Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The LIBRE Initiative during Hispanic Heritage Month for a video series hosted by renowned hispanic journalist Myrka DeLlanos. Rubio highlighted the role Hispanic Americans play in our nation as well as the importance of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which he co-authored as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
A lightly edited transcript of their discussion can be found below.
Being a U.S. Senator of Hispanic descent
“It’s a tremendous honor.
“When I think of Hispanic Heritage, I think of what it means for America. This is a country where people from all over the world have come here, under different circumstances, and have been able to achieve dreams. Sufficient to say, I’m not sure there’s any other country in the world that my parents could have gone to where I could have ended up somewhere like the U.S. Senate. But I think that’s the same for people that succeed in entertainment, sports, business, or whatever it may be. I think it’s really a testament to the country, as well as to the contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to this country and continue to make and will make in years to come."
Was young Marco Rubio thinking about a future in politics?
“I was always interested in politics, as much as you can be when you’re eight or nine or ten or eleven years old because my grandfather would always talk to me about it. So I always had, I believe, a natural and then a cultivated interest of what was happening in government. It was around Ronald Reagan’s time. I was raised in Ronald Reagan’s America but I can’t tell you it dominated my thoughts. I mean, I was way more interested in music, in sports, in things like that growing up like anybody else would. But I always paid attention, that’s for sure. When the elections came I was one of the few people, at least when I got older, who was even paying attention to what was going on. But I really didn’t get engaged until college.”
2020 and sports in Florida
“First of all, sports is a business and then it’s entertainment. But where I think it’s important for the country is it’s one of the few places left where people of different backgrounds and different views can still come together. I mean, that’s been taken away from us. In so many ways people have become more isolated from one another than ever, including on social media.
“I know people who have been friends for twenty years who no longer speak because of who they voted for or who they’re going to vote for. But sports is one of the few places left, and even that has become challenging, but one of the few places left where on a Monday night during football or during the playoffs in baseball, the NHL, or even now with the [NBA] finals. You know democrats, republicans, liberals and conservatives at least for two or three hours on one night or one afternoon are kind of on the same side. I think it’s important to have events like that, which unite us with other people. Something we share in common with people that are different from us. Because if we lose every place where that’s possible, it really makes it impossible to be one nation or a cohesive society or community.”
Importance of PPP for minority-owned small businesses
“I still live in West Miami, Florida and when I get to the end of my street I make a right turn and less than a quarter of a mile, as I get to the intersection of 62nd avenue and South West 8th street, all around me on a 360 degree radius is small business after small business. Dry cleaners, beauty salons, smaller grocery stores, the convenience stores inside a gas station or cafeteria, in many cases these are family-owned and operated small businesses where three generations have invested all they have into it and they have been devastated. That’s who I thought about when I thought about PPP.
“My number one concern is, how do we keep people who work there still working or employed in some capacity. And number two is how do we help these businesses survive until we get through this. And so we’ve never had anything like PPP before. And the notion was that people could go out and they could get a grant basically up to 250% percent or two-and-a half times of their payroll. Small businesses would have to use 60% of it to pay their workers and the other 40% to pay their rent and so forth. And look, PPP doesn’t replace an economy that’s working but it helps them at least stay above water.
“I think we need to do more of it. Look, that’s not something I would normally support. It’s not the kind of program you need during normal times, but the government is what’s not allowing these businesses to work, to operate. Government restrictions are what's doing this to them, so the government has a duty then to compensate them for the rate of their property rights. And very much it’s like a taking, an imminent domain, it’s something being done for the public good by the government but it’s harming private business and private property rights.”
Message for latino small business owners and entrepreneurs
“Let me just say to everybody, to the extent that you can, please continue to go to these small businesses and understand that they need you now more than ever. That’s what I would encourage people to do.
“I believe that we desperately need to do more, another round of PPP. Not for everyone but really for small businesses who can prove they’ve lost revenue and I think that can be virtually any restaurant, cafeteria in America. But a lot of other businesses as well, to help them get through the end of this year and into the early part of next year. The sad part about all of this is that some of these small businesses were having their best year ever, and from one night to the next in March it just collapsed. So we’ve got to do more. And I hope that we can do it before the election and that politics doesn’t get in the way, we should have done it two months ago. We’re ready to go. There’s not a day that goes by, including Sundays, that I don’t do something to try to get that second round of PPP done. And we have a lot of support for it, I hope that we have an opportunity to do it fairly soon.”