Last night on CNN, Vermont Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (D) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) faced off in a town hall style debate on the future of the Affordable Care Act under the new Trump administration, featuring questions from the audience both for the ACA and against it. The town hall, hosted by Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, proved to be a brutal showdown, as each of the senators gave their case as to why we should or shouldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare”.
Bernie came out with an emotional opening statement attempting to scare impoverished Americans that they are in grave danger of losing health insurance as the Republicans plan their legislative agenda, having recently taken control of the House, Senate and the White House. “Forget about it, you’re gone”. Senator Sanders made his usual poetic cries for recognizing healthcare as a right, as he warned the elderly and mentally unstable that they may be rejected for health insurance for their pre-existing conditions. Drawing the “feelings” card, Bernie was sure he could make the Texas Senator look like the bad guy.
But Ted Cruz came prepared…..
As soon as he got a chance, Sen. Cruz gave a strong case for freedom as he told a story of the many Americans whose lives were destroyed after the ACA was implemented, citing the spikes in private healthcare costs, and the millions of Americans who lost health insurance through their employer. In addition, Cruz offered to help patients by taking a closer look at the FDA, who have constricted life saving medication through textbooks of regulations and an approval process that costs over 2 billion dollars.
Bernie, blushing in the face and becoming increasingly irritated, went on his usual rant about how all European countries guarantee healthcare as a right, also taking note that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t “guarantee healthcare as a right”.
Cruz struck again, listing a barrage of incidents in the UK alone, where wait times and incompetency that derive from a non competitive healthcare system have actually cost the lives of many people. Sanders struck back, looking Cruz up and down with his eyes on full alert, “Is healthcare a right?” Cruz, cool and nonchalant, explains exactly what a right is, and listed some of the rights in the Constitution, none of which contained “healthcare.” I was personally disappointed that he didn’t explain why healthcare isn’t a right, but Cruz made it clear that entitlements did not fit into the founders’ design.
Throughout the entire debate, Bernie was in panic mode as Cruz dismantled each one of his points with simple economics and reasoning. However, the biggest upset of the night for Bernie did not come from Ted Cruz. LaRonda Hunter, who owns a small salon business that hires just under 50 people, asked the Senator from Vermont how he expects her to provide health insurance to her employees without increasing prices or lowering wages. Completely avoiding the question, Bernie noted that she does not provide health insurance for her employees and proceeded to tell her that he believes businesses that hire 50 people or more should be required to provide health insurance, clearly increasing her burden. Ted Cruz took advantage of this opportunity to use LaRonda’s struggle to magnify the true evils of the ACA.
It is to the reader to judge who won the debate, however not only am I convinced that this was Sen. Cruz’s best performance, it was undoubtedly Sen. Sanders’ worst. Many expected the Vermont Senator to outperform Cruz by a large margin as he is known for championing this topic, but alas you can only get away with economic illiteracy for so long.