Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fired a broadside at his Senate GOP colleagues Saturday by mocking their commitment to defunding ObamaCare and calling for a grassroots army to take up the cause.
He elicited roaring applause from the audience when he called repeal of ObamaCare the most important regulatory reform on the agenda.
Contrasting the crowd’s response to his GOP colleagues’, he quipped: “If I were sitting in the Senate cloakroom, the reaction to that statement would be fundamentally different. I don’t know that I’m quick enough to dodge all the things that would be thrown at me.”
Other Republican senators have warned against this strategy as a dangerous gambit that could backfire.
“I can’t count the number of Republicans in Washington who say, ‘Look, we can’t defund it. No, no, no. We can pass symbolic votes against it but we can’t actually stand up and take a risk and be potentially be blamed,’” Cruz said.
He called on conservative activists to form a “grassroots army” over the next month and a half to put pressure on GOP leaders to block any stopgap spending measure to keep the government running past the end of September if it allows the controversial health reform law to go forward.
He urged them to visit the website www.Don’tFundObamaCare.com and to text the word “growth” to 33733.
“This is the most important fight this Congress will face and the only way we win this fight is if the American people rise up and hold our elected officials accountable,” he said.
He listed repealing the healthcare law and regulatory reform one of three legs of his plan to restore economic growth in the United States. The other two components are cutting spending and reforming the tax code.
He blasted the nation’s persistent budget deficit as “fundamentally immoral” because of the burden it would place on younger and future generations.
Throwing red meat to the crowd, he touted the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service as the best way to reform the tax code.
“I think the simplest and best solution is we need to abolish the IRS,” he said.
He panned Republican colleagues for lacking enough conviction to shutter the tax agency and called again for a grassroots army to take up the cause.
“If we have to depend on Washington politicians to get that done, it will never ever be done. The only way we abolish the IRS is if the American people rise up and demand it of our elected officials,” he said.
He said the potency of grassroots activism was shown earlier this year when President Obama’s proposal to expand background checks for gun sales and prohibit military-style semiautomatic weapons was soundly defeated in the Senate.
“If that dispute were decided on Washington rules, the momentum behind the president’s anti-Second Amendment proposals was unstoppable and what happened again is the American people got engaged,” he said.
Cruz’s visit to Iowa has stoked speculation that he will weigh a bid for the White House in 2016. He spoke at the Silver Elephant dinner in South Carolina, another important primary state, in May.
He also played to the crowd on the Senate’s immigration reform bill, which is unpopular among conservative voters in Iowa. He touted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of Congress’s harshest critics of granting citizenship to illegal immigrants, as a “forceful advocate” of securing the nation’s borders.
Cruz drew a bright line between himself and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an author of the Senate bill, who is also seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
He predicted that House Republicans would not go along with the proposals championed by Senate Democrats.
“I believe because the grassroots is speaking that the House of Representatives is not going to follow [Sen.] Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] and the Senate Democrats down the path of legalization first and not securing the borders,” he said.