Ted Cruz recently became the first official entrant of the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. His reward for jumping in the ring first is that he’s now taking fire on multiple fronts.
The first term Texas Senator is being called inexperienced for much the same reason that Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans during his run. Like Obama, Cruz has spent only limited time in political office. They both also share a background in law. But where Obama’s experience was entirely academic, Cruz spent five years as Solicitor General of Texas and argued nine cases before the Supreme Court. He also clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
At law school, Cruz was “described by friend and foe alike as brilliant but with a hard edge.” And where Obama largely stayed in the shadows and avoided controversy during his brief tenure in the Senate, Cruz has taken a prominent role as a critic of the Obama administration. As Cruz himself put it, “In his time in the Senate, [Obama] was basically a backbencher. … In my time in the Senate, there are a lot of faults I’ve had, but nobody would accuse me of being a backbencher.”
He gained notoriety during his 21-hour anti-Obamacare filibuster, but has rankled some of his colleagues with his aggressive tactics, leading to his label as a “wacko bird” by career politician John McCain.
Cruz is widely viewed by both sides of the spectrum as a diehard conservative. The influential Club for Growth, which focuses on economic freedom, gave Cruz a score of 92% (tied for 6th with Marco Rubio and James Inhofe) for 2014, though his 100% the previously year gives him a lifetime 96% rating that’s good for 5th among active Senators. A measure of conservative orthodoxy across a broader range of issues by Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation, also rates him highly. They gave him a 95% rating, second only to Mike Lee, for the previous session of Congress.
Now here’s a look at his position on the key issues:
On Foreign Policy and Security
Cruz contends that “A strong national defense safeguards the interests of the United States and ensures that we preserve the blessings of liberty.” He boasts passage of a law in 2014 that he introduced to to prevent terrorists from entering the United States as Ambassadors to the U.N.
He has also introduced legislation to impose sanctions on Iran, and to revoke the citizenship of those who take up cause with terrorist organizations. He also sought to block efforts by the Obama administration to transfer or release individuals from Guantanamo Bay, and joined a bipartisan coalition in proposing legislation to end bulk NSA surveillance. The latter drew the ire of John Yoo, the former Bush administration official most widely known for authoring the so-called torture memos.
Cruz often speaks in support of Israel. He strongly criticized the Obama administration last year when news reports suggested anonymous officials called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a chicken-shit and a coward. He has also faulted the administration for demonstrating “an arrogance that America’s going to dictate the terms of security in Israel.” And when he was booed for defending Israel in a speech before a Christian organization, Cruz responded that, “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” and walked off mid-speech.
In addition to the aforementioned Obamacare filibuster, Cruz is frequently blamed (or credited, depending on your point of view) for the 2013 government shutdown after organizing Congressional conservatives to defund the law. He’s also introduced multiple pieces of legislation to repeal Obamacare, and has pledged, “I would do anything and I will continue to do anything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare.”
Cruz advocates market-based health care reforms, and recently introduced the Health Care Choice Act of 2015, which removes Obamacare’s insurance mandates and allows for purchasing of insurance plans across state borders. While continuing to argue for full repeal of Obamacare, the legislation is part of his desired strategy to repeatedly send the President bills which repeal and replace different aspects of the law.
On Free Speech
Last year Cruz, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, chastised the 41 Senate Democrats who signed a letter calling for broad new powers to regulate campaign spending, which he argues is an exercise of free speech.
Similarly, he introduced legislation to require that any law restricting political speech of citizens apply equally to the press, with a goal of both demonstrating and ensuring that the First Amendment right to free speech is not merely granted to members of the corporate media.
Source: Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images
Cruz wants to “repeal Common Core, so that local curriculum is not mandated by Washington bureaucrats.”
He instead supports school choice, which he calls the “most compelling civil rights issue of the 21st century.” He has joined colleagues from across the aisle in support of expanding educational options for students and parents.
On Budget and Taxes
Announcement of Cruz’s candidacy was met with praise from anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Cruz has called for drastic cuts and simplification of the tax code, arguing that the U.S. should move towards a flat tax. He has for years in his speeches stated a desire to abolish the IRS.
He wants a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget, and also desires to audit the Federal Reserve. “Enough is enough,” he argues, “the Federal Reserve needs to open its books – Americans deserve a sound and stable dollar.”
Cruz has proposed legislation, called the State Marriage Defense Act, to make same-sex marriage a state level issue. His legislation would prevent any judicial or administrative ruling from applying an interpretation of the words ‘marriage’ or ‘spouse’ that goes against a particular state’s own definition. He said, “I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states. The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens.”
On the recent anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Cruz offered a statement in support of the 2015 March For Life, declaring that “Each life is a gift from God.” He criticized Roe v. Wade for “overturn[ing] a Texas law and in one sweeping decision legaliz[ing] abortion on demand across the nation,” and said, “This anniversary marks a shadow in our nation’s history.”
He also called an effort by Democrats to undo state level restrictions on abortion as “a very real manifestation of a war on women given the health consequences that unlimited abortion access has had on many woman.”
Cruz, born Rafael Edward Cruz, is the son of a Cuban refugee, but argues that while “we should welcome and celebrate legal immigrants who follow the rules,” it is necessary to “secure the border and stop illegal amnesty.” He has criticized fellow Republicans for pushing a “strategy designed to lose,” but has avoided taking a leading role in the fight.
On Energy and the Environment
Cruz supports greater exploration of domestic energy and fewer regulations. His American Energy Renaissance Act would immediately approve the Keystone pipeline, leave fracking regulation up to the states, reduce red tape for upgrading existing refineries or building new ones, eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates gasoline be mixed with a certain percentage of biofuels, prohibit EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and expand energy development on federal lands.
In attendance at the Iowa Ag Summit, in a state where massive special interests use their early primary status to dominate the energy discussion through demands for handouts and subsidies, Cruz stood firm in his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard and ethanol mandates.
He also doesn’t buy into global warming. Cruz argues that satellite data doesn’t align with the alarmist models, and he recently told NASA – an agency that frequently weighs in on the topic and even pushes its own policy solutions – to focus its resources and attention on space exploration instead of global warming.
On Gun Rights
The National Rifle Association endorsed Ted Cruz during his run for Senate. Once in office, he famously butted heads with anti-gun Democrat Dianne Feinsten at a hearing for her bill to renew the so-called assault weapons ban, when he asked whether she would similarly suggest that the First Amendment “only apply” to some books.
In Texas, Cruz has said, “We define gun control real simple – that’s hitting what you aim at.”
This report is for informational purposes only. Nothing within should be construed as endorsement by the author of either the candidate or his positions on the issues.