According to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, health care should not be
required by the government, but rather achieved through hard work and economic
That was the senator's message to a sold-out luncheon in the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday for what was intended to be a two-day tour of the Texas-Mexico border. A trip to Laredo on Wednesday was postponed.
"More and more people are having their hours forcefully reduced," Cruz said. "Health insurance premiums are going up, and more and more employers are dropping their health insurance."
The freshman Texas Republican senator covered a broad range of subjects, including the Syrian conflict, the economy and his mission to defund and dismantle "every single word" of the Affordable Health Care Act.
He has doggedly pressed Congress on defunding President Barack Obama's health care plan. Cruz cited his father, who was uninsured until finding economic success, as a model for others.
Cruz made a favorable impression on Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben O. Villarreal, who described the senator's stage presence and message as "very presidential."
"His agenda is very firm, very defined, there's not a lot of wiggle room whether you like it or not," Villarreal said. "And he firmly believes the economy is the golden key to opening all gates."
On Syria, Cruz said it is unlikely that he would support military action.
Villarreal said he would have liked to hear more from the senator on immigration reform and the border fence.
Outside the luncheon, about 25 people protested Cruz's visit to the Valley, where the subject of immigration reform, border security and access to health care are hot-button issues.
Danel Diaz, a community organizer with La Union Del Pueblo Entero, said it's important for the senator to know that there are many along the border and elsewhere in Texas who do not share his views.
According to census data, Hidalgo County has the highest rate of uninsured among urban counties, at 38.9 percent, while Maverick County has the highest rate of uninsured among medium-sized counties, at 35.1 percent.
"I don't believe a majority of Texans want militarization of the border," Diaz said.
Later in the day, Cruz spoke about immigration reform, calling the current system "broken," but said he opposes a path to citizenship for people who entered the country illegally.
"We've got to get serious about securing the border, about solving the problem of illegal immigration," Cruz said after visiting with landowners and the Border Patrol.
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