Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fl.) plans to critique the “two misguided positions” of the economic status quo during a speech Tuesday at the Catholic University of America that will also urge attendees to reprioritize an economic policy aimed at “the creation of dignified work for Americans.”
Rubio’s speech will attempt to provide an intellectual framework for conservative economics in the face of the rise of socialism on the Left. In a lengthy interview with the Washington Post, which also reviewed a draft of Rubio’s speech, Rubio said that cooperation between employers and workers needs to be prioritized to stave off the excesses of “shareholder primacy theory.”
“When dignified work is unavailable, more families need Thanksgiving meals delivered, but fewer families have the money or time to provide them,” the speech reads. “When dignified work is unavailable, men are hit especially hard, because something that is core to being a man — providing for your family — has been taken away.”
Rubio’s remarks, which build off an August 26 essay for First Things titled “What Economics is For,” will incorporate ancient philosophy and Catholic social doctrine, particularly the 1891 papal encyclical “Rerum Novarum” by Pope Leo XIII, which articulated the Catholic Church’s response to the Industrial Revolution to find a middle ground between socialism and laissez-faire capitalism.
Rubio thinks the same message has relevance today, especially among the youth, who are gravitating to socialism, according to recent polls.
“They are angry at a system that has been rigged against them by the very people who created these problems,” Rubio told the Post. “The people who enjoyed cheaper college themselves, but then turned around and raised tuition. The people who brazenly adopted the motto ‘greed is good’ in the 1980s but then caused a catastrophic financial crisis and left them with this disordered economy. It is a truth recognized in both ancient and contemporary times that no nation can be strong if the whole nation does not benefit from its strength.”
But Rubio will push back against socialism and its tendency to coopts personal freedom in the speech.
“Some politicians today entice us to embrace socialism, with the promise that only the government can provide us these things, but in practice that’s never how it works,” Rubio plans to say. “Because a government that guarantees you a basic income is also one that decides where you work and how much you make. A government that promises you free health care is also one that decides who your doctor is and what care you’ll receive. A government that promises free college is also one that decides what school you must go to and what you are taught.”
Rubio will center his foreign policy focus on the rising threat of China and its opposition to American values.
“China is undertaking a patient, well-designed effort to reorient the global order to their advantage, but how can we possibly take on this challenge . . . we are in a competition with a near-peer adversary with three times our population, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind,” the speech reads. “As Robert F. Kennedy did in 1968, we must once again accept the indivisible tie between culture and economics.”
Rubio also told the Post that the recent impeachment inquiry into President Trump will not solve the growing existential threat of tribalism.
“I think impeachment is a symptom of it, not the cause of it,” Rubio said. “I do think impeachment is a traumatic experience for a country and in this environment, even more so. For those who truly don’t like this president and would like to see him removed, that’s what the ballot box is for. That doesn’t mean impeachment is something you can never use, but I certainly think that, as part of this, you have to consider what’s in the best interest of America.”
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