Senator Ted Cruz speaks to reporters on Wednesday, October 16, 2013, after news emerged that leaders had reached a last-minute agreement to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government. Cruz said he would not try to block the agreement. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Wednesday morning, at the very same moment Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were on the floor announcing a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, their colleague from Texas Senator Ted Cruz—one of the key actors in creating this crisis—was delivering a stem-winder to reporters outside the chamber. He blasted the “Washington establishment” and repeatedly lamented the “suffering” Americans felt because of the dreaded Obamacare.
Unfortunately, virtually everything he said about the healthcare law was either directly untrue, highly exaggerated or badly misleading.
Fact-checking Ted Cruz has become old hat at this point—but sadly, not for many mainstream media outlets, who have dutifully reported on the all-encompassing, government-shutting, market-riling debate over Obamacare without actually parsing who is right about the effects of the law.
So this morning’s moment is as useful as any to examine claims that the ACA is so bad, the government almost had to default in order to get rid of it. (You can find Cruz’s full remarks here; we will just excerpt the claims about the ACA.)
CRUZ: The deal that has been cut provides no relief to all the young people coming out of school who can’t find a job because of “Obamacare.” It provides no relief to all the single parents who have been forced into part-time work, struggling to feed their kids on twenty-nine hours a week.
Obamacare is a job-killer: that is an article of faith among many conservatives. Their claims, and particularly the one Cruz is making here, is centered around the employer mandate, which requires businesses with fifty or more full-time employees, defined as those that work more than thirty hours, to provide health insurance or face a penalty. (Incidentally, this is the mandate Obama delayed for one year.)
The theory is that businesses will slash hours or reduce positions to stay under the limits for providing health insurance. (Never mind criticizing the businesses for screwing over their employees in this fashion—it’s naturally the government’s fault for imposing health coverage requirements.) That’s why Cruz is mentioning young adults and single moms—aside from being highly sought-after voting demographics for the GOP, they are also among those most likely to be searching for jobs that straddle the line between part-time and full-time.
But this isn’t actually happening on any significant scale. If it were, one would have seen the number of workers putting in twenty-six to twenty-nine hours increase in 2013, as businesses prepared for the employer mandate before it was delayed. According to a study from the Center on Economic and Policy Priorities, however, the opposite actually happened: there were slightly fewer twenty-six- to twenty-nine-hour workers in 2013 as the mandate date approached. Despite whatever individual examples Republicans may trot out, no significant amount of people are being forced to work less hours because of the ACA.