The Next President: Cruz Words

Ted Cruz may become the next president of the United States. Endorsed by such Republican notables as Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Mark Sandford, and former contenders Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina, Cruz is the designated anti-Trump and savior of the GOP establishment. At age 45, Cruz is the youngest of the presidential hopefuls and would be the first Hispanic president. He may also be the best-educated candidate, having graduated cum laude from Princeton University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and graduating magna cum laude from Harvard with a law degree. In 1996, he worked as a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In 2012, he was elected by Texans to the U.S. Senate.

Despite his exceptional education, Cruz espouses doctrinaire political views, including uncompromising right-wing positions on the six focus issues that are being tracked by the next chapter. He is certainly smart enough to know the political views that are required to appeal to what the Republican Party has become.

On immigration:

Do you favor immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship?

Cruz does not support any form of legalization for undocumented immigrants. Cruz believes that they should all be deported and forever barred from becoming citizens of the United States. He supports a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship.

The Cruz website includes a description of his plan for immigration. The first priority is to improve and complete a fence along 700 miles of the border (the border’s total length is 1,954 miles). Cruz would triple the number of Border Patrol agents, and he proposes a fourfold increase in aerial surveillance, as well as increasing the use of cameras, sensors and electronic monitors. He calls for a “biometric tracking system” (presumably to track people legally entering the country with visas). He proposes “significantly increasing permanent detention capacity” for undocumented immigrants arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Cruz proposes elimination of “diversity” visas that are distributed at random based solely on the race or nationality of an applicant, and he would allow entry only of immediate family or immigrants who qualify for skills-based immigration. He would impose a requirement that only individuals with advanced degrees be eligible for H-1B visas, and he would suspend the H-1B visa program for six months while an audit and investigation is conducted. He would also audit companies that have participated in the H-1B visa program during the last 15 years, and all companies that have violated the terms of the H-1B visa program would be temporarily barred from using it.

He would urge Congress to enact a law to withhold law enforcement funds and community development grants from “sanctuary” jurisdictions, which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities, and he would direct the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Treasury to identify and withhold all additional federal funding that can legally be withdrawn from those jurisdictions.

Cruz proposes to “modernize implementation of the legal immigration system to hasten economic growth.” He promises to reduce bureaucracy, create a user-friendly online portal, respond to applicants within 60 days, and achieve a simpler and more transparent process.

On health care:

Do you support the ACA and efforts to improve or expand it?

Cruz has promised to “repeal every word of Obamacare” and implement a three-point plan to eliminate federal government involvement in health care. Point one would be the creation of a nationwide marketplace for health insurance, replacing separate exchanges in each state. Point two would be expansion of the use of health savings accounts. Last, Cruz wants to remove the current ties most Americans have between their health insurance and their job. Cruz promises that health insurance would be “personal, portable and affordable” and that he would keep government from “getting in between us and our doctors.”

On the Iran Nuclear Deal:

Do you support the nuclear agreement with Iran?

Cruz has said that the nuclear deal with Iran sets a “dangerous precedent,” and he is critical of President Obama for being willing to negotiate with America’s enemies. Cruz believes that U.S. national security will suffer under the deal, which lifted international economic sanctions against Iran and allowed Iran to access $100 billion in frozen assets. Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear technology and a system of inspection. Iran agreed to give up 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, as well as most of the centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium. Economic sanctions could be re-imposed if Iran cheats on the terms of the agreement.

During the Republican debate in September 2015, Cruz announced that he would nullify the international agreement: “If I am elected president, on the very first day in office I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.” Writing in the National Review, Cruz argued that there is no reason to trust Iran to abide by the deal, in view of Iran’s history of cheating on international deals and its stated intention to destroy Israel. “Sending $100 billion dollars to a rogue regime that has considered itself at war with America for more than 35 years, is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and has been lying about its clandestine nuclear program for a decade is just plain foolish.”

On Climate Change:

Do you believe that human activity is largely responsible for climate change and do you favor regulation of emissions?

Cruz does not believe climate change is real. “Climate change is not science. It’s religion,” he told Glenn Beck in October 2015. Cruz simply does not accept that there is any factual basis for climate change, although one analysis of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers found a 97 percent consensus that humans are causing global warming. Instead, Cruz believes that theory of climate change is being used for political purposes to control the economy and the energy industry. He cites one study of satellite data to support his conclusion that there has been “no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.” (This claim was discussed in an earlier blog post). Meanwhile, the data suggest that 2015 was the hottest year on record.

On the Minimum Wage:

Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage?

Cruz opposes a higher minimum wage. In 2014, Senator Cruz voted against the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S.2223), which would have raised the federal minimum wage to $10.10 after two years. He regards proposals to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour (as proposed by Bernie Sanders and others) as likely to harm teens and minority workers. Speaking to black business leaders in Brooklyn about his minimum wage concerns, Cruz recently said: “Every time you raise the minimum wage, thousands of people lose their jobs, and the people who are laid off are typically teenagers — low-income, African-American and Hispanic kids.”

Although the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found that any increase in the minimum wage would likely result in some job loss, the CBO also found that most low-wage earners “would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold.” As well, higher wages would allow increased consumer spending, which would generate more business and more jobs.

On campaign finance

Do you support campaign finance reform?

Cruz believes that spending money is protected speech under the First Amendment. In March 2015, he declared that free speech means everyone “has a right to speak out in politics as effectively as possible,” whether that means putting up a yard sign or spending money to run a radio or television ad.

This interpretation of the First Amendment was endorsed by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, discussed in a blog post here. Cruz would go beyond Citizens United, however, and eliminate limits on direct political contributions to candidates. The Court found that direct contributions could be seen as payments for political favors and therefore found that limits on such contributions were constitutional.

Cruz considers a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow “reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections” to be an assault on First Amendment rights. “The Democrats in the Senate last year introduced a constitutional amendment to repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment,” Cruz told the audience at the Rising Tide Summit in Cedar Rapids in December 2015. Senate Joint Resolution 19, the proposed amendment sponsored by Democrats in 2014, was an attempt at campaign finance reform and was meant to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The proposed amendment would have allowed Congress to distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law and would have specifically protected freedom of the press.

[Photo credit: U.S. Congress official portrait of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz]

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