It happened at a Ted Cruz campaign event in Hubbard, a small town smack in the middle of the state. According to reports in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico, Cruz fielded a question from Mike Valde, a Democratic voter who had come to the event with a story to tell and a simple question to ask.
The story was about his brother-in-law, a barber named Mark. As Valde told it, Mark was a small business owner who worked so hard that he didn’t even take paid days off. But Mark was unable to afford health insurance until the Affordable Care Act became law. When it did, Mark bought insurance and then, when he started feeling ill, saw a physician — who promptly diagnosed him with cancer with no hope for recovery. He died last year.
He had never been to a doctor for years,” Valde said, reportedly on the verge of tears. “Multiple tumors behind his heart, his liver, his pancreas. And they said, ‘We’re sorry, sir, there’s nothing we can do for you.’”
The room fell silent, according to the Times’ account, and then Valde, who later told reporters that he was a Hillary Clinton supporter, posed his question: “Mark never had health care until Obamacare. What are you going to replace it with?”
Cruz offered Valde his condolences before launching into the same basic argument that Republicans always make. “Under Obamacare,” Cruz said, “millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Millions of Americans have lost their doctors, have seen their premiums skyrocket.” He pointed out that Obama had promised families would see average savings of $2500 from health care reform, and joked that he’d gladly encourage anybody who’d actually reaped such savings to vote for Clinton — a quip that drew laughter from the audience.
Valde, apparently less amused, kept at it. “My question is, what are you going to replace it with?” he said. Cruz responded that he’d get there, but first he wanted to talk some more about the “millions of stories on the other side” — people who’d had to give up their old plans and, as a result, ended up with higher premiums or co-pays, narrow networks of providers or some combination thereof.
Eventually Cruz suggested that if Valde’s brother-in-law couldn’t afford health insurance premiums previously, it was probably because government regulation had driven up the price — and that the best solution, at this point, was to wipe the slate clean and build a new health care system, one in which people could purchase coverage across state lines.
“Many people will quite literally die because of your policy preferences.” “[Lies ass off about effects of ACA.] “But what is your offer to the uninsured?” “Worthless junk insurance unregulated by Congress or state governments.”
In fairness to Cruz, it’s not like any Republican has a better answer. This is more unique:
The Cruz mailers have been widely condemned by Iowans. “I just wonder how many of these went out to people who might seriously believe they committed a violation or were embarrassed that their neighbors might know about their alleged voting record,” Braddock Massey, a Rubio supporter who lives in West Des Moines and received one of the mailers, said.
Donna Holstein, who was listed on one of them, was upset to learn that she had been given a failing grade and that her neighbors might be told whether she participates in the caucus. She told me that she has voted consistently but that she can’t this time because of a disability.
“I’m crippled, so I can’t go to the caucus,” Holstein said. She was not happy about being shamed in front of her neighbors. “That’s what you call a bully,” she said about Cruz’s tactics. “I wish he would quit.”
Given the target, it’s at times like this that God help me I can understand the basis of The Donald’s appeal:
“But he’s a liar,” he said. “He didn’t even put down on his financial disclosure forms that he borrowed money from banks at low interest loans, lower than you could get, lower than anybody could get.”
“I mean, look, Ted is a liar,” he added. “That’s why nobody likes him. This is why he doesn’t have one endorsement from one senator, not one. He works with these senators, he doesn’t have one endorsement.”