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ICYMI: Rubio Discusses Retirement Security, Clinton’s Record & Climate Change On CNBC’s Squawk Box
RUBIO ON RETIREMENT SECURITY: “So we want to create that option for people to be able to do that, to be able to invest in something other than treasuries, where over a period of time that begins to compound. And I think as people see that succeed, they’ll have an incentive to do more of it. As far as working beyond 62 or 65, I think most people expect to work beyond 65, not because they have to, but because they’ll want to. I think that’s going to be the nature of the future economy. You’re already seeing it now.”
RUBIO ON CLIMATE CHANGE: “I actually said the same thing I said before. … I do not believe these laws will do anything about it. And I’m not going to help destroy America’s economy.”
RUBIO ON CLINTON’S STATE DEPARTMENT: “I think the foreign policy of this administration has been a failure, primarily because it was premised on a failed notion. And that is that somehow if the U.S. stepped back from the world, that other countries would fill that void in a positive way. And that’s not been the result. … In the absence of [American leadership], you see the chaos you see all over the world when she was at the State Department, when all of this was happening.”
RUBIO ON HOUSE’S BENGHAZI INVESTIGATION: “I expect it will be run in a very professional way. I think this is a fact-finding operation. It shouldn’t be theater. I don’t think that’s what they intend to do. If you see the people they’ve appointed to it, these are serious thinkers and workers.”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
CNBC’s “Squawk Box”
May 14, 2014
CNBC’s Joe Kernen: “You gave a speech yesterday. We’re going to talk about a lot of these ideas because they make a lot of sense. And we’re going to totally avoid something that happened to you a little bit earlier, where you stepped on the third rail of the progressive movement in terms of global warming. Hopefully, you’ve learned your lesson now.”
Senator Marco Rubio: “I am more than happy to talk about that with you.”
Kernen: “No, no, no. You know what happens to dissidents in some foreign countries. I think if you say something as a fact long enough, people, either you start buying into it or, in a religious way, you become kind of a heretic. And I don’t want you to go there. I have learned, repeat after me, ‘I believe the climate is changing.’ That’s all you need to say.”
Rubio: “I’ve actually said that. What I don’t believe is these laws will do anything about it except destroy our economy.”
Kernen: “I know. I saw you backtrack on it.”
Rubio: “Oh, I didn’t. No, I actually said the same thing I said before.”
Kernen: “Ok, on anthropomorphic global warming, on whether man is responsible for global warming. I think it’s okay for you to be skeptical about that. But in this day and age, you’re not allowed to be skeptical. Most of the time, science over the years, you are allowed to express skepticism. That’s what science was all about. But not anymore. Just so you know.”
CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “You can’t make speeches at colleges anymore.”
Kernen: “No, no, no. So I’m just giving you some advice. Take it from me, just say, ‘I believe that the climate changes,’ and leave it at that. It’s not worth it.”
Rubio: “I do not believe these laws will do anything about it. And I’m not going to help destroy America’s economy.”
Kernen: “You know what, I’m not saying anything else. I know they’re watching. There are Soros-funded groups that watch, and I watch every word now.”
Caruso-Cabrera: “But do they have a Nielsen box. That’s all I care about.”
Kernen: “Anyway, Senator, one thing that I think makes a lot of sense is how we get young people to realize, I think it would help if they took it upon themselves to prepare for their own retirement. That way we won’t be, no matter what the government does, if we don’t feel like we need the government maybe we’ll be able to avoid becoming an entitlement state full-on within 50 years.”
Rubio: “Well, I mean, part of my point is that these programs, for example, Social Security is a very important program. It was never designed to be the sole source of retirement security. It’s designed to be a supplement. That’s going to be absolutely the way it is for the future, for my generation and younger generations. So what we’re trying to do, and what I’m trying to figure out, is how can we get more younger investors in America to begin investing in equities. Not just put your money in a savings account or things of that nature, but how can I get you to put your money somewhere, where over a period of time, that will compound. And the products are available.
“But if you happen to work somewhere that doesn’t have a human resources department, or doesn’t offer a 401k, the chances you’re going to be doing that are significantly diminished. So what I’ve argued is that for Americans working in places that do not offer a pre-retirement savings plan, they would have the ability to pay into the Thrift Savings Plan, that members of Congress have. It’s one of the best performing plans in America.”
Kernen: “A day doesn’t go by where we see that Medicare and Medicaid are expanding. It’s here to stay, obviously, but it could be certainly run a lot more effectively. You make some points about what I thought the Democrats tried to kill, and that is Medicare Advantage plans. You could learn something for the overall system the way those are run.”
Rubio: “Absolutely. My mom is a Medicare Advantage patient. And what she has found, and I have found by watching it, is that these companies compete for her business very heavily. And they market it heavily, and they do all sorts of things.
“One of the reasons why she picked the plan that she’s on right now is because it provides transportation. They have quality doctors, they will pick her up, they will take her — in fact, they want her to go to the doctor because they have an incentive to keep her healthy. If we can create more competition and more options for all seniors on Medicare, beyond just Medicare Advantage, creating that option for everybody, I think you’re going to see competition and quality increase.”
CNBC’s Ed Lazear: “Your point about retirement security I think is extremely important. I’m glad to see you are on to this, because one of the big problems we have right now is with people living longer. You have people working for 40 years to support the remaining 20 years. What that basically means is that you have to have not only higher savings in each of those years, but you really want to get the work life to be longer. And I thought that you were focusing on two aspects of that. The first one was trying to create incentives for people in old age, and I’m now one of those people. And the second was to get savings up by giving a higher rate of return. I wonder if you can talk about that, each one of those a little bit?”
