Ted Cruz Teaches Bernie Sanders a Lesson in Economics and Freedom

On Tuesday night, Texas Senator Ted Cruz went head-to-head with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of healthcare. Cruz gave Sanders two very important lessons on the issue: one about why healthcare isn't really a "right," and one about the importance of cost in economics.

When Sanders asked Cruz point-blank whether "every American [is] entitled to healthcare as a right," Cruz took him back to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Let's talk about what rights are. ... You have a right for government not to mess with you, for government not to do things with you. If you look at the Bill of Rights: free speech means the government can't silence you when you're speaking; religious liberty means the government' can't control who you worship, what your faith is; the Second Amendment means the government can't take away your guns.

"Those are rights, you know what the Declaration of Independence said, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,'" Cruz concluded.

With this definition of rights settled, Cruz attempted to extend this notion of rights to healthcare. "So what is a right is access to healthcare," the Texas senator said. "What is a right is choosing your own doctor, and if you believe healthcare is a right, why on earth did you help write Obamacare, that cost six million people to have their insurance cancelled and had them lose their doctors, and had people like LaRonda who can't get health insurance, can't afford premiums, you're denying her what you say is her right."

This access to healthcare, at the cost which the market provides, is a negative right — something the government does not give but is required not to take away.

Sanders shifted the ground, and set himself up for a fall. Responding to Cruz's argument that Americans have a right to access, the Vermont senator declared, "Access doesn't mean a damn thing. What it means is whether people can afford it, can get the healthcare that they need."

This is why Sanders supports "Medicare for all," or a single-payer socialized medicine plan. But this plan falls apart due to basic economics, as Cruz pointed out.