Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators’ state Capitol day event in Des Moines, Iowa on March 18, 2014.
Charlie Neibergall/AP

The ‘train wreck’ that only Ted Cruz can see

The recent successes of the Affordable Care Act pose a challenge for the right, at least in theory. The more “Obamacare” works effectively, and the more Republican predictions are discredited, the more difficult it should be for conservatives to deny what is plainly true.
And yet, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) doesn’t seem to mind. The Texas Republican delivered some predictable red meat at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit yesterday, taking aim at the health care law he loves to hate.
Obamacare, he asserted, has wrought “devastation.” He called it a “train wreck” that has cost millions of Americans their jobs or access to doctors of their choice, and forced employers to roll back working hours.
I find rhetoric like this fascinating because it’s so completely detached from reality. If the ACA were really causing “devastation” – and “millions” of U.S. job losses, as Cruz claimed yesterday – it’d be pretty obvious.
It’s not. What is obvious is the law has quickly improved the uninsured rate while producing impressive results on premiums, customer satisfaction rates, the lowest increase in health care spending in 50 years, the growing number of insurers who want to participate in exchange marketplaces, high enrollment totals with consumers who paid their premiums, the efficacy of Medicaid expansion, the efficacy of the medical-loss ratio, and reduced medical errors system-wide.
All of this, incidentally, comes against an inconvenient backdrop: the more the Affordable Care Act is implemented, the stronger the American economy becomes. This is not to say there’s a definite causal relationship between the two, but if “Obamacare” were “devastating” the economy – seriously, Ted, “millions” of job losses? – the evidence is hiding extremely well.
I’ve been eager to see how Republicans respond to this, and apparently the answer is a combination of deep denial and an enthusiastic embrace of make believe.
Postscript: In the same speech, Cruz told the far-right crowd, “We need to repeal Common Core.” Whether one approves of the education standards or disapproves, the fact remains that Congress didn’t approve Common Core and there is nothing for federal lawmakers to “repeal.”
Why the senator hasn’t yet figured this out is a mystery.