Ted Cruz – Liberty University: Analysis

In a speech delivered on March 23, 2015 at Liberty University, Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced his official entry as a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

Cruz is generally praised by the conservative, Christian community for his background as an evangelical Christian and his right-wing views. His decision to announce candidacy at an equally conservative Christian university was a smart move in winning over the voters he most likely already has, but what about the voters he needs? Democrats seem supportive of Cruz because, as David Jackson wrote in a USA Today article covering the campaign announcement, the candidacy “will pull the Republicans even further to the right and make it harder for them to win a general election.”

Cruz lays out personal history and vision for America

The speech focused on Cruz’s family heritage, his parents’ upbringing and his personal faith as he spoke fondly on the “promise of America” laid out by its founding fathers. “God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet,” Cruz said.

Following Cruz’s call for the audience to imagine an America grounded in the traditions of its history, he made several claims and announced lofty goals for his candidacy by asking the audience to “imagine a new president” who would lead to this America.

His distaste for President Obama was evident as Cruz harshly commented on the administration’s effort to ban ammunition, revealed his hope to repeal Obamacare as well as abolish the International Revenue Service entirely – statements so bold, they beg for second-guessing.

What is he really saying?

As with any politician, there is wide speculation as to the truth behind many of Cruz’s personal claims as well as his intended policy decisions, and this truth may only be found in the analysis and careful checking of Cruz’s statements.

Ted Cruz and wife, Heidi, arrive at Liberty University || Source: scrp.org

Ted Cruz and wife, Heidi, arrive at Liberty University || Source: scrp.org

How true is this personal history?

Cruz spent much of his speech retelling the story of his parents’ hard work throughout their life journey – his father, who came to America at the age of 18 after fleeing from Cuba, and his mother, a computer programmer from Delaware who became the first person in her family to go to college.

Cruz commented on his parents’ alcohol abuse and marriage troubles, and how this led them on the journey to find their faith. He presented his parents and himself as hard workers, saying that he took two jobs to pay for school and ended up with more than $100,000 student loans that he has only recently paid off.

The only speculation in Cruz’s statements are with his father’s background in the Cuban military. In the speech, Cruz states his father “joined a revolution. … found himself tortured, beaten, and at age 18 he flees Cuba.”

However, this claim has remained undisputed as the factual evidence comes firsthand from Ted Cruz’s father. In an article written by the Dallas News analyzing Cruz’s family history, “Cruz said his father described himself as among young teenage boys who fought Batista and allied with Castro’s forces because ‘they didn’t know Castro was a Communist, what they knew was that Batista was a cruel and oppressive dictator.’”

How attainable is this vision?

Cruz made several claims common for a campaign speech. In order to better inform voters, these claims must be backed up by facts, which are not often revealed at the time the speech is given, but always seem to find a way out.

Claim #1: A clear supporter of private gun ownership, Cruz accused the Obama administration of seeking “to ban our ammunition.” However, according to the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, the administration isn’t seeking to ban the public purchase of ammunition, but only to ban a certain type of armor-piercing bullet from being distributed. According to the National Rifle Association, the bullet is commonly used in AR-15 rifles and, if used publicly, poses a threat to the security of our nation.

Claim #2: Additionally, Cruz claimed that as a result of the Affordable Care Act “millions … have lost their health insurance.” However, according to an Urban Institute report, “about 10 million people on net gained insurance between September 2013 and December 2014.”

There was widespread outrage in 2013 when several million Americans received cancellation notices for health plans that ceased to meet the law’s benefit requirements after Obama had assured voters that they would be able to keep their current plans, but Cruz’ claim was still proven false.

An analysis done by factcheck.org writes, “To claim simply that millions lost their health insurance is misleading. Those individual market plans were discontinued, but policyholders weren’t denied coverage. Many upgraded to compliant plans (albeit at a higher cost, for some).”

Claim #3: Cruz noted that he plans to abolish the International Revenue Service, but how likely is it that this will actually happen upon Cruz’s election? Business Insider says, “unlikely … no matter how easy folks like Sen. Ted Cruz make it sound.”

Cruz is not the first one to make this suggestion. “It’s our time to exercise our right to abolish the IRS and preserve our liberty,” Sen. Rand Paul said in a 2013 television ad.

Republicans often believe that tax collection is a simple process that can be done without the aid of a federal agency, and that all of the tax collection could potentially be done through the Department of the Treasury.

“…even the most simplified tax code would require 10,000 to 20,000 tax collectors to process the trillions that come into the Treasury every year. … The idea of a flat tax on a postcard-size form has been around for years and has not come to anything. A simple flat tax can only work by significantly increasing taxes for most low- and middle-income families or by cutting spending far more deeply than most lawmakers are willing to go,” writes Business Insider.

Employment, hours, and earnings from the Current Employment Statistics national survey, spanning 2005 – 2015 || Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment, hours, and earnings from the Current Employment Statistics national survey, spanning 2005 – 2015 || Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Claim #4: Cruz made a point to comment on the failing economy under President Obama, saying “Think just how different the world would be. Imagine instead of economic stagnation, booming economic growth.” However, the economy is actually the best it has been in years. According to both the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. gross domestic product increased 2.4 percent in the past year, which was also the best year for job growth in 15 years.

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