tv Senator Ted Cruz Town Hall Meeting CSPAN July 9, 2017 10:34am-11:32am EDT
"after words." >> someone like steve jobs can sell this product and be forever associated with it when it's just a shade of the story. he was certainly hands-on and had a lot to do with it, but the truth is even the iphone as it was developed at apple, and would not have happened without scores of people working around the clock. >> brian merchant on the creation and development of the iphone in his book, "the one device." these interviewed by steve lohr. the iphone was born as the software interaction paradigm and was born behind steve jobs i' back. this crew guys that i documented in the book basically experimented. it was freewheeling research. it was fun, kind of wild stuff. they have this crazy project three that they were using to
hack different products together and create what would become the iphone. tonight "after words" on c-span two and 9:00 p.m. >> on wednesday, senator ted cruz held a town hall meeting in mckinney, texas. .his is 55 minutes [applause] before we get into the audience questions, senator cruz, i wanted to ask you a couple of questions. the first one is kind of a public service question. when veterans are approaching me with problems at the v.a., one thing i tell them is you should contact local congressman or senator's office. they can help get you more information. tonight, we have talked to veterans prior to coming in here that were having some issues with the v.a. can you tell everyone how to get
in touch with your office and what kind of services you can provide if they are having issues with the v.a.? sen. cruz: thank you for hosting and the leadership you provide and for being part of this discussion. i hope we have a candid and frank and real discussion about the challenges veterans face, the challenges our country faces. some of those challenges are h dealing with the leviathan that is federal bureaucracy, and it can be confusing, frustrating, maddening. it can make your head explode. i can tell you in our senate office, we have an extensive team devoted to constituent service and it is a team with a lot of experience. it is headed by a woman, joyce, who has 30 years experience in constituent service. and one of the first things i did when i was newly elected to
the senate is i made a call to my predecessor, kay bailey hutchison, who had a history of extensive constituent service, on election day, i want your team to know they should not feel the need to move on. i want to talk to them. we want to keep that experience in the office, so we have a lot of experience, and their job is to serve you. their job is to help you navigate this byzantine bureaucracy. i want to introduce the deputy director of our north texas office. michael is here. [applause] michael lives in north texas. his job is to work for you. if you have got issues whether with the v.a. or some other government aspect where
you need help navigating, reach out to michael. our website is cruz.senate.gov and you can find the phone number for the north texas office. for folks elsewhere, we have offices across the state. you can find a phone number to the local office in your region who can connect you straight to our constituent services. >> both democrats and republicans provide them. i used to be a caseworker myself. we can get you more information and in some cases, finding that information gets your file pulled out of a long jam, sought so i encourage you to use that. obviously a lot of discussion about health care in general, but one of the biggest stories about health care in recent years has been the issues at the department of veteran affairs with of the the v.a. heh care system. why do you think the va has consistently had problems over the years and we keep having the
cycle of reform and failure, where you have reforms or things get better and then they get back to the way they were? what do you think is causing that? sen. cruz: the v.a. has wonderful professionals. many are veterans themselves, health-care professionals, other professionals that care deeply about helping and providing care to the veterans community. we are grateful for the good service. at the same time, if you look, particularly the last few years, the scandals that have engulfed live the have been nothing short of shameful. we have seen the a facilities -- .a. facilities keeping bogus books, phantom books, lying about it, and wrongfully denying needed care to veterans. in some cases, life-saving care to veterans. that is disgraceful. that is not how the system should be working. part of the challenge is it is a
massive government bureaucracy, larger than the u.s. navy, and getting a massive government institution to be responsive is difficult. i think two things are needed most importantly. one is accountability. there needs to be real accountability, something i have been fighting for in the senate for years, to provide real accountability. if there are the a employees -- the v.a. who violated the law, the criminal law, they should be prosecuted, and if they have wrongfully denied care, then they should be terminated or reprimanded as the facts and circumstances dictate. there needs to be accountability that if you are keeping bogus books, you should be out of there. that is not easy to do in the system of the v.a. that resists accountability. i have been pressing in the senate, working with cba, unreal on real accountability measures so we hold supervisors and
anyone violating the law accountable. a second and broader reform i think is critically important is choice. i am a passionate believer that every veteran should have the right to see any doctor you choose. it should be your decision. if you want to go to the v.a., that is your right. you have earned it, you have bled for it, and you should have that right protected. if on the other hand you want to go to the local doctor down the street, you want to go to the local courtyar cardiologist, you should have the right to do that as well. that is the most powerful structural reform is the only way to change the government monopoly is introduce competition, and competition, giving veterans real choice, the biggest benefit of that is that competition is the one thing we can count on to improve the quality of care in the v.a. to shorten waiting times, to make
the v.a. more competitive because if veterans have the power to choose the health care professionals you want to see, that empowers you and improves the whole system. >> absolutely, and that has been two of the primary reforms. choice and accountability. we had a new law that is something we have been working on for years. i do not think it would've happened -- well, i know it would not have happened in the previous presidency. with that what do you think so trumpwith how president and dr. david chilton is doing ?t the v.a. sen. cruz: it is early to say. we are six months into the administration, but the president has declared a strong commitment to the v.a. as well as the secretary. i am encouraged by that. that commitment to reform is an important starting point.
