Senator Marco Rubio of Florida delivered the official GOP response to the State of the Union, while Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke for the Tea Party. Another rising Republican star is Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who got two shots at responding to President Obama's address. One of them came during the event itself, when Cruz' hilariously nonplussed expression sharply contrasted with the frenzied applause of those seated next to him (hat tip: Dorsey Shaw of BuzzFeed):
Ted Cruz' ability to look unimpressed is so powerful that it might be classified as a weapon of mass destruction.
A more substantial response came during Sean Hannity's TV show on Fox News, where Cruz said, "It seems this president only knows how to grow government. He has no idea how to grow the economy."
Hannity spent a good deal of time setting up the Cruz interview by going over all of Obama's broken promises to cut spending and control the deficit. The point to bear in mind is that Obama's base doesn't care about any of this; to them, the deficit is a phantom dragon, and if Daddy wants to tell a few fairy tales about how he slayed it real good, they'll indulge him without complaint. All Obama needs to do is play for time until so many Americans are hooked on government spending that it's politically impossible to cut it, at which point the rest of the country will be forced to see the deficit the way he does: as nothing but leverage for tax increases. To Obama and his faithful, merely saying something like "I promise to cut the deficit in half" is dealing with the problem.
So Cruz is right about Obama's skill at fattening up the Leviathan State. He astutely points out that some key interest groups - minorities and young people - are especially hard-hit by Obama's policies. What happens to a moribund economy plagued by years of high unemployment when a huge new population of generally unskilled workers is legalized... and set to work competing for a declining number of entry-level jobs, made more scarce by a rising minimum wage? The private sector diminishes; the welfare state grows.
Cruz is equally effective about puncturing Obama's silly "lower energy costs" fib, and describing what will happen to energy costs if Obama gets the cap-and-trade legislation he wants. And he's not afraid to use the term "centralized planning," or remind America of a few other economic wastelands where it's been tried. It's good to see Cruz, Rubio, and Paul using terms, and remembering portions of history, that the Democrats think should be erased from memory.