Ted Cruz's rainy day socialism: How a right-wing fanatic learned to stop worrying and love redistribution

When New Jersey was underwater, Cruz slammed federal relief spending. Now he's asking for some of his own.

Published May 30, 2015 12:15PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

For the first time ever, I agree with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Tex.. Specifically, as deadly floods drown parts of Texas, I absolutely agree that President Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ought to spend taxpayer funds redistributed from citizens in other states, including from leftists in Massachusetts, New York and California, to help with flooding relief in Cruz and Abbott's sovereign state of Texas. Indeed, many of us generally agree that when the chips are down, it's important to have (what's that phrase?) a safety net, in case a particular crisis is seemingly insurmountable. It would be unfair and inhumane to demand that Texas pick itself up by its bootstraps -- or, in the GOP's favored parlance, to stop being so lazy and to get back to work.

Who knew these guys were such uniters?

Yes, Cruz and Abbott, who each vaulted to their lofty stations on small-government, taxed-enough-already Tea Party platforms, have requested federal relief funds and services from the Obama administration. Abbott, for his part, has already met with Obama to discuss the deployment of disaster relief to flood-stricken areas. Meanwhile, Cruz was explicit with his demands this week:

Said Cruz:

"The federal government’s role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster."

It's Friday as I'm writing this, so I might be a little slow on the uptake, but a system in which taxpayer money that's pooled into a common fund and redistributed fairly to other citizens and states in need... there's an "-ism" for that. (And it for sure isn't "laissez-faire capitalism.") What do they call it when everyone pays taxes into, say, the treasury of Cruz's birth nation of Canada and, drawing from those commonly pooled resources, everyone gets free healthcare or federal relief when they need it?

Ah yes, now I remember. Socialism. Just last month, Cruz discussed socialism at a campaign rally in New Hampshire and he surely embraced it, yes?

"Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist; what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world."

Usually, it takes a few years or more for politicians to "evolve" on a particular issue, but based on Cruz's remarks, he evolved on socialism in just over a month. In April he considered socialism to be "profoundly dangerous." Prior to that, he went so far as to filibuster the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because he believes it's socialized medicine. As president, he's promised to abolish "every word" of Obamacare. His parents, Cruz has repeated, fled Cuba because of socialism, even though Cruz was born in a socialized Canadian hospital. When offered free medical care, his folks weren't all that opposed to redistributed wealth.

On top of everything else, Cruz famously voted against relief for the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Back in 2013, while New Jersey residents and New Yorkers were still bailing water out of destroyed homes and flooded subway platforms, Cruz released a statement that included the following remarks:

"Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.

This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt."

Yes, Cruz said the "Disaster Relief Act of 2013" contributed to a spending addiction. He went on to fib about the "pork projects," which indeed existed as part of the relief bill. What Cruz failed to mention was that most if not all of the pork was crowbarred into the bill at the request of red-state Republican members of Congress in order to cajole them into voting for Sandy funding, clearly because "What's in it for me?" is a demand Jesus would've made.

Meanwhile, you might recall the last we heard from Greg Abbott during the Jade Helm fracas in which the Texas governor endorsed a wild conspiracy theory invented by radio host Alex Jones, suggesting that the military exercises planned for the Southwest this Summer are actually a prelude to martial law and perhaps the violent takeover of Texas, because it's so conservative and allegedly "hostile." Abbott was so concerned about Jones' apoplectic performance art that he announced he'd deploy the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercises as a bulwark against any potential shenanigans.

But this week, as soon as the flood waters rose, Abbott rushed to Socialist Obama’s doorstep, hat in hand, begging for federal handouts and the rapid offloading of the dreaded “FEMA camps.”

Overall, and disaster relief funds aside, more than 33 percent of Texas' revenue comes from the federal government. One third of all the money Texas spends on its people during a typical year is, in fact, redistributed from taxpayers in Chicago, Manhattan, Hollywood, San Francisco (home of the terrifying "San Francisco Values") and, of course, Honolulu, the not-real-America birthplace of our "profoundly dangerous" socialist president. Rewinding to the Great Recession, Texas received $6.4 billion in funding, as requested by former Gov. Rick Perry, from the Recovery Act; which, by the way, has been referred to as the "failed stimulus" by Cruz and others. The redistributed stimulus money balanced the Texas budget and preserved its rainy day fund. In total, Texas was the third-highest recipient of stimulus funds, totaling more the $33 billion.

If Cruz, Abbott and other conservative Texans plan to comport themselves as members of the party of personal responsibility, the least they could do is to man-up and own their socialism. They won't, of course, and instead they'll stump throughout the summer, gloating on one hand how they helped Texas in its time of need while on the other hand condemning President Obama and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton of fundamentally transforming America into a socialist hellscape.

By Bob Cesca

Bob Cesca is a regular contributor to Salon. He's also the host of "The Bob Cesca Show" podcast, and a weekly guest on both the "Stephanie Miller Show" and "Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang." Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Contribute through LaterPay to support Bob's Salon articles -- all money donated goes directly to the writer.