Sen. Ted Cruz addresses Austin business leaders

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Poor economic growth and the Affordable Care Act are hurting families and businesses, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Austin business leaders April 5.

His solutions were to focus on ways to grow the economy through controlling spending and debt, reforming the tax code and lessening regulation to support job creation.

“If you look at our country’s history, when we followed a certain pattern of policy, we see economic growth follow. Economic growth does not come from Washington. It comes from you,” he said.

“Look, Austin—what a great place to be talking about economic growth. Texas is booming, and Austin is booming even within Texas, because of the policies that are followed in Texas.”

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce hosted “A Conversation with Senator Ted Cruz on Central Texas Business Issues.” John Holmes, vice president of Freescale Semiconductor’s legal department, moderated the hourlong dialogue.

Cruz, who was sworn into the Senate in early January, commented on his first 90 days in office.

After Holmes jokingly introduced him as shy and noncontroversial, Cruz addressed his reputation as an outspoken conservative. Cruz said most of the tension directed at him comes from his stances on free-market principles, liberty and the U.S. Constitution. He said he is also noted for his vigorous questioning of witnesses who testify before his various Senate committees.

“In Washington, they are very surprised when you go there and actually do what you say you’re going to do,” he said.

State and national politics factored heavily into his comments. He compared the economic growth of President Barack Obama’s first term to those during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, and contrasted Obama’s response to the recent recession with President Ronald Reagan’s response to the early 1980s recession.

Later Cruz advocated for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline—a proposed 1,179-mile crude oil pipeline that would travel from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Neb., according to developer TransCanada. Cruz said building the pipeline would be wins for job creation, national security, taxes and energy independence.

The senator argued strongly for the repeal of the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare. He said he was asked by reporters why the first amendment he filed was to repeal it; he answered that it was what he told Texans he was going to do.

He said that it was important to stand on principle against the law, which he said was hurting people. He said that he would reform health care by encouraging market competition and untethering health insurance from employment, among other steps.

Cruz said he shared the opinion of Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to not expand Medicaid in Texas. He feared that states would become addicted to “free” federal money that he predicted would drop off over time.

“‘This is free money. Why aren’t we taking it?’ The problem is that it’s not free money. It’s our money that our taxpayers are paying in taxes. I think most Texans do not want to further contribute to the problem of driving up massive deficits and a national debt that is larger than our whole economy,” he said.

Cruz said that if Medicaid was allowed to expand, it would crowd out other issues over time.

“If you think it’s important that Texas continue to devote resources and dollars to having a first-rate public education system for [kindergarten]through [12th grade] and a world-class higher education system, you don’t want to see Medicaid expanded,” he said, making the same comparison with law enforcement, infrastructure and water issues.

Earlier in his speech, Cruz said he works for 26 million Texans and he takes that responsibility seriously.

“What I try to keep as my North Star is that I don’t want to let down the men and women across Texas who have clasped my hand and said, ‘Don’t go to Washington and become one of them,'” he said.

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Joe covered Southwest Austin news for Community Impact Newspaper from January 2011 to April 2015. His reporting focused on new businesses, development, transportation, industry and Travis County issues. He was named the paper's managing editor in April 2015. Joe hails from New Jersey.
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