You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Ted Cruz has no idea how to respond to democratic socialism.


CNN advertised Wednesday night’s Cruz-Bernie Sanders showdown as a debate about the GOP’s tax plan. And it was, superficially, but a deeper conflict revealed itself, pitting reactionary conservatism against democratic socialism. Cruz is an accomplished culture warrior, but he proved that this is a conflict he is ill-prepared to navigate.

Central to the ideological division between Sanders and Cruz is the concept of responsibility: what we do or do not owe our neighbors. For Cruz, the answer appears to be “not much.” Sanders, however, believes that citizenship in a civic society bestows some responsibility to protect our collective welfare. Raising taxes, for example, is not an attack on an individual, but a bid to ensure that individual’s access to public services.

Conservatives counter that the free market is capable of providing for everyone. But when a George Washington University student asked Cruz how slashing corporate taxes helped her, as she labored under the burden of student debt, he replied, “So I understand that’s hard. You asked why cut the corporate taxes for a young person? I’ll give you the single best reason. Because when you graduate, you want a job.”

It’s no answer at all. Cruz couldn’t address her principle burden—too much student debt—and instead only dangled a carrot of future employment. Which, as young adults are now acutely aware, means little. Cutting corporate taxes doesn’t guarantee living wages or good health insurance or even employment itself; it is, however, a sure way to bloat the bank accounts of corporate executives.

And that prospect isn’t just a left-wing bogeyman. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center reports that the GOP’s tax plan would indeed mostly benefit the wealthy: “Taxes would drop at all income levels in 2017, but most savings would go to the highest-income households. Federal revenues would fall by $3.1 trillion over the first decade before accounting for added interest costs and macroeconomic effects.”

Cruz doesn’t have much to offer the average debt-ridden adult; only attacks on the estate tax, which would again only benefit the wealthy, and on campaign finance reform, which would cement the very Washington corruption he claims to oppose.