Unimpressed by the 236,000 non-farm payroll jobs added to the fragile U.S. economy in February, 41-year-old conservative Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) signaled he would oppose an increase in the debt ceiling unless President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare, was defunded. Rubio supports a resolution continuing the debt ceiling through the fiscal year as long as the Obama’s signature heath care legislation loses its funding. Rubio signaled he’s opposed any spending package that doesn’t include ending Obama’s health care legislation. If the House and Senate can’t agree on a spending plan by March 27, the government will shut down. No one Senate Democrat, holding a 55 to 45 majority, will support any renegade GOP attempt to undermine Obamacare. Rubio’s radical approach threatens to sabotage today’s hard-earned economic progress.
When U.S. credit was downgraded by S&P Aug. 5, 2011, Wall Street hit the skids. S&P cited Washington’s gridlock between Democrats and Republicans as causing the kind of paralysis that prevens complete economic recovery. Rubio’s threat to shut down the U.S. government unless he gets an amendment to defundi Obamacare shows exactly why S&P downgraded U.S. credit.. Rubio and his Tea Party friends aren’t concerned about economic recovery they’re only committed to hurting Obama politically. “If that gets onto the bill, in essence, if they get a continuing resolution and we vote on [defunding the Affordable Care Act] and we can pass it onto a bill, I will vote for a continuing resolution, even it’s temporary,” said Rubio. Rubio know the Democratic-controlled Senate has no intention of defunding Obamacare, nor does the conservative insurance industry want to.
Tea Party arguments against Obamacare or raising the debt ceiling involve what they see as inappropriate government spending not assured by the U.S. Constitution. Rubio seeks to reverse the size, scope and influence of the federal establishment, despite real changes in population and demographics over the last 237 years since the founders signed the Declaration of Independence . Instead of accepting Obamacare—as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)—as the law of the land, Rubio and his Tea Party friends continue to undermine the U.S. government. His reason for opposing Obamacare has nothing to do with the U.S. economy or raising the debt ceiling. Rubio opposes Obamacare—and other government entitlements like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid—because it’s not contained in the original Constitution signed into law Sept. 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Given today’s steady economic recovery, Rubio’s insistence on shutting down the government shows his right wing fanaticism. Even the Republicans-led House passed its own continuing resolution that funded Obamacare, with only 14 members opposing it. Rubio thinks grandstanding on the debt ceiling wins him plaudits with GOP conservatives who use him as a token GOP Latino. Like other minority converts to conservative causes, they become more rigid, fixated and zealous than their non-minority conservative counterparts. Rubio’s attempt to defund Obamacare place him on the extreme GOP fringe, more associated with theatrical right wing media than practically-minded elected officials. Rubio knows that shutting down the government risks reversing all the hard-fought economic gains that have spurred Wall Street and led to February’s strong economic gains.
Rubio thinks his right wing views put him in good stead as a possible 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner. Right after GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s stunning loss Nov. 6, 2012 to Obama, Rubio was the first to denounce Romney’s post-election sour grapes, blaming his loss on the permanent underclass seeking more government benefits. GOP officials believe that Rubio’s Cuban roots will somehow woo Latinos into the Republican fold in 2016. He doesn’t get that most Latinos want Obama’s affordable health care and don’t espouse extremist right wing views. Shutting down the government later this month would help write Rubio’s obituary for mainstream voters, frightened by the Tea Party’s attempts to end the government as we know them. You’d think that inside the Republican National Committee there’d be more soul searching after last year’s drubbing on Election Day.
Threatening to shut down the government, Rubio puts himself at the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. If there’s any lesson from 2012, voters want a strong partnership with the government, not scaling back government benefits or tossing federal workers out of their jobs. If Rubio or his Tea Party friends get their way, they’d like a major reversal in the size, scope and influence of the federal bureaucracy. Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) lost the election because voters chose Obamacare over leaving millions without insurance. Rubio knows that expecting amendments to rescind Obamacare is completely unrealistic and impractical. Opposing the continuing resolution to keep the government running shows the extremes Rubio would go to get his way. Instead of accepting the will of mainstream voters—even within the GOP—Rubio chooses extremism over common sense.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.