21 hours. That is how long Sen. Ted Cruz was able to last after beginning his talking filibuster over the defunding of Obamacare, Sen. Cruz has captured headlines across the nation as his filibuster was over a bill that would fund the government through the rest of the year but would defund the Affordable Care Act. That bill passed the House but has virtually no possibility of passing the Senate.
Which raises the real question… if the Cruz filibuster cannot actually change the course of the House bill or the institution of Obamacare, then what is the point? Is this not a lot of wasted time?
Sen. Cruz is taking a page out of the Sen. Rand Paul playbook. Sen. Paul of course held a nearly 13 hour talking filibuster over the CIA nomination of John Brennan. Sen. Paul said he was not trying to prevent the actual nomination of Brennan but was using the opportunity to educate the public on the issue of drone strikes.
Sen. Paul did so very successfully. One month after the Paul filibuster, the New York Times reported a 50 point swing in public opinion on the issue of drone strikes. This was only possible because the Senator was willing to use his filibuster not as a procedural roadblock but as a way of bringing the issue into the public discourse.
Which brings us back to Sen. Cruz’s filibuster. Right now, polls show a majority of the American public are not happy with Obamacare for a number of reasons. The Wall Street Journal is reporting huge jumps in premiums for young Americans. Forbes magazine is reporting that premiums for young males will increase by nearly 100%:
“Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.”
So how does Ted Cruz, “talking until I can’t stand anymore” actually help the situation? Simply put, Cruz is rallying the American people and attempting to expose sides of the the ACA that have been lost in the media. Here are some excerpts from that filibuster:
“James Huff, the president of the Teamsters, has said ObamaCare is destroying the 40-hour workweek. It is destroying the backbone of the American middle class. That is not me saying that, that is not any politician from Washington saying that, that is the Teamsters.”
“A few weeks ago UPS sent a letter to 15,000 employees and it said: We are terminating spousal health insurance because of ObamaCare. Their husbands and wives were told: Sorry, your health insurance is gone. Remember, the promise was: If you like your health insurance, you can keep it. For those 15,000 UPS employees–for their husbands and wives–that promise has been disproved by reality.”
“Just last Friday we saw Home Depot–one of America’s great companies, one of America’s great success stories, one of America’s great employers–announce that 20,000 employees will be losing their health coverage. How many more stories like this will we have to hear before Congress does something to protect Americans from the harmful effects of this law.”
“Why 29 hours a week? Well, just like the 50-employee threshold, ObamaCare kicks in and counts an employee if he or she works 30 hours a week. One of the things that is forcing small businesses all over the country to do is to force their employees out of good full-time jobs into 29 hours a week because they don’t get hammered with the costs and burdens of ObamaCare.”
“Do you believe that Members of Congress should be exempted from ObamaCare, that we should have a special rule, that we should disregard the language of the statute and not be subject to ObamaCare the way the American people are, the answer would be overwhelmingly no. And it doesn’t matter where in the country you are or what your party is.”
So was the the filibuster a success? While that remains to be seen, one thing is assured, the talking filibuster to raise these important discussions won’t end here.