Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio Is a Risky Bet For the GOP in 2016

The freshman Florida senator has a mixed record on the issues.


As a political talent, the newest official entry in the Republican race, Marco Rubio, has a lot going for him.

The son of a maid and an immigrant bartender from Cuba, Rubio is young (43), handsome, and one of the best speakers I've seen. He is good—really good—at articulating two ideas: first, that America is and should be a land of upward mobility and opportunity and economic growth, and second, that America has a responsibility to promote and defend freedom around the world. Don't underestimate the power of those ideas: they helped propel both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan to the presidency.

But the Rubio candidacy is not without formidable risks, as well, and at the risk of raining on opening day, I'm going to dwell on some of them in this column, on the theory that it's better to know about these risks up front, when someone is running for president, than to discover them only after an election.

The first risk might be called biography risk. To be blunt about it, a one-term senator in his early 40s with a law degree, young children, a golden tongue, and an inspiring personal story sounds a bit familiar—too familiar, perhaps, to many of us who have lived through the Obama years. Like Obama, Rubio would be a "first"—first Hispanic president. Rubio runs the risk of making it all about his own personal story rather than about the country and what it needs. Though Rubio, unlike Obama, did serve two years as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, he doesn't have a lot of executive experience. If your ideal presidential candidate is a kind of David Broder ideal of a governor with an impressive track record that has been ratified by voters with re-election, Rubio doesn't fit the bill.

Even as a senator, Rubio's track record has been less than impressive. His signature legislative initiative was immigration reform. In 2013 Rubio joined seven other senators—McCain, Flake, and Lindsey Graham on the Republican side, and Schumer, Durbin, Menendez and Bennet on the Democratic side—to introduce a Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Under pressure from anti-immigration Republicans, he folded faster than a cheap pup tent. No immigration reform has passed, and close observers of the senator and the issue in Washington were left wondering how a President Rubio would stand up to ISIS or Ayatollah Khamenei, let alone Congress, if he couldn't even handle some heat from Rush Limbaugh and his listeners. The best face to put on this would be that Rubio listened and rethought rather than trying to ram through a bill with elite support over popular opposition. But leadership from the senator was absent, and partly as a result, a lot of people who, like Rubio's father, want to pursue their dreams in America and could contribute here are stuck, locked outside the border by ridiculous immigration laws.

Finally, one could make the case that the problem with Obama was less his biography than his policies. But most importantly, Rubio's policy so far on the tax issue has been as much of a disappointment as his immigration flip-flop. As the Coolidge Foundation's Amity Shlaes and Mathew Denhart have pointed out in a devastating series of articles for National Review and The Wall Street Journal, Rubio's tax plan would leave the top marginal individual income tax rate at 35 percent—higher than the 28 percent at the end of the Reagan administration or the 31 percent at the end of the George H.W. Bush administration. The Rubio plan would also lower the bracket at which the top rate applies, to $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. When voters realize this, they may ask, "For this, we need Republicans?" And they may conclude, "no, thanks."

Maybe the dynamics of the Republican primary field will emerge so that Rubio gets traction. Maybe he will make his mark four or eight years from now. Or maybe he will make his mark this time around as a vice presidential candidate. He has a lot to contribute. But anyone tempted by his formidable political gifts would be wise also to keep in mind the risks.

NEXT: Rand Paul: Trapped in an Unwinnable War of Gay Marriage Semantics

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  1. Um – this has to do with Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul how??

    1. all three have a penis?

      1. Hilldog also has a Snuke….

    2. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing

  2. The biggest risk for Rubio is that the republican rank and file are as hysterical about “amnesty” as they have hitherto seemed. Reading through the Rubio announcement threads on a few right wing sites it was mentioned early and often as a reason not to support him.

    1. that’s it? It’s not his ignorance on foreign policy? His wilting in the national spotlight? His going on record with the fact that he won’t just come out and say the earth is 4.5 billion years old?

      1. I saw those thing (except the Erf thing) mentioned as well, just that OMG AMNUSTY was definitely running at the head of the pack.

    2. That “comprehensive immigration plan” was just another trap, like the Reagan amnesty was. It’s very simple: 1) give amnesty (or whatever you want to call it) now, along with promises of 2) stricter border control and enforcement, E-verify, whatever. And then only #1 ever happens. The rest gets tied up in lawsuits, not funded, not enforced. And the next wave of illegals says: “Great! I’ll come because they never kicked my uncle out!”

      Rinse and repeat until the U.S. votes like Mexico and Guatemala. That’s the Democratic Party/Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce plan.

      I understand why libertarians believe in a “right to free movement,” but the devil is in the details. Filling a welfare state with poor, uneducated peasants who think “socialism” sounds like a good idea will work against all other libertarian goals.

