Drowning: Marco Rubio, GOP Refusing to Fight for the Middle Class, Clinging to Failed Economic Policies of the Past

Tonight, President Obama urged Congress to take action to reduce our debt and deficits in a balanced way that maintains our commitments to the middle class, seniors and students.  As he laid out tonight, our path forward is one that includes reasonable proposals that have already been supported by Members from both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, Senator Marco Rubio refused to acknowledge that our path forward is one that Republicans are ready to agree on.

Despite what Senator Marco Rubio said tonight in his response to the State of the Union Address, he and his fellow Republicans have repeatedly failed to stand up for middle class Americans.  He is the same Senator who, in 2011, said social programs like Medicare “weakened us as a people.” The truth is that every time he was presented with an opportunity, Senator Rubio voted in favor of the Republican Party’s failed economic policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.  He voted for the Ryan budget to voucherize Medicare and slash programs designed to support the middle class and job creation; voted against making college more affordable, opposed the auto loan program, and has consistently opposed a balanced approach to deficit reduction. 

So how can anyone believe that today, Senator Rubio or the Republican Party will champion the middle class?  Senator Marco Rubio and the Republican Party have never fought for the middle class and from what we heard tonight, it doesn’t seem like they are ready to start.


RUBIO CLAIM: "The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families."

FACT: Rubio Was One Of Eight Senators To Oppose The Plan To Avert The Fiscal Cliff. “Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was one of eight senators to vote the deal to resolve the ‘fiscal cliff.’ Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson voted yes. The deal, which raises taxes on individuals making $400,000 and more, passed 89-8.” [Tampa Bay Times, 1/1/13]

FACT: The Agreement Permanently Extended Middle Class Tax Cuts, An Expansion Of The Child Tax Credit And Marriage Penalty Relief. "This will provide certainty for 114 million households including lower tax rates, an expanded Child Tax Credit, and marriage penalty relief—steps that together will prevent the typical family of four from seeing a $2,200 tax increase next year. In addition, it includes a permanent Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) fix." [Fact Sheet: The Tax Agreement: A Victory for Middle-Class Families and the Economy, White House,1/1/13]

FACT: The Agreement Protected 98 Percent Of Families And 97 Percent Of Small Businesses. "In 2011, the President cut spending. In 2012, he kept his promise of asking the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay more while protecting 98 percent of families and 97 percent of small businesses from any income tax increase." [Fact Sheet: The Tax Agreement: A Victory for Middle-Class Families and the Economy, White House, 1/1/13]


RUBIO CLAIM: "I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it."

FACT: Rubio Said Programs Like Medicare And Social Security “Weakened Us As A People.” Speaking at the Reagan Presidential Library in August 2011, Rubio said: “So, we are a nation that aspires to two things — prosperity and compassion. Now, America’s leaders during the last century set out to accomplish that. Both Republicans and Democrats established a role for government in America that said, yes, we’ll have a free economy, but we will also have a strong government that through regulations and taxes will control the free economy and through a series of government programs will take care of those in our society who are falling behind. Though it was well intentioned, it was doomed to fail because it forgot that the strength of our nation begins with its people and that these programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost in forever, it was institutions and society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to ... All of the sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job. For those who met misfortune, that wasn’t our obligation to take care of them, that was the government’s job.”” [Rubio Speech at the Reagan Presidential Library, 8/23/11]

FACT: Rubio Voted For The Ryan Budget. In 2012, Sen. Rubio voted for the Ryan budget. [Roll Call Vote 98, 5/16/12]

·        Ryan’s Plan Would End Medicare As We Know It Raising Senior’s Health Costs By Thousands Of Dollars. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12]


RUBIO CLAIM: "And because tuition costs have grown so fast, we need to change the way we pay for higher education."

FACT: Rubio Voted To Block A Measure That Prevented The Interest Rate On Some Student Loans From Doubling. If The Rate Was Allowed To Double, More Than 450,000 Florida Students Would Have Had To Pay $979 More. "Senate Republicans, including Marco Rubio of Florida, blocked a Democratic-sponsored bill on Tuesday that would freeze low interest rates on federal college loans at 3.4 percent. The vote left a stalemate on Capitol Hill because the two parties cannot agree on how to cover the lost revenue from low loan rates to avoid adding to the deficit. If Congress can’t agree on a bill by July 1, the interest rate on Stafford college loans will double to 6.8 percent. More than 450,000 Florida students would have to pay an average of $979 more in interest payments over the life of new loans taken after July." [Orlando Sentinel, 5/8/12]

·        Rubio Voted Against A Measure To Prevent The Interest Rate On Some Federal Student Loans From Doubling, Which Would Have Raised The Cost Of Their Loans By $1,000 For 7.4 Million Students. According to Bloomberg, "U.S. House and Senate lawmakers voted to extend for a year the 3.4 percent interest rate for some federal student loans, two days before the rate would have doubled to 6.8 percent. The measure, adopted as part of a transportation-spending bill, applies to subsidized Stafford federal loans, which are available to undergraduates, whose families demonstrate financial need. … A subsidized rate increase would have affected more than 7.4 million students, who would accrue $1,000 more in debt for every year the rates aren’t amended, according to an April 23 White House press release." The final measure passed the Senate 74 to 19. Rubio voted no. [Bloomberg, 6/29/12; Roll Call Vote 172, 6/29/12]

FACT: Rubio Voted For The Ryan Budget. In 2012, Sen. Rubio voted for the Ryan budget. [Roll Call Vote 98, 5/16/12]

·        If Cuts Were Applied Across The Board, The Ryan Budget Would Slash Education, Meaning “9.6 Million Students Would See Their Pell Grants Fall By More Than $1,000 In 2014, And, Over The Next Decade, Over One Million Students Would Lose Support Altogether.” “Yesterday, House Republicans released their budget resolution for FY 2013… On top of the roughly $1 trillion in cuts in the Budget Control Act, it would be difficult to overstate the radicalism of the domestic cuts proposed by the House budget resolution. In 2013, it would cut annual non-defense funding by 5 percent. By 2014, the resolution would cut this funding by 19 percent in purely nominal terms… 9.6 million students would see their Pell Grants fall by more than $1000 in 2014, and, over the next decade, over one million students would lose support altogether.” [Jeff Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget,, 3/21/12]


RUBIO CLAIM: "Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio."

