WASHINGTON – As foot-in-mouth disease weakens Donald Trump’s political health, Senator Ted Cruz, R.-Tex., is attracting some erstwhile Trump voters. According to polls of Republicans, Cruz is now in second place and ahead of Trump in Iowa.
Republican Party big shots must feel hopeful. They’ve been worried about keeping Trump fans in the fold if push comes to shove and they have to dump Trump. (Trump, according to Trump, has “fans.” Other candidates have “supporters.”)
Recently, Cruz has been performing a difficult balancing act. He’s distancing himself from Trump while embedding himself in Trump’s base.
For example, when other Republican candidates called Trump out for his close-the-door-on-all-Muslims proposal, Cruz would say only: “I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s, but I have different proposals.”
Cruz has been selling himself as a “moderate.” He’s not. He’s Trump on steroids.
For example, Trump’s tax reform proposal would increase the burden on working people, but he’s not blatant about it. Cruz is.
On his website, Cruz writes that under his plan, “the corporate income tax will be eliminated.” Corporations would pay a 19 percent sales tax, as would everybody else.
Corporations love this proposal because there would be no taxes on profits or investments, just on the goods and services they buy. Corporate expenditures represent a relatively small percentage of their budget.
On the other hand, Cruz’s tax proposal would hit working families and the poor very hard because, on the average, they spend close to 100 percent of their income on goods and services and Cruz’s plan would, in effect, push prices up 19 percent.
Cruz claims that any potential adversity caused by his plan would be balanced out by eliminating payroll taxes and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low wage earners.
Economic experts say this wouldn’t help. Retired persons on fixed incomes do not have payroll tax in the first place and don’t qualify for EITC. Furthermore, at present retired persons pay less than nine percent of their income in taxes. Cruz’s plan would raise that to 19 percent.
The Tax Foundation calculates that if the Cruz plan were to be put in effect, the top one percent would pay close to 30 percent less in taxes than they do now, while most people would see a decrease of about one to four percent.
What’s worse, the Cruz plan would leave a $3.7 trillion hole in the federal budget over 10 years. You can bet the farm that this would mean huge cuts in social welfare programs.
Initiating a tax plan to help the rich get richer is only one part of what Cruz would do as president.
He believes America should return to the Gold Standard, which would greatly limit the amount of money is circulation and strip the federal government of its ability to rein in Wall Street.
It goes without saying that Cruz has received a zero rating from organizations ranging from the AFL-CIO and NARAL to the Animal Welfare Institute. On the other hand, he’s a hero to the National Right to Life group and the National Rifle Association.
He’s anything but a hero to his colleagues in the Senate. If you google “the most hated man in the Senate,” Ted Cruz pops up.
In 2013, he single-handedly forced a government shut down in an attempt to eliminate Obamacare.
He tried to do the same thing this year, using the funding of Planned Parenthood as an excuse to prevent the 2016 fiscal year budget from being adopted. When the latest federal budget was about to be okayed, Cruz began a filibuster. It took until 3 a.m. for other senators to shut him down.
Despite all of Cruz’s negative baggage, billionaire hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer is supporting him. Mercer is bankrolling four super PACs that are pouring money into Cruz-for-president efforts.
In fact, the money behind Cruz is second only to the money behind Jeb Bush.
It’s a fair assumption that billionaire Mercer and his buddies believe that backing Cruz is a good investment. It probably is, for them.
Photo: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex., addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 13. John Raoux | AP