Following a disastrous 2012 election cycle in which Mitt Romney infamously described 47 percent of voters as “dependent upon the government,” Republican leaders set out to make their party more appealing – or at least less insulting – to middle-class and working Americans.
Just weeks after the election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech on “middle-class opportunity” that was hailed as a sign of shifting conservative priorities and a more compassionate Republican Party. However, Rubio’s message did not translate into action, as he and his party spent the next year opposing middle-class tax cuts, pushing massive cuts to the safety net, and even shutting down the government in a futile attempt to undermine access to affordable health insurance.
Meanwhile, Rubio endorsed comprehensive immigration reform but failed to sell conservatives on a bipartisan bill and, after damaging his standing on the right, eventually dialed back his support. That failed leadership led one major Florida newspaper to dub Rubio the “political loser” of 2013, so it’s no surprise to see the senator delivering yet another highly publicized speech to give his image a boost.
It is almost unfathomable that Rubio is giving a speech on poverty just a day after voting against unemployment benefits. But his refusal to help the unemployed is actually emblematic of conservatives’ empty rhetoric on poverty. Until Rubio and the Republicans come up with any actual ideas beyond their endless calls for more tax cuts and repealing Obamacare, the real war on poverty in America remains their endless attacks on the middle and working class.
Read more after the jump.