      1. Allowing people on welfare to breed also works against libertarian goals.

        What do you propose to do about *that* Papaya?

        1. Three generations of freeloaders are enough.

        2. I don’t think we should be paying people to have kids, especially people who can’t afford kids.

          1. Since the welfare state is here to stay, I take it you support permitting welfare recipients to breed without restraint, flooding the country with poor, uneducated people who think “socialism” sounds like a good idea will work against all other libertarian goals.

            1. Look if we let those Germans Irish Italians Chinese Mexicans in they will destroy the nation and infect us with indolent Popery.

            2. I suppose you are being intentionally clueless, but let me spell it out for you. By not paying poor people to have children (which is what welfare does currently), it will reduce the incentive for poor people to have children at taxpayer expense. So I’m not proposing enforced sterilization or anything, just a removal of the financial incentive, which will help libertarian goals by reducing poverty and welfare and crime. Get it?

        3. Allowing people to *breed* works against PapayaSF’s immigration policy.

          After all, what are babies but a bunch of illegal immigrants (they didn’t ask for *permission* to enter the country) given amnesty?

          1. Give me a break from the straw man stuff. Obviously I’m not advocating mandatory birth control or whatever, but we are making poverty and crime worse, and working against libertarian goals, by (in effect) subsidizing the creation (or importation) of children who will (on average) suck up tax dollars and commit crimes. It’s absurd that women think it’s fine to have kids they can’t support because Uncle Sugar will pay for it. It’s also absurd to pay for peasants and poor, uneducated refugees to come here and be on welfare. We’re broker than broke already. Why spend more so that we can spend even more later?

            Freedom to have kids doesn’t mean forcing someone else to pay for them. Freedom of movement doesn’t mean the freedom to go to a new country and live off the taxpayers. Why is that so hard for libertarians to understand?

            1. but we are making poverty and crime worse

              And yet – by every measure, poverty and crime in this country are at all time lows.

              Freedom to have kids doesn’t mean forcing someone else to pay for them.

              So, instead of fighting against the *welfare* system which is at the root of the evils you attribute to immigration, you fight against immigration itself.

              1. Crime and poverty would be lower still if fewer poor single women had kids. The science is settled on that: poor kids brought up by single women are at vastly increased risk of remaining poor and/or becoming criminals.

                Ending mass immigration is more critical than the welfare system right now, and has been for years. However many kids our homegrown poor are having, the numbers are increasing much faster because we are inviting them in by the scores of thousands. Now we’re even flying them in, cuz “family reunification.”

          2. This point is incredibly facile, but allow me to address it:

            Yes, the children of those who are on permanent welfare status will be much more likely to support welfare. This is a bad thing — but because we see killing those children as a moral bad in and of itself, we are not likely to support any of the obvious solutions to this problem (for good reason).

            On the other hand, it is not at all clear that restriction of immigrants from premises is a moral bad (I suggest that even “open borders” types are quite confused on what sorts of restrictions are permissible) — this must be established prior to attempting an equivalence, and of course even if it is established it cannot sincerely be compared to murder as being on the same moral plane.

            1. I don’t agree that “not paying people to have kids” is the same as “killing kids.” At the very least, let the states and cities pay for it if they want.

              1. Even if we want to change “murder” to “forced sterilization”, my comment still stands:

                How are we supposed to substitute “immigration restriction” for “forced sterilization”, when only one of these things is near-universally deplored (and the former is confused even among open borders types) and argued against convincingly as a universal moral wrong?

                The argument by analogy still doesn’t work.

  3. The freshman Florida senator has a mixed record on the issues.

    I guess. If by “mixed” you mean “mixed between sucks and blows”.

    1. I HATE it when Mega Maid’s switch gets stuck.

  4. that America has a responsibility to promote and defend freedom around the world.

    It would be nice if we could start by promoting and defending freedom at home first.

    1. That may mean having to make some people who may vote for you upset.

  5. The Rubio plan would also lower the bracket at which the top rate applies, to $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples.

    Wait, what? That’s absolutely crazy. That would suck in enormous numbers of middle-class people — especially in areas with higher costs of living — and hit them with a 35% rate on income they currently pay as little as 25% on.

    1. screw those guys. New York and California are for the rich only. People can commute in to work if they want.

      1. Why can’t their maid and gardener live in the staff quarters?

        1. Because such things are not done.

          1. *whispers*

            Agammamon is nouveau riche….he’s still learning….

            *rolls eyes*

            1. Really, it’s too rich. There should be a test before people are issued fiefs by the king.

  6. I assume he’s running for VP. He has no chance for the nomination.

    1. he would be a horrible vp.

