|MISSION, October 18 - Looking back at U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech at the Club of Cimarron in Mission last month, healthcare administrator Hari Namboodiri cannot understand why more people did not speak out against him.
“The whole thrust of Senator Cruz’s speech was ‘let’s defund Obamacare, we must defund Obamacare.’ Well, look where that has got us. A government shutdown, billions of dollars lost to our economy, our credibility in the world markets weakened, and a bad example set to our youth. Sen. Cruz took us to the edge of the abyss,” Namboodiri said.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan agreement was reached in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling, avoid default and re-open the government. Cruz said he would not filibuster the agreement but was defiant in his message that Congress must continue to work to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. “The fight against Obamacare must continue in the face of Washington’s apathy. That is where my attention will remain focused,” Cruz said, in a statement on Wednesday.
Cruz provided a similar message on his first visit to the Rio Grande Valley. On Sept. 2, he spoke at the Club of Cimarron before business leaders, healthcare executives, and elected officials. His message was that the House of Representatives must stand firm against President Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that defunding or delaying Obamacare should be linked to federal budget negotiations. Faced with the threat of a government shutdown, Cruz thought Obama and Congressional Democrats would crater and allow parts of ACA to be defunded or delayed. That did not happen and with no agreement on the budget a partial government shutdown ensued.
Namboodiri, a senior administrator at Las Palmas Healthcare Center in McAllen, was the only person in the audience at the Club of Cimarron event to publicly challenge Cruz’s position. He asked where Cruz’s alternative to the Affordable Care Act was and how would Texas’ junior senator ensure affordable healthcare was made available in the Valley, which has one of the highest percentages of uninsured residents in the country.
“At that event in Mission, Senator Cruz misrepresented what the Affordable Care Act is all about and he is still doing so today. He did not answer my question. I would have hoped more people in the audience would have stood up to Cruz and challenged his crazy ideas but no one did. He must have left the Valley thinking everyone here supports him. That is definitely not the case,” Namboodiri said.
The only other people to publicly stand up to Cruz on his visit to the Valley were members of the RGV Equal Voice Network. They protested his visit but could only do so from a distance. The Club of Cimarron is a private country club and no protests were allowed on the premises. The nearest Equal Voice members could get to Cruz was on the other side of busy, four lane, Shary Road. There was not a murmur from Hidalgo County Democratic Party about Cruz’s visit.
Like Namboodiri, Depak Kapur is from India. He used to own a maquila plant in Reynosa and is now a retired businessman living in Mission. He said he was proud of Namboodiri for standing up to Cruz. “Ted Cruz is leader of the Cuckoo Party. He is clearly an articulate and well-educated man but he is a radical and when you are well-educated and become radical your mind goes haywire. We saw that with Bin Laden,” Kapur told the Guardian.
“Also, Ted Cruz is the de facto leader of the Tea Party and the Tea Party cannot abide the changing color of this country. They cannot accept the country is becoming brown. They want the good old days of white people running the country.”
In his news release, Cruz defended his corner.
“Washington’s indifference to the plight of the American people has never been more apparent. Countless Americans all over the nation are being notified their premiums are skyrocketing. Others are losing jobs or seeing their work hours reduced, and thousands upon thousands are losing their healthcare plans altogether. All because of Obamacare,” Cruz said.
“I am saddened to say that today the Senate did nothing to help them. Washington did nothing. This town has created all the problems they are facing and refuses to do a single thing about it. The House of Representatives, however, deserves to be commended. They have taken a bold stance and listened to the American people, but unfortunately, the United States Senate has taken the traditional approach of protecting the status quo.”