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ICYMI: Rubio Responds to President’s Statement on Budget Deal

Oct 17, 2013 | Press Releases

Rubio: “The President spoke about the divisive language in American politics. He’s one of the leading causes of it. We’ve just seen, for three weeks, they have outright demonized anyone who disagrees with their position using a level of vitriol and descriptive terms, negative descriptive terms, against their political opponents.”

Interview on FOX News’ “Happening Now”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
October 17, 2013

Fox News’ Jon Scott: “Let’s talk about it with Senator Marco Rubio from Florida. He joins me now. The President obviously got the debt limit raised. We’re bumping up against $17 trillion and he suggested that lifting that debt limit is just sort of an ordinary function of government. Like sort of keeping airports open or building highways.”

Senator Marco Rubio: “Well, that’s the fundamental problem. I think that people are all focused on this Washington-manufactured shutdown and Washington-manufactured drama of the month that we’ve just overcome last night. But I think we can’t forget that the real crisis that our country faces is still there. The real crisis, by the way, is that the American Dream is eroding. You have millions of people who feel like they’re running in place, like this is no longer a country where, through hard work, everyone can get ahead. And one of the causes of that is the $17 trillion national debt that continues to grow. I’ve now been here three years; nothing has been done to seriously address that. And nothing was done last night to seriously address that. So once again we’ve put off this major issue that only continues to grow and gets harder to solve as time goes on.”

Scott: “You voted ‘no.’ Is that why?”

Rubio: “I did. That’s why. At the end of the day I didn’t come here to take symbolic positions, I came here to make a difference. And I think if you look back at this era in American history, if in fact we continue on the path we’re on, we’re going to lose the American Dream, we’re going to lose what makes America special, and we’re going to have to answer for that. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, will be condemned for sitting around and doing nothing about these issues. And last night was just another missed opportunity to seriously address this problem that we face.”

Scott: “Here’s how one of the articles in today’s Washington Post put it. It said, ‘President Obama fresh off a trouncing of congressional Republicans over the government shutdown, plans to renew his push for immigration legislation in the House.’ Was it a trouncing, first of all?”

Rubio: “Well, again, it depends on what you think we’re playing for. If, in fact, this is about scoring political points and impressing journalists and impressing columnists, I’m sure the White House feels pretty good this morning. But this is about saving the country. This is about making sure that America is moving in the right direction. And, that in fact, we save the American Dream and what makes our country different. Last night was another loss and one step towards losing even more. Again, here’s what we need to remember: With all the drama around here over the last three weeks, all that could be solved by one vote. There will come a day when we’re going to have a real debt crisis. Not because Congress can’t pass a bill, but because no one will lend us money. That day is coming if we do nothing.”

Scott: “Here is what the President had to say about deficits and the size of them. I want to play this for you and get your reaction.”

President Obama: “The deficit is getting smaller, not bigger. It’s going down faster than it has in the last 50 years. The challenge we have right now are not short term deficits, it’s the long term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.”
Scott: “So the deficit is shrinking in large part because of the sequester, which the President opposed.”

Rubio: “Yeah. And two things to point out: Imagine if you lived off your credit card, a $1,000 a month. And this year you’re only living on $800 a month. Would that make you feel better? You still have an unsustainable problem in place. The second thing is the President correctly points out the drivers of the long term debt are Medicare and Social Security. But he’s virtually against any idea to fix those things because the radical left-wing base of his own party refuses to consider any structural reforms to those programs. And they accuse anyone who’s in favor of making those types of changes as being anti-senior, being anti-elderly. The President spoke about the divisive language in American politics. He’s one of the leading causes of it. We’ve just seen, for three weeks, they have outright demonized anyone who disagrees with their position using a level of vitriol and descriptive terms, negative descriptive terms, against their political opponents. This President has used the politics of division for the better part of five years — to further his agenda, to get reelected and on this conflict that we faced here now.”

Scott: “And on this immigration point, you have been one of the leading proponents of immigration reform in the Senate. Has the White House contacted you? And will you work with them on some kind of immigration reform?”

Rubio: “Look, immigration remains a big deal in this country that needs to be addressed. The Senate has passed a bill. The House will now consider it. And we need to give them the time and space to figure out what they can support. I do think it is important that we be realistic about what the House can support and what they are working on. I think there are areas where a vast majority of Americans agree on: The need to have a legal immigration system that works; the need to enforce our existing laws. There are other areas that are going to be more difficult to find consensus on, quite frankly, even more difficult now given the lack of trust in government and the way that this White House and the Democrats have behaved over the last three weeks. We cannot ignore that, that is going to be a factor moving forward in all this. But let’s give the House an opportunity to see what, if anything, they can support with regards to that. And then there will be a further conversation about it. But I certainly think the President’s behavior over the last three weeks has made it harder, not easier.”

Scott: “One final question. You have raised great concerns about Iran and the charm-offensive that seems to be going on with that country. What do you say to our State Department about dealing with the Iranians?”

Rubio: “I think we should talk to anybody that wants to talk. I think we need to be realistic about who we’re talking to. This is a government that is trying to build a nuclear weapon. I don’t care what they say. Why else would they invest so much time and money on building long-range missiles? Are they planning some sort of elaborate fireworks show? No. They want to put a nuclear warhead on a rocket that can one day threaten the United States. That’s why we cannot allow Iran to have any capability to enrich. They don’t have a right to that capability and they shouldn’t have one. They have a right to a civilian nuclear program, but not a right to enrichment. And we should not agree to lift any sanctions unless they agree to get rid of their enrichment capability. And in fact, we should increase sanctions in the face of what’s happening now.”

Scott: “Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida. Thank you.”