You never know who’s watching your tweet stream. Or maybe you should assume someone is that might have a question or two. During a trip last week to the Rio Grande Valley, a political activist informed me that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz had made only one visit to the region since taking office. However, the prospective GOP presidential candidate has made four visits to Iowa, which, not surprisingly, struck me as absurd.
I put that information out on a tweet and the phone rang from Gardner Selby of Politifact Texas. He wanted to know where the information had been derived and how he might cross check and verify. I had been asking numerous people about the claim since I had first heard it and I directed him to some of them as well as several news stories. The good news for me, and the bad news for the valley, is that the claim stood up to Politifact’s test.
Some wiseacre tweeted in response that Cruz was “a man of the people. Just not those people,” in the Rio Grande Valley. I suspect that is the case. It takes a cosmic level of who gives a damn to ignore the most troubled part of your own state as U.S. Senator so you can travel to another state and pretend that you aren’t running for president. Cruz was in Iowa meeting with religious groups and home schoolers, instead of being in the Rio Grande Valley to confront problems of unemployment and immigration, which he has claimed as one of his issues.
Cruz is also spewing rhetoric, as usual, about the government not being relied on to solve our social ills and that we need to turn to private groups, churches, religious organizations, and non-profits. Except, he is not a guy to practice what he preaches. Writing for the Houston Chronicle, reporter Gary Scharrer looked at the junior Texas senator’s tax returns for the latest years available and discovered Cruz was considerably penurious when it came to charitable giving to those groups he thinks ought to replace government support.
In 2009 and 2010, Cruz’ adjusted gross income was $3.5 million with cash charitable contributions of $19,137 and $4,818 to what are listed as “various charities.” My math is never reliable and I don’t even use a calculator well but the numbers on Cruz’ giving indicate he offered charities .0068 percent of his adjusted gross income over those two reporting years. Not a penny was given to a church.
This is a perfect example of why the country cannot rely on charities to manage social programs in place of the government.
If Cruz and his followers were more generous with their giving, we might not even need the Affordable Care Act. Of course, the senator from Texas is not likely to have noticed the interest in health care back in his home state because he’s been on the road not running for president. While he was winging his way back to DC from Iowa, people in the Rio Grande Valley were lining up by the hundreds to see if they could qualify for ACA coverage.
Unfortunately, a lot of them went away disappointed. They either do not earn enough to get the ACA subsidy or the make too much for Medicaid coverage. Even more unfortunate, they live in a state where the sitting governor, Rick Perry, has refused to expand Medicaid under ACA, which would have made eligible for coverage more than another million poor adults of working age.
Compounding Perry’s intransigence is the fact that the state is turning its back on billions of dollars annually. One study indicates Texas will lose $9.6 billion by 2022 if Medicaid is not expanded, and, in fact, our tax money will be paying for health care in other states where they have more sensible leadership. About $40 billion is spent in Texas every year on defense contracts so that’s like lopping off a quarter of that business and its jobs.
Of course, if we’d all just be more like Ted Cruz and give till it hurts, we could pick up the government’s slack and pay for health care for our neighbors.
Although he’s not likely to get back to the Rio Grande Valley any time soon, Cruz is taking his gospel of giving to New Hampshire next month for two visits, including a speech to the Freedom Summit, one of those guns and god gatherings that rail about all that is wrong with America and if we could just go backwards all would be properly aligned with the constitution.
Let freedom frickin’ ring, Ted.