Cruz:  Prince of Darkness
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz, DeSantis to introduce constitutional amendment on term limits Fiorina to meet with Trump on Monday Trump picks Goldman Sachs chief for top economic adviser: report MORE (R-Texas) is a rightist ideologue, arguably much more conservative than Barry Goldwater in 1964.  He vows to destroy the “corrupt Washington-Wall Street cartel.”  His rhetoric is dark, apocalyptic, and nativist.  If elected president, his policies would make U.S. politics even more toxic and polarized, exacerbating intractable problems at home and abroad. 

Cruz said he is “Christian first, American second,” calling on Christians to rise up.  He warned that if Clinton is elected, she will “chisel crosses … from tombstones of fallen soldiers.”  He accused Republicans of Neville Chamberlin-style appeasement in failing to dismantle Obamacare.  He claimed gays are waging “jihad.”  This is the demagoguery of a senator notorious for contentiousness and obstructionism.

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Cruz’s rigidly ideological proposals would plunge America deeper into debt and exacerbate inequality. His tax plan contains a 10 percent flat tax and 16 percent value added tax (VAT), an annual levy on business revenues, even for nonprofits.  The conservative Tax Foundation estimates the plan would reduce revenues by $3.6 trillion over a decade.  Factoring in a supply-side stimulative effect, the Foundation projects net revenue loss at $768 billion.  The liberal Citizens for Tax Justice estimates reduced revenue at $16.2 trillion, pointing to “gimmickry” such as the US government taxing itself under the VAT.  It maintains the Foundation grossly overestimates additional revenue resulting from a stimulative effect.  Most tax benefits go to the wealthy.

Cruz says he would reintroduce the gold standard, which John Maynard Keynes, a father of modern economics, called a “barbaric relic.”  Most contemporary economists agree.  U.S. stubborn adherence to the gold standard under Hoover contributed to the Great Depression, according to Keynes and Milton Friedman, once a conservative hero.  The classical gold standard exacerbated capital markets’ volatility, sometimes amplifying business cycles’ highs and lows and triggering crashes.  It left the U.S. with little ability to shape monetary policy. 

Cruz’s fiery immigration rhetoric is at odds with his policies.  He supported a pathway to green card status in opposing the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill.  It remains unclear if he retains this position on legalization, as opposed to citizenship, which he terms amnesty.  Cruz states he would build a wall, triple border guards, and bolster surveillance, which would be costly.  He would not create a deportation force nor seek mass deportation.  He has persuaded many voters his views are identical to Trump’s, meaning he will remain polarizing on immigration.

Cruz proposes to apply to imports his 16 percent VAT, effectively 19 percent due to computational intricacies, and exempt exports from it.  This is protectionism.  Trade partners will respond negatively.  Cruz flip-flopped on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now opposing it, but offers no alternative to counter Chinese regional economic hegemony.

Cruz’s foreign policy proposals are scant, contradictory and troubling.  He excoriates President Obama for “leading from behind” and weakness bordering on appeasement.  However, his Senate Armed Services Committee attendance is poor and he has not collaborated in formulating legislation to bolster or modernize the military.  Cruz initially praised Edward Snowden for doing the U.S. “a favor” by revealing NSA “excesses,” despite saying Snowden should be jailed, and still defends opposition to NSA’s former meta-data program.

Cruz accuses Obama of appeasing Iran in signing the nuclear deal, calling for “ripping it up” and reinstituting sanctions.  He has no strategy to counter Iran on nuclear issues nor to contain its drive for Middle Eastern hegemony.  He glosses over Europe, China and Russia’s unwillingness to reapply sanctions.  He also has no plans to contain North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un, whom he labels a “megalomaniac,” nor Beijing, which he says seeks to “kick” the U.S. out of the Pacific.

Cruz claims he could defeat ISIS in 90 days.  He vows to “carpet bomb ISIS,” until the sand “glows,” showing he is ignorant and delusional.  What Cruz actually appears to advocate is much higher op-tempo, precision air strikes with looser rules of engagement and expanded and direct aid to Syrian and Iraqi Kurds.  He opposes U.S. ground troops, calling Kurds his “boots on the ground.”  No such plan is viable.  Most military strategists do not believe Kurds substitute for larger surrogate ground forces or U.S. military intervention in a train-and-assist or combat mode.  Cruz opposes aid to “moderate” Syrian rebels seeking to topple Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, even though many hawks argue – I believe, correctly – that the Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian axis supporting Assad is a magnet for opposition from ISIS and al-Qaeda jihadists.

Cruz is a facile, glib ideologue.  His domestic economic policies would be harmful.  His trade policies range from sketchy to ill-informed and archaically eccentric.  Cruz’s inexperience, demagoguery, and spurious plan to combat ISIS render him unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Davis is a retired intelligence analyst, who worked with the Army Special Operations Command, Defense Intelligence Agency, and CIA.