Fighting for Florida

Last week, President Obama touched down in Miami to raise money for his reelection campaign, just a year after his administration kicked off its “Recovery Summer” campaign to celebrate the failed trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill.

Today, Florida struggles with a 10.6 percent unemployment rate, far higher than the national average of 9.1 percent. The jobless rate in my state is far higher than 8 percent — the level that the president promised his stimulus would keep unemployment from exceeding.

All in all, nearly 1 million Floridians are looking for work. Tragically, millions across America have lost all hope of finding a job and simply given up.

This economic malaise is not a “bump in the road” for my constituents. It is a direct result of the anti-growth, Washington-centric policies that are fueling uncertainty for those who wish to start a business or expand an existing business. And it has real-life consequences for the future of our nation.

Meanwhile, in the five months I have been in the Senate, Democratic leaders have focused on a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, a patent bill, a bill to increase spending on the Small Business Administration and a plan to increase spending on the Economic Development Administration, a relic of the Great Society that funnels debt-financed cash to states and localities (never mind that the president’s own Fiscal Commission recommended eliminating it entirely).

The Senate has taken just 91 roll call votes, many on non-controversial nominations, and a third of our time has been spent in “quorum calls,” literally doing nothing. No one should be under any illusion about the desire of leaders in the Senate to confront our sagging economy and looming debt crisis.

Unfortunately, Washington’s leadership deficit extends straight to the White House. The president has done nothing to ease the burden of our 70,000-page tax code on families and businesses. Instead, he has signed into law over $670 billion of job-killing tax hikes, with another huge tax hike set to hit in just a year and a half.

Instead of reducing the red tape that is strangling our economy, the Obama administration has proposed over 34,000 new pages of regulations this calendar year alone, meaning higher costs for job creators and consumers, and more obstacles to economic growth.

Instead of approving job-creating trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea, the Obama administration has stalled them. Approving these deals is vital to our economy, particularly to our businesses, farmers and workers whose livelihoods rely on exports to these countries. We need to open up these markets and level the playing field with the rest of the world.

Instead of enacting true spending cuts, caps and supporting a balanced budget amendment that would force Congress to live within its means, the president’s budget proposed $46 trillion in new spending and trillions in new debt which would be borrowed from China. Senate Democrats haven’t bothered to pass a budget of their own in over two years.

Most troubling is the president’s unwillingness to reform entitlements, a decision that will ensure a Greek-style debt crisis here at home and a diminished future for our children and grandchildren. In order to save important programs such as Social Security and Medicare — programs that millions of Floridians like my mother rely on — we need to reform them for younger people who are at least a decade away from retirement. Doing nothing, as the president and Democrats propose, will accelerate the bankruptcy of Medicare and our nation as a whole, and condemn our children and grandchildren to live in a country that is a mere shell of the one we inherited from our parents.

Every day that politicians delay action on these important issues, Americans feel the pain. And to be sure, growing the economy and cutting our debt won’t be easy. It requires a sense of urgency that is in short supply in Washington. But we must find a way. This is our defining moment. If this president and Congress fail to address these great challenges of our time, our children and grandchildren will never forgive us.

Marco Rubio is a Republican U.S. senator from Florida. You can also read this op-ed here.