Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have voted 42 times to completely de-fund the law. Most recently, the House voted several days ago to continue to fund the government -- everything except Obamacare, that is. Now the continuing resolution has been tossed to the Senate for approval.
But Tuesday night tea party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) engaged in an old fashioned stand-up-and-talk filibuster to block the removal of the Obamacre de-funding language from the resolution. Clearly Cruz was trying to import some of the House Republicans' knack for self-beclowning into the upper chamber of Congress, much to the delight of Senate Democrats and to the growing disgust of Senate Republicans who have been smartly distancing themselves from Cruz, especially after Cruz likened a vote to end the filibuster against the resolution as a vote for Obamacare.
The fact remains that Cruz never had 60 votes to block the law -- not even close. Therefore, much like the 42 House votes to de-fund the law, Cruz's filibuster was pure cuckoo's nest theater for the gawking delight of the radical tea party base, and yet another example of why the GOP would do well to amputate that festering wing of the party with extreme prejudice.
So, what did the senator talk about for all that time?
If you were playing the official tea party anti-Obamacare drinking game, your hangover will be brutal. Cruz successfully shoehorned into his remarks every single anti-Obamacare bumper sticker slogan ever devised. You name it, Cruz extrapolated it into a 20 minute monologue. Of course death panels were front and center, with Cruz asking at one point if we want "the IRS determining whether our mother lives or dies." Scary. And a lie. He invoked Nazi Germany, too, paying his dues to Godwin's Law.
In addition to reading tweets for what seemed like an eternity (someone should tell him that Twitter is filled with impostors, fakers, trolls and bots), he also repeated over and over that Obamacare "hasn't worked" or that it's "failed." Did Cruz carjack Marty McFly's 1.21 gigawatt Delorean and travel into the future when the law has actually been implemented? Obamacare doesn't fully kick in until January, 2014, so we have no choice but to wonder how Cruz knows Obamacare has failed. Seriously, if the senator is traveling through time, and if he accidentally confronts his 2017 unemployed self and discovers that he badly lost his 2016 re-election campaign, it could significantly alter the present or create a paradox in the space-time continuum and -- okay, I'm done with the Back to the Future references, but it's difficult to be serious when discussing one of the most unserious senators in recent memory. (Speaking of unserious, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) was on hand to help Cruz, and, in predictable form, repeated that global warming is a hoax.)
Anyway, no, the Obamacare exchanges haven't been implemented, but when they are, the exchanges will save uninsured Americans a lot of money on premiums alone. The following Obamacare premium calculations were compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation, taking into consideration the Obamacare tax credits provided by the federal government for the Bronze insurance plan (unless otherwise noted):
--If you're 25 years old, living in Los Angeles, and you earn around $28,000 per year, you'll only pay $140 per month for health insurance under Obamacare.
--If you're 40 years old, living in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, and you earn more than $45,000 per year, you can receive the top level Platinum insurance plan for only $192/month.
--If you're 40 years old, living in Baltimore, MD, and you earn around $28,000 per year, you'll only pay $111 per month for health insurance under Obamacare.
--If you're 40 years old, living in Hartford, CT, and you earn around $28,000 per year, you'll only pay $97 per month for health insurance under Obamacare.
--If you're 60 years old, living in Washington, DC, and you earn around $28,000 per year, you'll pay $29 per month for health insurance under Obamacare.
--If you're 60 years old, living in Hartford, CT, and you earn around $28,000 per year, you'll pay ZERO -- nothing -- for health insurance under Obamacare.
Additionally, you can't be turned down for insurance; there aren't any lifetime limits on coverage; and your insurance is totally portable, among other benefits. I think you get the idea. By the way, here's a little known fact: you won't have to wait until the April tax season to receive your tax credit subsidies. You can choose to either receive your subsidy in advance, or as a refund. It's totally up to you.
Cruz also spent a considerable portion of his filibuster rattling off a series of employer horror stories in which businesses, such as Walmart and Dave & Busters, have been forced, allegedly by Obamacare, to reduce part time hours. Cruz, following the lead of many others who are opposed to Obamacare for purely partisan reasons, treated these businesses with sympathy when, in a sane world, he should have been shaming many of the businesses for refusing to provide health insurance for workers in the face of a rising profits, a growing economy and a record high stock market. He also didn't mention (and why would he?) that some of these businesses are actually helping workers to save thousands of dollars. Here's what Trader Joe's explained to The Washington Post a few days ago:
A Crew Member called in the other day and was quite unhappy that she was being dropped from our coverage unless she worked more hours. She is a single mom with one child who makes $18 per hour and works about 25 hours per week. We ran the numbers for her. She currently pays $166.50 per month for her coverage with Trader Joe's. Because of the tax credits under the ACA she can go to an exchange and purchase insurance that is almost identical to our plan for $69.59 per month. Accordingly, by going to the exchange she will save $1,175 each year ... and that is before counting the $500 we will give her in January.
So this particular "crew member" will see her paychecks increase by $100, with $1,175 in savings per year, because of Obamacare.
Speaking of fail, Cruz killed some time by reading the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs & Ham." After he finished, he compared not liking green eggs and ham with not liking Obamacare -- on a mouse or in a house, etc. Perhaps we should be worried about Cruz's reading comprehension skills because at the end of the story that he had just finished reading on the Senate floor, the main character eats green eggs and ham and likes them a lot, and then proceeds to go on and on about how much he likes them.
Yes, Ted Cruz, who evidently doesn't grasp the meaning of a Dr. Seuss book, is one of just 100 Americans who gets to vote on laws in the U.S. Senate. Then again if he continues with this ridiculousness, he won't be for much longer.