The Tea Party had at least one wish granted on Monday, with Ted Cruz throwing his hat into the ring for a 2016 presidential run, the first contender to formally announce.
Although it's unlikely the junior senator from Texas--also the first Hispanic senator from the Lone Star State--will secure the nomination, he'll surely help define the debate and possibly push it further to the right, policy analysts say. Discussion topics on the table for Cruz, which may be of interest to some businesses, include overturning Obamacare and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. Those ideas stand in contrast to more mainstream business issues, like arriving at a corporate tax compromise or fixing the broken immigration system, likely to be promulgated by other candidates.
"Cruz's agenda is much more anti-crony capitalism and free-enterprise libertarianism than that of the other potential candidates," says Stan Veuger, a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute.
In other words, Cruz is an aggressive free-market capitalist who believes in unfettered business, Veuger says, adding that politically Cruz believes in a strict reading of the U.S. Constitution. That is borne out, in part, by Cruz's affiliation with the Federalist Society, the conservative think tank devoted to forwarding an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, Veuger says.
With the exception of Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, who is also defiantly libertarian, Cruz stands in contrast to the evolving slate of Republican hopefuls, including New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Policy analysts see Bush as the most centrist Republican option. He'll likely be focused on issues with a broader appeal, such as public education reform and lowering taxes. (Bush has not formally announced his intention to run.)
Following his 2012 election, Cruz first rose to national attention for his role in the 2013 government shutdown. At the time, he filibustered a stopgap funding measure, speaking continuously for 21 hours about the need to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Since then, Cruz has taken up the banner for numerous Tea Party causes, such as abolishing the Export-Import Bank, which guarantees loans to U.S. exporters, but which some tend to view as a corporate welfare for such large companies as Boeing and Caterpillar. Both large and small companies use the bank to finance business activities overseas. The Ex-Im bank has been the subject of continuous attack from another Texas ally, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who has lobbied hard for closing the bank.
Cruz has consistently taken provocative stances on issues like net neutrality, which he has opposed, calling it "Obamacare for the internet," and an internet sales tax, which he opposes as well. He was also a forceful proponent of recent XL pipeline legislation, vetoed by President Obama, and he has opposed federal subsidies for alternative energy sources, such as ethanol.
"Cruz may take positions that many businesses would agree with, but he operates in a way that produces enormous collateral costs," says Robert Shapiro, a senior policy scholar at Georgetown's Center for Business and Public Policy, and former economic adviser to President Clinton.
The prime example of such maneuvering, Shapiro says, is the government shutdown and brinkmanship over increasing the national debt in late 2013. The cost to the nation stemming from that 16-day shutdown is estimated at between $2 billion and $6 billion. Further, Congress's refusal to increase the national borrowing limit around the same time rattled world markets and resulted in the first-ever downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt.
Prior to his election to the Senate, Cruz was the solicitor general of Texas, where he successfully argued in cases against gun control, in support of public monuments to the Ten Commandments, and for redistricting that favored non-minorities in Texas. He also worked in private practice for five years for Morgan Lewis & Bockius, and clerked for former Supreme Court chief justice William Rehnquist. He was a campaign aide to George W. Bush in the run up to the 2000 election.
Most recently, Cruz was one of 47 senators who signed a letter to Iran's leaders, warning them against making a deal with the Obama administration on nuclear non-proliferation.
Ivy League educated with a degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard, Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada. A holder of dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, he formally renounced his Canadian citizenship in May 2014.
Cruz's office was not immediately available to comment. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, both conservative-leaning business organizations, said they had no comment on Cruz's announcement to run.