When I first saw headlines this morning about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Goldman Sachs’ health plan, I initially thought lobbyists for the financial giant had come up with their own alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and the far-right Texas senator had decided to embrace the proposal on Capitol Hill.
But that’s not what’s happened at all. The headlines are far more literal.
“Ted is on my health care plan,” said [the senator’s wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz], who has worked in Goldman’s investment management division for eight years.Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the senator, confirmed the coverage, which Goldman said was worth at least $20,000 a year. “The senator is on his wife’s plan, which comes at no cost to the taxpayer and reflects a personal decision about what works best for their family,” she said.
To be sure, this is legal. It may seem odd that a U.S. senator would rely on a multinational investment banking firm to provide him with health care coverage, but there’s nothing necessarily untoward about the arrangement.
So why would anyone care? Largely because of Cruz’s policy agenda.
During his lengthy faux-filibuster last month, Cruz was briefly interrupted by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who asked the Texas Republican about his own health coverage. Cruz was evasive on the point, saying only that he’s “eligible” for federal health benefits, but he’s “not currently covered under” the program most Capitol Hill employees use.
Around this same time, Cruz pushed for a measure, crafted by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), that would force Capitol Hill employees to pay more out of their own pockets for health care coverage. In other words, Cruz wanted to impose on his aides – indeed, all federal employees – thousands of dollars in additional health costs to advance some kind of vague ideological point.
And he did so knowing that it wouldn’t affect him, since Goldman Sachs picks up the tab for Cruz’s health insurance anyway.