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When Rand Paul announced his presidential candidacy last week, I broke down the speech here so that our readers could get a sense of his actual policy goals. As I noted at the time, Senator Paul’s remarks deviated somewhat from the norm in their specificity (for a good discussion of some of his policy proposals, check out Reihan Salam and Patrick Brennan in the inaugural episode of the Wonky Town podcast). That fact was only underscored by Marco Rubio’s announcement yesterday, in which he hewed much closer to the traditional model of going easy on policy details.
Now, Rubio’s no slouch when it comes to the nuts and bolts of governing. Indeed, he’s enthusiastically embraced a lot of the ideas coming out of the “reformicon” camp and it’s hard to argue with his record of policy entrepreneurship in Florida. That said, he’s also a much more talented speaker than Paul (and, for my money, anybody else who is, or may end up in, the GOP field), so he presumably knows that an announcement speech is not the time to do an on-stage scoring of your budget plan. I expect we’ll see a lot more details in the future.
Rubio’s Miami announcement speech was, for the most part, a rhetorical exercise (and a pretty fine one at that), but there was one section in the middle of the speech that gave some sense of his policy agenda. Granted, it’s a laundry list, but, as part of my effort to keep you in the loop about our candidates’ actual agendas, here’s the text:
If we reform our tax code, reduce regulations, control spending, modernize our immigration laws and repeal and replace ObamaCare, the American people will create millions of better-paying modern jobs.
If we create a 21st century system of higher education that provides working Americans the chance to acquire the skills they need, that no longer graduates students with mountains of debt and degrees that do not lead to jobs, and that graduates more students from high school ready to work, then our people will be prepared to seize their opportunities in the new economy.
If we remember that family – not government – is the most important institution in society, that all life deserves protection, and that all parents deserve to choose the education that’s right for their children, then we will have a strong people and a strong nation.
And if America accepts the mantle of global leadership, by abandoning this administration’s dangerous concessions to Iran, and its hostility to Israel; by reversing the hollowing out of our military; by giving our men and women in uniform the resources, care and gratitude they deserve; by no longer being passive in the face of Chinese and Russian aggression; and by ending the near total disregard for the erosion of democracy and human rights around the world; then our nation will be safer, the world more stable, and our people more prosperous.
My first takeaway: all stated at the principles level, which is enough to get conservatives nodding along without bickering about the details. My second takeaway: the one phrase there that’s going to cause some dyspepsia—precisely because of its vagueness (and the senator’s track record)—is “modernize our immigration laws.”