we need to demand real results, and i will say the president's budget. i was very encouraged that the president proposed increasing the budget for the va about $6 billion a year and putting an additional $3 billion into the choice program. the choice program as it exists narrow ands pretty circumscribed, but i view the existing choice program a little bit like the camel's nose under the tent, where i am glad to get it started and i want to keep getting that camel thrown under the tent until veterans have full and robust choice. i'm encouraged -- i have been a big supporter of making what is supposed to be a pilot program permanent and expanding it. i think it is a strong sign that the president's initial budget proposed a budget increase for choice, introducing competition and expanding it. >> absolutely. unfortunately, as with some things in washington, even with the budget increase, despite
other issues we discuss these days, some are viewing it as a budget cut because it does not increase as previously proposed, that that unfortunately, as you know, is the way things work in washington. pivoting to another issue. you introduced a new bill that would create a new position at the v.a. normally, when we think of new government positions, people are suspicious, but can you tell us about this new bill, what it does, and why it is important? sen. cruz: the legislation i introduced and rolled out last week is focused on information technology, and it would create a chief information officer at the v.a., a senior executive service position in charge of all i.t. through the v.a. this was one of the recommendations the commission on care came out with last year because if you look at i.t., it has been a troubled area of the v.a., whether you are dealing with electronic health records,
real-time locations of medical equipment, which the lack of that has caused significant problems in terms of sterilizing equipment, infection. you look at private hospitals, they are moving towards using technology to improve inventory, to improve safety, to improve health care outcomes, and the va has been lagging behind. another critical piece of it -- we talked a minute ago about the bogus record-keeping. well, having a fully integrated, unified i.t. system would make that much, much harder to happen because if you had the records where you had one centralized system that was strong i.t. -- it becomes much harder to hide the delays and it becomes apparent to anyone looking that if there are waiting periods, you cannot hide it. adding a chief officer will with serious experience and
ability to supervise it will hopefully help transition the v.a. to using i.t. in our technology much more effectively. >> absolutely. one of our former advisers who now works with the v.a. was with the commission on health care, and he says you cannot run a health-care system using the same technology rules as the department of education. i think you hit on a key point that the current gaps in the system were exploited during the scandal to hide the wait times and it's critical. normally, you should be suspicious about new government position, but we are supporting this bill. i think it is a good step forward and a great bill. pivoting to other issues -- sen. cruz: by the way, there is another area i wanted to expand the position and that is our embassy in iceland because i think in dealing with recalcitrant bureaucrats, it
would not be a bad thing to transfer about 10,000 of them to iceland. [laughter] [applause] >> interestingly, that was the tactic that the v.a. used because they cannot fire them. here in texas, it was an unfortunate issue, but hopefully this new legislation, that will , not happen. defense spending reform, you were on the senate arms service committee. you just finished completing the fy 2018 national defense authorization act. for those of you who do not no, that is the bill that sets defense policy and spending level for the u.s. military for the next fiscal year. you guys moved quickly this year. were you satisfied with the product that came out of the committee's work? sen. cruz: i think it is a very strong bill. i have served the last years on the senate armed services committee and have spent that time fighting for the men and women of our military.
