Marco Rubio on Welfare & Poverty



Poverty means free enterprise not reaching people

The issue of poverty is critical, because for me, poverty is free enterprise not reaching people. Today, we have antipoverty programs that don't cure poverty. Our anti-poverty programs have become, in some instances, a lifestyle. I have a very specific proposal it allows states to design innovative programs that cure poverty, because I think Nikki Haley will do a better job curing poverty than Barack Obama.
Source: 2016 CBS Republican primary debate in South Carolina , Feb 13, 2016

Homeless shelters help the disadvantaged overcome adversity

Last week, Marco and I attended an event honoring the work of Lotus House Women's Shelter, which serves homeless women in Miami. This shelter is dedicated to improving the lives of poor, disadvantaged and homeless women and children.

Each year, Lotus House honors one of its great success stories with its Star Recipient Award, which Marco had the honor of presenting to Mindy Jean-Pierre Etienne. In introducing Mindy, Marco discussed how, with Lotus House's help, Mindy eventually earned her High School diploma and then enlisted in the U.S. Army and now serves in Ft. Bragg where she lives with her husband. In sum, she's living her American Dream.

Mindy reminds us all of how all people have great potential, even if, at times, that potential seems buried under a mountain of hardship. Her example also reminds us that every day, there are individuals and organizations of all stripes helping people to rise above their circumstances to achieve great things.

Source: Facebook posting by Jeanette Rubio , Nov 10, 2014

EITC isn't enough for single workers who don't have kids

[Besides raising the minimum wage], there are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Sen. Rubio that it doesn't do enough for single workers who don't have kids. So let's work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead.
Source: 2014 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2014

Take next step in War on Poverty: provide opportunity

Q: This month marks the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson declaring war on poverty. You made a big speech where you laid out some proposals on alleviating poverty, in the Lyndon Johnson room in the U.S. Capitol, and said that Lyndon Johnson's programs to alleviate poverty had been a failure.

RUBIO: There are significant number of Americans that do not have equality of opportunity. We need to address the fact that we have 40-some odd million people who feel trapped in poverty and do not feel like they have an equal opportunity to get ahead. As far as the war on poverty is concerned, its programs have utility--they do help alleviate the consequences of poverty--but they don't help people to emerge from that poverty. And that's why I feel like the war on poverty has failed because it's incomplete. I think we have to take the next step, which is to help people trapped with inequality of opportunity to have the opportunity to build for themselves a better life.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 12, 2014

Feds help deal with poverty; states can help escape it

Prominent Republicans are working to recast the party's message about tackling poverty and boosting the middle class. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida jumped into the fray, delivering a speech in which he called for a "fundamental change" in how government combats poverty by shifting responsibility for most existing federal assistance programs to the states.

Speaking on the 50th anniversary of Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty, Rubio argued that the government should not only work to close the gap between rich and poor, but also focus on improving economic mobility to lift families out of poverty and expand the middle class. "Our current government programs offer, at best, only a partial solution," Rubio said. "They help people deal with poverty, but they do not help them escape it."

For conservatives like Rubio, a key challenge will be reconciling a call for a greater focus on the needy with Republican efforts to scale back food stamps, and opposing an increase the minimum wage.

Source: 2013 Los Angeles Times on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 8, 2014

War on Poverty shows big-government approach fails

The White House's Council of Economic Advisers released statistics showing that the percent of the population in poverty, measured to include tax credits and other benefits, has declined by a third since 1967, from 25.8% to 16%.

But even as Obama celebrated the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, GOP leaders were citing it as proof of liberalism's failure. Sen. Marco Rubio noted, "Five decades and trillions of dollars after President Johnson waged his War on Poverty, the results of this big-government approach are in. We have 4 million Americans who have been out of work for six months or more. We have a staggering 49 million Americans living below the poverty line, and over twice that number--over 100 million people--who get some form of food aid from the federal government," Rubio said. "Meanwhile, our labor force participation is at a 35-year low, and children raised in the bottom 20 percent of the national income scale have a 42 percent chance of being stuck there for life."

Source: Washington Post, "Great Society 50th Anniversary" , Jan 8, 2014

Communities & churches once took care of neighbors

Rubio presented an idealized view of times gone by. In another era, he told the audience, "If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves and our communities and our families and our homes and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government's job. And as government crowded out the institutions in our society that did these things traditionally, it weakened our people in a way that undermined our ability to maintain our prosperity."

That final observation that entitlement programs had weakened Americans was the point he clearly wanted to hammer home.

Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p. 8 , Jun 19, 2012

Incentives to actually construct affordable housing

Floridians need affordable housing. However, due to dramatic increases in housing costs, many low- and middle-income Florida families can no longer afford safe and decent housing. Florida's affordable housing shortage is exacerbated by developers' failur to build affordable housing beyond what is legally required. This partly stems from a lack of incentives for builders to ACTUALLY CONSTRUCT affordable housing.

Solution: Increase incentives for developers to construct affordable housing. The 2006 Legislature encouraged the provision of affordable housing for essential service personnel, extending housing assistance to those with extremely low incomes, and providing other financial and regulatory incentives to encourage affordable housing. The legislation included density bonus incentives for land donations for affordable housing purposes. Florida should increase incentives for developers to not only provide the land for affordable housing, but also construct the housing units themselves.

Source: 100 Innovative Ideas, by Marco Rubio, p. 96 , Nov 1, 2006

Redesign child welfare to outsource foster care

In 1996, the Florida Legislature launched a pilot program to redesign the child welfare system by outsourcing foster care services to qualified service agencies led by community leaders. The development of the community-based care initiative revealed the natural tension between central accountability and local control. The early days of community-based care relied heavily on the department's central control and community-based care groups (CBCs). As CBCs have gained experience, they have sought greater independence and a broader span of control.

The 2005 Legislature authorized a pilot program to create a block-grant structure that establishes a fixed price contrast with an independent, outcome-based evaluation. Significant progress has been made, but greater opportunities exist in the movement toward block-grant, outcome-driven operations. These programs should be modified as necessary and expanded as soon as feasible.Florida should enhance independence and flexibility in community-based care.

Source: 100 Innovative Ideas, by Marco Rubio, p.101-103 , Nov 1, 2006

Institute tax-free zones in downtrodden inner-city areas

During the 1990s, Republicans in the US House of Representatives, seeking an alternative to the failed 1960s-era anti-poverty orthodoxy, approved welfare reform measures that overhauled thirty years of government entitlement programs. Today, notwithstanding these anti-poverty measures, Miami is one of America's poorest cities--an unacceptable designation.

Fostering growth in downtrodden regions requires a bold, dramatic, and innovative approach to economic development and urban revitalization. The Legislature should institute a pilot program that creates a tax-free zone in the most economically depressed areas of our state. Florida must resolve to break down the economic obstacles that exist in many urban centers today with the same vigilance and zeal used to assail racial and gender barriers over the past forty years.

Source: 100 Innovative Ideas, by Marco Rubio, p.165-166 , Nov 1, 2006

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016