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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: Rubio's problems don't end with immigration

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Published:   |   Updated: July 2, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Marco Rubio's role in immigration reform has been lambasted as betrayal by some of his strongest supporters, although it sounds they are now "former" supporters.

Either way, Florida's ambitious junior U.S. senator has some fences to mend - and I don't mean the kind that are electrified and 10-feet high. You may have read a little bit about that in the last few days.

But just when it seemed like Rubio's plate had run out of room for any more controversies, he is about to feel the wrath of another group with a direct message to him: Back off!

The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and other supporters plan to form a human chain at Rubio's office in Palm Beach Gardens this morning to protest his support for Social Security cuts to reduce the federal deficit.

Similar chain-ins are scheduled in 40 other cities around the country, but few states are as affected by this issue as Florida.

"We want him to understand that Social Security doesn't have a darn thing to do with the deficit and seniors shouldn't have to pay for it," FLARA President Tony Fransetta said. "Two wars and runaway spending caused the deficit. These cuts would cause havoc with Social Security."

Rubio supports raising the retirement age for anyone under 55. He has also said reductions in the cost-of-living adjustments "has to be on the table."

For seniors, those are fighting words, which is why Fransetta said there could be between 50 and 100 people locking arms at Rubio's office today. It should make an interesting visual for a campaign ad.

Seniors are spreading the "Stop Marco" word through social media, websites and mass emails.

So let's review Rubio's week.

Last Thursday, he helped engineer a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate for immigration reform. Local tea party leaders used words like "terribly disappointing" and "heartbroken" to describe their feelings in a story by the Tribune's William March.

Sarah Palin got in on the bash-Marco bandwagon, torching him in interviews on Fox News. And Glenn Beck, never noted for filtering his thoughts, told his radio listeners that Rubio is "a piece of garbage."

Of course, Beck also once famously said on his radio show, "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining.''

So, yeah, it's not the worst thing to be on the other side of an issue from Glenn Beck. But I digress ... .

Politicians have been squawking for decades about "fixing" Social Security, and every time they do there are groups like the Florida Alliance For Retired Americans waiting to pounce.

You won't win a lot of votes if people think you're cutting payments to grandma. If Marco Rubio doesn't know that already, there are plenty of seniors who will be happy to explain it to him.

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