one of the critical priorities is rebuilding the military. the last eight years, we have seen our military budget just devastated. we have seen the impact of sequestration. the result has been readiness levels have dropped, troop strengths are down, modernization is down, training and equipment is down. we are in a bad, bad shape. and i will tell you -- as distressing as the public information is, if you go to a classified briefing on what our adversaries are doing, what russia is doing, what china is doing, and what iran is doing, it will scare the living daylights out of you. this is getting to be a more and more dangerous world and our ability to defend ourselves on one front, much less two or three at a time, is dramatically below what it needs to be. the national defense authorization act, which last week passed the senate arms
committee, increases the authorization for funding for the military and increases it to $700 billion. it is about an $100 billion increase. that is a big deal. that is serious funding to take care of the needs to increase our troops, our strength and readiness. one of the important aspects is the f-35 program. the f-35 program i have been a strong champion of in the senate. the f-35 program is enormously impactful in north texas. you have over 30,000 jobs in the state of texas dependent on the f-35 program. it is critically important to our national security and our ability to protect ourselves. the recent red flag exercises, f-35 participated for the first time. had over a 20 to 1 kill ratio. that is a massive differential, a qualitative
advantage. one of the most amazing things i had the opportunity to do since serving in the senate was several weeks ago, i had the in f-35 flight simulator. got up, full cockpit, everything, got up in it, did a bombing run, shot down two fighters, and landed on an aircraft carrier. [laughter] sen. cruz: look, i can't fly . the amazing thing is i landed on the carrier, did not crash, did not blow it up. i was very glad. it does say something about the technology of it that someone who is not a pilot was able to do it. what is amazing is the stealth technology on that is such that flying up with the instructor by my side, we're flying in the air and he says, there are two fighters. they cannot see you. you are invisible on their radar. you can see them.
they can't see you. let's mark them and we will get them later. go to your bombing runs. we went and did the bombing run, hit the target, blew it up. he turned around, took out the fighters. they could not see me. all they saw was missile and boom. we went to landing on the carrier. what was amazing is the technology is such that you have on the screen what would be your heads up t display if you are wearing the helmet. you had just the trapezoid that you just keep directing and we landed and cut, and it is amazing technology. one of the important things about the defense authorization act is its substantial increases are authorization to purchase new f-35 for the united states and allies. that is a big deal for defending the country. >> the f-35 is the largest procurement program in dod history.
i think it is getting to a point where they are working out the kinks, but they would be general acknowledgment that we have had troubled development in procurement in history. senator mccain has talked a lot about that as chairman of the arms service committee. they have been talking about changing some of these acquisitions and development systems that ensure we do not get the cost overruns. do you think the senate version can continue some of the work you have been doing on that over the past years? sen. cruz: i do, and i think it is moving in a positive direction. it is clear the f-35 had significant cost overruns and we should be concerned about that. that is something the president was outspoken on and i encouraged him to focus on reducing cost but not in jeopardy to the program. the program is too important to
our national defense. those perfectly fine to try to reduce the cost. that is a responsible use of taxpayer resources, but we need to maintain the integrity of the program. one of the things i help do was facilitate a conversation between the ceo of lockheed martin and the president, have that conversation where the administration came out in support of the f-35 but saw some cost reduction. i think that is a positive back and forth in terms of a win-win for everybody. it is also part of the reason we c with big procurement contracts are prices going through the roof. if the uncertainty of military funding. it is funding our government by continuing resolution by going to one closed after another cliff after another cliff and another, we do not have the ability to plan out a run of
purchases over a long-term, i hope we get past that. there are a lot of challenges in the senate for the hope we get past that because having adequate funding and steady and predictable funding is an important part of procurement perform along with common sense reforms to improve the process. >> one must question before audience questions, you have been a strong supporter in the pentagon audit. if i recall correctly, you asked general mattis a question about that during his hearings and you supported legislation to make that happene. is the dod moving toward a point where it can be audible? sen. cruz: that was one of the first bills introduced in the senate, a bill to audit the
