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Ted Cruz Used Texas to Create ALEC’s Anti-Obamacare Legislation

Photo: Creative Commons, License: N/A

Creative Commons

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX)

In sum, ALEC drafts ideologically and financially motivated legislation that, among other goals, seek to weaken labor laws and environmental regulation, and privatize education—and health care laws are a particular focal point. In 2011, the group created the handy “State Legislators Guide to Repealing Obamacare,” a step-by-step guide detailing how to locally dismantle the ACA. Part of the strategy includes warning against the federal Medicaid expansion and instituting a law to provide a state-level “defense against Obamacare’s excessive federal power.” Among other things, the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act” helps arm states in litigation against the ACA.

Sound familiar? Texas’ statewide leadership appears to have taken a page straight from ALEC’s playbook in terms of responding to ACA policy. A staunch and vocal opponent of Obamacare, Gov. Rick Perry refuses to expand Medicaid, effectively denying more than 2 million eligible working adults access to health care. He’s thrown up extra barriers for ACA navigators, the assistants trained to aid residents in signing up for ACA coverage. The governor has even gone so far as to deem Obamacare a “criminal act.” Under Perry’s 2011 legislature, the “Health Freedom Act”—written by a legislator who also serves as an ALEC task force member—directly mimics ALEC’s key vehicle for sinking Obamacare.

It may be no surprise then that ALEC and Texas legislators have cultivated a cozy relationship. From 2001-2011, Texas politicians saw $16.2 million from ALEC corporate partners, the second highest among states. Perry leads as the largest single beneficiary of ALEC funds, receiving more than $2 million in campaign contributions from ALEC corporate partners, according to Progress Texas, which tracks ALEC’s influence in state politics. As the recipient of a 2010 award from the organization, it’s safe to say Perry stands as an ALEC star.

“Texas is probably one of the strongest places in the country for ALEC laws,” said Phillip Martin, deputy director of Progress Texas. “ALEC has tremendous influence in our state. Texas policy is shaped by ALEC and like-minded corporations that value the profit of their companies over the well-being of Texans.”

ALEC’s largesse seems to have bought it a veritable testing ground for their policy aims here. According to Martin, ALEC’s national model for health care legislation originated in Texas, perhaps not surprisingly via Sen. Cruz himself.

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