Rubio:  There’s “Reasonable Debate” On The Causes Of Climate Change. “MARCO RUBIO: Anything that we would do on [climate change] would have a real impact on our economy, but probably, if it was only us doing it, a very negligible impact on the environment…. The U.S. is a country, not a planet. On the other hand if we unilaterally impose these things on the economy it will have a devastating impact. There has to be a cost benefit analysis to everyone of these principles people are pushing on. The benefit is difficult to justify when it’s only us doing it, no one else is doing it.  BEN SMITH: Do you see global warming as a threat to Florida?  RUBIO: The climate is always changing, that’s not the question. The question is if man made activity is what’s contributing the most to it. I know people said there’s a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I’ve actually seen reasonable debate on that principle.” [Buzzfeed, 2/5/13; VIDEO]

FACT: Marco Rubio Voted Against Eliminating Tax Subsidies For Big Oil And Against Extending The Wind Production Tax Credit.  The Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act would have stopped “half-a-dozen tax breaks from going to the ‘major integrated oil companies’ - the five biggest, most profitable private sector companies. These subsidies include provisions that allow Big Oil to claim foreign royalty payments as a credit against U.S. taxes, take a manufacturing deduction for oil production, take a deduction for the cost of developing wells, take a deduction of oil and gas revenues, immediately deduct the cost of materials used to recover oil from wells, and receive relief from royalties owed on production from the Outer Continental Shelf. Ending these subsidies for Big Oil would save nearly $24 billion over ten years.”  The bill also used “savings from tax subsidies that currently go to companies making record profits to invest in job-creating, clean energy technologies like advanced vehicles, wind, solar, and biofuels.”  [Democratic Policy & Communications Center, 3/26/12; SR 2204, Cloture Vote, Vote #63, 3/29/12]

·        The American Wind Energy Association Projected That Failing To Extend The Production Tax Credit Would Have Put 37,000 Jobs At Risk. According to a press release from the American Wind Energy Association: “A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit for wind energy will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.” [American Wind Energy Association, 4/25/12]

FACT: Marco Rubio Voted Against Extending Tax Credits For Renewable Energy.  “The Senate on Tuesday rejected plans to extend a host of lapsed or soon-to-expire tax breaks for renewable fuels and power sources.  […]  The number of new wind projects brought online has dropped sharply when the credit has been allowed to lapse in the past.  Stabenow’s plan would have also extended various incentives for energy efficient homes and appliances, plug-in vehicles, production of certain biofuels and a program that provides grants in lieu of tax credits for renewable power, among others.”  [The Hill, 3/13/12;  S. Amdt 1812 to S 1813, Vote #39, 3/13/12]


RUBIO CLAIM: "And tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place."

FACT: The Budget Control Act Of 2011 Passed The House Of Representatives 269-161 With 174 Republican Votes, Including Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy And House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. [House Roll Call Vote 690, 8/1/11]

Speaker Boehner On The Debt Agreement: "I Got 98 Percent Of What I Wanted. I'm Pretty Happy." Speaker Boehner: "When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy." [Boehner Interview with CBS News, 8/1/11]

Rep. Paul Ryan Called The Budget Control Act “A Victory.” “Ryan voted for the Budget Control Act when it passed, calling it ‘a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy.’” [CBS News, 8/23/12]


RUBIO CLAIM: "And, therefore, as you heard tonight, [President Obama's] solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more."

FACT: President Obama Has Signed Into Law Measures To Reduce The Deficit By $2.5 Trillion, Including More Than $1.4 Trillion In Spending Cuts, And Is Willing To Do More. "And over the long-term, we need to find a solution that does this in a balanced way. The President has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion. And he's willing to do more. And we can't just cut our way to prosperity. Even as we look for ways to reduce deficits over the long term, our core mission is to grow the economy in a way that strengthens the middle class and everyone willing to work hard to get into it." [White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer, Solving the Sequester: The Facts, 2/10/13]

FACT: Over The Past Three Years, Federal Spending Grew At The Slowest Pace Since President Eisenhower. "Federal outlays over the past three years grew at their slowest pace since 1953-56, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Expenditures as a share of the economy sank last year to 22.8 percent, their lowest level since 2008, according to Congressional Budget Office data." [Bloomberg, 1/22/13]


RUBIO CLAIM: "And the idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers – that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried."

FACT: President Obama Has Proposed And Signed Into Law The Elimination Of 77 Government Programs, Including 16 In The Department Of Education, 10 Programs At HHS And 4 At The Department Of Labor. “Furthermore, President Obama has proposed and signed into law the elimination of 77 government programs and cut another 52 programs, saving more than $30 billion annually.  This includes taking a hard look at areas he thinks are very important to see what programs are not working, duplicative or no longer needed—which is why the Administration has eliminated 16 programs in the Department of Education, 10 programs at Health and Human Services, and 4 programs at the Department of Labor. In addition, President Obama has cut or eliminated entitlements including cutting out the middleman in the student loan program to save $19 billion, reducing payments for abandoned mine land reclamation by almost $1 billion and eliminating the Telecommunications Development Fund, and a range of other policies. “ [Furman and Higginbottom, President Obama's Record and Proposals for Cutting Spending, 12/11/12]