Praised by Cruz, Sanders Calls Obamacare a 'Moderate Republican Piece of Legislation'
Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) got a bunch of shout-outs from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) overnight in his marathon speech against Obamacare.
"I respect Senator Sanders’s commitment to his principles. As you know, he previously ran as a socialist. That is correct. I respect that degree of candor. Quite frankly, I would be very happy if this body had 10 more Bernie Sanders and 10 more Mike Lees, because I think there would be far more truth in advertising and then we could have real debate about what the role of government should be in our lives," Cruz said at one point.
"Earlier we were talking about Bernie Sanders. I respect the heck out of Bernie Sanders. Actually–and this is a comment that often surprises our friends in the media and even some Democrats–I respect President Obama. I respect the man a great deal because I think he is deeply committed to his principles. I think he has taken political risks for his principles, I think he has fought for them, and I think he is a true believer. Everything I have seen about his entire course of life–I think he believes genuinely, earnestly, and with all of his heart in government solutions, government control of the economy and our lives, and in redistribution of wealth," he added later.
Sanders, like Cruz, gave a marathon talk in 2010 that wasn't a filibuster because it wasn't launched to delay a vote. Sanders' eight-hour, 37-minute speech was in opposition to a tax deal Obama cut with Republicans.
"Cruz has gone on a lot longer than I did," Sanders noted this morning on MSNBC. "I appreciate very much his ability to stay away from the bathroom. That's not easy."
Of the 21-hour, 19-minute speech itself, the Vermont senator said Cruz "is succeeding because you were talking about Ted Cruz and he's all over the media."
"But in reality, if we get away from personalities, if we look at healthcare, in my view, Obamacare is kind of a moderate Republican piece of legislation which is working reasonably well in Massachusetts," said Sanders, who has advocated for a single-payer system.
"We are the only nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. And what Mr. Cruz and his Republican friends think in terms of healthcare is that we should voucherize Medicare, make massive cuts in Medicaid, and ignore the fact 48 million Americans have no health insurance at all," he continued. "I think the important point to be made is not just Cruz's speech, is really deep down what do these guys believe in? And if you look at something like the Republican Texas -- Texas Republican platform, do you know what they believe in? They believe not only in getting rid of Obamacare. That's nickels and dimes. They believe in abolishing Social Security, abolishing V.A. healthcare. We've got 6 million veterans using that. They believe in abolishing the minimum wage so that if workers are forced to work for two or three bucks an hour, that's OK. That's freedom."
"...So, this is a very radical agenda which most people do not agree with. And my own view is I think quite the contrary, is that Obamacare is a step forward. It doesn't go anywhere near as far as it should. I believe in a Medicare-for-all system, which is a -- Medicare is a popular program. I'd like to extend it to everybody so that we can have a single-payer system."