GOP rising star Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) appeared to be under extreme physical stress last night while giving the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Midway through what was probably the most important speech of his life to date, Rubio stopped randomly to grab a water bottle. Well, it seems that his stress from the night before carried over into today because he has been unable to keep up the false appearance of bipartisanship and concern for the American people.
On Wednesday’s CBS This Morning, hosts Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose pressed Rubio for a response to the President’s proposal to raise federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour, and he said:
“I support people making more than $9. I want people to make as much as they can. I don’t think the minimum wage law works,” Rubio said. “We all support — I certainly do — having more taxpayers, having more people who are employed. I want people to make a lot more than $9 – $9 is not enough. The problem is you can’t do that by mandating minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked in terms of having the middle class have more prosperity … let’s have a debate about growth and what generates growth because a minimum wage law … is not the way to do it.” (CBS This Morning)
That comment won’t go far towards the GOP’s efforts to be more grassrootsy with the poor folks. Neither will House Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell’s indifference to the struggles of low-income Americans. Paul Ryan (R-WI) essentially parroted Rubio.
The fact is, they are all wrong when they say that raising the minimum wage causes job loss. Two separate studies, one in 2010 and another in 2011, show that minimum wage increases have almost no impact on jobs. While an increase wouldn’t completely alleviate the issues facing low-income earners, a couple of dollars extra per hour would help ease some of their burden and lift them from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour – an increase of more than $3,000 per year. Furthermore, almost all money made by low-income earners goes directly back into the economy, thus stimulating the economy.
Most (all?) members of the GOP resist minimum wage increases. They always have – this isn’t new. But in recent years, they’ve become more vocal about doing away with the minimum wage law altogether. The question is, would businesses pay employees a fair wage if they weren’t legally required to do so? I think we know the answer to that. Big business doesn’t even want to pay $7.25 per hour now. If they did, they’d not be having products assembled in Chinese labor camps.
O’Donnell and Rose also cornered Rubio on gun control and he went straight to Newtown, Connecticut.
“First of all, our heart is broken for those people,” Rubio replied, getting the expected show of sorrow out of the way before he continued with his talking point. “The problem is everything the President is proposing would do nothing to have prevented what happened in Newtown, and would do nothing to prevent further violence in the future.”
Actually, that’s not true. The weapon and magazine type used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre would have been banned under the new gun control proposals and under Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill. Besides that, the President’s proposals include a provision to provide schools with funded armed police officers if they want them. So….? What is Rubio talking about? I think that he’s feeling so golden from his recent celebrity status that he’s become careless and doesn’t even feel the need to research before “shooting from the hip.” Pun totally intended.
Why do I say that? I say that because he continued his lies and misinformation to say that Florida’s gun laws are “pretty strict.” Wrong. Florida ranks 41st on the Brady Campaign To End Gun Violence state rankings and is one of the least controlled states in the nation. (Source)
But Rubio makes up his own fairy tales about his home state.
“We have gun laws that are pretty strict in terms of requiring background checks and if you’re a concealed weapons permit holder.”
Wrong again. Background checks are not required on all Florida gun purchases, and no permit is required to purchase ANY firearm and the only permit to carry applies to a handgun. So we can just run around with rifles in the back of our dune buggies in Florida, I guess. “Pretty strict”? I think not.
Rifles and Shotguns
- Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No
- Registration of rifles and shotguns? No
- Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No
- Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No
- Permit to purchase handgun? No
- Registration of handguns? No
- Licensing of owners of handguns? No
- Permit to carry handguns? Yes
Purchase and Possession:
No state permit is required to possess or purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun. (Source)
Rubio is seriously just making it up as he goes along. Does this not concern people? It must be really disheartening when it sinks in that GOP politicians just say “whatever” and assume people will believe it. Marco Rubio is either lying or has no clue about Florida gun laws.
Seeing no escape from the gun argument, he decided we don’t even need laws at all, because law-abiding citizens are the only ones who obey the law.
“The problem is laws are only followed by law-abiding people,” he said, adding, “The people who commit these gun crimes, they don’t care what the law is. They don’t follow the law. They’re criminals.” He continued with, “I also think they undermine, on the other hand, the right of law-abiding citizens to possess arms via the Second Amendment.”
It bears noting that the proposed laws and restrictions were enforced in the past, at a federal level,and were never found to be unconstitutional. At the same time, however, Rubio claims (I believe him!) that he has no clue what the proposals actually are.
“I’m not sure which proposals the President was speaking to,” he said, and concluded with, “None of that would have prevented what happened in Connecticut.”
When asked about his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), he explained that the act didn’t have his vote “because it has a provision that hurts Florida.” Wrong again. The congressmen who voted against the VAWA did so because of the act’s provision that offers special protection to Native American women, essentially granting tribal courts jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against non-Native Americans on tribal lands. The GOP is concerned that this would violate the constitutional rights of people who aren’t Native American. Let me translate: “This will hurt white men who rape Native American women (which has never happened, right?), so we want to try them in OUR court, under OUR control.”
“Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences,” Rubio said. (Source)
So precisely how does that hurt Florida? Just say it, Rubio. You’re voting the way you’re told to vote.
In the end, after all the hype, and all of the warm fuzzy grassrootsy efforts, the GOP is back at square one. They haven’t changed, and they can’t change.
In his speech last night, Rubio mentioned his parents, immigrants who came to the U.S. for opportunities for their children, and his middle-class immigrant neighbors, many of whom are now living on Social Security. Rubio’s father raised his children on wages earned as a bartender.
It’s likely that some of Rubio’s impoverished, hard-working neighbors who are still working – the ones he touted as the salt of the earth last night – may make at or around minimum wage. His father, as a bartender, would have made less and been dependent primarily on tips from benevolent customers.
It’s a shame that Marco Rubio has gotten so far away from his upbringing. Instead of being an advocate for those who are struggling, he made the decision to ignore their suffering. Instead of having compassion for parents who lost their children to gun violence and using that compassion as fuel for change, he made the decision to say “nothing would have protected them, so why make laws?” Instead of voting for laws that would protect women, he made the decision to slap Native American women in the face and vote down a solid law because of one provision. Marco Rubio doesn’t care about these people. Marco Rubio is playing politics.
Marco Rubio is a sell-out, and if he is the GOP’s best and brightest hope, the Democratic party is in good shape for 2014 and 2016.
Watch his interview with CBS below:
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.