Tuesday night CNN hosted a debate between Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders about the Affordable Care Act. While there has been a great deal of discussion about the effectiveness of such a debate, there was little doubt that it would be entertaining. Cruz has a reputation for being a skilled debater, going back to his undergraduate experience with the Princeton debate team. Sanders, despite his cult following and brash speaking style, left a lot to be desired in the Democratic primary debates against Hillary Clinton. Any serious political observer pretty much knew Cruz would wipe up the floor with the old socialist curmudgeon, and Ted did not disappoint. There were several great moments from the night, but three in particular stand out.
First, in what may be the most cringe-worthy moment of the night, Bernie severely mishandled a question from Texas small business owner LaRonda Hunter. As part of Obamacare, all businesses employing more than 50 workers are required to provide their employees health insurance. Ronda operates several hair salons in Texas with 48 employees, and she does not have the profit margins required to provide health insurance. She asked Senator Sanders, “How do I grow my business without raising prices to my customers or lowering wages of my employees?” Bernie then proceeded to lecture LaRonda about leaving her employees without healthcare and taking a competitive advantage over businesses that provide insurance. It was a horribly awkward exchange, and Bernie came across as a raging communist blockhead. Much like Obama’s infamous “you didn’t build that” line, Sanders demonstrated that liberals have a severe disconnect with small business owners. If you don’t do anything else today, you need to watch the clip
Shortly after the exchange on small businesses, Senator Sanders tried to pivot to administrative expenses and the bureaucratic burden on healthcare providers. Naturally Sanders blames the paperwork burden on insurance companies, not Obamacare. Ted, on the other hand, turns this point into a strong attack on the Affordable Care Act. In my eyes this was the key moment of the night, as it basically represents the entire debate in a nutshell. Specifically, look at the evidence Cruz provides vs. the lack of evidence from Sanders. That was pretty common throughout the entire debate.
And lastly, Cruz gives a blistering rebuke of Sander’s assertion that healthcare is a human right.
“Let’s talk about what rights are. Rights means you have a right for government not to mess with you, for government not to do things to you. If you look at the Bill of Rights, free speech means the government can’t silence you when you’re speaking. Religious liberty means the governoment can’t control who you worship, what your faith is. The Second Amendment means the government can’t take away your guns. Those are rights.”
Overall it was a phenomenal debate, and Cruz demonstrated how conservatives should be attacking Obamacare. Personally I thought the debate was very productive, and I hope this won’t be the last of its kind. There were even a few areas of genuine agreement, such as efforts to go after big pharma, cut through red tape within the FDA, and allow import of approved drugs from other countries. No matter how small those agreements may be, that’s a big deal. It sends a message to Americans that even the two most diametrically opposed men in Congress can agree on some issues. In the hyper-polarized political climate we live in, that’s no small victory.