While everyone else seems to want to focus on Sen. Marco Rubio’s ill-timed drink of water, the thing that I noticed when reading his response to the State of the Union (I read it rather than watched it) is how completely vapid it was. It was just a list of tired platitudes like this:
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. And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It’s going to create uncertainty.
It’s appalling to me that anyone over the age of 12 could take this kind of simplistic rhetoric seriously. It isn’t about “more government” vs “less government,” it’s about what the government should and shouldn’t be doing. And these blanket statements are inevitably false. A Pell grant certainly helps people get ahead rather than holding them back. School lunch programs that make sure poor kids get nutrition during the day that is necessary to concentrate and learn certainly helps them get ahead.
And yes, many government programs do create opportunities and inspire new ideas and private sector jobs. Publicly funded scientific research, for example, has led to some tremendous breakthroughs in medicine and engineering. The work of federal research facilities like Los Alamos and Sandia has spurred enormous economic gains and created large numbers of jobs as a result.
A simpleminded catchphrase does not a serious argument make. In fact, it isn’t an argument Rubio himself believes. A bit later in his response he said:
Helping the middle class grow will also require an education system that gives people the skills today’s jobs entail and the knowledge that tomorrow’s world will require. We need to incentivize local school districts to offer more advanced placement courses and more vocational and career training. We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice. And because tuition costs have grown so fast, we need to change the way we pay for higher education. I believe in federal financial aid.
Gosh, that sounds like government spending that helps people get ahead rather than holding them back.