The 39-year-old freshman Republican senator from Florida has waited over two months since taking office to give national media outlets interviews. But now that he's hit the media circuit, it's clear that Marco Rubio is an effective spokesman for limited government conservatism.
ABC News's Jonathan Karl got the first exclusive interview with Rubio, and while the media focus from that interview has been on Rubio's potential as a national candidate in 2012, the more interesting bits come when he's talking about the impending debt crisis and out of control spending. Watch the whole interview:
Rubio is always on message, as Fred Barnes pointed out last August. And he repeated this message -- that the future of the United States depends on scaling back out of control spending -- in his live interview last night with Sean Hannity, in his interview on ABC's Good Morning America today, and in his op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, in which Rubio writes that he won't be voting to raise the debt limit.
Rubio makes a reasonable case -- and offers positive alternatives. Take this from his Journal piece:
To get our debt under control, we must reform and save our entitlement programs.
No changes should be made to Medicare and Social Security for people who are currently in the system, like my mother. But people decades away from retirement, like me, must accept that reforms are necessary if we want Social Security and Medicare to exist at all by the time we are eligible for them.
Finally, instead of simply raising the debt limit, we should reassure job creators by setting a firm statutory cap on our public debt-to-GDP ratio. A comprehensive plan would wind down our debt to sustainable levels of approximately 60% within a decade and no more than half of the economy shortly thereafter. If Congress fails to meet these debt targets, automatic across-the-board spending reductions should be triggered to close the gap. These public debt caps could go in tandem with a Constitutional balanced budget amendment.
One effective way Rubio has been at explaining the current budget situation is by reminding people how we got to the this point: It was the inability (or negligence) of congressional Democrats, who held strong majorities in both chambers, and the Democratic White House to pass a 2011 budget last year that's put Congress in this difficult position. It's a fact that's often lost in the discussion -- and Republican leadership might be wise to listen to one of their youngest members on these budget and spending issues.