Updated 10/10/2013 at 9:08pm
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz really does want healthcare reform, just not Obamacare, the Texas Republican said Thursday night.
The conservative firebrand and self-made arch-foe of the Affordable Care Act was on CNN’s “Crossfire” to defend the tactics he proposed that helped drive the United States to a government shutdown.
And those tactics seem to be working by Cruz’s standards.
Cruz: Use debt ceiling debate for leverage
“An awful lot of Washington would like to change the subject,” on fighting Obamacare, Cruz said. “Who hasn't stopped focusing on Obamacare is the American people.”
Cruz argued that he has gotten the grassroots outrage against the health care law he has always sought.
“Millions of Americans rose up and said this thing isn't working,” the freshman senator said. “That's what we need to stay focused on.”
It was Cruz who helped propose a government funding bill that attached language defunding President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
The defunding language was a rider that Democrats have long said was unacceptable and ultimately pushed the government into shutdown when a deal over spending could not be reached.
Back and forth between Democrats and Republicans over how to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling continue, with House Republicans passing multiple piecemeal funding bills that include Veteran’s Affairs and national parks.
Senate Democrats have refused to take up those bills, arguing that the entire government should be funded and calling anything else hostage negotiations made under duress.
Any Cruz is good news for Democrats
Cruz’s “Crossfire” opponent Thursday, Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, continued that charge repeatedly.
Funding only parts of the government, Whitehouse argued, is akin to a hostage taker who will “let the occasional hostage out while holding all the other hostages.”
Cruz, a nationally ranked debate champion, stuck to his talking points.
“Why is it a hostage negotiation on a straight-up funding on the VA?” Cruz asked. “Why can't we all come together and say our vets should all be above politics?”
Republicans have held up the funding of everything else, Whitehouse countered.
Cruz has drawn considerable fire for his anti-Obamacare tactics even within his own party, with fellow Republicans like Rep. Peter King of New York calling Cruz “a fraud” for promising that he could defund Obamacare when all along he could not.
When asked if he owed the GOP an apology for its dropping approval ratings, Cruz instead turned the question into an indictment of Democrats who “do not want to discuss Obamacare.”
On the other hand, “House Republicans are listening to the millions of Americans” Cruz says are suffering under Obamacare, losing their jobs, work hours and insurance.
Whitehouse did not say that Obamacare was untouchable; arguing only that any reform should come through the normal legislative process instead of by tying it to larger issues of government funding and the debt ceiling.
That said, Whitehouse still largely defended the law, citing constituents and the costs of Medicaid and Medicare that he says are going down.
“You've got to believe that Obamacare has something to do with those huge savings,” Whitehouse said.
Whitehouse argued that Republicans decided early on that Obamacare was going to be a failure.
It was “a political choice to pull all support from anything this president wanted to do,” Whitehouse said.
When accused of countering any positive health care reform, Cruz argued that “I am a big supporter of healthcare reform,” a cause he says he has long championed.
between those 3 on that clip only Cruz has integrity. love how Cruz is asked a question by Jones and repeatedly talks while Cruz is trying to answer. when Whitehouse was asked a question Jones, and Cruz, were gentleman and let him answer completely and without interruption and when he was finished Cruz goes to respond and quickly he is terupted by Whitehouse.
Just remember his followers are as crazy as he is. And believe it or not, he does have some. Do u notice how he never answers a difficult question, but changes the subject? How could Congress get behind this charlatan? How were they so fooled? Maybe some tea party people are seeing how they have been sold a bag of nothing! Like S Dakota. Says he's in favor of healthcare. Yeah, right! He has so many ideas how to improve it!
One of the craziest Repubs in Congress. They don't have the support of the American people but always claims millions of Americans support them in not wanting the Affordable Care Act. They probably do have some support, that is, the hate filled voters from their gerrymandered district. This tea party group has gotten out of hand and will try anything to stop what they do not like. These are not patriots and should not be calling themselves Tea Party, as if they liken themselves to the true patriots of the 1700s. What they are nothing but a group of fanatical thugs trying to force their beliefs on everyone else.
Cruz is a disgrace to the GOP and does not deserve to sit in the Senate. He will soon be forgotten.
Cruz talks about our VETS like he or his family fought for this country when in fact they are from Cuba where they "cut and ran from Castro". American people need to recognize as the Republicans have Cruz is bad business for this country.