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Rubio to Speechify About His Non-Existent Support for Working Families

This afternoon, Senator Rubio is scheduled to give a speech in D.C. designed to burnish his middle class credentials: “Finding Economic Security in an Insecure Time.” But in reality, Rubio has consistently advocated against policies that support working class families, including the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. Today’s speech is as phony as it is calculated, smoke and mirrors meant to distract voters from the anti-working class agenda Rubio has consistently pushed in the Senate.

According to Rubio’s website, today’s speech will “highlight ways his policy proposals from this year would impact his constituents.” With so many attacks on the middle class — including his support for the Ryan budget and the sequester– we can’t be exactly sure which impacts he means. Is he talking about the 1.3 million Americans for whom he attempted to block UI benefits? The 300,000 people who aren’t receiving heat assistance because of the sequester? The millions of low-income families who would lose SNAP, CHIP and other critical benefits under the Ryan budget?

Rubio and Working Families

Rubio Attempted To Block Unemployment Benefit Extension

Rubio Attempted To Block Bipartisan Bill To Extend Unemployment Benefits. According to USA Today, “The U.S. Senate agreed Tuesday to move forward with a three-month extension of expired jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, which affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans. Six Republicans voted with 54 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, which includes two independents, to overcome a 60-vote threshold to begin consideration of bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. The bill would reinstate unemployment benefits that expired Dec. 28 because Congress failed to act before the holiday break.” Rubio voted against the motion to proceed on the bill. [USA Today, 1/7/14; New York Times, 1/7/14]

  • Republican Opponents Wanted Additional Spending Cuts And Claimed That Unemployment Benefits Discourage Work. According to USA Today, “Most Republicans opposed the bill because the $6.4 billion cost of the extension is not offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. Some Republicans also view the benefits as a deterrent for recipients to look for jobs. Outside conservative groups, including the anti-tax Club for Growth, also oppose the extension and urged lawmakers to oppose it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from offering an amendment to delay for one year the requirement for individuals to purchase health care under the Affordable Care Act in exchange for GOP support.” [USA Today,1/7/14]

Rubio Voted Against Bipartisan Bush Tax Cut Deal That Included Year-Long Extension of Federal Unemployment Compensation Funding and Programs. In January 2013, Rubio voted against a bill that, among other things, extended emergency federal unemployment benefit programs and funding until the end of 2013. Specifically, according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill “extended the federal share of extended benefit payments for unemployment and postponed the expiration of the authorization for temporary emergency unemployment benefits through 2013.” The provisions were part of a larger package extending the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $400,000, with some exceptions. The bill passed 89-8; Rubio voted “nay.” [Senate Vote 251, 1/1/2013; CRS, 1/4/13]

  • ABC News: “Rubio’s Main Complaint: Raising Taxes On Individuals Making More Than $400,000 And Couples Making More Than $450,000.” According to ABC News, “Rubio, R-Fla., voted against the deal along with seven other senators earlyTuesday morning, acknowledging painstaking negotiations but warning that the deal would hurt the economy. […] Rubio’s main complaint: Raising taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000. Small businesses known as S corporations, file under the individual tax code, and business groups and conservative tax advocates have denounced any hike on individual rates as job-killing. Rubio agreed with them.” [ABC News, 1/2/13]

Rubio: “I Don’t Think A Minimum Wage Law Works.”

Rubio: “I Don’t Think A Minimum Wage Law Works.” According to the Washington Post, “In his response to the State of the Union on Tuesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) laid out his own vision, not a direct rebuttal of President Obama’s proposals. But on CBSWednesday morning he came out against Obama’s push to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. ‘I support people making more than $9. I want people to make as much as they can. I don’t think a minimum wage law works,’ Rubio told Charlie Rose. ‘We all support — I certainly do — having more taxpayers, meaning more people who are employed. And I want people to make a lot more than $9 — $9 is not enough. The problem is you can’t do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked in terms of having the middle class attain more prosperity.’ What works, he said, is helping the private sector grow.” [Washington Post, 2/13/13]

Rubio Supported The Ryan Budget’s Radical Medicare Changes, Tax Giveaways For The Rich, Cuts To Medicaid, Snap And Chip

Rubio Voted For The FY 2014 Ryan Budget, Which Would Have Cut Spending On Domestic Programs By $4.6 Trillion Over 10 Years. In March 2013, Rubio voted for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2014 to 2023. According to Congressional Quarterly, “H Con Res 25 calls for reducing projected spending by $4.6 trillion through cuts to domestic programs.” The vote was on Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray’s (D-WA) amendment substituting the text of Ryan’s budget in place of the Senate budget resolution that the Senate was considering. The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 40 to 59. [Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Congressional Record, 3/21/13; Congressional Quarterly, 8/29/13]

