On Thursday, CNBC published an interview with Senator Ted Cruz, who last month became the first big-name Republican to officially declare for the 2016 presidential race. In his answer to CNBC’s John Harwood's question about the supposedly job-killing Obamacare, Cruz demonstrated once again why it's so hard to envision him as the nation's top executive: He simply refuses to incorporate new facts into his understanding of the economy.
“The simple reality is millions of Americans are hurting right now under the Obama economy,” Cruz said. “Yes, some jobs are being created, but not nearly as many have been destroyed. The rich, the top 1 percent, today earn a higher share of our income than any year since 1928.”
There are two ways to read this statement. The first is that he's saying the number of employed Americans has declined since Obamacare passed. Such a statement would be flatly untrue, so let's assume a more generous interpretation. Perhaps Cruz is positing that in a counterfactual world where Obamacare never passed, our economy would be absolutely roaring along, adding half a million jobs every month. Under that hypothetical, Obamacare would, indeed, have prevented the creation of millions of jobs—“destroying” jobs since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.
When Republicans first warned of Obamacare's threats to the economy, they, including Cruz, repeatedly predicted events along that first reading. They said Obamacare would cripple economic recovery and force employers to slash jobs. Instead, this has happened:
As you can see from the graph, there's no point when Obamacare sent a ripple through businesses and stymied job growth. Even if you give Cruz the benefit of the doubt and assume he was imagining a hypothetical, Obamacare-less world, the chart shows why the GOP has had to mute its claims that Obamacare would destroy the economy. The fact is that Cruz and Co. turned out to be completely wrong. Yet Cruz hasn't reassessed his position. He has merely moved to a counterfactual space in which he says there would have been even more jobs. And because he's arguing from a hypothetical, he can brandish whatever claims he cares to invent. For who can disprove him?
Cruz's reply becomes even more amazing when you consider Harwood was asking, in part, why anyone should take Cruz’s claims seriously. “You've talked about the job-killing nature of Obamacare. We're adding jobs at a very healthy clip right now,” the CNBC anchor said. “Why shouldn't somebody listen to you and say, ‘The guy'll just say anything—doesn't have to be true’?”
Cruz tried to prove Harwood wrong. Instead, he proved him correct.