If the GOP sweeps Congress in November, Ted Cruz has a plan for his fellow congressional Republicans. But just underneath the proposed legislation and pointers on policy is a preview of Cruz 2016.
In an op-ed in USA Today, the Republican senator from Texas and near-certain 2016 presidential candidate laid out what he says should be congressional Republicans' top priorities in 2015. The GOP now has a 68 percent chance of gaining the Senate in the midterms, according to The New York Times, and the party's continued control of the House is all but assured. Cruz's plan is ostensibly an action guide for his peers in Congress, 10 "critical priorities for the 2015 Congress."
Those points are clearly the senator's own ambitions. Some measures, such as support for repealing the Affordable Care Act and hard stances against Iran and the terrorist group the Islamic State, fall in line with party leaders. Most, however, cement his antiestablishment credibility—a key way he's distinguishing himself from other contenders in an already-crowded GOP field.
To simplify the tax system, Cruz called for a move toward a flat tax, which would require all taxpayers to pay the same rate regardless of income. He also advocated for a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists after they serve, and for term limits—by way of a constitutional amendment—for Congress.
The senator acknowledged that some of his goals could be reached only under a Republican president—a not-so-subtle hint at his inevitable run for the office. "In 2017," he wrote, "I believe a Republican president will repeal Obamacare in its entirety." And, after the flat tax is passed, Cruz wrote that "with a Republican president, we should abolish the [Internal Revenue Service]." Dismantling the IRS and completely repealing the ACA would surely be key accomplishments in a Cruz administration.
Cruz also called for a "pro-jobs, growth agenda," the kind of jobs plan that the senator would likely push if he were president: more employment through fracking and the Keystone Pipeline, greater access to public lands for oil exploration, and the repeal of certain Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
If President Obama or congressional Democrats stand in the GOP's way by filibustering or vetoing everything Republicans pass, Cruz wrote, "we will have transparency and accountability for the very next election." In other words, the GOP is ready to paint its opponents as unwilling to compromise or get things done. And that strategy should give Cruz a solid foundation for a presidential campaign.