pentagon. we do not have the reliable audit of the pentagon. that is amazing for those in the private sector. imagine if you could not audit the company. that would be a ridiculous outcome and you get the feds mad at you. well, the pentagon is an organization where we do not have an audit, we do not know where the money is being spent. i think we are making some progress in that regard. it is something that i continue to press. i pressed secretary mattis in private and also publicly, but we need to continue to press for fiscal accountability. that is one of the ways you direct resources where they need to go. the prior administration, the obama administration, had enormous funds that were going down programs that were basically just rabbit holes, wasting money. i recall several years ago, about $7 billion in their alternative fuels program that included algae fuel for navy boats, and they were spending massive amounts of money on trying to run ships on algae. i had some fairly heated
exchanges. [laughter] sen. cruz: i know that is hard to believe. with the former secretary of the navy, where he explained the private sector was not in a position to innovate when it came to energy, and it was going to be the military that was going to redesign our global energy. i suggested perhaps those -- the air force built a wind farm in alaska that they had to shut down because they discovered where they built it, the wind did not blow. [laughter] what i suggested over and over is instead of political boondoggles, we invest the money in our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, training, equipment, and tools we need to win wars? [applause] >> we will go into audience questions. i talked about being civil and respectful, so it's probably
best we do not talk about the former navy secretary. sen. cruz: when you said you spoke english and profanity, i would mention there are some senators i am not sure speak english. >> i think the current chairman -- i am from arizona. sen. cruz: i will declined to comment and nor will i name names. >> a good navy men. now, we will transition to audience questions. we have great questions. if we do not get to your question, i will make sure to get it over to the senator's staff. he said we need to do questions and engagement. i think that is important. what is going to happen is i will call out the name of the individual and where are the microphone runners? jim, our press secretary, he will come over to you. if you are in a middle seat, i would ask you step out and ask the question and the senator will answer. first, dominic in the front.
this is a really good question. the previous v.a. bill passed in 2014 had some accountability for provisions for senior executives. it was overturned in the court. dominic, one of our best volunteers, is concerned that the new v.a. accountability bill will not stand up in court. do you think it has a better chance of surviving lawsuits that were faced by the previous bill? sen. cruz: dominic? >> i just want to say thank you for all that you do and we appreciate all of it. basically, my concern is every time we turn around, there is something in the news about being challenged in court. but do you think as far as the court and if it would be overturned or how that would work?
thank you for your service and that may broadly say to everyone, thank you for your service. we are grateful for you defending this nation. [applause] sen. cruz: you are right to be concerned about any commonsense reform being challenged. apparently, the epa has turned out the lights. [laughter] >> we might have slipped a breaker. sen. cruz: all right. so we will have a town hall in the dark. we are in texas. we ought to just light a fire. that woke the hotel up. light a fire and someone ran to get the circuit breaker. [laughter] it is like any time i talk about the second amendment in texas, i am afraid people will pull out their guns and shoot in the air. [laughter] which has a way of making the venue hosting unhappy.
you are right to be concerned about legal challenges. it is fair to expect them. when congress passes legislation, it is on the firmest footing. is there a chance you will see activist courts coming in and trying to undo legislation or executive action? sure. we saw an example of that recently with the president's provision restricting immigration coming from countries with high degrees of terrorism. you will recall you had to to federal courts of appeals step in and issue orders staying that order. many of you all know before i was in the senate, i was a solicitor general in texas for 5.5 years representing this state before the u.s. court. will tell you those court of appeal decisions i believe were lawless judicial actions.
having read those opinions, what was striking is there is finding binding federal statutes given the president's broad authority to restrict immigration in the national interest and interest of national security. the courts did not even cite the statute so it is not like they consider what the law was, they just ignored the law. what was striking was those two orders, the u.s. supreme court just agreed to hear that case, but in the course of that, the court reversed the injunction that is a fairly remarkable statement. all nine justices, including both obama nominees voted to unanimously revert much of it, not all of it, but much of the injunctions put in place.
