TALLAHASSEE -- Florida’s biggest Republican star, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, returned to the state Capitol Wednesday to give a pep talk to the House Republican caucus and warn that the American dream is in danger of drowning in debt.
“The math is straightforward. The federal government this year, in order to operate, will have to borrow one-and-a-half trillion dollars -- trillion dollars,” Rubio said.
“Medicare and Social Security as they currently are structured, is unsustainable,” he said to applause. “They will bankrupt themselves and ultimately bankrupt our country.”
But despite his calls for bipartisan solutions, Rubio gave no specifics and offered standard party-line fare to reduce spending and not raise taxes.
“Apart from all the ideological rhetoric,” he said, “an increase in taxes will destroy the ability of our economy to grow, which will mean less revenue to government. It’s a vicious cycle. They’re starting to doubt about our ability to pay our debt back.”
Rubio gave his address from the well of the Florida House, which he led as speaker in 2007 and ‘08. During his 18-minute speech, Rubio compared the challenge of the nation’s debt to slavery and the two world wars. But he wasn’t all doom-and-gloom. The son of Cuban exiles paid homage to America, “the single greatest society in all of human history,” and wove in Reaganesque touches about the struggles and greatness of the common man.
Rubio’s friend and current state House Republican leader, Miami Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, summed up the performance simply: “That’s why he’s a United States senator.”
And it’s also part of the reason why Rubio creamed Gov. Charlie Crist in the race for U.S. Senate, a campaign that propelled Rubio into political stardom. Rather than seek the spotlight, Rubio has declined high-profile speaking engagements out of state in his first two months in office.
Prior to his speech, Rubio met with Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, all Republicans. Rubio said he discussed Panamanian and Colombian free-trade issues with Scott and discussed Bondi’s efforts to fight so-called “fake cocaine.”
Rubio said he wanted to “keep open lines of communication” with state leaders and said he felt that state and federal leaders didn’t stay in close enough contact when he was House speaker.
Rubio said he’ll stay neutral in the upcoming Republican primary for U.S. Senate. The winner will take on Democrat Bill Nelson. Rubio warned that the national debt could soon lead to a “death spiral” in which the country has to borrow money just to pay interest on borrowed money.