|Presidential aspirant and Florida senator Marco Rubio shakes hands after speaking Wednesday morning at Melaleuca world headquarters near Idaho Falls.|
Speaking to an audience of about 400 people at Melaleuca world headquarters, near Idaho Falls, Rubio gave his positions on immigration, foreign affairs, the national debt and economic development.
The speech was at the invitation of Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot, who contributed prominently to the campaign of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
Rubio called it “improbable” that he, the son of a bartender and made who emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956, should be where he is today.
In most parts of the world, people don’t have much opportunity to rise above the station to which they are born, he said. “(Here) they have a God-given right to go as far as their talent and their work will take them.”
Rubio said that under President Barack Obama the United States has been on “the path of decline.” A change in policy is needed, he said, “and the best way to change policy is to change the people who are making it.”
Like other Republican hopefuls he called for an end to Obamacare, labeling it a burden to business and a drag on growth. On other economic issues, he said he is for simplifying the tax code and reforming the nation’s education system.
“We are stuck with a 20th century higher education system,” he said, stressing the need for more training in vocational fields and transparency when it comes to student debt loans.
The American Dream is not about getting rich, he said. It is about having a good enough job to make ends meet, being able to save for a comfortable retirement and for families to have the freedom to do what they enjoy doing. “We have a unique and special obligation not just to preserve it but to expand it,” he said. “If we lose it, we lose what makes us different.”
With regard to international affairs, Rubio said the United States must stand up to radical Islamic jihadism and tyranny around the world. “If America can’t lead on the global stage, no one else can,” he said.
Taking questions from the audience, Rubio called the nation’s current immigration system unsustainable. The problem of 12 million immigrants inside the United States without documentation has to be addressed realistically, he said. If a new immigration system can be enforced fairly and effectively, “I think the American people are willing to be reasonable.”
On the subject of the national debt, Rubio said he favors policies that create dramatic economic growth coupled with fiscal discipline. “We can’t cut or tax our way out of this debt,” he said.
With a mother on Social Security and Medicare, he said he has no plans for changing those programs for people in their 50s and up. For younger people, however, “(they) are going to look different than they have in the past,” he said. “Do we do it now or do we wait until it’s a crisis?”