    2. Or setting himself up for a run at FL gov.

      1. that’s much more likely.

      2. BARF!

        1. I wonder how he’d be in a state role? I don’t want him anywhere near the White House, but that’s a totally different gig.

          1. It’s been a long time since I escaped Florida’s pitiless sun and even more pitiless wildlife and have no idea what FL’s internal politics have been like. Was he any good as Speaker?

            1. It’s hard to tell, the GOP having such firm control of things. It’s certainly far from the worst legislature in the country, but it’s hard to unravel state politics unless you pay close attention to them.

          2. Well, he behaved just like an entitled political playa before he was shit out of the house by term limits. He was caught up in the RPOF AmEx scandal, let his Tallahassee house fall into foreclosure, got himself a sweet part time job at one of the state university. Sure, he weaseled his way out of those but still, in my mind Rubio is a typical scumbag politician whose main drive is power, and the perks that reside there.

          3. A term or two as governor, provided he didn’t step on his dick, would add much needed heft to his CV for the job he’s lusting after for years. And it would be his turn.

  7. the Rubio candidacy is not without formidable risks

    Cruz’s Birther Controversy um, pales in comparison to Rubio’s.

  8. The sooner we don’t hear any more about Rubio, the better.

    1. I want Rubio to split the centrist hawk vote with Jeb.

      1. That’s ok, I just don’t want to see any more stories on H&R about the guy.

  9. I doubt we’ve heard the last of his exaggerations about his parents’ immigration.…..story.html

    During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.

    But a review of documents ? including naturalization papers and other official records ? reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.

    1. Well, at least his parents could afford all of their mortgages, unlike poor Hillary.

    2. So Rubio’s parents are precogs? That should impress you, man!

    3. So his family came here in 1956ish. The Castro revolt was well underway, the country was run by Batista, etc. I wonder how much time his family spent in the US v. Cuba during 1956-1959.

      Rubio was born in 1971. At that point, his family were exiles from the Castro regime (assuming that they wanted to move back to Cuba, of course, except for Castro). The fact that they arranged an exit in plenty of time doesn’t detract from that.

      Embellished? Sure. But, depending on some details about his parent’s plans and activities before he was born, not necessarily misleading.

      Now, if people were paying equal attention to Fauxcahontas’s tales about her family as they do to Rubio’s, well, I suspect we wouldn’t have Fauxcahontas on the political stage at all.

  10. You know who else had a “mixed” record….

    1. Milli Vanilli?

  11. OT: Check out this question from a practice MCAT. They added a 4th section to the test last year, Psychology. So knowing organic chemistry is now as important for future physicians as regurgitating lefty mumbo-jumbo.

    In the United States, individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES) are, on average, the sickest members of the population. Which of the following are factors known to contribute to these health disparities?

    I. Individuals with more money also have better access to healthcare
    II. Individuals living in lower income neighborhoods are often subject to environmental injustice
    III. Food deserts have a great impact on those in the lowest SES categories in the U.S.

    1. I’m willing to bet that #1 isn’t the right answer on this test.

      1. No, of course not. It’s IV: All of the Above

        1. You can pick any combo, I put all of the above. Didn’t check this question when it was graded though.

  12. Sing it with me:

    “I’m proud to be a Floridian
    Where at least I know I’m free…..

    The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation into why deputies in a beefy armored vehicle performed a traffic stop on a Gainesville man who allegedly directed an obscene hand gesture toward them.…../150419881

    1. The second officer’s weapon fired and a bullet struck Forsyth in the arm before traveling into his chest..…..story.html

      1. The unnamed 2nd officer.

    2. “Arrive Stoned”

  13. Marco Rubio always seemed like a mouthbreathing derp to me.

  14. That 35% tax bullshit is an absolute non starter. Que se joda chingon.

  15. We all know that anyone nominated by the GOP will have a much deeper scrutiny and endure much harsher and frequent media attacks than Hillary. Reality is no one is a riskier bet than Hillary because she is dangerous. Giving her the power of the Presidency would put US on course we might never be able to change.

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  17. Funny I seem to remember that we had another President that was 43 when elected and a first term Senator… Let me see what his name…. umm Oh Yeah John F. Kennedy. Like Rubio, Kennedy had limited experience. Comparing Rubio, or anyone to Obama is crap. Obama was elected by the media. Unlike Rubio, Obama actually never served in any of the offices he was elected to because once elected he immediately began running for next higher office. In the Illinois Senate, he voted present 90% of the time as he did in the US Senate. He never took a stand so he never had a record to defend. Rubio has a record and has taken a stand on issues. Don’t get me wrong, he is far from my first or second choice, but he deserves to be treated fairly and he is far, far better than Hillary Clinton.

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