During Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)'s epic "faux-libuster" Tuesday night, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) managed to briefly flummox the junior Senator from Texas by asking him about some of the real world consequences faced by people who are denied health care coverage under the current system.
A real Senate filibuster requires that the Senator who carries out the parliamentary maneuver must be obstructing Senate business, which Cruz is not currently doing. In spite of this, the ideologically-minded Texas Senator has spent the last 18-plus hours standing and speaking to a largely empty Senate chamber about the perils of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Cruz has read Dr. Seuss, given multiple shout-outs to actor Ashton Kutcher and quoted song lyrics by country music star Toby Keith. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have pitched in with lengthy, long-winded questions of their own to give their arch-conservative colleague a break.
But it was at about 5:53 in the video embedded below when Durbin asked about a woman who was denied health care in his state that Cruz lost his glib self-assurance and truly seemed to stumble.
"Let me ask a specific question," said Durbin. "One of the reasons that I voted for health care reform -- and I'm proud that I did -- was illustrated by a woman that I met in southern Illinois."
"This woman's name is Judy," he continued, "and Judy is a housekeeper at a motel that I often go to and we've become friends. Judy has worked a whole life in manual labor. She's been everything you can imagine, a cook, a waitress, housekeeper, all of these things. She's 62 years old. Judy told me that she has never had health insurance one day in her life, ever. She'd worked every single day she could, but she never had health insurance."
"It turns out that Judy was diabetic," said the Illinois Senator, "and she found some hospitals and doctors locally to give her some care."
Under Obamacare, he said, the state of Illinois will be offering 165 different health insurance plans from eight different insurance companies. Under Illinois's Medicaid expansion, Judy will have health insurance in spite of her pre-existing condition. Durbin asked Cruz if he cares about the millions of people like Judy who would be insured under the Affordable Care Act.
Cruz thanked Durbin for the question and complimented him on his "sincerity and passion" in "believing in government solutions."
"But I will say this," said Cruz. "You tell the story of Judy. The best way for Judy or anyone to have health insurance is to have an economy that is booming, where people can get jobs and have opportunities."
Durbin scoffed, saying, "I think your answer to Judy is 'You need a better job.' After working a lifetime, 62 years of hard work, the best that she can do. She's never had health insurance and I think your answer was, 'Judy, get a better job.'"
Watch the video, embedded below via "nomorcocktails':
[image via Center for American Progress' Flickr photostream, Creative Commons licensed]