Marco Rubio: Obama’s policies don’t help middle class

As President Obama arrives in Miami Friday to discuss the economy, I welcome and encourage him to visit some of South Florida’s many small businesses. Our community’s job creators would certainly discuss with him — as they often do with me all over town — how much more difficult operating a business has become in today’s economy because of the regulations and policies coming out of Washington.

President Obama should also listen to the stories of many of my neighbors to get a true sense of the effect more tax increases and spending hikes will have on our nation’s middle class. By listening to them, he would learn that many aspects of policies like Obamacare have ended up hurting many middle-class families instead of helping them. He would find that the expanding role of our government has created uncertainty by establishing rules that many small businesses can’t afford to follow.

Miami is where I learned that America’s private sector — if allowed to operate freely — is the greatest engine for prosperity and economic mobility the world has ever known. I learned this by watching my parents work hard in middle-class jobs, which existed because someone started a business and was successful enough to hire them. It was these jobs and my parents’ efforts that allowed me to live a better life than theirs. Had there been burdensome regulations or taxes on these businesses, the owners may not have been able to keep my parents on staff, or they might have reduced their hours to part-time. Either would have been devastating to our family.

Many Floridians believe these policies will only continue emanating from Washington. As a result, our economy won’t grow or produce middle class jobs because of the constant threat of trillion dollar tax hikes like the one recently approved in the Senate Democratic budget. Instead, our role in government must be to ensure that the process for starting and growing businesses is as encouraging as possible.

We can’t do this if we’re adding trillions to our national debt. The fight to reduce the debt must start by passing a balanced and responsible budget that focuses on strengthening our economy, empowering the middle class and protecting American families. I opposed the first budget produced by Senate Democrats in over four years because it is a massive bundle of tax and spending increases that even some Democrats in the Senate couldn’t support.

In Miami today, President Obama will see what really makes an economy tick. He’ll see hardworking Americans of all walks of life, including many immigrants from Latin America, the Caribbean and all parts of the world who have come here for a better life. These immigrants have been instrumental in strengthening Miami’s economy through their talents, skills and hard work. Immigration has also brought money to our city’s tourism industry, while immigrant investors have helped our real estate market begin to rebound.

But today America’s immigration system is broken. Soon my Senate colleagues and I will propose a plan that aims to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century so that America can better compete for global talent while securing our borders.

By listening to the concerns in our community, I believe President Obama will understand even more how important a modernized immigration system is to South Florida and our nation’s economy. On this issue and so many more, I encourage President Obama to engage with those who have different ideas than him. By taking a good long look around Miami, perhaps the president will see what I’ve seen throughout my years in this city. He’ll see all the elements necessary for a thriving and prosperous economy. He’ll see a culture full of people who want to help their children become better off.

President Obama is a big basketball fan who arrives in Florida as two home state teams prepare for the chance to continue their championship quests. The president surely knows that victory in a sport comes from a coach that’s able to assess the performance of his team and alter the game plan accordingly.

Now is the time to abandon the failed game plan of tax hikes and spending increases still dominating our nation’s playbook. It’s time for President Obama and Congress to return to the fundamentals. It’s time to fix the nation’s economy by putting the ball back in the hands of the real playmakers: the hardworking Americans that drive our private economy.

Marco Rubio was elected in 2010 to become a U.S. senator from Florida.

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