Fighting for Florida

 Senator Marco Rubio’s Remarks As Delivered

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thank you. Buenas noches. Welcome to Florida. Bienvenidos a la Florida. Muchas gracias por escoger esta gran ciudad y este gran estado para su evento.

Thank you for choosing this state and this city for your event. A few moments ago, I got an invitation that at 8:30 they are having some kind of hospitality party here.  I think the bar is open, so I’m the only thing standing between that and you, so I’ll be brief and to the point. I am grateful for your invitation and the opportunity to speak to you for a few moments.

First of all, I’m honored to be here with a room full of job creators, of people that actually create jobs. I work in a city where a lot of the people in politics believe that they actually are the job creators. When, in fact, what it’s always taken to create jobs in America is people like you, with a good idea, the willingness to risk whatever money you can cobble together to make it happen. Oftentimes that means taking money out of your life savings or maxing out your credit card, but the ability and willingness to pursue that dream, to open up a business out of the spare bedroom of your home, an extra space in the garage of a parent’s home or your own home. Believing in that dream and pursuing it employs people and provides economic opportunity at an extraordinary level.

I know I’m here tonight and I’m grateful and honored that the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has invited me to speak tonight for a few moments. But I’m reminded that while all of us are proud of our heritage, the issues that we face as a community are the issues that our nation faces.

Of a nation of job creators that today are witnessing and confronting the most difficult economic problems in the modern era that our country has ever faced. So, in a brief few moments, I want to touch upon some of the things that I believe government can do to make it easier for you to create more jobs and grow your businesses. There’s a lot of talk about what government can do to help create jobs and opportunity, but I want to share a few things, basic things, that I think government can do. And let me say right now, when I talk about these issues, sometimes there’s a level of frustration because people want to hear something novel and unique and different. The reality is that the basics of economic growth have been unchanging. The American free enterprise system is providing more opportunity than any economic system in the history of the world. And these are the things I hope we will embrace again as a nation.

So, some of the things that I hope government will focus on in months to come, things that I believe we can embrace on a bipartisan level, things that are not about ideology or a belief in a certain set of principles held by a particular party, but the basic elements of economic growth are the things that I hope the policy makers like myself will begin to focus on again. Things like a tax code that is simple. That’s why we need tax reform. It’s not simply about tax cuts, it is about creating a tax system that is fair, easy to understand and possible to predict.

About a regulatory code whose cost of compliance is not so high that people decide not to do business in this country. About our energy needs. The cost of energy is a real cost of doing business. There is a reason why the Chinese will drill a hole anywhere they can get their hands on. Because energy costs are real.

Lucky for us as a nation, we don’t have to be environmentally irresponsible as China is, but we do need policies that encourage energy innovation and energy independence for the United States.

Two more things I hope we’ll touch upon: number one is investing in our people.  The lifeblood of any economic system is a qualified and motivated workforce. And that begins with us, number one by placing a premium on education, as a cultural value. We must be frank with our children and grandchildren, that in this new century, in the twenty-first century, there will simply not be enough jobs in America for people that do not have some sort of advanced education. And that’s why it is the proper role of our federal government to invest in things like Pell grants and our student loan program. But it is incumbent on us as a community to also place value on this and to incentivize these things.

In addition, I grow increasingly frustrated at how, in our nation, we have stigmatized career education. How we’ve made career education appear to be something beneath people when in fact it is something we desperately need. There are kids that don’t want to go to a four year university, but they’re really good at fixing things, making airplane engines or maybe they’ve never met a computer program they can’t solve. There is no reason why this nation cannot have an educational system that allows children to graduate high school, not just with a high school diploma, but an industry certification and some technical skill that they can use to provide for themselves & their families in the future.

Another thing that is near and dear to the heart of this community, and to this group, is international trade which is a logical thing, particularly in this hemisphere. The twenty-first century holds extraordinary promise for the Western Hemisphere. Not just for Latin America, by the way, not just for the Western Hemisphere, but for the whole world, and particularly for the United States. Imagine the growing number of nations with people prosperous enough and secure enough to trade with us, and to buy the things that our children and grandchildren will invent and hopefully build. That is the promise of free trade agreements.

That’s the promise of political and economic policies that this nation can undertake. To dedicate with seriousness of purpose, rededicate ourselves to growth, economic and political, in the Western Hemisphere in this century. And that’s why I hope that as soon as possible the United States Congress will ratify the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea.