that is an indication of just how lawless it was when you get complete unit m -- immunity along the courts. is there a danger of provisions being attacked in court? yes. we are seeing attorney state of generals trying to frustrate policy from the new administration. litigation you can expect and you might see activist judges disregarding the law, but if we have judges following the law, there's nothing in the law that prohibits real accountability in the va, ensuring we get real change. >> next question is from roy about veteran's choice and why they cannot use local medical facilities. just step out to the side there. >> first off, i would like to salute you for your service to america and to the veterans of
texas. senator cruz: thank you. [applause] >> my concern is about the veterans hospitals. my dad is a world war ii veteran. they put him on a bus, shipped him to dallas, and he would stay there the rest of the day, and then he would ride a bus back to do something he could do it is general hospital. every day service. you are talking about the big bureaucracy of the va. why do we have to have all these va hospitals if we can do what you started, where veterans can go anywhere they want to go, they will have their card, show it, get your service done and you are done and you would not need the va hospitals. i am not saying you need to close them, but why not use some of those va hospitals for
disabled veterans and homeless veterans that those hospitals would be empty, they would have someplace to go at cafeterias and take care of our veterans in hospitals we do not need? [applause] senator cruz: let me ask, how old is your dad? >> [indiscernible] senator cruz: well, we cannot help him right now, but your question stands for veterans throughout. let me say, what you are describing is crazy. who would set up a system like that? it is not reasonable, rational, logical. i think the cure for it -- basic economics 101, government monopolies are inefficient in providing a good or service. if you want to improve that good or service, you create competition. that is the most effective way,
to have competition. my objective in expanding choice is to improve the va and quality of care for veterans, and the existing choice program is nearly circumscribed. there is a 40 mile radius role that limits the number of people can access it. i do not think that makes sense. the 40 mile rule, you might have a facility within 40 miles but it is not perform the service you need, so it isn't do any good if you need a bypass and you have a dental office nearby. it is not faith. the power of choice is nobody understands your health care needs better and cares more about you and your family than you do. i'm reminded of one of my favorite exchanges, former texas senator, my favorite former senator, he was at a senate
hearing and there was this liberals witness testifying and senator graham said, nobody loves my kids more than i do. this young, liberal men said, that is not true. i care about your kids every much as you do. he leaned forward and said, really? what are their names? [laughter] you are in the best position to make the decision about where to get the best health care and my guess is it veterans had that choice, we have some wonderful va hospitals and it may well be that a lot of veterans choose to keep going to the va for service related injuries. if you are dealing with things where there is a lot of expertise, veterans may say they want to keep going there and
they know how to provide the service i need, but there may be other areas. if you need dieters, -- if you need a podiarist, it may be that you might choose to go to some other doctor instead and you might see the va specializing more and specializing where veterans are demanding care. the veterans would be making the determination, what care do you want from a facility, and it would not be a washington mandate dictating what happens in every facility. it would be the better in society. the more we can move toward choice, robust choice, or you have the ability to pick where you get your care, the better care you're going to get and the better. the va will get because -- you're going to get and the better the va will get because if you had a private hospital telling you, we will stick you on a waiting list and not give
you the service, the private hospital which shut down. the va has veterans captive right now because too many cannot choose an alternative. introducing competition is designed to improve the quality of the whole system. >> thank you. this is a good follow-up question from the other perspective. claire is charlon? -- where is charlon? charlon has concerns about what will lead to having the va be dismantled. >> you keep saying choice, veteran's choice, it is not their choice, it is a community delivered network. that means someone decides the doctors that are in the network, so it is in a veteran has carte blanche to go to any doctor, it is a doctor within the network. i think it is very shortsighted
to tell veterans they have a choice and get veterans on board to support the choice, when it isn't a choice. it is actually a community delivered hmo or ppo style, or you go to doctors within that network. the other issue not address is the shortage of primary care positions in the private sector, the wait times people face, those things are not being addressed by the powers that be. you mentioned competition being added. we gave the draft of a senator's proposal for the new care package that will kind of replace choice, it will just be rebranded as care, and in that proposal, he once to remove -- he wants to remove the laws that mandate competition for federal contracts, so it is one person deciding which doctors become part of the network, not the
