Rubio’s “Meet The Press” talking points dissected

Marco Rubio was on “Meet the Press” this morning, primarily to tout the immigration reform plan that he and seven other Senators are currently hashing out.

While it’s admirable that Rubio is, at least, swimming against the mainstream of his ethnocentric gerontocracy of a party by advocating a path to citizenship, he seemed to regurgitate mostly tired vomitous GOP talking points on key policy arguments, showing that he mainly differentiates himself from other potential 2016 Republican Presidential candidates by periodically quoting rap lyrics and coming off as the sort of guy you’d like to have a beer with. In other words, he seems to be a hipper, literate version of George W. Bush.

Here are some of the falsehoods he trafficked this morning that could do with some debunking:

On the need to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, he told David Gregory that “Many of them aren’t paying taxes.”

A highly misleading statement, at best. An outright lie, at worst. Undocumented immigrants pay all sorts of payroll, property and sales taxes.

Moreover, their ineligibility for a wide array of benefits means that they tend to contribute far more than they drain from state treasuries. Among one of the many studies that demonstrated this was a 2006 report by the Texas state comptroller, which found that undocumented immigrants netted state balance sheets around $420 million in fiscal year 2005. Another study released by the National Council of La Raza found that undocumented immigrants “will pay, on average, approximately $80,000 more in taxes per capita than they use in government services.”

This isn’t to say that undocumented immigrants should remain in the shadows, but that justifications for normalizing their situation shouldn’t build on stereotypes like the one pushed by Rubio. Demonizing immigrants while reforming the system will lead to continued suffering — a likely outcome, according to New York Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz, who said that reports indicate “the legislation looks more like an impassable mine field than a road to legalization.”

When pushing back against Gregory’s point that the GOP had much to do to widen its appeal, Rubio said that the GOP needs “to prove, as I think we can, that we are the party of upward mobility.” He said that “the only way its possible “through the free enterprise system, which the left and the Democrats are undermining.”

This is an outright lie. Nevermind the false assertion that Democrats are “undermining the free enterprise system” (although wouldn’t it be nice if they were?), a libertarian paradise is anathema to social mobility. Simply put, children of the destitute lack opportunity in the absence of state intervention (particularly in the educational sector); an idea backed by the rigors of academia and non-partisan research. As a November Congressional Research Service report found, Republican inspired push-back against New Deal and Great Society programs has harmed poor kids seeking to improve their lot.

…children born into low income families have not become more likely and may have become less likely to surpass their parents’ position at the bottom of the income distribution.

One damning study (Levine and Mazumder) cited by the CRS found that “intergenerational mobility decreased substantially at some point between 1983 and 1995.”

Another study (Mazumder and Aaronson) reinforced this. While Ronny was lecturing Misha about tearing down walls in Berlin, he was building them at home:

[Mazumder and Aaronson] estimated that movement between generations from one part of the income distribution to another increased over the 1940-1980 period. Intergenerational mobility then decreased substantially during the 1980s and appears to have remained unchanged during the 1990s. This pattern suggests that the opportunity for children in the United States to attain incomes that exceed their parents’ relative incomes was lower after 1980 compared to the preceding four decades.

Then, Rubio offered up two talking points that don’t need any sort of academic studies to debunk.

First, he justified his pledge to filibuster gun control by saying that background checks are “highly ineffective” and that criminals will find ways to get guns anyway.

By this logic, shouldn’t the Senator be opposed to drivers’ licenses? And the concealed carry permits he was lauding on “Meet The Press”? I mean, criminals are just going to drive and conceal weapons anyway. Why bother? The only way a bad 15 year old doing drive-by’s can be stopped is by a good 15 year old doing drive-by’s. Or something like that.

Finally, Rubio blasted Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles’ trip to Cuba, saying that if the communist island wants “normal relations… it should become a normal country,” and proceeded to call it “dictatorial” and “tyrannical.”

Again, no need to delve into peer-reviewed literature here. This is shameless pandering to a powerful subset of his constituents, former Cuban elites who fled the island after their dictator, Flugencio Batista fell in 1959.

Rubio hasn’t, after all, suggested embargoes against Saudi Arabia, China or Vietnam. Although he did, amid Arab Spring mass demonstrations, offer a meager policy of not “endorsing the status quo” in Egypt, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, it seems to be all flash an no substance. In other words, typical Rubio.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.