Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Fact-checking Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been the leading lawmaker in favor of using leverage on spending bills to force defunding or delays on Obamacare.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been the leading lawmaker in favor of using leverage on spending bills to force defunding or delays on Obamacare.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was one of the biggest cheerleaders for defunding Obamacare, a legislative move that ultimately resulted in a government shutdown and flirted with a debt default. The shutdown ended Wednesday, with Obamacare funding intact, and with an agreement for Republicans and Democrats to come together in the future to sort out budget issues.

Here at PolitiFact, we’ve been fact-checking Cruz for some time now. PolitiFact Texas has been looking at his statements since he successfully challenged Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a Republican primary battle and then went on to win in the general election.

So far, we’ve issued the following ratings on Cruz’s statements.

We’ve also looked in depth at whether Cruz is eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Canada. We concluded he probably is eligible, but the U.S. Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on the matter. We issued no rating at the end our report.

Here, then, are a few of the more interesting fact-checks we’ve done based on Cruz’s comments.

• "Virtually every person across this country has seen premiums going up and up and up" due to Obamacare.

The fact is, the majority of Americans already have insurance and Obamacare has had little impact on their premiums. In the individual market, young adults, along with some older adults, are vulnerable to hefty premiums hikes, but as painful as that might be, their numbers hardly amount to "virtually every person." And Cruz's comments don't take into account the many people with modest incomes who will get subsidies as they shop on the health care marketplaces. These people should see substantial decreases in their premiums thanks to the new regulations and subsidies. We rated his claim False

• "Today, the House of Representatives did what Washington pundits only a few weeks ago said was impossible: a strong bipartisan majority voted to defund Obamacare."

On the final vote, the measure -- which paired continued funding for the government with a defunding of Obamacare -- passed by a 230-189 margin. But those votes in favor broke down to 228 Republicans and just two Democrats, Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah. (One Republican, Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia, broke ranks and joined the Democrats.) That’s not a "strong bipartisan majority." We rated the claim False.

• "According to federal agency estimates, Obamacare will add paperwork burdens totaling nearly 190 million hours or more every year. And... to put that in perspective, Mount Rushmore, which took 14 years to build, could be constructed 1,547 times with the paperwork."

We looked into both ends of this claim, finding both that the hours’ forecast and the Mount Rushmore tally have holes. Still, it remains likely the law will account for additional paperwork. We rated the claim Mostly False.

• "Neville Chamberlain told the British people: ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they will dominate the continent of Europe, but that is not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We cannot possibly stand against them.’"

Chamberlain had urged diplomacy in hopes of heading off war, and he bowed to some German objectives on the continent. But he simultaneously committed to British rearmament and made it clear, publicly, that his nation would not sit back should Germany invade Poland. We rated this statement as Mostly False.

• UPS left 15,000 employees’ spouses "without health insurance" and told them to, "go on an exchange with no employer subsidy."

Cruz ignored the fact that the only spouses being kicked off the UPS plan would be the ones who already had access to an employer-sponsored plan in their own job. This means they wouldn’t be "without health insurance" and wouldn’t have to find coverage on an Obamacare marketplace. We rated the claim False.

• Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary "has been publicly celebrated by the Iranian government."

What’s the evidence here? An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman expressed hope that with Hagel as secretary, Washington would become "respectful of the rights of nations" and if so, he said, that would improve relations between the two countries. Experts differed on the significance of those comments. But they did agree that the response fell short of a governmental celebration, with most saying it was far from it. We rated this claim Pants on Fire!