Klavan On The Culture

Eat The Crap Sandwich

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks during a news conference on the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

When it comes to Senator Ted Cruz, I am — as we say out here in Hollywood — a fan. Pristine conservative principles, vicious political instincts, sky-high intelligence, and an endearing lack of awareness that most voters don’t understand the big words he uses: what’s not to like?

I voted for Cruz in the presidential primaries, but even then I did not admire him as much as I do now; as much as I have since the election of Donald Trump.

Candidate Trump behaved despicably toward his rival Cruz, insulting his wife, dropping scurrilous innuendoes about his father, and slinging bullying schoolyard taunts at the man himself. It was so ugly, even I had a hard time moving past it, and I don’t know any of these people.

But Cruz — whatever his personal feelings — has shrugged the campaign off with studly panache and gotten back to the only political business that matters: keeping America strong and free. He supports the president’s policies whenever he can, refuses to be drawn into attacks against him, and seems to have been working behind the scenes to unite disparate sectors of the party to move the Trump agenda forward. Give the man a flag pin; he’s earned it.

Cruz has said he won’t support the Senate health care bill as it stands, though he’s open to negotiation. He says he believes he can “get to yes.” I hope he does. I hope all the GOP senators do.

Like the House bill, the Senate bill is an Obamacare Lite crap sandwich and we conservatives should eat it.

I know. For seven years, Republicans have been promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. Some of you may have taken that to mean they were going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something else. Silly you. It is extremely difficult and politically dangerous to take a fisc- and freedom-destroying entitlement away once it has been bestowed. It is virtually impossible to do it when the president isn’t behind the effort.

Trump isn’t. He never was. Deep down, Trump supports government health care. He thinks it’s nice. He thinks it has “heart.” The idea that a free-market health system might work better and help people more has never captured his imagination. Even if the GOP had the guts to try it — ha ha — he wouldn’t back it. So it’s not gonna happen.

So, conservatives, you’ve been lied to. You’ve been screwed. Your intelligence has been insulted. Here’s why I think you should shrug it off and move on.

The president, a Democrat for most of his life, has shown himself to have far more conservative instincts than we could ever have hoped. His judicial appointments have been wonderful. His foreign policy seems a bit improvised but is so far eminently sane. His regulatory rollback has been terrific. And his ongoing destruction of the credibility and power of our corrupt and divisive leftist news media has been a joy to behold. With the health care bill behind us, congress can move on to what could be the defining accomplishment of the Trump presidency: tax reform.

Tax reform — even just tax cuts — could make our economy take off. Experts say we can’t achieve three percent growth. I believe they’re wrong. I believe we can do even better. If we do, there is no end to what Republicans will be able to accomplish down the road because they will be in the majority for years to come.

For myriad reasons, I don’t believe we will get there if we don’t get past this. There are some good things in the health care bill — reform of Medicaid among them — and maybe Tom Price can stoke the free market with some fresh regs freeing up the sale of health insurance. I see no path to a greater conservative victory on this and there are greater and more conservative victories in view beyond this defeat.

This is not abandoning core principles. It is accepting a bitter loss in the battle for those principles and moving on to a more promising field of fight. Senator Cruz has done it before. He should do it again. So should we.

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