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ICYMI: Rubio Addresses AFP’s 7th Annual Defending The American Dream Summit
Rubio: “I for one will not vote for any short-term budget that doesn’t keep in place the spending reductions already agreed to. And I will not vote for any short-term budget that spends a single cent on Obamacare. … I will not vote to raise the debt limit unless it comes with a balanced budget amendment. And I will not vote to raise the debt limit unless we make reforms that guarantee that we never have to do it again.”
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Senator Marco Rubio
7th Annual Defending The American Dream Summit
August 30, 2013
Thank you for this opportunity to speak here today. And thank you to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation for choosing Florida as the site of this gathering of patriots from across America.
The theme of this year’s summit is “Defending the American Dream.” I can’t think of a more appropriate way to frame what is at stake.
We have faced difficult times before. But this time seems different. Today’s struggles are rooted in something much deeper than just another bad economic cycle.
Our whole lives we have been told that in this country if you work hard and make sacrifices, you can achieve a better life. You can achieve the American dream. But now, a growing number of people no longer believe that this promise is still true. Most are working harder than ever, and yet they are barely keeping up, much less getting ahead. But some people have concluded not to work at all, since they can make almost as much from government benefits as they can from a job.
This President and many of his supporters believe these economic difficulties are happening because the America we grew up in doesn’t work. They believe people are struggling economically because we have a free enterprise economy that rewards the greedy and leaves everyone else behind.
They believe our enemies hate us because of something America has done wrong. In fact, our new Ambassador to the United Nations once wrote that America is guilty of crimes which we must reckon with.
And they believe many problems are not being addressed because we have an antiquated Constitution that limits the power of government.
But our struggles are not because there is something wrong about America. The reason why the American dream is slipping away is because there is something wrong with our President’s policies.
He has grown the size, scope and power of the federal government at a historic pace. And the result is – almost five years into his presidency – salaries remain stagnant, unemployment remains high and millions of people have stopped looking for work.
Big government has done what it always does: it has failed. And the result is that we are at risk of seeing an entire generation of Americans lose hope in the fundamental promise of our country: the idea that hard work and sacrifice, not government, is the way to a better life.
The good news is we still have time to save the American dream. But in order to do so, we must offer the American people a clear alternative to big government. One that reignites their belief in the promise of America.
It starts with leaders that understand that the American Dream comes not from government, but from a vibrant free enterprise economy that produces stable middle class jobs.
This is not a conservative talking point. It is a fundamental truth that has been shared by Presidents in both parties. From John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – most of our leaders have known that a growing free enterprise economy, not government, is the true source of middle class jobs and prosperity.
Free enterprise works because it encourages innovation and investment. Innovation is when people invent a new product or service. This creates jobs because new products require new workers to design, build, fix and sell them.
And investment is when people risk money to start a new business or grow an existing one. This creates jobs because a new business needs new workers and a growing business needs more workers.
Big government is eroding the American Dream, because it makes innovation and investment harder to do.
But if we replace big government with policies that make America the best place in the world to innovate and invest, we can restore the American Dream.
We should reform our tax code. Instead of using it as a tool of class warfare, we need one that is simpler and more predictable, so people are not afraid to risk their money to start a new business, grow an existing one and hire more people. And we need one that is affordable, every penny the government takes is money that isn’t available to start or grow a business.
We need to reform our regulations. Instead of using it as a tool to advance an ideological agenda, we need to make sure that all these rules do not make America an unaffordable place to create jobs. Burdensome regulations scare people away from risking their money to start or grow a business and hire people. And complying with these regulations cost money, making innovation and investment more difficult.
That is why ObamaCare has been so devastating to our economy. It’s not just a new law, it is a source of thousands of pages of new rules. This has left many employers in a virtual holding pattern. They are not going to grow and hire more people until they can figure out how much this is all going to cost them.
In two weeks we return to Washington to debate the latest in a series of short-term budgets.
I for one will not vote for any short-term budget that doesn’t keep in place the spending reductions already agreed to.
And I will not vote for any short-term budget that spends a single cent on ObamaCare.
We also have to bring the national debt under control. The debt isn’t just an accounting problem, it is destroying the middle class. Because the fear of a future debt crisis is scaring people away from innovating or investing.
In a few weeks, Congress will once again be engaged in a debate to raise the debt ceiling. This is an opportunity to solve this debt problem once and for all.
I will not vote to raise the debt limit unless it comes with a balanced budget amendment.
And I will not vote to raise the debt limit unless we make reforms that guarantee that we never have to do it again.
Beyond taxes, regulations and the debt, in order to save the American Dream, we need to take full advantage of our strategic strength on energy. God has blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense.
