The jockeying among potential 2016 presidential nominees intensified with Sen. Marco Rubio dropping in it a 191-page prescription for "restoring the American Dream and expanding it to reach more people than ever before."
Rubio’s second book “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone” went on sale Tuesday, and is promoted in a news release as his agenda for America.
Rubio, a Florida Republican, entered national office as something of a liaison for Republicans to the Latino community and potentially a presidential ticket candidate. He introduced Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention and was vetted by Romney's campaign to be his runningmate. The spot ultimately went to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
But the crowded 2016 GOP field of presidential hopefuls and some strained relations within his party ranks have made the road to the executive branch a little bumpier for Rubio. Although Rubio has said he's considering whether to run for president, he's also up for re-election to the Senate in 2016 and has said he'll decide based on where he can further his agenda.
The grandson of a Cuban migrant, Rubio lays out in his book why he thinks the opportunities he had are drying up or have dried up for Americans today and how to create a movement to restore them.
Democrats, liberalism, the media, War on Poverty-era assistance programs and Obama policies have contributed to the demise of the American dream, Rubio argues in the book. He champions conservative principles of smaller government, deregulation and two-parent, traditional families as solutions.
He details solutions he has crafted with other members, including Democrats, offering them as antidotes to anti-poverty programs that he says are no longer viable in the technology-driven, changed economy.
“The American Dream still lives, but it is slipping further and further out of the reach of millions of Americans, and this is the central challenge of our time ….,” Rubio states in the book. “For conservatives especially, this is a defining moment. The failure of government-centered, command-and-control liberalism to lift the poor and sustain the middle class is apparent as never before.”
His call for a middle class restoration movement comes amid the second term of the administration of President Barack Obama, who has made restoring the middle class the focus of his second term.
Rubio makes clear he disagrees with Obama on how to go about bolstering the fortunes of middle-class Americans and turn back a widening income gap.
For example, Obama has been pushing for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, but Rubio argues that will hurt businesses that employ Americans. Instead, he proposes anti-poverty grants to states to form their own programs and a monthly wage tax credit to replace the annual child tax credit.
“If the goal is to help those struggling the most in the current economy, there are better ways to go about it than raising the minimum wage,” Rubio wrote.
With the "American Dream" being the theme of his book, the inclination may be to think Rubio would make immigration reform a central theme. In fact, it's a sub-topic within a chapter on regulations stifling competition titled "Making America Safe for Uber."
Rubio argues that improving life for the working and middle classes is at odds with championing immigration under today's immigration system. But he says they can coexist with reforms that can only be enacted with piece by piece - not comprehensive - legislation.
This is a change from the sweeping, bipartisan immigration reform bill Rubio helped draft as a member of the Senate's "Gang of Eight" which was approved in June 2013. He later abandoned the legislation amid blowback from conservatives.
His piece-by-piece plan begins with using technology to make sure immigrants leave the country when their visas expire and beefing up enforcement on vulnerable parts of the southern border. He argues for revamping the legal immigration system so entry is granted to those with merit and high skills, rather than their relationship to family already here.
Addressing the immigrant population in the U.S. illegally should be contingent on those reforms being enacted first, Rubio writes. Then, those here illegally should be made to come forward and register with the federal government, pass criminal background checks, speak English and pay fines to qualify to remain in the U.S. on a temporary visa. After at least 10 years, they could apply for legal residency. A legal resident usually must wait five years, less if married to a U.S. citizen, before applying for citizenship. He does not rule out citizenship for them, as some have proposed.
"In the end, immigration reform is fundamentally about reforming government and restoring the American people's faith in the ability of their government to do basic things right," Rubio writes.