Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who launched his presidential campaign on Monday, was one of the key architects of the Republican opposition to raising the country’s debt ceiling. He’s now touting that effort as part of his jobs plan.
Under the “Jobs & Opportunity” section of his website, which says that “Ted Cruz has led the way to bring back jobs, growth, and opportunity to America,” one bullet relates to his key role in getting Republicans to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, which has been routinely raised for decades to allow the government to borrow more money so that it can meet all of its obligations. It says he “[s]et an early, high standard for meaningful Republican opposition to increasing the debt ceiling,” including his opposition to a simple majority vote to lift it in 2013 and refusal to let an increase be part of a budget deal.
Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) originally teamed up to get 14 other senators to sign on to a letter demanding that Obamacare be defunded in return for raising the debt ceiling and keeping the government open. That strategy led to the eventual government shutdown at the end of 2013 and a near default on U.S. federal debt that was only avoided with the passage of an eleventh hour deal.
Cruz may want to claim this moment as part of his economic plan, but economists agree that this strategy hurt, not helped, the economy. A report from the Peterson Institute on International Economics found that the threat of default on American debt and other ways that Congress has governed crisis to crisis meant the loss of 750,000 jobs and sliced 1 percent off of GDP economic growth. The shutdown itself cost the economy an estimated $24 billion and 120,000 jobs in just two weeks. Another report found that uncertainty created by Congress’s manufactured crises over short-term spending bills, the fiscal cliff, and debt ceiling battles had already cost 900,000 jobs before the government shutdown.
Some Republicans have since distanced themselves from the shutdown and debt ceiling tactics. But some used the tactic again to nearly shut the government down a second time at the end of last year over Obamacare funding. Cruz himself has refused to rule these tactics out in his crusade against the Affordable Care Act.