Sen. Rubio’s War on Poverty gamble
The White House is marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” This a date that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants to return to fighting that war, with him as the leader of the battle.
Today he laid out his plans in a speech here in Washington. The high point of the speach can be found here.
According to The Hill his goal is turning to the war on poverty in an effort to restore the luster to his political star after a difficult 2013.
GOP strategists say Rubio is trying to reassert himself on the national stage with what his office is touting as a major speech. It comes after Rubio took a political pummeling over the last year over his role in passing comprehensive immigration reform through the Senate.
“This is an all-out effort for Sen. Rubio to re-establish himself on the national stage and turn the page from the immigration debate, which was handled horribly,” said Alex Patton, a Republican strategist based in Florida.
Rubio’s allies say the speech is a return to a theme he has spoken of eloquently throughout his career: expanding access to the American dream by creating incentives for individual initiative. More..
The issue of how to help the nation’s poor is a critical counterpoint to this year’s Democrat strategy of pushing hard forminimum wage increases and more to address the growing sense of economic insecurity in America.
While Rubio is ready to battle economic inequality, the devil will be in the details. If he tacks too far to the center, he runs the risk of alienating the already angry conservative base with proposals that are too conciliatory to the social safety net. Veer too far to the right, and Rubio’s initiatives could be dismissed as insufficiently empathetic to the plight of the poor.
Rubio does not want to cede ground to Democrats on poverty, however it’s not clear that Republicans are quite ready to give up fighting against things that aim to help the poor.
In the past few months, Republicans have been far more outspoken about paring back or undoing such programs as food stamps, Medicaid and extending unemployment insurance.
So, we will see how far Rubio’s plan gets and in the meantime here is a real history lession on LBJ’s War on Poverty from Politico.