Senator Marco Rubio, usually the most fluid of speakers, started slow and was a little stiff and nervous yesterday, but then he hit his stride, attacking the likely Democratic nominee where it hurt.
While Hillary is being driven to Iowa in her Scooby Doo van (don’t you know she longs for a good four star hotel!) to define herself as the champion of “everyday Americans,” Rubio deftly painted her as the champion of yesterday.
“Yesterday is over,” Rubio said, referring in particular to Mrs. Clinton without naming her.
Of course, it sounded as if he is running against a timeline. And yesterday is over and tomorrow will come no matter what politicians do.
Still, it was rather delicious irony for those of us who are yesterday enough to remember how President Clinton managed to clobber Senator Bob Dole, still struggling with his wounds from World War II, as somehow too yesterday to build the “bridge to the twenty-first century” that Mr. Clinton promised.
Rubio announced, as you no doubt know, at Miami’s Freedom Hall Tower, a routine stop for penniless Cuban refugees and exiles arriving in a new country. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton was embarked on what Rich Lowry describes as her “joyless ride” in her Scooby Doo van, an enterprise that reeks of efforts to humanize Mrs. Clinton:
At the outset of her latest presidential campaign, she decided to drive from New York to Iowa for her first campaign stop. Or, to be more precise, she decided to be driven to Iowa by a Secret Service agent as part of a three-car caravan in keeping with her security needs. For a former first lady and global celebrity, this is traveling light and spontaneous – let’s load up the Secret Service detail and blow this joint.
We like happy campaigners, but let's hope voters will get well beyond the style points this election cycle.
Doing just that, the Wall Street Journal greets the Rubio candidacy this morning with an analysis of Rubio’s policy positions this morning, including his tax proposals:
His recently announced tax-reform plan, introduced with Utah’s Senator Mike Lee, reflects the tensions inside the GOP. It proposes dropping the corporate rate to 25%, a consensus figure. But it proposes remarkably timid reductions in marginal tax rates for individuals, leaving the top rate at 35% on relatively modest incomes. Instead the plan’s centerpiece is a large, new tax credit—$2,500 per child.
With this proposal, Senator Rubio makes himself the party’s most visible ally of the “new” Republican idea that the Reagan tax-cutting agenda is a political dead end, and that the party now must redistribute revenue directly to middle-class families. It’s not clear how Candidate Rubio would hope to win a tax-credit bidding war with Hillary Clinton, who’d see and raise on the size of the credit and make it refundable to non-taxpayers. The Rubio tax credit looks like an obvious political gambit with no economic growth payoff.
The Senator nonetheless has the rhetorical gifts to make a compelling case for himself. His message is aspirational, and he offers a generational contrast with Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Rubio’s biggest challenge will be convincing primary voters that this precocious energy adds up to something better than voting for one of the successful Republican Governors with a record of real accomplishments.
Meanwhile, National Review editors, who think Rubio has “the right ideas,” find more to like in his tax plan:
The plan is not perfect, but it is an excellent starting point for how conservatives should be thinking about tax policy: It reduces distortions in the tax code, cuts rates for almost all Americans and businesses, encourages corporate investment, and provides badly needed tax relief to middle-class families.
It is Rubio’s work on immigration, however, that may give many pause. He sided with Democrats in 2013 to produce a joint immigration plan. National Review notes:
Rubio’s work was presumably well intended — something indeed must be done about our immigration system — but he chose dishonest allies whose visions for immigration reform were incompatible with conservative priorities. At times, his own arguments, including nonsensical talk about how today’s lackadaisical border enforcement amounts to the “real amnesty,” were slippery.
But Rubio’s announcement didn’t get into the policy weeds yesterday.
The most notable aspect was the contrast with Mrs. Clinton.
On style points, Rubio probably won the last two days.
I think on substance he also scored implicitly—Mrs. Clinton seems to think that the middle class needs a champion—her—and Rubio seems to think that a prosperous, free economy will allow people to rise without champions.
We don't need a champion. We need a good economy and our freedom to make our own way. Rubio's family history had taught him this.