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Cruz Puts Out a List of Solutions

Cruz advocates pro-growth policies, especially with regard to energy.

Shortly after his election, Senator Cruz voiced opposition to tax compromises with the left like the so-called “fiscal cliff” tax increase passed just prior to the start of his term. Instead he has unveiled a wholesale revision of the tax code that would represent a major tax cut. His plan would simplify the individual code to a flat-rate ten percent tax while also eliminating the payroll tax and death tax and reducing the anti-growth double-taxation of capital gains. It would also eliminate the corporate income tax, replacing it with a 16 percent tax on business revenue minus allowable investments and other expenses. The plan would promote savings by allowing all Americans to save $25,000 per year tax-free. Though the plan moves the code closer to an efficient, purely consumption-based tax system, one drawback is that it taxes wages twice by retaining an income tax without allowing businesses to exempt wages. Nevertheless, it would represent a major pro-growth reform.

Energy also features heavily in Senator Cruz’s agenda for promoting long-term economic growth. His American Energy Renaissance Act would: approve the Keystone XL pipeline and facilitate further pipeline construction; give states authority over regulating fracking on federal lands; give Congress a role in signing off on regulations from the EPA; open up exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf; end the oil export ban; increase natural gas export permitting; roll back the federal government’s environmental overreach by suspending the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases; and end the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Senator Cruz has led the fight against government intervention in the Internet economy and opposes both the Internet sales tax and the Obama Administration’s effort to impose net neutrality through the FCC. He has also spoken out against the growth of the administrative state, signing onto Senator Marco Rubio’s bill to impose a federal regulatory budget and Senator Rand Paul’s bill to give Congress a voice in the regulatory process.

 

Cruz has fought to eliminate government-imposed barriers to opportunity.

Senator Cruz sees the priorities of promoting opportunity and limiting government as one and the same. To that end, he has been particularly vocal about the danger that federal overreach might undermine efforts to generate opportunity in areas such as education. That said, his efforts have generally amounted more to criticism of big-government policies or co-sponsorship of sound policies advanced by others than to the development of a cohesive policy agenda of his own.

On K-12 education, Senator Cruz has focused on shifting power from federal Department of Education regulators to states, local school districts, and parents. In the Senate, he has been a vocal critic of Common Core and opposed the Senate’s reauthorization of No Child Left Behind on the grounds that it did not do enough to advance the principle of local control in education. Instead, hevoted in favor of the A-PLUS Act, which would give states the flexibility to opt out of Department of Education mandates without sacrificing their access to federal education funding. Senator Cruz is also the lead cosponsor of Senator Mike Lee’s Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act, a bill that would reform Title I funding to allow more low-income students the opportunity to attend private school.

As with K-12 education, Senator Cruz supports promoting choice and competition in higher education. Rather than adopting the left’s approach of continuing and expanding existing subsidies for students that will serve only to drive higher education costs up long-term, Senator Cruz supports ideas like the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, which would help reduce costs and promote innovation by breaking the accreditation cartel that has entrenched the outdated four-year traditional university model.

When it comes to promoting opportunity through work, Senator Cruz has been critical of President Obama’s rollback of the 1996 welfare reform’s work requirements and has supported proposals to consolidate and cap federal welfare program spending and spread work requirements throughout the welfare system. He has also signed on to efforts to repeal labor regulations such as “prevailing wage” rules that increase the barriers to entry to the labor market

 

Cruz promotes a robust civil society

Senator Cruz understands that a strong America is built through the fostering of a healthy civil society, not by the constant expansion of government programs. Speaking to group of Christian leaders working to alleviate global poverty, Senator Cruz said, “You need government to support you, not to compete with you.”

From his days as Solicitor General of Texas, when he defended Texas laws protecting the unborn, to his work in the Senate to defend marriage and religious liberty, Senator Cruz has been an outspoken defender of conservative values in his time in public office.  

Senator Cruz supports a federal ban on late-term abortions and has fought his own party in the Senate to promote the effort in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood. He has also supported a federal personhood Constitutional amendment to guarantee unborn children the right to life at conception.

Senator Cruz has been an outspoken defender of the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, he supported legislation to guarantee states the right to make their own determinations about the definition of marriage. Since the ruling, he has called for a federal marriage amendment and judicial retention elections and rejected the Supreme Court’s supremacy in deciding the question.

Senator Cruz has authored briefs defending businesses like Hobby Lobby whose religious liberty is threatened by Obama Administration policies like the contraception/abortifacient mandate under Obamacare. He is also a cosponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, which would outlaw government discrimination against Americans who believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

 

Cruz places a high priority on fighting the expansion of government

 Like many other candidates, Senator Cruz has articulated a firm commitment to limited government principles. He stands out from the field for his willingness to use all available leverage to fight for those principles, even when the battle is uphill.

