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ICYMI: Rubio: Our Number One Priority in Economic Policy Should be Creation of Dignified Work for Americans

Nov 4, 2019 | Press Releases

“The senator will call for an embrace of what he calls ‘common-good capitalism,’ in which employers and workers seek to cooperate more than they do in the pursuit of mutual benefits.” — James Hohmann
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke with James Hohmann of The Washington Post ahead of his speech on the dignity of work at Catholic University’s Busch School of Business on Tuesday, November 5th. Excerpts of the interview are below.
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Speech Details:
Rubio to Speak on Dignity of Work at Catholic University
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
9:30 AM EDT
The Catholic University of America
Busch School of Business and Economics
Maloney Hall’s Della Ratta Auditorium
620 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20064
The Daily 202: Marco Rubio thinks Catholic social doctrine can save capitalism
By James Hohmann
November 4, 2019
Washington Post
Rubio said his underlying point about the importance of vocational education remains, but he’s come to recognize the need for a more intellectual approach to modernize conservatism and save the country. The senator argues that the primary purpose of capitalism is to provide for human dignity. He has concluded since losing the Republican nomination to Donald Trump in 2016 that corporate executives, by prioritizing shareholders above workers and quarterly profits above the national interest, have caused an existential crisis of confidence in the underpinnings of the free-enterprise system.

Rubio also leans on his personal faith while discussing his increasingly populist economic policy. He quotes four popes, including the past three. At the heart of his prepared remarks is a lengthy rumination on an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. “Rerum Novarum,” as the encyclical was called, represented the Catholic Church’s response to the disruptions of the Industrial Revolution. Leo endorsed the right of workers to form unions so they can partake in the benefits that they create, while affirming the right to own private property. More broadly, the pope rejected socialism but also laissez-faire capitalism.

Rubio said he believes the 128-year-old treatise from the Vatican takes on fresh urgency against the backdrop of America’s great power competition with China, which is antagonistic to Christianity and human rights. “China is undertaking a patient, well-designed effort to reorient the global order to their advantage, but how can we possibly take on this challenge … if we do not first confront our crises at home? Because we are in a competition with a near-peer adversary with three times our population, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind,” he plans to say in his speech. “As Robert F. Kennedy did in 1968, we must once again accept the indivisible tie between culture and economics.”
The senator will call for an embrace of what he calls “common-good capitalism,” in which employers and workers seek to cooperate more than they do in the pursuit of mutual benefits. “We’ve lost this concept in American life that all of us have a series of rights and obligations,” Rubio said. “I think we’re all well versed on our rights, but the concept of obligation has gone away and oftentimes people forget that this also applies to the business sector.”

“When dignified work is unavailable, more families need Thanksgiving meals delivered, but fewer families have the money or time to provide them,” Rubio plans to say in his remarks. “When dignified work is unavailable, men are hit especially hard, because something that is core to being a man – providing for your family – has been taken away.”
Rubio calls for government policies that disincentivize selfish corporate decision-making, such as imposing taxes on share buybacks, while rewarding investment in domestic manufacturing and new research. He also wants to change the tax code to expand the federal per-child tax credit and enact a paid family leave policy. Rubio said he’s trying to use his perch as chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to revamp the Small Business Administration to channel more financing toward small manufacturers rather than “lifeless corporate conglomerates.”
“Our number one objective in economic policy should not simply be GDP growth or the performance of the stock market,” he said. “Our number one priority in our economic policy should be the creation of dignified work for Americans because of all the things that come and flow from that.”
Tuesday’s speech will build on an article Rubio wrote in August for a journal called First Things, which focuses on the intersection of religion and public life, about the purpose of economics.
Rubio defended bringing his faith into a conversation about economics because he said it reinforces values such as respecting others, caring for the less fortunate, telling the truth and being courteous. He said Christianity and most other religious traditions instill “a lot of the things that people complain that we’ve lost in the crassness of this culture.”

He said the president’s political success revealed the need for more systemic than cosmetic changes to the architecture of the American economy. “You have these economic numbers that ebb and flow,” Rubio explained. “Some of them are very good numbers, certainly, from a traditional perspective of what they mean. And yet you have this lingering sense that, you know, there’s some sort of sickness that’s taken hold, something that’s deep into the culture and in society and in our economy that we have that’s leaving people disconnected, separated, divided, anxious and so forth.”

He said his advocacy for “common-good capitalism” is partly driven by polls showing growing receptiveness toward socialism, especially among younger voters. “Some politicians today entice us to embrace socialism, with the promise that only the government can provide us these things, but in practice that’s never how it works,” he will say in his speech on Tuesday. “Because a government that guarantees you a basic income is also one that decides where you work and how much you make. A government that promises you free health care is also one that decides who your doctor is and what care you’ll receive. A government that promises free college is also one that decides what school you must go to and what you are taught.”
Because he’s speaking to an audience of students, Rubio said he wants to express sympathy about the challenges that they will face. “They are angry at a system that has been rigged against them by the very people who created these problems,” he said. “The people who enjoyed cheaper college themselves, but then turned around and raised tuition. The people who brazenly adopted the motto ‘greed is good’ in the 1980s but then caused a catastrophic financial crisis and left them with this disordered economy. It is a truth recognized in both ancient and contemporary times that no nation can be strong if the whole nation does not benefit from its strength.”
Read the rest here.