Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, elected in 2012, has quickly made himself a household name as a staunch Tea Party conservative. The Republican lawmaker has vowed to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other government agencies in the name of more limited government.
He's currently No. 2 in several national and state primary polls behind Donald Trump. Following are his views on critical issues:
'Too Big to Fail'
During the fourth Republican debate in November, Cruz said he would "absolutely not" bail out a failing bank should another crisis arise.
Still, he noted that the Federal Reserve does have a role in propping up the system as an emergency lender.
"That's what central banks do. So if you have a run on the bank, the Fed can serve as a lender of last resort, but it's not a bailout. It is a loan at higher interest rates. That's how central banks have worked," he said.
Cruz has been highly critical of the Dodd-Frank Act, warning — as many GOP candidates have — that the law is wiping out small banks.
Despite his wife's position as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, Cruz has knocked Wall Street as well, citing concerns about the symbiotic relationship between big business and government.
"Goldman is one of the biggest banks on Wall Street, and my criticism with Washington is they engage in crony capitalism," he said. "They give favors to Wall Street and Big Business, and that's why I've been an outspoken opponent of crony capitalism, taking on leaders in both parties," he told Bloomberg in March.
He added at the November debate: "The biggest lie in all of Washington and in all of politics is that Republicans are the party of the rich. The truth is, the rich do great with big government. They get in bed with big government. The big banks get bigger and bigger and bigger under Dodd-Frank and community banks are going out of business."
Cruz introduced legislation in July 2015 to abolish the four-year-old CFPB in July 2015, arguing that the agency has failed to protect consumers or rein in the largest institutions.
"The agency continues to grow in power and magnitude without any accountability to Congress and the people," he said at the time. "The only way to stop this runaway agency is by eliminating it altogether."
Cruz has emerged in Congress as a vigorous critic of the Federal Reserve. The Texas senator teamed up with Sen. Rand Paul — another presidential contender — earlier this year to introduce legislation to "audit the Fed" and give Congress more oversight over monetary policy. Both lawmakers criticized the central bank during the third primary debate in late October.
"I think the Fed should get out of the business of trying to juice our economy and simply be focused on sound money and monetary stability, ideally tied to gold," Cruz said that night.
Individual income tax: Cruz's plan would abolish the IRS and replace the tax code with a simple flat tax, with the current seven rates of personal income tax collapsed into a single rate of 10%. The first $36,000 of income would be tax-free for a family of four. The Child Tax Credit would remain, and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit would undergo anti-fraud and pro-marriage reforms. Charitable contribution deductions and mortgage interest deductions would remain.
Capital gains: Capital gains would need no special treatment under the flat-tax proposal.
Corporate tax: Replaced by a business flat tax at a single 16% rate. The payroll tax system would be abolished while full funding for Social Security and Medicare would be maintained.
Estate tax: Cruz would eliminate the estate tax.
Health Care and Employee Benefits
Ted Cruz has been the most vocal on repealing the Affordable Care Act, authoring the Obamacare Repeal Act as his first piece of legislation. Additionally, Cruz has:
- Sued the federal government to strike down portions of the Medicare prescription drug program as an unconstitutional intrusion in the sovereign authority of the states.
- Favored gradually increasing the retirement age.
- Proposed changing the rate of increase in benefits so that it matches inflation, rather than exceeding inflation.
- Called for allowing younger workers to keep a portion of their tax payments in a personal account that they own and control, which can grow at market rates.
- Cruz is been staunchly opposed to raising the minimum wage, which he says will stifle hiring, particularly among certain populations.
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Source: Center for Responsive Politics. Data as of Sept. 30, 2015