With Florida at the center of the Republican presidential campaign this week, its Cuban-American Senator took to the airwaves to accuse President Barack Obama of trying to make America “like the countries people come here to get away from.”
Delivering the Republican weekly address Saturday morning, Sen. Marco Rubio said Obama's economic record is so poor he is trying to distract voters by focusing instead on class divisions.
Rubio acknowledged that Obama inherited deep economic problems when he took office but said, “He asked the Congress to give him the stimulus and Obamacare to fix it. The Democrats in Congress gave it to him. And not only did it not work, it made everything worse.”
Now, Rubio argued, rather than offering economic solutions, “He tells all of us that the only way for some of us to climb up the economic ladder is for others to be pulled down. This divisive rhetoric, this effort to gain political support by convincing some that they will be better off if we punish others, this stuff has never worked anywhere it’s been tried. People end up fleeing countries who adopt economic policies based on these flawed principles. And more often than not, they come here.”
“They come here because this is not who we are,” Rubio added.
Rubio’s family left Cuba for Florida around the time of Fidel Castro’s communist revolution there.
Obama, in his Saturday address, argued that Republicans are putting personal political agendas ahead of the country’s best interests.
The president said the Senate should exempt nominations for judicial and "public service" positions from the filibuster, ending a current practice that allows individual Senators to put a hold on a nomination for unrelated reasons.
Without naming him, Obama noted that Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) recently threatened to slow down the nomination process and possibly other legislation unless the president withdrew his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"We weren’t sent here to wage perpetual political campaigns against each other," Obama said in the address. "We were sent here to serve the American people. And they deserve better than gridlock and games. One Senator gumming up the whole works for the entire country is certainly not what our founding fathers envisioned."
As he did in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Obama again called for nominees to be given an "up-or-down vote" in the Senate within 90 days. That vote would be subject to a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote minimum required to overcome a filibuster, which could still be used to hold up legislation.
Obama also repeated his Tuesday call for a ban on insider trading by Members of Congress and a prohibition on elected officials owning stocks in industries they oversee.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set up a vote on an insider trading bill — called the STOCK Act — and promised votes on other items from Obama's State of the Union in the coming weeks and months, though Senators have mostly held back from embracing changes to the filibuster.