Karoli and Murshed already wrote about this speech given by the Republicans new golden boy, Sen. Marco Rubio, at the Reagan Library this Tuesday, but I wanted to share a bit more of it. They may be pretending like this is some fresh face for the GOP, but his ideas and his speech here are their same old tired talking points and policies they've been advocating for for years. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Deregulate everything and let the free market prevail. Dismantle and privatize our social safety nets.
Add in some stereotypical rah, rah rah "We're the greatest country in the world" cheer leading and that about sums up Rubio's speech here. Nothing new to see but wrapped up in their latest shiny new package for them to fawn over for the next month or so.
And at a time when there is practically no upward mobility in America and if you're born poor, chances are you're going to be stuck there, how cynical are his remarks on what causes poverty? And I love that we should make sure we protest our social safety nets for someone like his mom, but the rest of us who have been paying into these programs for a lifetime as well shouldn't be given the same regard.
Transcript via the LA Times:
RUBIO: What we have now is not sustainable. The role of government and the role that government plays now in America cannot be sustained the way it is. Now some are worried about how it has to change, we have to change it. The good news is it is going to change. It has to change. That’s not the issue.
The issue is not whether the role that government now plays in America will change. The question is how will it change. Will it change because we make the changes necessary? Or, will it change because our creditors force us to make these changes?
And over the next few moments I hope to advocate to you –- I don’t think that I have to given the make up of the crowd –- but I hope to advocate to you that, in fact, what we have before us is a golden opportunity afforded to few Americans.
We have the opportunity –- within our lifetime –- to actually craft a proper role for government in our nation that will allow us to come closer than any Americans have ever come to our collective vision of a nation where both prosperity and compassion exist side-by-side.
To do that, we must begin by embracing certain principles that are absolutely true. Number one: the free enterprise system does not create poverty. The free enterprise system does not leave people behind.
People are poor and people are left behind because they do not have access to the free enterprise system because something in their lives or in their community has denied them access to the free enterprise system. All over the world this truism is expressing itself every single day. Every nation on the Earth that embraces market economics and the free enterprise system is pulling millions of its people out of poverty. The free enterprise system creates prosperity, not denies it.
The second truism that we must understand is that poverty does not create our social problems, our social problems create our poverty. Let me give you an example. All across this country, at this very moment, there are children who are born into and are living with five strikes against them, already, through no fault of their own.
They’re born into substandard housing in dangerous neighborhoods, to broken families, being raised by their grandmothers because they never knew their father and their mom is either working two jobs to make ends meet or just not home. These kids are going to struggle to succeed unless something dramatic happens in their life.
These truisms are important because they lead the public policies that define the proper role of government. On the prosperity side, the number one objective of our economic policy, in fact the singular objective of our economic policy from a government perspective is simple -- it’s growth. It’s not distribution of wealth; it’s not picking winners and losers.
The goal of our public policy should be growth. Growth in our economy, the creation of jobs and of opportunity, of equality of opportunity through our governmental policies.
Now often when I give these speeches, members of the media and others get frustrated because there is nothing new or novel in it. We don’t have to reinvent this. It’s worked before and it will work again and they are simple things. Like a tax code that’s fair, predictable, easy to comply with. Like a regulatory framework that doesn’t exist to justify the existence of the regulators, that doesn’t exist to accomplish through regulation and rule-making what they couldn’t accomplish through the Congress.
And it is the proper role of government to invest in infrastructure. Yes, government should build roads and bridges, but it should do so as part of economic development as part of infrastructure. Not as a jobs program.
And government should invest in our people at the state level. Education is important, critically important. We must educate and train our children to compete and succeed in the 21st century. Our kids are not going to grow up to compete with children in Alabama or Mississippi. They’re going to grow up to compete with kids in India, and China, all over the world; children who are learning to compete and succeed in the 21st century themselves.
These are proper roles of government within the framework of creating an environment where economic security and prosperity is possible.
And on the compassion side of the ledger, which is also important to Americans, and it’s important that we remind ourselves of that. I don’t really like labels in politics, but I will gladly accept the label of conservatism. Conservatism is not about leaving people behind. Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up, to give them the tools at their disposable that make it possible for them to access all the hope, all the promise, all the opportunity that America offers. And our programs to help them should reflect that.
Now, yes, there are people that cannot help themselves. And those folks we will always help. We are too rich and prosperous a nation to leave them to fend for themselves. But all the others that can work should be given the means of empowering themselves to enter the marketplace and the workforce. And our programs and our policies should reflect that. We do need a safety net, but it cannot be a way of life. It must be there to help those who have fallen, to stand up and try again.
And by the way, I believe in America’s retirement programs. But I recognize that these programs as they are currently structured are not sustainable for future generations. And so we must embrace public policy changes to these programs.
Now, I personally believe that you cannot make changes to these programs for the people that are currently in them right now. My mother just – well she gets mad when I say this. She is in her eighth decade of life and she is on both of these programs. I can’t ask my mom to go out and get another job. She paid into the system. But the truth is that Social Security and Medicare, as important as they are, cannot look for me how they look for her.
My generation must fully accept, the sooner the better, that if we want there to be a Social Security and a Medicare when we retire, and if we want America as we know it to continue when we retire, then we must accept and begin to make changes to those programs now, for us.
These changes will not be easy. Speeches are easy. Actually going out and doing them will be difficult. It’s never easy to go to people and say what you’ve always known we have to change. It isn’t. It will be hard. It will actually really call upon a specific generation of Americans, those of us, like myself, decades away from retirement, to assume certain realities -– that we will continue to pay into and fund for a system that we will never fully access -– that we are prepared to do whatever it takes in our lives and in our generation so that our parents and grandparents can enjoy the fruits of their labor and so that our children and our grandchildren can inherit the fullness of America’s promise.
But you see, every generation of Americans has been called to do their part to ensure that the American promise continues. We’re not alone; we’re not unique; we’re not the only ones. In fact, I would argue to you that we have it pretty good.
And yet I think it’s fully appropriate that those of us raised in Ronald Reagan’s America are actually the ones who are being asked to stand up and respond to the issues of the day. For we, perhaps better than any other people who have ever lived in this nation, should understand how special and unique America truly is.