veteran's choice. i think there needs to be an expansion the conversation and this "choice" as a term needs to be carefully looked at and monitored, and it needs -- veterans need to be aware this is not carte blanche like some people said, for a veteran to see anyone. you are still mandating who the veterans get to see because it is a network and not a choice. thank you. [applause] senator cruz: thank you and thank you, we did a lunch today of a number of better and leaders, thank you for joining us for that and we had a robust discussion that was helpful and productive and this is one of the issues we talked about. i emphatically agree with you that the existing choice plan is not remotely like where we would like to end up. it started off as a small pilot
and is expanding but needs to be expended more. it is not doing the job right now, but it is a start in the process. but i would like to see is robust choice, full choice, the ability of veterans to choose their doctors. the existing program does not do that. i readily agreed. i wanted to influence veteran leaders in north texas, what are the next steps to expand and improve the choice program to move towards the goal of full and robust choice? when of the topics that came up at lunch was it to get choice authorization for one visit to a private practitioner, that does not necessarily covered the follow-up business and you could end up at the next visit with a veteran who thinks your coverage is being covered and then you have a big bill. that does not make a lot of
sense. i thought that was a productive suggestion that came from the lunch. limiting the choice is not the direction to go, but my focus -- and this is my focus, my embrace the choice of competition is not limited to the va. i am a big believer that the more individuals can have choice, the more competition we have, the better. we are having major debates about obama care. i am doing everything i can to leave the fight to repeal obama care and give people choice. [applause] let me know, it is -- if the same visible applies in education. i am passionate when it comes to school choice. it is an issue i have been passionate in for decades, and the principle is the same, if you want to improve a system, the best way to do it is empowered to consumers to make choices, and my objective is to improve the public school, to
empower parents and teachers when they can choose their best option, what we have seen, and we have seen this in choice programs across the country when they have been implemented, is we have seen quality improving because public schools respond to the ability of students and parents to pull the kids out, and that competition improves the quality of service. in area after area, the more competition, the more choice, the more it is you deciding for your family, the better off we are. >> i have to say that you have read the proposal. a lot of members of the senate have not read it yet, so i need to commend you for that. i would say from cba's perspective, we think it is an important step in the right direction.
you are right when you said it will not be right to use unfettered choice. it is an important borrowed time from someone at the va, it is helping to build the network, so it will be a three-year tenure process. i would say one thing important in the veteran care and something that should be commended is the pilot program in testing out new ideas. that will be important to scene, does this work, does this network? -- because this knocked work n -- not work? we went to follow up with misty. dr. hook has a question about reimbursement for private providers. >> hi, i am a psychologist.
i am one of those overflow doctors who see veterans who cannot be seen by the va, which means i do take a pay cut to do that, so it is a service provided as i want to help veterans. i am in mental health, which guide is an important issue for veterans. the rate of suicide is very high. you all on the hill are scaring us with the health care nonsense you are doing because one of the problems you have when you talk about providers as you have reimbursement issues. when insurance companies can opt out of paying for mental health care, then who is going to pay us to do that? we have to get paid.
what are you going to do to help to make sure that mental health care services are reimbursed at a proper rate so we can continue to provide services for veterans? [applause] senator cruz: misty, thank you for that question and the difference you are making caring for your patience and veterans. you are right. mental health is an anonymous challenge and a community, especially the community of veterans. -- mental health has been an important challenge in the community, especially the community of veterans. part of your question was about obama care and health care outside the veteran world. let's talk about them one at a time. in the va world when it comes to choice, there have been problems in the choice program about reimbursement rates for private dividers not insufficient, about extensive delays in reimbursement, where private providers take on veterans, provide the care and getting reimbursed can be month after month. that is something i am trying to press individually at different va facilities. that is something we need to see throughout the system, a greater speed in reimbursement, a fair rate, that is all part of i believe the gradual improvement
of the choice program. i am glad for the first step, i think we need to make incremental improvements. shifting'outside the veterans world -- shifting outside the veteran world to obamacare, in my view, obamacare, the last seven years, has proven to be a manifest disaster. it is right now -- well, let me flesh out some of the pieces. it is an enormous job killer. one of the things i do in texas is i do small business roundtables throughout the state since i was elected to the senate, sit down with 20 or 30 small business owners around the table and open it up. say, let's share the concerns weighing on your hearts, let's talk about the challenges.
