‚??More government isn‚??t going to help you get ahead. It‚??s going to hold you back.¬†More government isn‚??t going to create more opportunities. It‚??s going to limit them,‚?Ě Rubio said.
The speech, lasting just about 10 minutes, laid into the president‚??s second-term wish list of raising the minimum wage, billions of dollars in infrastructure investment, new climate policies, stricter gun control, more taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while criticizing the administration‚??s record during the first four years.
‚??As you heard tonight, his¬†solution to virtually every problem we face is for¬†Washington¬†to tax more, borrow more and spend more,‚?Ě Rubio said.
With U.S. unemployment still hovering around 8 percent and the American economy not growing at the rate the president promised during his first term, Rubio argued that even marginal growth would greatly change economic fortunes.
‚??Economic growth is the¬†best way to¬†help¬†the middle class.¬†Unfortunately, our¬†economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012. But if we can get the economy to grow at¬†just 4¬†percent¬†a year,¬†it would create¬†millions of¬†middle class¬†jobs. And¬†it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade,‚?Ě Rubio said.
Rubio also attacked the Obama administration on it‚??s energy policy, criticizing failed companies like Solyndra for wasting taxpayer dollars after they went under, while arguing for opening federal lands for more exploration and reasonable energy regulations.
‚??If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class¬†jobs and it will¬†help bring¬†manufacturing back from places like China,‚?Ě Rubio said.
It has been a busy start of the year for the Florida senator as speculation grows of a possible 2016 presidential run. Rubio is one of the ‚??Gang of Eight‚?Ě senators proposing bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform and has been pushing the framework in conservative media, who have begun to warm to the idea. Rubio made the case in his response, too.
‚??We need a responsible,¬†permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws,‚?Ě Rubio said.
But, just as the president spent considerable amount of the time talking about new education policies, Rubio did as well, but emphasized empowering local school districts, parents and students and even used his own story to make his point.
‚??When I finished school, I owed over 100,000 dollars in student loans, a debt I paid off just a few months ago.¬†Today, many graduates¬†face¬†massive student debt. We must give students more information¬†on the costs and benefits of¬†the student loans they‚??re taking out,‚?Ě Rubio said.
With Congress furiously debating how to deal with the looming sequestration cuts, funding the federal government, and whether to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans and Democrats still disagree on the approach to dealing with these issues. Rubio again emphasized the distinction, delineating his party‚??s ideas from the president‚??s.
‚??In order to balance our budget, the choice doesn‚??t have to be either higher taxes or dramatic benefit cuts for those in need. ¬†Instead we should grow our economy so that¬†we create new taxpayers, not new taxes, and so our government can afford to help those who truly cannot help themselves,‚?Ě Rubio said.
‚??If we can get our economy healthy again, our children will be the most prosperous Americans ever. And if we do not, we will forever be known as the generation responsible for America‚??s decline.‚?Ě
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