Highlights seven major victories achieved in last year
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today delivered remarks at the ‘Road to Majority’ conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, where he highlighted a number of the victories achieved in the last year, including historic tax cuts, repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, and securing strong, constitutionalist judges on the bench. Sen. Cruz also praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case he led a coalition of Senators in filing an amicus brief before the Court in support of religious liberty.
“Let me tell you the facts of the case,” Sen. Cruz said. “The so-called Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated an antipathy, an animosity to faith that was visceral. And by a 7-2 vote the Court said the government cannot treat people of faith as disfavored citizens. You cannot discriminate against religious faith. That is not narrow. That is a bedrock principle of our First Amendment, and of our nation.”
Sen. Cruz’s remarks may be viewed here and below.
“God bless, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Let me say this is the first time in my life I have ever been asked to follow an angelic choir. And you know, I got to say I’m going to take up an issue with Ralph. It is really tough to be asked to go right after nuns. For you guys, that’s about as stark a contrast as you could imagine. You go from nuns to a lawyer and a politician. I have to tell you, by the way, as a lawyer it’s not widely known, but a number of laboratories across the country have begun using lawyers instead of rats in their experiments. There are two reasons for this. Number one, the scientists were growing too attached to the rats. And number two, there are some things even rats won’t do.
“What a blessing to be with you today. What a blessing to welcome you to Washington to thank you for your courageous stand. To thank you for standing for faith and freedom.
“What I want to talk to you about this morning, is I want to reflect on the some of the incredible victories we have had for faith, for family, for the values we share. And I want to focus and highlight seven victories in the last year and a half. Seven victories.
“Let’s start with number one: judges. Principled, constitutionalist judges defending our rights. We see those on the federal courts all across the country. We see it in Justice Neil Gorsuch. And let me be one to thank God for the victory we had this week in the Colorado baker’s case.
“As you know there, a Colorado baker, a Christian, a man of faith declined to participate in a same-sex marriage. Declined to bake a wedding cake that would celebrate a same-sex marriage because he viewed it as contrary to his faith. Now if we lived in the sort of society that those who call themselves liberal describe, a tolerant society that would have been the end of the story. He would have lived according to his faith and we would have respected that faith and the diversity amongst us. But there are those with a legal agenda that wanted to drive that baker out of business. To punish him and any other person of faith for daring to live according to your faith. It was a case that went to the Supreme Court. Pause to think – who would have thought that a wedding cake would go all the way to the United States Supreme Court. It was a case that I was proud to lead a coalition of Senators in filing an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in support of religious liberty. And it was a case that this week we won by a vote of 7-2.
“Now, virtually every media reporter, virtually every Democrat, although I repeat myself, they all immediately – did you notice all the press coverage said what a ‘narrow decision’ it was? The talking points went out, every tweet, every headline – narrow, narrow, narrow, very, very, narrow. Alright, I may not be great at math, but 7-2 – is 7 more or less than half of 9? Boy the reporters were overtime, it is so, so narrow. Yeah, you had a couple of Democratic appointments who said – and they say it is narrow because the decision was based on the facts. Let me tell you the facts of the case. The so-called Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated an antipathy, an animosity to faith that was visceral. And by a 7-2 vote the Court said the government cannot treat people of faith as disfavored citizens. You cannot discriminate against religious faith. That is not narrow. That is a bedrock principle of our First Amendment, and of our nation.
“A second victory concerns life. Men and women here, you have devoted your lives to defending human life, to defending innocent life. Every life as a precious gift from God that deserves to be protected from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.
“What we have seen in the last year and a half, significant victories preserving innocent life. The very beginning of the Trump Administration we saw a return to the Mexico City rules, which means that our foreign aid will no longer be used to fund abortions overseas.
“We saw the Administration pull out of funding, the U.N. Population Fund, which was complicit in China’s horrific practices of forced sterilizations and forced abortions. We saw HHS issue new rules, returning to the old rules, prohibiting taxpayer funding from going to Planned Parenthood in clinics that provide abortions.
