Barack Obama

What Marco Rubio Should Say in His State of the Union Response

The Florida senator is giving the GOP response to President Obama tomorrow night. Here's what he should say.


Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is scheduled to give the Republican response to President Obama's state of the Union address Tuesday night. Here's one approach he may want to consider for his speech:

My fellow Americans, Good evening.

You just heard President Obama outline his views of the challenges facing our country, and of some possible solutions. Often in our democratic system, the two parties disagree both about goals and about the means of achieving those goals, and the president can express frustration at Congress for obstructing those goals.

But our nation's challenges are too great to allow partisan divisions to prevent us from working together to solve our nation's problems. That is why, first thing tomorrow, I will introduce legislation in the Senate called the Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act of 2013. Also tomorrow morning, similar legislation will be introduced in the House by my fellow Republicans.

The legislation has a variety of provisions, but they have one thing in common — they've all been endorsed already by President Obama.

The first provision would lower the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent. "Obama proposes lowering corporate tax rate to 28 percent," was the headline The Washington Post put on this story a year ago when Mr. Obama first proposed it.

You know what, Mr. President, it's a fine idea. Lower corporate tax rates mean businesses have more money left over to hire new employees and pay them more, pay dividends to shareholders, or lower prices for customers. We think the managers of the business can spend that money more wisely than we politicians in Washington can. So let's move ahead with this proposal. If it were up to us Republicans alone, we'd cut the tax rate even more, but we realize that Mr. Obama was re-elected. He's the president, and we want to work with him.

The second provision relates to energy. In the second presidential debate, Mr. Obama said, "yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We've got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas….I'm all for pipelines. I'm all for oil production." The Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act would write into law that presidential campaign promise of opening up new areas for drilling, because we agree with President Obama that more drilling means more jobs.

The third provision relates to immigration. In May 2011, President Obama gave a speech on immigration that mentioned how the current laws encourage foreign students who receive science or engineering degrees at American universities to return home instead of to stay in America and start or help build businesses. He also spoke about this in his 2011 State of the Union speech. Republicans agree that this part of the immigration law should be changed to promote economic growth and technological innovation, and it is part of the bill we'll be introducing tomorrow.

The fourth provision of the Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act relates to Iran's ambition to obtain nuclear weapons. In a press conference last year, President Obama said, "we will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon. My policy is not containment; my policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon—because if they get a nuclear weapon that could trigger an arms race in the region, it would undermine our non-proliferation goals, it could potentially fall into the hands of terrorists." Our Campaign Promise Implementation Act would wrote that policy into American law and authorize the "military effort" that the president has said  is an option if necessary to prevent an Iranian bomb.

The fifth provision of the Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act is to make any tax increases on individuals optional. When Mr. Obama campaigned, he spoke of "asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more." He used the language of "asking," not forcing, or telling, or threatening with jail if the taxpayer responds to the "ask" with a "no, thanks." If individual Americans like Warren Buffett or President Obama want to pay more in taxes, we Republicans welcome the voluntary contributions. But if President Obama wants to be true to his campaign promises, these additional contributions—including those from non-wealthy Americans via the payroll tax increase—need to be a voluntary response to an "ask," not a mandatory tax increase.

Make no mistake about it; there are plenty of areas where I and my fellow Republicans disagree with President Obama and the Democrats. But let's not let those areas of disagreement delay us from taking swift action on the important areas where there is agreement. We Republicans are prepared to move forward quickly. We want to place the emphasis on cooperation, not obstruction. We invite the president and the members of his party to join us. By doing so, the president will get a chance to demonstrate that his campaign promises were genuine, and that the promises were not merely campaign season posturing aimed at pandering to voters and designed to be abandoned immediately after the election in the face of pressure from liberal interest groups. In fact, I look forward to appearing at the White House with President Obama by the end of the month as he signs the Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act into law.

Good night, and God bless America.