Freshman Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was on the Rush Limbaugh show yesterday to discuss the looming debt ceiling "crisis" and the monstrous federal deficit. Hands down, the 40-year-old junior senator from Miami possesses the best rhetorical skills in the senate. Whether on social or fiscal issues, Senator Rubio articulates conservative values eloquently, yet without the high-pitched rancor that others bring to the conversation. Here are some excerpts from his conversation with Rush yesterday [emphasis added]:
SENATOR RUBIO: "The debt limit is a symptom. It's not our problem. The core problem is our debt and the fact that our government borrows 40¢ out of every dollar and has no idea how it's gonna pay it back...
"...[I]nstead, we've got this President's obsession with raising taxes -- and what bothers me the most about it is not just that it will kill jobs and is bad for our economy. What bothers me the most is there isn't a single tax package out there that's reasonable and realistic that would even put a dent on this debt crisis. I mean, people have no idea what you'd have to raise in taxes in this country to just to begin to make a difference. Of course you never can raise it to that level because you won't be able to collect them because, you know, people aren't dumb enough to work for free. I mean, if you're gonna tax all their money they're not gonna keep working. So these are the things I just don't get and I wish we had done a better job earlier of outlining these choices to the American people..."
"...By every measure that you can measure a president by, things have gotten worse, and significantly worse, and that's what he has to be measured by, and part of it I think is a flawed ideology. His view of government and the people in his administration is a flawed view that takes us away from the things that have made America exceptional and part of it is, quite frankly, incompetence. I honestly believe, and I don't say this with any disrespect, I really don't know him, I have nothing personal against him but I honestly think there's a lack of competence in terms of being able to do the job and the ability to lead on some of these critical issues and the result is being paid by, you know, millions of Americans who can't find a job or are working twice as hard to make half as much, who see their country being bankrupted and no serious solutions being offered..."
"...But let me tell you one thing, Rush, that no one said yet or maybe they have, the fact that payments on Social Security and Medicare may stop is a stinging indictment and a wake-up call. What Americans should realize, "Hold on a second, my Social Security check and my Medicare benefits are borrowed? The money that you're using to pay for my Social Security are borrowed? I thought I paid into a trust fund. I thought I worked my whole life to pay into some system and now you're paying my money back and you're claiming that the money is being borrowed?" That's what they're basically conceding when they're saying this."
RUSH: Yeah. You know, that's exactly right. We always thought Social Security was in a lockbox.I don't pretend to know the inner workings of the Congress - how someone like Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) maneuvers his way into the position of Speaker of the House and how someone like Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-KY), who seems to some observers to be weak and ineffective, gets to be the senate minority leader. I do know that when I hear Sen. McConnell trying to defend the GOP position on the debt ceiling debate I cringe and know that the battle is mostly lost. And when I see Rep. Boehner trudging to the microphone looking like he's walking The Green Mile, I wonder if he's going to burst into to tears, out of sheer despondence over the plight of social security beneficiaries whose checks will surely bounce if he doesn't make a deal with Obama.
SENATOR RUBIO: "Well, maybe a Chinese lockbox because that's what we're borrowing the money from. The point is if that comes to pass or he's threatening to do that, then the wake-up call and the message to Americans is, hey, your Social Security benefits, your Medicare benefits, what we're paying soldiers in the field, all these things that are being cut off, this is borrowed money. This is not money we have or money we saved for you. This is money we are borrowing from your children and your grandchildren, and we have no way of paying it back, and that alone should send a chill up the spine of millions of Americans."
Neither of these leaders has the rhetorical skills needed to win this debate that is playing out before the eyes of the American people. It brings to mind the Nixon/Kennedy debate, where Nixon "lost" in the court of public opinion because he hadn't mastered the art of television.
So now again, the GOP is sending the Spirit of Nixon to the plate to fight for the economic survival of our very Republic. Day after day, as McConnell drags himself to the floor of the senate and gives speeches that no one listens to and as Boehner tries (rather unconvincingly) to convince us he's "in it to win it," we're plunging further into this economic suicide pact.
Meanwhile, we have rhetorical rock stars in the House and Senate who can go toe to toe with Obama and win this battle of ideas. Sen. Marco Rubio. Sen. Rand Paul. Rep. Paul Ryan. Rep. Allen West. Of course, most of us know in our hearts they're not on the same page as Boehner and the GOP establishment. They stand with the American people who are tired of these backroom deals and fantasy bookkeeping tactics. Which is why Boehner, et al cannot afford to hand them the microphone and give them a voice in this debate.