Jul 24 2020
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined the Hoover Institution for a discussion on America's future after COVID-19. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the United States’s future relationship with China, and what policies can be implemented to address this rising geopolitical challenge:
“Ultimately, China and the U.S. are going to be the two most powerful nations on Earth for the foreseeable future. Our relationship will define the 21st century. I would love to see a China that’s more democratic and respects human rights...but what we have the most control over in the short to midterm is the nature of our relationship. If it is not an equitable and balanced relationship between two great powers, then I think the potential for conflict and terrible things happening begins to rise. And so we cannot allow these imbalances to continue.
“That will require us to stand up to some of these unfair practices, but it will also require us to reevaluate our own policies at home, in terms of what we invest in, what we prioritize, and what our national interests are...Yes, it is probably more efficient and cheaper to make certain things in China, but we sure do not want to depend on China for everything from PPE, to basic pharmaceutical ingredients, to the ability to be a leader in world telecoms, 5G, biomedicine or any other iterations that are coming.”
On human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China committed by the Chinese Communist Party:
“I think that the revelations about what’s happening to the Uyghur population in Xinjiang have damaged [China’s] global image tremendously. I think it’s made it very difficult for many in Europe, as an example, to turn a blind eye. I think it increasingly put its pressure on the Muslim world to speak out more forcefully about the extraordinary abuse.
“It's a horrifying situation and the notion that there might be American or Western companies benefiting from forced labor is equally horrifying…There's no easy answer to stop it, but it is something that certainly we cannot be silent on.”
On China’s national security law in Hong Kong:
“Now, with the...takeover in the judiciary, there are growing doubts for companies that if they get into commercial disagreements with mainland China they are not going to be treated fairly in courts, and contracts are not going to be adjudicated fairly. There's also the personal consent — if you said something — anywhere in the world — according to this law...you can be accosted and arrested. So theoretically I could shove off to Hong Kong (although now I'm banned...), and they could arrest me for some tweet I put out while sitting in my living room in Miami, Florida!”
On the Chinese Communist Party’s expropriation of American goods:
“We have to first and foremost address all the vulnerabilities that [China has] taken advantage of. For example, they have figured out ways to evade CFIUS, which is the federal review of the purchase of our key industries.
“We have also seen them buy venture funds that are invested in key technology, they've stolen the intellectual property, they force the transfer of intellectual property if you want to do business over in China. So we have to address all of those vulnerabilities.
“But the single most important thing we have to do is we have to identify what are the...key sectors of the economy that we have to have. Not just the domestic capability, but be able to exhibit world leadership, whether its technologically or in manufacturing capability. And then we have to ensure that, preferably, we have a domestic ability to produce it and if not a domestic ability to produce it, an allied capability.”
On the Chinese Communist Party’s use of debt trap diplomacy to entrap underdeveloped countries in Latin America:
“I think the main way they've done it obviously is through economic investment...They come in with a promise of a big investment, and for a lot of these countries who have no other way of accessing the capital for these improvements, it sounds like a really good deal. Ultimately, they wind up in a debt trap…I think the pandemic has created more opportunities for that [to happen].”
On Congress’ response to the coronavirus pandemic:
“We've now voted for two major pieces of legislation unanimously in the House and the Senate. We've gone back and made additional legislative changes to the PPP program, both adding more money and extending it. And all of those things passed the Senate by almost a unanimous vote, and in the House by voice vote. So, those are pretty extraordinary achievements, and I think what drove it is the dire circumstances that we’ve faced.
“It's a tough position to be in. I'm a Republican. I care about the debt. These are not things that I would ever support for the most part in normal times. [But] there’s two things happening here. The first is [that] a lot of the economic downturn we're seeing is not the result of bad business decisions or...recklessness on the part of the business community and now they're coming to the government to bail them out. The government is basically telling them, ‘You can't open, and if you do open, you have to operate under certain constraints.’ And even if they’re not telling you that, they're telling the customers that. So, even if you allow a place to pen, you’re also telling people not to go out. So, in many ways it's actually very similar to a taking. A government has a right to take your property from you but they have to compensate you for it. So the way I view a lot of this is, the reason why these businesses are going through difficult times is because of government regulations being put in the place for a public good. But there is an obligation, if you're going to do that, to compensate for it.
“The second reality of it is some of these things that are happening, if gone unaddressed, will create structural damage to the economy and to our labor markets that will take us a decade to recover from and make it even harder to pay down the debt, make it even harder to move forward. And of course the pandemic, which is a big deal in and of itself, is happening already in a moment of extraordinary economic realignment.”
On continuing to help small businesses:
“Our follow up response is going to be more tailored and targeted to truly smaller entities, under 300 employees or who meet the SBA guidelines. It'll largely be 60% for payroll, 40% for other allowable forgivable expenses. And much of it is just designed to ensure that these entities, not that you can put them where they were before the pandemic, but that you put them in a place where they can hold on to enough workers and enough of a presence — so you don't have a contagion in a real estate market because they stopped paying their lease and closed down, so you don't throw millions of people on the unemployment rolls and create all the problems that creates for this country. And ultimately you don’t lose these businesses which may restart and take their place. so, that really is our hope in the second round.”
On helping families move forward:
“I truly believe that one of the cornerstones of what makes life worth living is dignified work… Something happens when you don't have somewhere to go every day and be productive. You're doing something, being rewarded for doing it, but it makes you feel like you matter. I think that opens the door for you then to be a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a member of a community. And when you take that away, everything begins to crumble, communities begin to come apart, families fall apart, all of it becomes very difficult. So, that's why I believe so deeply in paycheck protection, because the more people we can keep attached to a job, you're helping a family when you're doing that…
“I think about my own parents. My dad was a banquet bartender at a hotel and my mom was a maid at a hotel. If this would've happened 35 years ago, they both would have been out of a job, with no sort of certainty about when they were going to get back to work. And I know the weight that would have placed on their shoulders and what it would have meant for our family. So I do think that's a pro-family policy.
“Getting the economy to create these dignified jobs and finding a way to get kids back to school and finding a setting that allows them to continue to grow intellectually is the two most important things we can do for families right now.”
On reopening schools:
“The bulk of the decision has to be made at the local level, because every community is in a different place… Where I think the federal government can be helping — we're going to get to that point where we can do that in a lot of places — none of these schools were built to deal with something like this. So, it's important that the resources be able to schools to deal as safely as possible.”
On hope for the future in the midst of this pandemic and the challenge we face with China:
“Long term, I wouldn't change places with any nation on earth… I don't want China's future, which I think has its own set of challenges. I don't want the futures of many of the developed countries, places like Europe. There's no other country I would trade places with.
“And somewhere in America right now there are thousands of people who are looking at all these things that are happening and from it learning lessons during the pandemic and creating opportunities to reinvent the way we do business and the way we work. That's going to create a whole host of opportunities we haven't envisioned yet. We're a country that gives you that freedom and encourages that sort of attitude. It's just going to be a rough ride because...we're a rock and roll kind of place. We're not a calm place, but we get there.”