Sen. Ted Cruz accused President Obama of acting in a “dictatorial” manner when it comes to granting exemptions under his signature healthcare law.
The Texas Republican and fervent Obama critic was asked by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Tuesday whether it’s fair to compare the president to Cuba’s Fidel Castro, as the senator’s father has done. Cruz said “enormous differences” separate the United States from communist Cuba, but that Obama’s use of executive power has violated the Constitution.
“A president under a constitutional system doesn't have the ability to pick and choose which laws to follow,” Cruz said in an interview Wednesday. “And that's the same pattern you see in dictatorial societies, where a leader says ‘ignore the law, go with the power of the president instead.’ That's not the way our constitution is supposed to work.”
Cruz singled out Obama’s decisions to allow people to keep their canceled health insurance plans, to grant a one-year exemption from annual benefit cap restrictions to some companies and unions, and to permit members of Congress and staff to receive federal contributions to their healthcare costs.
The senator said those “exemptions” violated provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which he wants to repeal.
“If it’s is the law of the land, the president shouldn't keep ignoring the law,” Cruz said of the healthcare act.
Supporters of Obama’s healthcare law have accused the GOP of being disingenuous for criticizing the president over the exemptions, considering the vast majority of congressional Republicans want to do away with the law entirely.
A transcript of the exchange follows. The full interview airs on AMERICA with Jorge Ramos on Fusion at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday:
Jorge Ramos:Once, your father in a speech, and we talked about this in our last interview, compared Fidel Castro with Barack Obama. Is that a fair comparison? Obviously you don’t think President Obama is a dictator. And you told us in an interview that you thought President Obama had abused his power. So can you make this clear distinction between Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, and Barack Obama?
Ted Cruz: Obviously there are enormous differences. The United States is not imprisoning or torturing dissidents. But the point my father was making — he was focusing on a sentence that President Obama used in the last two state of the union addresses where he said, “If Congress doesn't act, I will.”
One of the most disturbing aspects of the Obama presidency is the willingness of this president to disregard the law, to ignore the law. You know, we were talking a few minutes ago about Obamacare. And you mentioned it’s the law of the land. If it’s the law of the land, the president shouldn't keep ignoring the law.
He unilaterally granted an exemption for big business for one year. The law says big business doesn't get an exemption and the president just waved his hand and said, “I am granting them an exemption.” He unilaterally granted an exemption for members of Congress. The law says that members Congress have to be on the exchange without subsidies just like millions of Americans. The president just waved his hand and said, “Ignore that part of the law, I don't want to enforce it.”
And as you noted, when people started getting dismayed that his promise, “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” was demonstrated to be false, he told insurance, “Well, ignore that part of the law for one year.”
A president under a constitutional system doesn't have the ability to pick and choose which laws to follow. And that's the same pattern you see in dictatorial societies, where a leader says, “Ignore the law, go with the power of the president instead of the written law.” That's not the way our constitution is supposed to work.