As Solicitor General for Texas, Senator Cruz sued the federal government to prevent the implementation of the costly Medicare prescription drug benefit. And in the Senate, Senator Cruz led the effort to defund Obamacare in the summer of 2013 with his 21-hour speech on the Senate floor during the debate over the government funding bill. That effort, criticized and undermined by many Republicans, was essential to the cause of eventual repeal, raising public consciousness of the law’s failures and putting to rest the common view among many in Washington that the law’s status was a settled question after President Obama’s re-election.

Senator Cruz’s recognition that co-equal branches of government cannot afford to cede their constitutional prerogatives extends to the role of the president, who he has argued should be willing to veto big-government bills sent to the White House by Congress. Given his record in the Senate, few  even including his detractors  are likely to doubt his willingness to negotiate forcefully with the other branches of government.

What is less clear is that Senator Cruz will bring to such negotiations a detailed set of policy demands. On health care, for example, he has promised full repeal of Obamacare but offered little in the way of alternative policy ideas aside from a proposal to allow cross-state insurance purchases. Pressed on the debate within the conservative movement about how best to reform the tax treatment of insurance, for example, he has been noncommittal, in contrast to other candidates who have offered specific proposals. And on old-age entitlements, he has endorsed premium support for Medicare and praised President Bush’s effort to introduce personal accounts to the Social Security system, but his campaign has done little to flesh out those ideas.

 

Cruz has been willing to pay a political price for taking on government favoritism

 Senator Cruz has been at the center of the highest-profile fight about big-government favoritism in the current Congress: the debate over ending the Export-Import bank. Though Senator Cruz initially voted for the trade bill that served as a bargaining chip for Ex-Im allies to secure reauthorization, he later switched his vote and exposed the backroom deals that had been struck by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him out on the Senate floor for lying to the American people. It cost him political capital in the U.S. Senate, but in doing so, Senator Cruz demonstrated real leadership.

Beyond the Export-Import Bank, Senator Cruz has a strong track record of opposing big-government regulations and other policies that favor the well-connected. During a recent speech about cronyism, Senator Cruz highlighted his opposition to bank bailouts and anti-main-street financial regulations like Dodd-Frank, agribusiness subsidies, and renewable energy boondoggles like the Renewable Fuel Standard and the wind production tax credit. He has also been the leader of the fight in the Senate against the Internet sales tax, a top priority of major Internet retailers seeking to stifle smaller competitors.

Senator Cruz is a strong opponent of amnesty policies that would reward politically favored constituencies for violating U.S. law at the behest of big businesses eager to legalize new sources of cheap labor, even as he advocates for much-needed reforms to legal immigration.

 

Cruz places a high priority on defending the nation’s security interests

Senator Cruz has laid out a foreign policy agenda firmly within the mainstream of the conservative movement, while distinguishing his perspective from similarly hawkish but more utopian strains of foreign policy on the right.

In Senator Cruz’s view, while the United States should “be a clarion voice for freedom,” “the touchstone of foreign policy should be the vital national security interest of America.” He distinguishes between the sorts of interests for which America might exert some of the means of soft power available to it and the cases in which military intervention should be considered. In the latter cases, he argues, the United States should set out a clearly stated objective tied to U.S. national security, make a commitment to use overwhelming force to achieve that objective, and avoid prolonged commitment to “nation-build” when the war is over. On these grounds, Senator Cruz has been reluctant to support some military engagements favored by hawks  Syria and Libya, for example– while expressing strong support for military engagement if necessary in other theaters, such as Iran.

In some cases, Senator Cruz has refused to break with misguided elements of the foreign policy consensus within his party, as with his willingness to boost spending on defense even without offsetting cuts. But in others, he has offered a bold voice in contrast to party leadership, such as during his aggressive questioning of former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearings.

On several recent issues that have divided the conservative movement, Senator Cruz has helped lead the way in promoting innovative solutions that have started as out-of-the-mainstream proposals. For example, though not generally a fierce critic of the government’s efforts to track terrorist activities under the Patriot Act, Senator Cruz recognized that the National Security Agency’s surveillance protocols had over time not properly balanced security interests with civil liberties. Thanks in part to his leadership, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act compromise legislation. On Iran, Senator Cruz bucked the Washington consensus regarding the need to continue the flawed Corker-Cardin nuclear review process and argued that President Obama’s failure to disclose IAEA side-deals had rendered the deal void. Over time, other Republicans including House leadership adopted Cruz’s arguments, strengthening the long-term effort to derail the deal in the next administration.