i have never done a small business roundtable, where at least half of the small business owners did not list obamacare as the single biggest challenge they had. when it comes to job and implement, there are two groups. one is known as the 49ers. obamacare kicks in at 50 employers. there are millions of small businesses across the country that are at 47, 48, 49 employees and they do not go over 50 because under 50, they fall under obamacare. that means there are millions of jobs we could be happening. they want to grow but obamacare drives them out of business. there is a second group called the 29 years. they are people who have been forced into part-time work because obamacare kicks in at 30 hours a week, so they are stuck at part-time work. if they want to work full-time
and provide for the family, but instead, they have to work part-time to jobs or three jobs and they do not get health care for many because their part-time everywhere, that isn't helping. on the economic side, obamacare has been a problem but also on health care side. on the health care side, we have seen millions of people have lost their insurance plans. the president said, if you like your plan, you can keep it. millions of americans discovered that wasn't true. audience of americans have lost their doctors. president obama promised an obamacare was passed, he said the average family will see their premiums drop $2500 a year. in fact, under obamacare, the average family premiums have risen over $5,000 per year. i think it is critical for congress and the majority elected that we, number one, on their our promise to repeal obamacare.
people are hurting across the country. number two, i think the most important focus is on the lower premium. the single most recent people are unhappy is because they cannot afford premiums. i hear that every day. people come up to me and say, i cannot afford to provide health care for my family to get insurance for my family. it is obamacare that has caused premiums to skyrocket. we have got to fix it. the process of repealing it has been messy. i am not certain we will get it done. i believe we will. in the senate, we have a narrow republican majority. 52 republicans. the democrats have made clear they are not willing to work with us on productive steps on health care, so we have 48 hard nos's -- no's. that means we have to bring together 50 of the 52
republicans. that isn't easy. the best way to do it is focused on lowering premiums. how do you do that? just goes back to the point in the va on higher improve quality of care. you do it by competition. if you want lower prices, more options, choices, what does obamacare do? fewer options, higher prices. what i am pressing senate republicans, let's focus on lowering premiums and that is a win-win for everyone. you made reference to -- >> [indiscernible] senator cruz: well, i am answering it right now. >> [indiscernible] >> one question at a time.
senator cruz: these are all good questions so i'm happy to have a conversation. the consequence of what we have right now is obamacare -- part of obamacare is called title i of obamacare, a series of 12 insurance mandates that mandate whatever insurance policy has to cover. when you mandate what every policy has to cover come you drive the costs up so high a lot of people cannot afford it. if you mandate every policy has to cover this and a bunch of people cannot afford any and they do not get any insurance, you are not helping. there are a lot of people, or example, that do not necessarily people cannot afford any and need or want full, conference of coverage of everything, but they do want catastrophic care, that they say, god for bid, they discovered they had some horrible cancer or they get hit by an 18 wheeler -- >> [indiscernible]
senator cruz: sir, i am happy to answer you. i am happy to answer your question. look, i understand that a couple of months ago, i did a cnn debate on obamacare. it was a two-hour debate with bernie sanders. for those who are interested in this issue, i would commend to you to google it and watch it. there was more substance on health care then we probably had the whole presidential time. bernie's view, free everything for everyone. that is a wonderful -- in a world where you believe in santa claus, the easter bunny and pixie varies, you can get free everything to everyone. in the real world, that does not work. what politicians do is mandate. we are going to get free stuff to people, you have got to get
this, that, the prices rise so high that people cannot afford it. let me give you a real world example. >> [indiscernible] senator cruz: sir, i am happy to answer your questions. i will not engage in a yelling back and forth. if you want an answer to your question, i will answer it. >> [indiscernible] senator cruz: sir, i am trying my best to, but it is not going to work if you are interrupting everything. let me give you a real world example. the day after the debate with bernie sanders, i went to a restaurant in d.c., and two waitresses i know both said they had watched the debate. one of them said, under obamacare -- [no audio] she has never not have health
insurance, she doesn't have it, and she also said the restaurants she has worked at for a lot of years lowered her 230 hours a week. -- to under 30 hours a week. the hr website had capped her at 29.9 hours and she said, i am scared if i get hurt. i do not have insurance coverage at all. the other waitress who was there, who are also no will, she had health insurance and told me she is pregnant. she has since had a little girl. she said she is pregnant, excited about the baby and had just gotten a notification in the mail from her insurance policy that the doctor that she trusts and relies isn't covered and cannot deliver her baby. obama said if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. for her, that was not real. both of them said, please, do something about this disastrous law.
