With the possible exception of his involvement in the Gang of 8 immigration/amnesty fiasco, Marco Rubio’s particular political gift is one of timing. From his arrival in the Legislature at the precise moment Tallahassee began cranking out Speaker-designates in their 20s to his exquisite ambush of a then-popular governor in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate to his runaway victory in 2010 just as the GOP was looking for possible solutions to wooing Hispanics in national elections, Rubio has been the right guy at the right time with — this cannot be overstated — the right message.
Wednesday, the punctuality muse was at his side again. Even as Americans were coming to grips with a 2.9 percent decline in our first-quarter GDP — more evidence of President Obama’s “wreckovery,” mock quipsters — Rubio was on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” outlining his remarks on Washington’s role in reviving the economy he’d deliver at Hillsdale College’s Washington D.C. campus later that morning.
The speech, the latest in a series laying out “reform conservatism” for a nation less committed to rugged individualism than when Ronald Reagan came along, lays out an alternative path for strengthening the middle class, rewarding initiative and expanding opportunity than the paternalism generally advocated by the president and Capitol Hill Democrats.
Rubio starts in familiar territory, with the oft-told tale of his parents, Cuban immigrants who, though never wealthy, inspired their offspring to embrace the potential unique to America. This is near the top:
For most, [the American] Dream has never been about becoming rich or famous. It is about having a good job that pays enough to own a home, feed your family, and save for retirement; the flexibility to work and spend time with your family; the freedom to worship as you please and live without fear for your family’s safety; and ultimately, it’s about giving your children the opportunity to have a life better than your own.
The American Dream holds us together as one people. It defines us as a special nation. We can overcome bad presidents, tough economies and divisive issues. But if we lose the American Dream, we will lose our identity. There cannot be an America without the American Dream. That is why the greatest crisis before us today is that millions of our people feel that this Dream is slipping away.
The American Dream is still attainable. But it has gotten increasingly difficult to achieve for far too many. Wages have stagnated; everyday costs have risen; industries that once flourished have dried up, their jobs shipped overseas or lost to automation; and millions go to sleep each night overcome with the sense that they are one bad break from financial ruin.
And this, following an assortment of thoughtful proposals designed to lend help and a hand-up to struggling families, employees and entrepreneurs, wraps it up.
We Americans have good reason to be hopeful, for no nation is better positioned to access the full promise of the 21st century economy. The new economy is all about innovation, creativity and productivity – and we are the most innovative, creative and productive people on the planet.
And the changes we must make to achieve this better future come from fundamental truths about our nation: that government exists to empower its people, and that our free enterprise economy is the greatest generator of opportunity and prosperity in human history.
From these principles we see that if we reform our taxes and regulations, we can create millions of higher paying jobs by winning the global competition for talent, investment, and innovation.
And if we modernize our outdated safety net programs and revolutionize how we acquire and pay for education, millions of people will have the skills they need for the higher paying jobs of the new economy.
Twentieth century America was special. But 21st century America has the potential to be even better.
There’s meat in the middle that should have light bulbs illuminating over heads across the country, just as we ponder whether this, too, will be yet another missed “Recovery Summer” in Obama’s America.
As for those who wrote off Rubio for getting a little too close to Chuck Schumer — coming, belatedly, to his senses — those obituaries might yet prove too many, too soon.