And last but not least, something that we need to deal with is our national debt.  Now look the focus in Washington is on the budget and the debt, and that’s an important issue. But while the debt is the most important issue in Washington, the most important issue in America is the job crisis that you’re facing every single day and that all Americans are facing in their daily lives. And the debt is a part of that. Because as you know better than I do or any politician does, ultimately in order for someone to invest in a nation and in its economy, you must have confidence in the future.

You must believe that the worst has passed, that tomorrow has a chance to be better than today. You have to somehow be able to predict what’s around the corner. And so long as our nation faces a debt that is larger than our economy, no one is going to feel like tomorrow is better than today.

And so we have to deal with our debt. And I hope that’s something Washington will begin to take seriously after years of letting it grow under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Today the national debt hangs over our economy as a dark cloud, creating uncertainty and fear about the future. A fear that tomorrow will bring about higher interest rates and punitive tax rates that will stifle economic growth and opportunity.

I sincerely hope and I am willing to work with anyone in any party to seriously deal with the drivers of our national debt.

Now that means we have to tackle discretionary spending, there is no doubt there have to be reductions in government spending. But here is what I fear: number one, there is not enough money in the discretionary part of the budget. And so if all we do is cut programs, you will end up getting rid of legitimate government spending programs, things like education and infrastructure that our nation desperately needs.

And that is why we must fix, if we want to save, America’s entitlement programs. In particular, Medicare is a program near and dear to my heart. It has provided high quality health care for my father before he passed away a year ago and as I stand here before you today is providing quality healthcare for my mother, who has recently been ill.

I want Medicare to exist. I want Medicare to survive. I want Medicare to thrive. I want it to exist without any changes for people like my parents, like my mother, and her generation without any changes. But I also want it to exist for me and for my children when we retire. And the sad truth is that if things continue the way they are in that program not only will it bankrupt our country, but the program itself will cease to exist.

And so I hope that on a bipartisan basis American leadership will do whatever it takes to save Medicare, and do so in a way that does not harm or change anything for people currently in the program, but preserves it for people like myself and for our children. In a way that allows our nation to once again grapple with its national debt.

But to do that it will require people like me, and people like you, that are decades away from retirement to accept the simple but powerful truth that if we want Medicare to survive without changes for our parents and to exist for us, that our Medicare will have to look different than our parents’. And the sooner we accept that, the better off our parents and grandparents will be, the better off we will be, and the better off our nation will be.

One more point about budget cutting. There is a lot of focus on defense spending. And believe me we should find fraud, and abuse, and waste anywhere it exists. But if you think national debt is bad for our economy, terrorism is even worse.

The world is as dangerous today as it has ever been and it desperately needs a strong and vibrant America able to protect its national interest anywhere in the world, politically and diplomatically, and if there is no other choice, militarily.

And to do so requires us to spend money to ensure that America’s armed forces remain the strongest and most powerful in all of the world.

In closing, let me just share with you, not only am I proud to be in a room of job creators, but I’m proud to be in a room of job creators of Hispanic and Latino decent. People ask me about our community all the time, and I tell them that of all the communities in America, none understands the American dream and the American hope better than ours.

My story is probably typical of the story of everyone else in this room. Perhaps it was you, or your parents, or your grandparents came here from somewhere else because something made life impossible for you or difficult for you in the nation of their birth or of your birth. You came here with a hope of accomplishing your dreams, but more importantly giving your children the chance to do everything you could not.

Sometimes those of us my age, although I’m getting older every day, as are all of you I suppose, everyone is, forget that our parents were once our age themselves. And that when they were they had dreams and hopes for their future the way we have for ours.

As far as my story is concerned, I’m not sure what day it was or what it was that caused it, but at some point in their lives my parents realized that they would be able to go so far. That even in this extraordinary nation, with all the blessings and opportunities it had provided them, there was only so much they were going to be able to accomplish.

And so they made it the mission of their lives to ensure that their children and grandchildren would have the chance to do things that they themselves never had a chance to do. And I believe that they were able to accomplish that because of hard work, because of sacrifice. But also because we were privileged, honored, and blessed to be able to grow up and live here in this, the greatest nation in all the history of all the world.

And for us, for our generation, the great calling of our time is to preserve that same promise for our children and grandchildren. Every generation in America has been called to confront and solve the great challenges of their time. And now we are called to do the same. It is the greatest single issue of the moment. And no community understands that better than ours.

And so I expect that we will lead on these issues because we understand it as well as anyone else does. We understand the American dream because we didn’t read about it in a book. We have lived it and are living it now. And that’s why I’m honored and privileged to be with you today, and I hope I will continue to work with you in years to come and that the next time I appear before you, America will be much better off because of your hard work and sacrifices

Thank you. Muchísimas gracias. Thank you very much. God bless you.