people are being hurt by it over and over again. it is all fine and good to mandate that everyone get coverage everything at all times, but what happens in practice is the prices go so high that a whole lot of people are left in the cold. six point finally and people last year were defined by the irs, so they cannot afford to purchase health insurance. if you are struggling to make ends meet and you do not have money to buy health insurance because the premiums are so high and irs finds you on top of that, how exactly is that helping? >> [indiscernible] in practice is the prices go so
-- my answer is to give them choice. and to give -- [applause] let me give you another example. we were talking about small business roundtable. i gave a small business roundtable in odessa. i was told about his aunt whose insurance coverage was canceled because she did not have maternity coverage. he said my 101-year-old aunt is totally fine with that. it is easy in the political arena out for someone to demagogue and say if you allow anyone to purchase their insurance policy without maternity coverage, then you hate moms and maternity coverage. the truth of the matter is mandating all of the benefits that have to be covered in every circumstance, with no exception, drives up the cost and hurts a lot of people.
you were asking your question about the amendment i introduced that i am trying to get into the senate repeal bill, the consumer freedom amendment. what it says is it an insurance company sells a plan that is compliant with the title i mandate that you are defending, that they can also sell in that state any other plans consumers desire. that does not take away any mean. it means there will be plans that are providing coverage with protection for mental health coverage, pre-existing conditions. all of that will be provided. but there will also be skinnier plans. people may choose to buy them could not afford any insurance either. if you take someone with no insurance and give them a chance to purchase something that provides them some care, some health, some safety net, that is a real improvement.
i think, at the end of the day, patients have a better position to decide what they want rather than washington tell them. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, we are over time. if we do not get to your question, the senator's staff will get back to you. i want to thank you for coming out. one thing -- i forgot to recognize two gentlemen -- mac and jerome. these gentlemen are with some of our partner organizations. they played a big role in getting this together. we need you all to get involved at the grassroots level. we have important state policy issues coming up in texas, as well as federal ones, talking about future veterans. we need you to stay involved. any last words?
sen. cruz: i want to say again to all of the veterans, thank you for your service. we are grateful for you standing up and fighting for our nation. i will tell you, it is an incredible and unbelievable privilege to represent 20 million texans and have the opportunity to fight for you in washington, fight for jobs and economic growth. that is my priority. millions of new jobs, higherkids the greatest privilege of my life to represent you and fight for you and god bless every one of you. [applause] everybody.u, [applause] ♪ >> ♪ only in america
newsmakers, the ceo of the american hospital association talks about republican efforts to repeal and replace the affordable care act and democrat pauses efforts to keep the health care law. also will discusstoday at 6:00n c-span. tonight -- >> i'm not asking anyone to compromise their values and beliefs. i'm just asking them to open their eyes to other people's so that you can figure out your place in this incident world. she looks at what constitutes reality today and how that criteria has changed over the years.
i set up at the beginning of the book our biological wiring. i wanted to show how we had evolved a culture that was designed to validate us and not to challenge us. certainly not to contradict us. it gave us the illusion that our realities were watertight when really they were riddled with weak spots and places that would crunch in. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> on thursday, representative susan -- had a town hall in oregon. this is about an hour and 20 minutes. [applause] >> how many of you have never been to one of our