"We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care, and we're in the process of transitioning over to do that," Cruz, a Republican candidate for president, told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday.But wait -- not so fast. The Washington Post follows up:
Cruz's wife, Heidi, is going on an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs to join Cruz full time on the campaign trail, Cruz told the Register.
Bloomberg was first to report that Heidi Cruz has taken the leave. CNN noted that Cruz, who has boasted about not needing to receive government health care benefits, would no longer be covered under his wife's health insurance plan.
That may sound like a done deal, but his campaign stressed Tuesday evening that Cruz is still weighing his options. "Senator Cruz said he would ‘presumably’ use his employer health insurance, for which the only option is Obamacare," campaign spokesman Rick Tyler said in an email. "But there are other options that the senator is considering before making a final decision about how to make sure his family is insured."But why do this? Cruz had a pretty swell health insurance deal:
It seems worth noting here that Cruz doesn't have to sign up through an Obamacare exchange. He could opt to purchase a private family plan off the exchange. Some of his Republican colleagues, also opposed to the health-care law, had previously told CNN they would do just that.
His detractors noted that Mr. Cruz enjoyed the benefits of his wife’s health plan as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, which the firm said was worth at least $20,000 a year.That's a Cadillac plan -- and Heidi Cruz is entitled to continue it for her family for 18 months under the federal COBRA law. Yes, that would be expensive for the Cruzes, undoubtedly more so than an Obamacare plan. But if Ted Cruz thinks Obamacare is worse than Stalin and Hitler combined, then you'd think he and his family would do anything to avoid it.
(Besides, the Cruzes can afford an alternative -- at Goldman, Heidi was a managing director, which is a step up from vice president; VP was her title for seven years. The Cruzes had a reported net worth of more than $3 million in 2012 and 2013, and they were able to lend $1.2 million to Ted's 2012 Senate campaign.)
So, as Dave Weigel argues, Cruz is doing this just so he can gripe about how horrible Obamacare is and how much better a person he is than the evil Obama -- this despite the fact that he has other options if he hates the health care law that much:
Now, Cruz is finding a political advantage in his unhappy journey into Obamacare. In an interview with CNN, Cruz contrasted his sacrifice with the law-dodging ruthlessness of the Obama administration. "I believe we should follow the text of every law, even law I disagree with," Cruz told CNN's Dana Bash. "If you look at President Obama and the lawlessness, if he disagrees with a law he simply refuses to follow it or claims the authority to unilaterally change."But that was an off-year Senate election. This is a presidential election. Surely, once Cruz starts whining about how horrible it is to be on Obamacare, somebody in the press is going to point out that Cruz had other options (unlike the less wealthy, less connected people for whom the law was intended). Right? Right?
Cruz is deftly using the oddly-enough angle of this news -- Obamacare-hating senator forced into Obamacare -- for a populist cause. He's not the first Republican to do so. In his successful 2014 campaign for Senate, Colorado Representative Cory Gardner repeatedly talked about the family plan he'd held onto until it was scrapped for not meeting the ACA's standards....
Why was Gardner on the endangered plan? Because he declined the coverage available to him as a member of Congress. At personal cost, he took a decision that made him more relatable and vulnerable to the insurance market. And now Cruz has done the same.
And yes, I know -- 18 months of COBRA benefits won't get the Cruzes all the way to January 2017, when Ted hopes to be taking the presidential oath of office. But o ou really think he'll still be in the race 18 months from now. And if he thinks he will be, why not take the COBRA option for as long as possible? Answer: It's all for effect.