The speech was littered with attacks on the Republican Senate leadership, although not by name, and the type of prairie populist rhetoric that has long been a feature of the Tea Party, and that many conservatives want to embrace. "The rich are doing just great," he said, the type of thing that if said by Mr Obama would draw accusations of "class warfare." "You know the top 1 per cent -- the evil millionaires and billionaires the president likes to talk about all the time -- they have a higher share of our income at any time since 1928," Mr Cruz said.
And as Cruz heads to Iowa this weekend -- take a wild guess as to why -- it's never been tougher to know who's fooling whom when the Texan shares his views with voters. Financial Times reports today on a recent Cruz speech.
Unless this is an elaborate joke, it appears Ted Cruz -- yes, that Ted Cruz -- believes the concentration of wealth at the very top is a national problem.
Send that man an invitation to join MoveOn.org.
The Financial Times report is the first I've seen this quote and context, though the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein ran with the same Cruz quote the other day, which suggests the senator actually said this.
There are a couple of angles to this worth keeping in mind. First, Cruz is technically wrong -- "income" isn't as concentrated at the top as wealth, and they're not the same thing.
Second, and more important, is the fact that this is at its core a liberal criticism of the modern U.S. economy. For Cruz to characterize this as a problem is likely some bizarre attempt at faux populism, but it's also a bit like listening to an arsonist complain about fires.
The causes of our contemporary Gilded Age and the roots of such widespread economic inequalities are complex, but it's rather easy to identify policies that make matters worse. Indeed, the list looks an awful lot like Ted Cruz's wish list: regressive tax policies, fewer benefits and opportunities for working families, weaker labor unions, and a shredded safety net with weaker social-insurance programs.
Or put another way, those who advocate for policies that exacerbate wealth concentration shouldn't go around complaining about wealth concentration.
That said, if Cruz is serious, I'll gladly look for his picture at the next Occupy rally, where he should be encouraged to share his solutions to the problem he claims to take seriously.