Obama’s Health Secretary added them in. We want to preserve that
kind of power, because on every other page of Obamacare you’ll
find the phrase ‘as the Secretary shall determine.’” Does that
survive in your bill? Is it still on the table?
CRUZ: Thankfully, much of the so-called “three-bucket” approach
has passed from the discussion table. In my view, the three-bucket
approach was always doomed to failure. The idea was we would pass,
initially, legislation in the House and the Senate that didn’t do much.
Then, bucket two, the Secretary of HHS would come with all these
regulatory reforms that would do great things. Then, bucket three,
we would pass the real meaningful reforms, things like buying across
state lines, through regular order in the Senate. And we would
magically get eight Democrats to support us to defeat a filibuster.
I never thought the three-bucket approach made sense. Bucket
one, doing very little in the initial bill, would end up the only
bucket that ever happened. As for bucket two, there will, sadly, be
another Democratic President. What I have been urging from the
beginning is we should be drafting this legislation assuming we are
facing a future President Elizabeth Warren.
RUSH: Nightmare. But that approach makes total sense.
CRUZ: If we rely on unilateral Executive Action, it means a
President Elizabeth Warren could undo it and re-impose
Obamacare, and that would be just foolhardy on our part.
Then bucket three, “Let’s get eight Democrats and pass the reforms
that will actually make a difference,” I repeatedly referred to as “the
sucker’s bucket.” There aren’t eight Democrats. Nothing in so-called
bucket three was ever going to pass. What I’ve urged from the
beginning is: take everything in bucket two and three and put it all
in bucket one. If we’re going to do it, let’s
do it in this legislation.
So the big things I’ve pressed for are:
the Consumer Freedom Option, number one. Number two, expanding health
savings accounts so people can pay
health insurance premiums from health
savings accounts. That’s a big deal. It’s
currently illegal. What that does is let
you pay your premiums with pre-tax
dollars, an immediate reduction of 20,
30 percent in premiums for a whole lot
of taxpayers. It’s an amendment that my
office drafted that’s in the Senate bill
right now, and that’s a big victory for
RUSH: What about the idea of just repealing the thing, and then come back and put together a new bill?
CRUZ: I would do that in a heartbeat. It was what Mike Lee and I
actively advocated for in January. It’s what we publicly urged the
White House and Republican leadership to do, and in January the
Administration and leadership rejected that, despite Mike and me
arguing vociferously, “Let’s pass the very same repeal legislation
that every Republican except Susan Collins voted for in the Senate.
Let’s pass the identical bill that we’ve all voted for.”
I would happily vote for complete and total repeal. I’d vote for it
today. I’d vote for it tomorrow. I’d vote for it any day of the week.
But that position was originally rejected by the White House and
leadership. However, [on 6/30] President Trump tweeted his sup-
port for that. If we can’t get the Consumer Freedom Option, I think
that is worth every member of the Senate Republican Conference
thinking about carefully. If they block any meaningful reforms to
lower premiums, that may well push us into the option of simply
full repeal, and then spend time on “replace” in the months and
years to come.
RUSH: Let’s just briefly trace the history. In 2010, the Tea Party
erupts over Obamacare and federal spending. It’s organic. It doesn’t
have a leader. It’s real. The Tea Party makes demands, and the answer
from Republicans is, “Well, we have a Democrat in the White House
and we don’t have the means in Congress.” So, the Tea Party gave
Republicans the House, and then here came the repeal-Obamacare
votes. Then came the answer, “Well, we don’t have the Senate.” So we
gave them the Senate. After we got the Senate it was, “Well, we don’t
have the White House.” Now we’ve got it all, and we’re hearing,
“Well, we only have 52 votes.” The patience among Republican voters
has got to be razor thin.
CRUZ: I agree. Estimates show that under the first version of the
Senate bill, premiums would increase 20 percent in the first year. In
the second year, premiums would increase another ten percent. I
think that’s a terrible outcome. There are a host of reforms we can
implement to fix that problem: the Consumer Freedom Option —
which we fought for and is now included in the updated Senate bill;
HSAs paying premiums — which is also in the bill right now; and
also buying across state lines. I don’t know if we’ll get sales across
state lines in, but if done properly, that competition could have a
RUSH: I think you’d have people tolerant of some of the bad stuff if
you could pull that off. I think your biggest enemy on that is the
insurance companies, isn’t it?
CRUZ: The insurance companies are not fans of the Consumer
Freedom Option or sales across state lines, and there has been real
resistance to including those.
RUSH: No, they kept sales across state lines in “phase three” in their
original plan, which, as you say, was never going to happen.
CRUZ: In fact, Chuck Schumer got 41 Democrats to sign a letter
saying, “Phase three will never happen because we’ll never support
it.” So it’s like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football. Conservatives are always told, “Okay, run up and kick the football” — and
they keep pulling it away. Voters are getting really frustrated.
They’re catching on to this game.
RUSH: Is the reluctance to do so ideological? Or is it as you stated,
just fear of the media demagoguery? When I say ideological, are
there some people even in your conference, your caucus, who say it’s
now an entitlement, and we don’t take those away? A fear of getting
rid of this because it’s already been implemented?
CRUZ: That is a significant concern. I think the fear of demagoguery
“If you look to the actual substance of what’s been implemented, I
think the Administration has done a good job.” — SEN. TED CRUZ