Giving the response to the State of the Union speech is a thankless task. After watching the pomp and theater of a joint address to Congress it's a bit an anticlimax to watch one speaker delivering an address with nothing in the room but a television camera and a teleprompter.
But like a good soldier Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) made the effort. He was a bit nervous at first and clearly had dry mouth which prompted a rather unfortunate grab for a bottle of water (photo). There was no cheering crowd to draw out his energy as in the excellent speech he gave to the GOP Convention last summer (video).
However, to millions of Americans who are tired of slick and care more about substance, Rubio's words were like a Reagan homecoming.
Excerpts from the full text as prepared for delivery:
Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity.Rubio went on to point out that Obama's solution to every problem is more taxes and more spending. Apparently, it doesn't matter to Obama whether those ideas work or not. Americans, especially those in the Middle Class, can see how a left wing big government ideology leaves them in the lurch.
But President Obama? He believes it's the cause of our problems. That the economic downturn happened because our government didn't tax enough, spend enough and control enough. And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more.
This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it's just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.
And the idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers – that's an old idea that's failed every time it's been tried.
More government isn't going to help you get ahead. It's going to hold you back.
More government isn't going to create more opportunities. It's going to limit them.
There are valid reasons to be concerned about the President's plan to grow our government. But any time anyone opposes the President's agenda, he and his allies usually respond by falsely attacking their motives.
When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can't control the weather – he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.
When we suggest we strengthen our safety net programs by giving states more flexibility to manage them – he accuses us of wanting to leave the elderly and disabled to fend for themselves.
And tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place. But his favorite attack of all is that those who don't agree with him – they only care about rich people.
Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren't millionaires. They're retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They're workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They're immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy. The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs.
And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security.
So Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.
Hard-working middle class Americans who don't need us to come up with a plan to grow the government. They want a plan to grow the middle class.
As an audition for the 2016 GOP nomination Rubio didn't do so well on the optics. But he understands the problem and can communicate them effectively when he's not in need of hydration.
P.S. On the You Tube page with Rubio's speech another lover of civility left the message "somebody shoot this guy." Another left wing fascist. What else is new?