Friday, December 16, 2011 Contact: Alex Conant (202) 224-3041
Rubio: “We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves, of people who have made it and people who will make it. And that’s who we need to remain.”
Washington, D.C. – During a Senate floor speech this afternoon, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio offered his perspectives on his first year in office and the challenges that remain unsolved going into 2012. Below are excerpts from the speech.
RUBIO: DIVIDING AMERICANS IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY
“There is another thing I’d like to talk about which is a troubling emergence in the last year of politics, and it’s really this rhetoric that in my opinion seeks to divide Americans against each other. …
“There’s this theme out there by some, including, quite frankly, many in our political leadership and from time to time even the White House, that is saying to people, ‘The reason why you’re worse off is because there is a handful of people out there that are doing too well. That the reason why you’ve lost your job is because someone else is being too greedy. That the reason why you’re losing your home is because someone else owns too many homes. That the reason why you’re making less money is because someone else is making too much money.’
“And I’m troubled by that rhetoric that pits people against each other. Because the second part of that argument, by the way, is: ‘Give the government more power. Give us, government, more power so we can step in and right this wrong, so we can take away from the people that have too much and give to those people that do not have enough.’ And let me tell you why I’m troubled by that. The first reason why I’m troubled by that is because it is absolutely not the kind of country we have been for two hundred some odd years. It’s not in our nature.
“Americans have never been a people to drive through a nice neighborhood and say, ‘Oh, I hate the people that live in these nice houses.’ Americans have been a people that drive through a nice neighborhood and say, ‘Congratulations on your nice house. Guess what? We will be joining you soon.’ We’ve never been people that go around and confront people that have been financially successful and say, ‘We hate you. We envy you because of how well you’re doing.’ Americans have celebrated their success and say, ‘Guess what? We’re going to be successful soon as well.’ …
“My parents were working class folks. My dad was a bartender for most of his life. My mom was a maid, and a cashier, and a stock clerk at K-Mart. We were not people of financial means. … I always had what I needed. I didn’t always have what I wanted, but I always had what I needed. My parents always provided that. I don’t ever remember them telling us or teaching us that the only way we could be more successful is if other people were less successful. They never inculcated the belief that somehow, in order for us to climb the ladder, other people have to come down from the ladder. On the contrary, what they would do is hold up these examples of success and inspire in us the hope that one day we could be there as well financially, in our career, what have you. We are a people that have always celebrated other people’s success so long as we always had the opportunity to meet that success ourselves.
“That is the American nature. That is the American character. That is one of the things that makes us different from the rest of the world. And I’m afraid we could lose that or are on the verge of losing that. And I’m really concerned that there are those in America’s political leadership that are advocating that we abandon that in favor something else. And I think it’s wrong because it doesn’t work. That thought process that somehow other people have to be worse off in order for you to be better off does not work. People get on boats, people jump fences to get away from that kind of thought process. People flee countries that do that because it doesn’t work. It never has. And it will not work here. And the proof is in the numbers.”
RUBIO: THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE. THE PRESIDENT HAS FAILED
“Let’s put aside partisan political rhetoric for a moment and look at the numbers. In January of 2009, when the President was sworn in, he inherited a very bad economy. …He inherited an economy, for example, that had 12 million people out of a job, an economy where gas was $1.85 a gallon, where the debt was at $10.6 trillion, where there were 39 million Americans living in poverty in January of 2009. …
“But for the first two years of his presidency, for at least one of his first two years, he had 60 votes here in the Senate, which I quickly learned is the way everything seems to happen around here, by 60 votes. He had a majority in the House. He could have anything he wanted. … He wanted a stimulus package, and he got it. He wanted his health care package, and he got it. He wanted financial services reform, and he got it. So, what happened? …
“Well, now there are 13.3 million people unemployed. Gas is now at $3.27 a gallon, on average. The debt is now up to $15 trillion. And people in poverty, 39 million when he took office, 46 million people now. So put aside partisan rhetoric just for a moment, just the numbers. He became President, he got everything he wanted, and everything got worse. Those are the facts. …
“His view of government and politics is wrong and those who share it are wrong. They’re not un-American. They’re not bad people. But the proof is it doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked anywhere else in the world to approach it this way and it isn’t going to work here. … So I hope in this new year, we’ll reverse course on these things and instead embrace and take up the things that do work in America. What makes America become more prosperous? It isn’t that complicated, guys. … What makes us different is that, here, a worker can become an owner. An employee can become an employer. …”
RUBIO: THREE MAIN THINGS STAND IN THE WAY OF OUR PROSPERITY
“And what stands in the way of that are three things above everything else. The first is a tax code that’s crazy. It’s not complicated. It’s not burdensome. It’s crazy. … You know who a complicated tax code kills? The guy or gal trying to start a business out of the spare bedroom of their home. So we’ve got to simplify our tax code. … The second is regulations. Look, we need to have regulations. There’s a glass of water. I don’t want this thing to have poison in it. I want our air to be clean. We all want things, and government has a role to play in those things. But let me tell you what happens when regulations go too far, when they seem to exist only for the purpose of justifying the existence of a regulator. … It kills the people trying to start a business out of the spare bedroom of their home. … And finally, this debt. The debt is a problem because there’s no plan in place to do anything about it. And people are afraid. They are concerned. They are worried and rightfully so about investing money in an economy that doesn’t have a plan to pay its bills. And so I hope we’ll reverse course on all those things because, if we do, it will lead to prosperity.”
RUBIO: WE ARE A NATION OF HAVES AND SOON-TO-HAVES
“And let me tell you what prosperity will lead to. It will lead to more jobs. More jobs will lead to more taxpayers. More taxpayers will lead to more revenue. And more revenue means we have money to pay down our debt and do the things that government should do – like our national defense, like invest in infrastructure and in our people, like provide a safety net to help those who cannot help themselves.
“But to do that, it all starts with embracing the fundamental principle of America’s prosperity. And that is that we have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves, of people who have made it and people who will make it. And that’s who we need to remain.
“If we desire to provide our children what we had, an American century – which is what the 21st century can be, should be and will be, if in 2012 this body and our leadership reverses course from the direction we are headed and places us on a path that’s true to our heritage as a people and embraces for our children and grandchildren the future they deserve. A prosperous and growing America, where all things are possible. Where anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything, or the son of a bartender and a maid can be a U.S. Senator. And where anyone watching, no matter where you start out in life, can accomplish anything and be anything you want to accomplish if you’re willing to work hard, play by the rules, and have the ability to do it.”