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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Business Briefing

Dec 6, 2023 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Business Briefing to discuss his call for President Biden to ban U.S.-China travel, the Putting American Autoworkers First Act, Florida’s economic growth, and more. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.

On Senator Rubio’s call for President Biden to ban U.S.-China travel:

“Here’s what we know as a fact: Just a few years ago, a novel virus that developed around this time of the year inside of China ended up turning the world upside down and our lives upside down. I think everyone can agree [the Chinese] were less than forthcoming about when it began, how fast it was spreading, and what it entailed. 

“Had the Chinese been more transparent, just leaving aside arguments about whether this was an accident in a lab or naturally occurring for a moment, which the intelligence community is split on 50 by 50, what we know is that the last time they had a serious sort of virus in the country, they were less than forthcoming about it. Had they told us, had we known more, had the genetic sequence of this been made available earlier, researchers could have gotten to work on it faster. We could have taken measures much quicker and so forth. You’re dealing with an authoritarian regime who, first and foremost, is going to put its reputation, its credibility, ahead of the interests of its own people, not to mention the rest of the world. 

“When I hear that suddenly there is a new virus developing, I think there’s reason to be concerned. I think we need to act with a greater sense of urgency than we did in the past to minimize the opportunities for that to cross over and reach into our own country. 

“Again, we don’t know for sure what this is, and that’s the problem. If we were dealing with Belgium or Luxembourg or Sweden or some other country that was more open, I would feel a lot different about this, because we would have the latest information. With China, we really don’t know.”

On the changing U.S.-China relationship:

“The perception was that China was a developing country, that once they got rich, they would become more like us, they would want to follow the rules. And there’s been the realization that that’s not the case. They are not interested in the rules. They’re interested in the protections that the global rules of trade and commerce and international relations offer them, they’re interested in the benefits of those rules, but none of their responsibilities and obligations. 

“I think the first step has been to build a consensus, which has grown, that our relationship with China is not a relationship between the United States and a developing country. It is the relationship between two great powers who are in both competition and, in some cases, conflict. 

“The second [step] has to do with our own domestic policies. That’s what needs to change more in our approach to China. We need to recognize that there are things that America is going to have to be able to make and do without relying on China, whether it’s medicine, whether it’s industry, whether it’s America or a consortium of America and our allies [that is doing the production]. We cannot live in a world in which we depend on the Chinese Communist Party for 88 percent of the active ingredients in our medicines, or for rare earth minerals that are necessary for every technology we rely on for our economy and our national security. These are important things that we need to come to grips with in our own domestic policies, not to mention the benefits of having those industries and the jobs they create here in our country for social stability….

“[Then we need to understand] very clearly that China does not seek to join the global order which has led to the outbreak of democracy and prosperity in every region of the world. They seek to upend it. They seek to either replace it or shape it to their benefit and to our detriment. The Chinese view the U.S.-China relationship as a zero-sum game, [in which] they can only grow more powerful if we grow weaker. They believe we are growing weaker. They believe we are in late-state capitalism. They believe that our democracy and our republic is imploding, our societies and our culture are crumbling. 

“They openly say this, that it is inevitable that we are going to collapse or diminish, and they are going to rise. In many cases, that’s the pitch they’re making in the developing world: ‘Who do you want to be on the side of? A decrepit great power in decline or a rising power that will define the 21st century?’ I think all of our policies need to realize that that’s their worldview, whether we like it or not.”

On Rubio’s Putting American Autoworkers First Act:

“It’s part of a broader package of reforms…. I don’t want to ban foreign automakers. I’m not saying it should be illegal for them to make things in other countries. What I’m saying is, they shouldn’t benefit from tax credits and other things if they’re going to be moving their manufacturing capability to other places…. 

“When you move [manufacturing] overseas, you are now vulnerable to reverse engineering. Not only are you strengthening some other nation’s industrial capacity, but you’re weakening our own. You’re making vulnerable everything that you do, any advances you have…. 

“[This is the reason for] other legislation I’ve filed on the electric vehicle situation. Why should we be subsidizing an industry that is, in turn, subsidizing the rise of Chinese dominance in electric batteries? They’ve subsidized their own industry to undercut the price and therefore make it uncompetitive for rivals to enter the workspace. They increasingly dominate lithium and other mining rights around the world and can control the price of that on the global stage. 

“To me, it goes back to the same argument I made before. I think it’s stupid for us to offer tax benefits and even direct government spending to build up industrial capacity that will then be offshored and or opened up here domestically to foreign actors who can come in and either sabotage it or steal it.”

On apparent dysfunction in Congress:

“I don’t think government dysfunction, the inability to reach agreement on things like funding, are good for the country, especially in light of the challenges that we’ve just talked about. I think it reinforces the Chinese argument that America is in decline, and we do it all out in the open, with dramatic effect. All of these things are not positive. 

“On the other hand, we have some substantial policy differences, and oftentimes spending becomes the terrain on which we fight those policy differences. Right now, Congress is facing a fight over funding for Ukraine. I generally am a supporter of helping our friends defeat our enemies that happen to be their enemies. But at the same time, I recognize that millions of Americans are looking at our southern border, at this migratory crisis. It is not an immigration issue, it is a mass migration issue. They are wondering rightfully, with common sense: ‘How is it that we can find urgency to deal with the challenges of another country, albeit when it is in our national interest to do so, and not deal with our own border, which today is facing 10,000 people a day who are being actively encouraged to enter our country in an unlawful, chaotic, and uncontrolled way?’ 

“I view that as a legitimate policy difference, and the only place, the only leverage you have to fight over it is to say: ‘We can do the things we all want on Ukraine, but we also have to secure our border.’ We can’t do one and not the other. It just doesn’t make sense to people. It’s like paying your neighbor’s mortgage, but going into default on your own. No one would do that in the real world. Why would we do that in government?”

On Florida’s economic and demographic growth:

“Florida has always been a fast-growing and vibrant place. There’s a lot of reasons for that. It’s not just the weather, and it’s not just the taxes. There’s a lot of opportunity in Florida. We don’t have any of these pockets of insanity in which local governments have lost their minds about enforcing the law, so people feel generally safe in Florida and feel like they have an opportunity. 

“I’m very proud of the fact that Florida has done nothing to mess that up, and that continues to be the case. It’s attracted people from all over. It always has. Florida is a state that has grown because people have come there from other places and from other countries, and have made it a very unique and special place. 

“Now, with growth come challenges. We’re facing those challenges. They’re very real. We have an affordability crisis. It is hard to live in Florida. The cost of living in many of our major cities is now comparable to anywhere in the country. You add to that the insurance crisis that we have, which has been years in the making, and we have real challenges that accompany growth. I think that that will be a big challenge for Florida leaders in the years to come. 

“But I’m proud of the fact that Florida is generally viewed as a place that people want to be in and want to come to. I think that has a lot to do with policies that have largely adhered to things like common sense and proven solutions versus turning it into a laboratory for experiments on novel ideas that end up hurting you, like [occurred in] communities in parts of this country, I think of California and others, that decided they weren’t going to prosecute crimes and now are dealing with the consequences of it.”