“Not only that, we saw the Administration rescind the abhorrent, so-called ‘contraceptive mandate’ in Obamacare. A mandate that was interpreted by the Obama Administration to force, or to try to force, believers to fund abortion-inducing drugs. The consequences of that decision is that the litigation against the Little Sisters of the Poor has been dismissed.
“As I’ve said many, many times, you know the Obama Administration was litigating against the Little Sisters of the Poor, trying to force nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs. As I’ve said many, many times, here’s a really good rule of thought: if you’re litigating against nuns, you’ve probably doing something wrong. It’s just, it’s a really – it’s a wonderfully reliable checklist. Litigating against nuns: yes, no? Stay on the no side of that ledger.
“But those are tremendous victories; they’re victories for protecting innocent life.
“Third major victory is the incredible tax cut we saw in December. A tax cut: cutting taxes on small businesses, cutting taxes on farmers, cutting taxes on ranchers, cutting taxes on families. Doubling the standard deduction. What does that mean? That for a couple the standard deduction goes from 12,000 to 24,000. That means next year 90 percent of Americans will be able to fill out your taxes on a postcard.
“Now personally, I think it should be 100 percent and we ought to continue to a simple flat tax and we should abolish the IRS. But 90 percent is a good start.
“Not only that, we saw marginally tax rates reduced at every bracket. We saw over 4 million Americans get pay raises; get bonuses because of the tax cut. 500, 1000, more than $1000, or as Nancy Pelosi calls it, crumbs. Marie-Antoinette would be proud. I’ll tell you those crumbs – I was flying a few months ago on Southwest Airlines, a flight attendant walked up to me, hugged me, and said, ‘Thanks for the pay raise.’ I said, ‘You’re welcome.’ But not only that, an integral part of the tax cut was doubling the child tax credit from $1,000 per child per year, to $2,000 per child per year. That is real money in the pockets of hardworking families. That means a family with kids – that is the difference between having the money. If you’ve got three kids that’s an additional $3,000 in your pocket. That means that is the money for your daughter to get braces. That’s the money for you to take your kids – maybe to the first family vacation you’ve been in several years to go to Disneyland. Or to send your kids to a summer camp. Or to invest in a college fund. Or to help pay tuition, or help pay health care. That’s real money for families who are struggling. This is a group that cares about families. Doubling the child tax credit makes a real difference.
“Fourth major victory: we repealed the Obamacare individual mandate. Now that is a big deal. That is something I led the fight to do in the Senate. And I’ll tell you, back in October, there were maybe a half dozen senators supporting us. Most of the conference said look, ‘We made a run at Obamacare twice. We came up short. Let’s not muck up tax reform with Obamacare.’ And a handful of us began making the case both publicly and privately that this made sense. That it made sense for the 6.5 million people. Here is how the Obamacare individual mandate works. Every year the IRS fines 6.5 million Americans because they cannot afford health insurance. Of those, roughly 80 percent earn $50,000 a year or less. Roughly, 40 percent earn $25,000 a year or less. About a million are Texans.
“So I want you to imagine for a second, you’re a single mom. You’re working two jobs, you’re struggling to make ends meet, you’re trying to provide for your kids. You’re not even making $25,000 a year doing that. To add insult to injury, the IRS comes along and fines you because you can’t afford to pay the premiums that have skyrocketed under Obamacare. It is one of the things that led Bill Clinton to describe Obamacare as, ‘the craziest thing in the world.’ It’s about the only time in my life I’ve agreed with Bill Clinton. By the way, his recent media tour is going well. We might want to pay actually to send Hillary on tour. If we could get Hillary to go to swing states between now and November, perhaps every day that would be really, really good. Because there might be some voters left she has not insulted yet.
