I cannot help but to express my disappointment with Senator Ted Cruz's recent circus act and in how he's been directing his energy. Just Wednesday alone, he stood on the Senate floor for 21 hours to express his discontent with the Affordable Care Act. The Senator obviously feels very strongly about it, for which I applaud his vigor and dedication to an important topic. I only regret that he exerted such incredible effort into wasting time trying to stop us from implementing a healthcare law that the American electorate mandated.
Congress has many critical tasks before us -- from keeping the government open without defaulting on our debts to providing healthcare for the American people. The Affordable Care Act has been designed to provide health security by driving competition, lowering premiums, and protecting families. By tying the federal budget to defunding what President Obama signed into law three years ago, the Tea Party Republicans are refusing to have a real, honest debate about the debt ceiling. They have shown no interest in using the floors of Congress to have an actual discussion. The extreme Right is holding us hostage to push their own ridiculous agenda, no matter how Americans will suffer for it. With the government running out of funds on October 1, we literally cannot afford these delays.
In addition to preventing a government shutdown, Congress has to increase the debt ceiling by mid-October. The debt ceiling allows the government to borrow money to pay its bills. If we fail to raise the debt ceiling, the results would be catastrophic for everyone. A default on our debts as a result of not meeting our obligations would be a disaster for the stock market, and Americans would see their retirement funds shrivel up. Interest rates would climb, meaning more would be owed on car loans, student loans, and mortgages. This would also make it harder for small businesses to get loans from banks. We would see veterans not receiving their benefits, Social Security checks going undelivered, and Medicare recipients would not be getting their medicine.
So far the 40 previous attempts by Republicans to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act have all failed. Instead of wasting so much time and resources on producing political drama, Republicans should try to work with Democrats to improve the law if they don't like it. I've been around Congress long enough to know there are issues we may never see eye-to-eye from the opposite aisle, but we should all agree that our job is to move America forward and benefit the people. It's irresponsible to play games and handcuff the process so that nothing gets done at all.
So instead of talking nonsense for 21 hours -- could someone talk about creating jobs for the millions of Americans still in need of work, on providing food and medicine to those 50 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, on balancing our budget and ensuring a stable economy, and building strong partnerships in Congress? Because if Mr. Cruz was talking for 21 hours on topics like these, I'd be happy to sit down and work with him.