  • Ryan Budget Plan Proposed To Cut Medicaid And CHIP By A Combined $810 Billion Over A Decade. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “The House GOP plan again proposes sharp cuts to the Medicaid health program for the poor, tighter food stamp eligibility rules and claims $1.8 trillion in savings over a decade by repealing Obama’s signature overhaul of the U.S. health care system. (A small share of these cuts could come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which the Ryan budget would merge into its new Medicaid block grant.)  This would be an estimated cut to federal Medicaid and CHIP funding of about 21 percent over ten years relative to current law and comes on top of the loss of the significant additional funding that states are slated to receive under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage, and to extend their CHIP programs through 2015.” [CBPP, 3/27/13]
  • Ryan Budget Cuts SNAP By $135 Billion Over 10 Years, Which Would Result In Ending Or Cutting Benefits For Millions Of Families. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan includes cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $135 billion — almost 18 percent — over the next ten years (2014-2023), which would necessitate ending assistance for millions of low-income families, cutting benefits for millions of such households, or some combination of the two.  Chairman Ryan proposed similarly deep SNAP cuts in his last two budgets. While Chairman Ryan has outlined some key features of his proposal as it affects SNAP — in particular, converting SNAP to a block grant beginning in 2019 — he has provided little information on how the cuts would be achieved or their timing over the ten-year period. Since more than 90 percent of SNAP expenditures are for food assistance benefits for low- income households, and most of the remaining funds go for necessary state administrative costs to determine program eligibility and operate the program properly, policymakers couldn’t possibly achieve cuts of this magnitude without substantially scaling back SNAP eligibility or reducing benefits deeply, with serious effects on low-income families and individuals.” [CBPP, 3/20/13]
  • Ryan Budget “Replaces Traditional Medicare” With A Voucher Program And Shifts Costs Onto Patients. According to the Associated Press, “House Republicans unveiled their latest budget outline on Tuesday, sticking to their plans to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs ranging from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program’s cost. […] For his part, Ryan has resurrected a controversial Medicare proposal that replaces traditional Medicare for those currently under 55 with a government subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market.” [Associated Press, 3/12/13]
  • Ryan Budget Proposes To Lower Tax Rates For The Wealthy And Big Corporations. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The budget sets a goal of cutting the top individual tax rate to 25 percent (from 39.6 percent) and it would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is designed to ensure that high-income people pay at least a minimum level of tax.  It would cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent (from 35 percent) and greatly cut taxes on corporations’ foreign profits.  It also would repeal all of the revenue-raising measures of health reform (i.e., the Affordable Care Act or ACA), which are designed to help offset the cost of that law’s health insurance coverage expansions.” [CBPP, 3/17/13]

Rubio: Sequester Cuts To Heating Assistance, Head Start, Meals On Wheels “Better Than Doing Nothing”

Rubio Criticized The Sequester, But Insisted Its Cuts Are “Better Than Doing Nothing.” In an interview on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Sen. Marco Rubio said, “This is not the best way to do it but it’s better than raising taxes as an alternative and it’s better than doing nothing. So the ideal way to do this is to save and reform Medicare because that’s — those are the programs that are driving our long-term debt. But the President has decided he doesn’t want to do that so there is going — that sequester will kick inon Friday.” [FoxNews.com, 2/26/13]

  • Roughly 300,000 Poor Families Are Not Receiving Heating Or Cooling Assistance For Their Homes Due To The Sequester. According to the a press release from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, “The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) representing the state directors of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) reported that FY 2013 sequester cut about 300,000 from receiving heating or cooling assistance. The sequester reduced total funding during this period by about $155 million from $3.47 billion to $3.32 billion.” [NEADA.org, 11/14/13]
  • An Estimated 57,000 Children Are Being Denied Placement In Head Start Due To A $400 Million Sequester Cut. According to USA Today, “Last year about 1 million of the nation’s poorest children got a leg up on school through Head Start, the federal program that helps prepare children up to age five for school. This fall, about 57,000 children will be denied a place in Head Start and Early Head Start as fallout from sequestration. New estimates about the automatic budget cuts were released Monday by the federal government. The cuts have slashed over $400 million from the federal program’s $8 billion budget. [… ] Children will lose 1.3 million days of service at Head Start centers and more than 18,000 employees will be laid off or see their pay reduced.” [USA Today, 8/20/13]
  • Survey: 70 Percent Of Meals On Wheels Programs Are Reducing The Number Of Meals They Serve Because Of The Sequester. According to the Meals On Wheels Association of America, “To quantify the impact of these impending reductions, the Meals on Wheels Association of America conducted a brief survey of 640 member programs that currently receive funding through the Older Americans Act. […] Planning ahead over the next six-months, most programs are creating or adding to wait lists, while nearly 70% mentioned reducing the number of meals served per week. One in two respondent programs plan to cut the number of seniors served, with almost 40% citing fewer meals served. Forty percent reported the need to cut staff and about 17% indicated plans to shut down programs altogether.” [Meals On Wheels Association of America, June 2013]