Jonathan Chait is uncomfortable with the tone of progressive mockery.

It seems like everyone on the left is making fun of Senator Ted Cruz for signing up for ObamaCare. But, is it really ObamaCare if Cruz is only accepting his employer-provided (or -sponsored) health insurance? Even if it is technically ObamaCare, is this really an analogous situation to someone who loses employer-provided health care and must seek insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges?

Are we lefties being a little too clever in calling Ted Cruz a hypocrite?

The answer is ‘no,’ not really. The mockery of Ted Cruz is basically fair.

If he wants insurance through his employer, which is his right, he has to get it through the exchanges, but his experience is still the same as anyone else whose spouse loses the family’s health coverage. You go see what is available on the exchanges and what, if any, subsidies will be available to you and your family. If Cruz doesn’t want any benefit from being a member of Congress or any kind of subsidy, nothing is stopping him or his wife from calling up an insurance company directly and getting insurance outside of the exchanges.

It’s obligatory for me to mention that the reason that Ted Cruz had to get his congressional health care benefit through the exchanges is because Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced an amendment to the Affordable Care Act compelling members of Congress to use the exchanges. He thought the Democrats would vote his amendment down, but they happily accepted it. The price for that is that, now, whenever a Republican member of Congress uses their health benefit we get to point at them, laugh, and call them hypocrites.

But it is more than just a game of Gotcha!

Members of Congress have great health benefits, and they get their insurance off exchanges used by ordinary citizens. Ted Cruz will be perfectly satisfied with his coverage but, by his own rhetoric, his whole family should be in the gravest peril.

When people lose their jobs, they can now get good insurance because of ObamaCare. That’s what Ted Cruz will be doing, and it’s what he doesn’t want tens of millions of Americans to be able to do.

Cruz deserves this mockery. It is making the points it is supposed to make, both about the politician and the health care law.

[Cross-posted at Booman Tribune]

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at