Marco Rubio’s underwhelming response to the State of the Union

Marco Rubio delivers the GOP response

You’ve no doubt heard about Sen. Marco Rubio’s stopping his speech for a few seconds to take a couple swigs of water — now known as “Rubio-ing,” because what the world needs is yet another meme. However, the substance of Sen. Rubio’s speech, in which he tried to present a distinction between the Republican Party and the vision of President Barack Obama, is vastly more important.

After the pleasantries and offering giving his extraordinary background, Sen. Rubio went right after President Obama’s economic agenda.

“Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity,” Sen. Rubio explained. “But President Obama? He believes it’s the cause of our problems. That the economic downturn happened because our government didn’t tax enough, spend enough and control enough.”

Sen. Rubio added that President Obama’s “solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more.”

He went right after the heart of President Obama’s proposed solutions to economic problems facing the country, explaining that more government isn’t going to get Americans ahead nor will it create more opportunities or inspire new ideas.

Many of the arguments presented by Sen. Rubio against President Obama were familiar Republican themes. He went after ObamaCare, noting that “some people are losing the health insurance they were happy with” and that the mandates created under the law are causing busineses to cease hiring. Sen. Rubio also made an argument against tax hikes on the wealthy — something Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in 2012, was able to do effectively. Sen. Rubio explained that “no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion,” adding, “That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.

Sen. Rubio also took on the frequent blame game that the White House and Democrats like to play when they say that the deficit problems we now face are the fault of the previous administration. “President Obama created more debt in four years than his predecessor did in eight,” Sen. Rubio pointedly noted. “The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment.”

While Sen. Rubio delivered a compelling case against President Obama, some of parts of his message were lacking and otherwise promoted big government. For example, Sen. Rubio endorsed a role for more federal intervention in education, something that should strictly be a state issue. He also said that he “believe[s] in federal financial aid,” which leaves taxpayers on the hook.

Sen. Rubio only spoke briefly on foreign policy, an area that has been a weak spot for Republicans, and he left a lot to be desired. He essentially endorsed the role that the United States has been playing as the policeman of the world. And he didn’t even directly address the sequester, which many Republicans have been trying avoid due to the defense spending cuts.

Maybe I just expected a little more given all of the hype around Sen. Rubio. It was one of the better Republican responses to the State of the Union that I’ve seen since President Obama came into office, but it was mostly the same platitudes that Americans have heard from Republicans over the last several years. Maybe a different messenger will help them, but I wasn’t sold based on what I heard last night.

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