This will encourage further innovations that will make us more efficient in how we explore and how we use energy. It will also encourage investment in the energy industry, which will create thousands of new middle class jobs. And it will provide us a reliable and affordable source of domestic energy, making America a cheaper place to do business. In fact, cheaper energy costs will help bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
And finally we need a people with the skills and values needed to succeed in the 21st century. The middle class jobs of this century will require skills millions of Americans currently do not have. That is why we need an education system that gives people the skills today’s jobs entail and the knowledge that tomorrow’s world will require.
Yes we need curriculum reform for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. But that should be driven at the state and local level, not a one-size-fits all Common Core curriculum imposed on the states by the federal Department of Education.
We need more vocational and career training. We still need electricians, plumbers and engine mechanics. We should graduate more kids with a high school diploma in one hand and an industry certification in the other.
We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.
Many of the middle class jobs of the 21st century will require more than high school but less than a four-year education. Working with community colleges, we need to provide more options for people to acquire these skills.
Many of the people who need to acquire these skills are non-traditional students. They are single parents who have to work full time and also raise their kids. They are workers who lost a job that is never coming back and need to be retrained. Online courses, and self-directed learning are just two ways we can provide access to these skills to students who can’t simply quit their job and move away to college for two or four years.
For many Americans, a traditional four-year degree will continue to be the ticket to a better life. But tuition costs have grown so fast, a four-year degree has increasingly become the ticket to decades of debt as well.
When I finished school, I owed over 100,000 dollars in student loans, a debt I paid off a little over a year 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.
I would be remiss I did not make one last point. You can have all the diplomas on the wall you want, but if you do not have certain values, like hard work, sacrifice, self-control, discipline and respect for others, you cannot achieve the American Dream.
No one is born with these values. They have to be taught. The American Dream flourished because families, with the support of churches, synagogues and civic groups, instilled those values in children. But now a growing number of children are born into broken families. And our government is increasingly hostile towards our faith communities and civic groups.
This is not about imposing our religious views on anyone. Teaching our children these values is not the role of government.
What we do need however is political leaders that acknowledge that the moral wellbeing of our people has a direct impact on their economic wellbeing. Leaders that understand that the breakdown of our society is having a devastating impact on our country.
And we need leaders that understand that laws and government spending programs are not a replacement for strong families. Leaders who seek to strengthen, not undermine institutions like churches and the Boy Scouts, that help children learn the values so critical for success.
The last few elections remind us that as a people, Americans remain divided on all sorts of topics. Even in this room, we have disagreements on the best way to solve some of our issues. But the one thing the vast majority of Americans can agree on is this, we still want to believe in America. And we still want this to be a country where everyone who is willing to work hard and sacrifice, will have the opportunity to earn a better life.
That is why the most important question facing us is not which political party should run our country. The fundamental choice we have to make is what kind of country do we want to have.
For over two hundred years, America has been a special country. Not just because of the size of our economy, not because of the power of our military, not even because of the endurance of our republic. We are different and we are better because we were founded on the powerful idea that every human being has a God-given right to earn a better life for themselves.
From one generation to the next, this idea has held us together, because we have lived it in our lives.
Like most Americans, this promise is personal to me. Both of my parents grew up poor, with little prospect of a better life. And so they came here, because this was the one place on earth where people like them, through hard work and sacrifice, could get ahead.
Life in America didn’t lead to instant success. They struggled. They knew disappointment and discouragement. At one point they even thought about going back to Cuba, before communism made that impossible.
But they persevered. My dad worked as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. Jobs that existed because free enterprise works. Because someone risked their money and invested in opening and expanding the places they worked at.
No, they never made much money. Yet they lived the American Dream. Because just a decade removed from despair, they made it to the middle class. And they gave us, their children, the opportunity to pursue our every dream.
But my family’s story is not just about them, it is about us. It is the story of America. Of millions of people before them and since, who achieved here, in this land, what would have been impossible almost anywhere else.
And that is who we Americans still are. Today, there are millions of people among us trying to do for their children what my parents did for me and what your parents did for you. What they need is a chance to make those dreams come true.
That is why we must put the false promises of big government behind us, and once again embrace the power of a free people, living in a free economy, to create a better life for themselves, a better country for their children and a better world for us all.
I often hear people say that I did not come from privilege. It is true, my parents weren’t rich. They didn’t have access to power or influence. But yet I consider myself a child of privilege. The privilege of being raised by two loving parents, in a strong and stable home. And the privilege of being born a citizen of the one place on earth where the son of a bartender and a maid could grow up to be anything he wanted to be.
I know that if I had been born in virtually any other nation, I too would probably be trapped in a stagnant society. Unable to go any further than my parents before me, no matter how hard I worked. But instead, God blessed me with the chance to be an American.
He has blessed us all with this distinction. He has given us the chance to live in a special place at a special time. And now he has given us the chance to reclaim our country once again.
The chance to ensure that the American Dream lives on for yet another generation. So that our children will be as grateful to us as we are to our parents. So that when our time on this earth comes to an end, our grandchildren will say of us that we restored the American Dream.