal immigrants who come here supporting the American Dream.
I come from the perspective of someone who spent much of my adult life in law enforcement. In a post-9/11 world, it is absolutely unacceptable that we don’t know who comes over our borders. We need to do everything humanly possible to secure the borders. Electronic surveillance, a wall, helicopters and, most importantly, boots on the ground. If elected, the first thing I will do is triple the U.S. Border Patrol.
We should celebrate legal immigrants. No matter the party or the politician, I oppose amnesty. Amnesty is contrary to the rule of law and is unfair to legal immigrants who wait years or decades to come here legally.
When it comes to illegal immigration, conservatives often feel like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. The 1986 amnesty was allegedly to secure borders in exchange for amnesty, but the borders were never secured. We should not fall for that again.
A better immigration system is both possible and simple. First, we enforce the law – securing the borders will stop the inflow. Second, put in place a strong E-Verify program. The lack of jobs will dry up the magnet for being here and illegal immigrants will leave. America MUST remain a nation of the rule of law, and non-enforcement of illegal immigration undermines that.
DS: What is your reaction to the Senate budget battles this week, especially with four GOP budgets being voted against by four GOP Senators, one of whom was Dean Heller (R-NV)?
Last year, this nation hit two major marks: first, our credit rating was downgraded. Second, our national debt exceeded GDP. We are on the path to Greece, and the Senate and President Obama aren’t doing anything about it. The fact is that the Obama budget got zero votes in the Senate, there is no Senate Democratic budget…and Democrats don’t want to focus on the problem that is our national debt.
We have politicians in both parties who won’t stand up and get serious about cutting spending. What is critical in 2012 is electing strong, free market, constitutional conservatives. This is absolutely important. Right now we have six or seven strong conservatives in the Senate. If we can double that to a dozen or more, that would be a strong step towards balancing the budget.
There are only five truly strong fiscal conservatives in the Senate. They are Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Tom Coburn and Mike Lee. Not coincidentally, all five back me. All five have also said they are outnumbered by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. If we can get that number of strong fiscal conservatives up to 12 or 15, especially in leadership, I know the rest of the Republican Senators will follow them in the right direction.
DS: Your website says you support a flat income tax. Are there any credits or loopholes that should be kept in the code? Charitable donations and the mortgage interest deduction, for example?
TC: Those two should stay. They are necessary in order to get a flat tax enacted.
The current IRS code needs to be entirely revamped. It’s designed to keep politicians in power. Lobbyists go to career politicians to manipulate the tax code for special exemptions, and then career politicians say “Of course I’ll help you out. When I am finished doing that, can you please come to my fundraiser?” This breeds enormous power for elected officials and for lobbyists. I want politicians who say “No, build a better mousetrap and succeed in the marketplace instead of manipulating the tax code.”
DS: You’ve come out in support of term limits, specifically no more than three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate – the same term limits Senator Coburn has self-imposed. Will you impose these limits upon yourself?
TC: I have pledged to help lead the fight to get that constitutional amendment passed – no more than three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. This should be applied equally across the board. Unfortunately, the Senate shot down term limits with Republican support, much as it shot down an earmark ban with Republican support. Term limits are critical to getting career politicians out of D.C.
DS: To clarify, would you hold yourself to the aforementioned term limits if the Senate does not pass such a law?
TC: I have not pledged to unilaterally disarm. If all conservatives hold to term limits, and liberals don’t, we have a disadvantage. I will fight to make term limits apply equally across the board.