My fellow Americans,
No three words better capture the spirit of my plan to revive the American dream than “my fellow Americans,” suggestive as those words are of the opening of an inaugural address. As I imagine myself looking down the National Mall at the sea of hopeful faces, eloquently holding forth on the American dream, I hear myself moving on to modestly recall the sacrifices of early Marco Rubios that brought me to this pinnacle of dreaming.
I want all Americans to have a part in my dream. Many of our citizens risk missing out. We are failing them. They deserve better from their government, institutions and elected representatives. For 40 years, government has been getting in the way, stifling talent and frustrating ambition. The blame falls across the political spectrum, on Democrats and liberals. But Republicans can’t just criticize. We must offer solutions. My new book, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone,” does so with so much arm-waving exhortation and eye-swiveling use of statistics that Fidel Castro himself might mistake it for a party conference transcript.
Americans want leaders with ideas to unleash the country’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive our economy. Leaders whose Cuban parents and grandparents made the sacrifices that are part and parcel of our restless quest to give our children a better life. Leaders willing to be innovative to solve problems. Leaders with ambitions sometimes greater than their talents and thus able to create so many jobs in our presidential campaign-driven economy.
To illustrate, if we’re closely associated with unsuccessful legislation to move our 20th century immigration policy into the 21st century, we don’t dwell on our own party’s lack of support. That’s not who we are. We pick ourselves up, blame the president and write a book that blames the president again.
My book squeezes the stories, some of them heartbreaking, of tens of Americans into the point my political views compel me to make. That wasn’t always an easy fit. But we also can’t govern with anecdote. We need expertise, so I turned to a handful of newspapers and magazines familiar not just to readers in the top 5 percent, but probably also to readers in the top 15 percent. Definitely the top 10 percent.
I honestly believe I’ve got a reform for every problem.
Conservatives have to face reality. We can’t say problems may not have solutions or solutions may have consequences worse than the problems. That’s 20th century conservatism in a 21st century economy. Conservatives should offer reforms and hurry to the next idea before anybody thinks through the first one.
Take Evan, overburdened with student debt. I know the feeling. I finished law school more than $100,000 in debt and was blown away to learn I had to repay it. The point isn’t that 1 percent of the Senate was uncommonly slow to grasp the basics of borrowing. The point is that graduates have lots of debt and few will become U.S. senators with book deals to pay off their debt. Many graduates’ only step onto a career ladder today is to volunteer for one of the many presidential campaigns. I want to help.
Let’s also hold colleges and universities accountable. We have a 20th century education system in a 21st century economy. Students can’t spend four years studying what interests and stimulates them. They need to study subjects suitable for Apple, General Electric Co. and Goldman Sachs.
Education is an investment. My Investing in Student Success Act would allow investment groups to fund students’ education. Investors don’t make poor judgments, and when they make spectacularly bad ones we bail them out. Let’s not let Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is a Democrat by the way, deny us that.
And take Joyce and Scott, proof that our 20th century pension system is not suitable for the 21st century. The couple lost $80,000 in the stock market, a loss that will delay retirement and make it tougher when it comes. That’s why I’m proposing the Thrift Savings Plan to get more Americans to save more for retirement.
Nobody can deny the importance of family to raising children with the love and support needed to cope in our competitive 21st century economy. Our marriage laws therefore have to have endured for centuries. The statistics don’t lie: Gays haven’t been getting married and raising children for centuries.
Sen. Marco Rubio
Feb. 5, 2015
P.S. None of the above matters without a robust defense policy. That’s why I support a strong 20th century military to meet 21st century threats.
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