Sen. Rubio’s War on Poverty gamble

Florida Senator Marco Rubio wants to fight the war on poverty.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio wants to fight the war on poverty.

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.



Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.