“But we made the case that repealing the individual mandate is immediate and real tax relief for the 6.5 million people getting fined by the IRS under Obamacare, but it also provided the savings that is what enabled us to fund doubling the child tax credit and lowering the marginal rates on families across the country. And we went from in October having a half dozen Senators supporting it, to in December all 52 Republicans standing together and voting and repealing the individual mandate. That was a big conservative victory that no one in Washington thought we could win. Now look, Obamacare is clearly the biggest unfinished promise Republicans have. We need to finish the job. We need to keep rolling up our sleeves and finish the job and repeal every single word of Obamacare. But getting rid of the individual mandate was a big deal and an important first step.
“Victory number five: school choice. An amendment that I introduced on the tax bill became the only amendment actually adopted on the Senate floor. It took College 529 savings plans, very, very popular tax advantaged plans that you can save for your kids or grandkids to go to college, and it expanded them to cover K-12 education. To cover public school, private school, religious school, parochial school, your choice, up to $10,000 per child per year.
“Now, there was some drama in this amendment. It came to a vote after midnight Friday night, early Saturday morning. It’s clear it was going to be close. We had 52 Republicans in the Senate: early on, two Republicans voted ‘no.’ At that point the Senate floor staff, they picked up the phone, they called the Vice President’s office. Vice President wasn’t in the Capitol at the time, he was at home. They said, ‘Mr. Vice President, looks like we may have a tie, we need you to come down to the Capitol.’
“So, the Vice President got into the motorcade and began heading down to the Capitol. I’m standing there, trying to convince one of the Republicans who had voted ‘no,’ to switch her vote. While I’m doing that, Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, walks behind me and votes ‘yes.’
“There’s an audible gasp in the well of the Senate. Senate floor staff picks up the phone; they call the Vice President’s office. They say, ‘Mr. Vice President, turns out we don’t need your vote. We just got Manchin, we don’t need you here.’ So, the Vice President turns the motorcade around, begins heading back home.
“Manchin returns to his desk and a sea of Democrats descend upon him. They begin yelling at him, I think they actually pulled out a stick and began beating him with it. And about five minutes later, Manchin sheepishly walks to the front of the Senate, and switches his vote to a ‘no.’ So the Senate floor staff picks up the phone, calls the Vice President’s office, they said, ‘Mr. Vice President, we need you after all.’ It’s about 15 minutes from the Naval Observatory to the Capitol. The Vice President turns around his motorcade a second time, and 15 minutes later the Vice President walks on to the floor of the Senate. He said, ‘The ayes being 50, the nays being 50, the Senate being equally divided, the presiding officer votes in the affirmative. The amendment is adopted. And with that we saw the most far-reaching federal school choice legislation that has ever passed, come into law, providing potential benefits to up to 50 million school kids across the country. Enabling parents and grandparents to save for your kids, to save for your grandkids, and to choose the best educational options for them.
“The sixth major victory, just a few weeks ago, finally, finally, finally, the United States opened our embassy in Jerusalem. I was incredibly privileged to be in Israel, to be in Jerusalem, at that embassy opening. To stand there, it was the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern state of Israel. 70 years ago when David Ben-Gurion declared the state of Israel, eleven minutes later Harry S. Truman recognized Israel. Kind of embarrassed it took us that long. But Presidents in both parties have promised to move our embassy to Jerusalem. Presidents in both parties had broken that promise. We had a year and a half battle in the Trump Administration. I energetically argued for moving the embassy, and President Trump made the right decision and now our embassy is in Jerusalem, the once and eternal capital of Israel.
“The same week that we opened our embassy, the President made the decision, the right decision, to withdraw from the disastrous Obama Iran nuclear deal. President Obama had sent tens of billions of dollars to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The Ayatollah Khamenei who chants “death to America” and “death to Israel” When he says that, I believe him. That deal would have led inexorably to the Ayatollah having nuclear weapons. Once again, there was a battle in the Trump Administration. Do we stay in the deal? Do we pull out? I energetically urged the President the right thing to do for the national security of this country is to pull out of the deal and use every force we have, economic, diplomatic, and if need be military, to ensure that the Ayatollah never, ever, ever gets nuclear weapons.
“Seven victories and more to come.”