Rubio: “Well, on the higher rate of return, look, we’re never going to have interest rates any time in the near future. They may go up, but you’re never going to have them at a pace where they’re going to keep pace with equity from people who are investing in the marketplace. A lot of people don’t have access to that, simply because they don’t have the time to go down to a financial institution and open up a pre-tax account, or their employer doesn’t offer it.
“So we want to create that option for people to be able to do that, to be able to invest in something other than treasuries, where over a period of time that begins to compound. And I think as people see that succeed, they’ll have an incentive to do more of it. As far as working beyond 62 or 65, I think most people expect to work beyond 65, not because they have to, but because they’ll want to. I think that’s going to be the nature of the future economy. You’re already seeing it now.
“As I joked yesterday, if you don’t believe people want to work after 65, take a trip to the U.S. Senate. You will see quite a few people past the age of 65 who work very hard because they want to. That’s a good thing for our country. But we should not punish it through our tax code. I think there comes a point where you should no longer have to pay into that system after you’ve been paying into it for 40 years.”
CNBC’s Rob Cox: “Is there a danger, Senator Rubio, that people look at your plan and see it as sort of a baby boomer appeasement plan for someone who’s thinking about running for higher office. I didn’t see a lot in there about how we get younger people to save more money, how we get younger people to invest money, say, in education and skills which are really going to be quite important to holding up all these folks up there who are going to be needing health care and who are going to be worried about their retirement.”
Rubio: “First, I have actually already rolled out an agenda on higher education, which I believe is critically important in the 21st century. All the mid-level jobs, the middle income, higher income jobs of the 21st century, all of them, are going to require some level of advanced skill acquisition or education. I’ve rolled out a whole agenda on that.
“But on the speech, we actually focused almost significantly on younger workers, giving them a vehicle where they can invest their money for retirement, by giving them access to the exact same 401k-type system that members of Congress have. If you work somewhere that doesn’t offer a 401k, or some other pre-tax capability to save money, you will be able to buy into the exact same system that I, as a member of Congress, have access to. That’s in there. And the other thing is the long-term viability of Medicare and Social Security, as it is currently structured, neither one of those programs will exist by the time millennials retire. So we’ve got to address that. That’s a huge part of addressing the needs of that generation.”
Kernen: “Thank you, Senator. We are talking way too much substance here. Let me get back to politics here. Michelle went to Wellesley, so I’m going to hear about this question. Because Hillary went to there — anyway, as far as Hillary Clinton’s job as Secretary of State, you are not, the record itself, Benghazi notwithstanding, you questioned whether she would get a passing grade?”
Rubio: “I do. I think the foreign policy of this administration has been a failure, primarily because it was premised on a failed notion. And that is that somehow if the U.S. stepped back from the world, that other countries would fill that void in a positive way. And that’s not been the result. What we have learned from this experience is that while the rest of the world doesn’t like to be told what to do by America, they expect us to lead and they want America to lead. They understand that we’re uniquely positioned to create a coalition of free nations who will do things — like protect freedom of navigation in the seas or the respective territorial boundaries. And in the absence of that, you see the chaos you see all over the world when she was at the State Department, when all of this was happening.”
Kernen: “For Republicans to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in 2014 in this election coming up, what do you do with these hearings? Go full-bore? Do you tread lightly? How do you handle that? What do you do with Lois Lerner?”
Rubio: “I expect it will be run in a very professional way. I think this is a fact-finding operation. It shouldn’t be theater. I don’t think that’s what they intend to do. If you see the people they’ve appointed to it, these are serious thinkers and workers. These are not necessarily showboats that are doing it for television exposure.
“Look, here’s what we know for a fact. We know two things. First, we know there was a long history of credible reporting that the situation in Benghazi was very dangerous. We know that the Red Cross and the British and others had left Benghazi because they felt they couldn’t protect their personnel. The U.S. decided to stay. That’s a questionable decision.
“Assuming you stay, you have to put in place significant security resources to protect your people and to extract them. We did neither. Who is responsible for that? Who is going to be held accountable for that mistake? Because, so far, nobody has been. I think that should be a significant part of this inquiry. And the other is, the White House made a decision to go to the American people and them, in the early stages after this occurred, that this happened because of a video. They didn’t want to say that it was because of terrorism. Because if you will recall, their narrative during that time was that terrorism was on the run. They also need to be held accountable for that.”
Caruso-Cabrera: “Senator, Joe brought up the Wellesley thing, but I’m also Cuban-American. And it would be great to see a Cuban-American president. Are you going to run?”
Rubio: “I don’t know if I’m going to run yet. I will know the end of this year, early next year, because my senate term is up as well. So I’ll have to make a decision whether I want to stay here in the U.S. Senate and continue to make a difference or run for another spot. We’ll see early next year.”
Kernen: “You’ve got to make a choice. She has to decide. And then there’s Ted Cruz, too, could satisfy your…”
Caruso-Cabrera: “I feel like Senator Rubio is more Cuban. Yeah.”
Kernen: “Senator, thank you. And one last thing that you might, you know, if you do weigh in on it again, you might say the models have correctly predicted that we’d have more warm, dry, wet, cold summers and winters. And they have, it has been correct, warm, dry, wet, cold. We’re covering all our bases. That’s why it’s called change.”
Rubio: “Thank you for your scientific insight. I appreciate it.”