Ted Cruz and the Diner Waitress
During the quixotic quest that is Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s (still extant as of this writing) nearly day-long faux filibuster, he devoted a moment of his anti-Obamacare screed Tuesday night to the image of a struggling single mother whom he believes will suffer as a result of healthcare reform. “We need to make DC listen,” he said. “Make them listen to the single mom working in the diner, struggling to feed her kids who has just been told she has to take a cut in hours due to Obamacare.”
Ted Cruz makes it sound like this single mom is just barely hanging in there at her restaurant job and that Obamacare is going to be the straw to break the camel’s back. The reality is that the picture is already pretty bleak for most restaurant workers. The median wage for employees who work in food preparation and serving is well below the poverty line at $9.02 per hour. This means his hypothetical mom’s wages are likely so low that she’ll be eligible for Medicaid, which is being expanded under the AHCA to cover people who earn up to 133 percent of the poverty level. As a single mom with two kids, that means she could make as much as $26,000 per year and still qualify. Even if she earns twice the federal poverty level, an unheard-of $39,000 per year, the estimated monthly premium cost with subsidies to cover her family is $204. For an industry where nine out of ten restaurant workers say they don’t receive health insurance through their employer, it’s hard to call that detrimental.