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With Marco Rubio’s Walmart Mentality, Republicans ‘Discover’ How to End the Poverty They Created

| June 4, 2014

Germaine Richier, 'The Claw Creature' (1952).

Germaine Richier, ‘The Claw Creature’ (1952).

By Stephen L. Goldstein

Republicans have just discovered poverty and income inequality — a remarkable revelation, considering they have caused so much of it.

The Tea Party GOP has declared Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” a failure. And with the 2014 elections looming, following the advice of their pollsters and word-testers, Republicans are trying to remake themselves as sympathetic and empathetic, instead of apathetic, to the plight of the poor and the middle class.

So in January, just a day after he voted not to allow the Senate to vote on extending unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had the chutzpah to say he was proposing “the most fundamental change to how the federal government fights poverty and encourages income mobility” in 50 years. In “Reclaiming the Land of Opportunity: Conservative Reforms for Combating Poverty,” he rattled off a compendium of political kitsch, a Walmart of social solutions with the impact of anesthesia.

context floridaLike all Rubio speeches, this one oozed patriotic platitudes: “The American Dream” is alive and well; we are an “exceptional” country; the free market is God’s gift to the world. In spite of the fact that many of “the working poor” hold two and three jobs, not to mention legions who are unemployed, Rubio declared: “We are still a country where hard work and perseverance can earn you a better life” — spoken like a man who’s worked and persevered to get elected to public office and has had a guaranteed paycheck and perks for going on 12 years.

Summoning up some of that sympathy and empathy, Rubio said he is “troubled” and “bothered” because “many of our people are still caught in what seems to be a pervasive, unending financial struggle.” But he’s not “troubled” and “bothered” enough to be honest enough to make the connection between poverty and failed GOP economic policies.

Instead, he blamed poverty and income inequality exclusively on liberal “government spending” on “failed” federal programs. And, by logic only he can explain, he dismissed the idea of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 because it isn’t “the American Dream.”

But the pièce de résistance of Rubio’s nonsensewas to end poverty by turning “Washington’s anti-poverty programs — and the trillions spent on them — over to the states.” Small-government Marco wants to lump “most of our federal anti-poverty funding into one single agency” and all their money into a “Flex Fund.” Then, those tax dollars “would be transferred to the states so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity.”

Poor deluded Marco! His “most fundamental change” to fighting poverty in the last 50 years is nothing more than turning all federal programs into “block grants” — a difference of degree, not substance.


Rubio says Washington shouldn’t “tell Tallahassee what programs are right for the people of Florida” and “what’s right for Tallahassee is [not] the same thing that’s right for” any other state. He also claims “that if states were given the flexibility, they would design and pursue innovative and effective ways to help those trapped in poverty.”

But don’t believe a word of it. Florida’s most recent, homegrown anti-poverty effort — Gov. Rick Scott’s promise of job creation — has been a flop. According to a Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times review of 342 job-creation deals, the governor “pledged $266 million in tax breaks and other incentives in return for 45,258 new jobs. But 96 percent of the jobs have yet to materialize.”

If Tallahassee received a massive infusion of tax dollars to spend as it saw fit, the poor wouldn’t see a dime of it. The governor and Legislature would continue to lavish millions on most-favored businesses because they are supposedly “job creators” — and having a job is key to upward mobility — with the same disastrous consequences.

Rubio’s “most fundamental change to fighting poverty” in 50 years is nothing more than his pandering to states’ rights voters, whose support he wants for his run for president. Rubio may think he’s being sympathetic and empathic. But he’s just pathetic — and self-serving.

Stephen L. Goldstein is the author of “The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit” and “Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned.” He lives in Fort Lauderdale. 

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24 Responses for “With Marco Rubio’s Walmart Mentality, Republicans ‘Discover’ How to End the Poverty They Created”

  1. Diana L says:

    Rubio-pathetic and self-serving , no truer words have been spoken.

  2. Geezer (El Geezer) says:

    The self-loather burps up again. Rick Scott needs his head waxed again Marco.
    Maybe do his brows too.

  3. confidential says:

    Could not be said any better!
    Marco Rubio totally detached from the reality of what mayhem his GOP buddies have created for the poor since 2001. Yeah the states are going to get the fed funds intended for the poor to be redirected to the 1% like been happening until now with hundreds of millions of public funds.

  4. m&m says:

    What makes you think the republicans caused this? The liberals lavish people with all these intitlements and take away all thier reasons to want to work or improve themselves and risk loosing that free money that we the tax payers give them..

    • The Truth says:

      This seems to be the narrative with Republican’s, but those “entitlements” you speak of are not wanted by most in the system. It seems you believe that people want to live off the government and not survive on their own, but the fact of the matter is that most people don’t want this. Are there a few who game the system? Of course there are. These things occur regardless, but to claim that anyone who’s receiving government assistance or as you refer to them as “entitlements” (at least that’s what I think you meant since your spelling was slightly off) simply sit on their butt and don’t work or do anything to better themselves is insulting.

    • A.S.F. says:

      @m & m says–And what about the Republicans who lavish “entitlements” on other Republicans in the form of high-priced corporate welfare? How about the tax breaks and subsidies THEY get–especially the ones who use the excuse that they are “job creators” and, therefore, deserve all those special considerations, while sending said “jobs” overseas?” Also, the largest entitlement program in our country is Social Security, by far, so you might want to re-think your argument…or stop spending quite so much of your time listening to Tea Party propaganda.

      • Steve Wolfe says:

        I guess you forgot to mention that Democratic Governors are getting a clue, too. Governor Cuomo of New York is offering 10 years tax-free to businesses that relocate to New York, and New York is now claiming to be number 2 in the nation for job creation. Now who are you going to criticize for government welfare?

        Wrong on count two as well. Social Security is not an entitlement. It is an earned benefits program. People actually pay into Social Security and have the guarantee of a monthly benefit check in return. Though poorly run (as with just about anything the Federal Government does), it does create quite a contradiction for the Feds who always cry out that Social Security is “going broke,” while all the other subsidies, which the beneficiaries do NOT pay into (unless for some portion of their lives they are paying taxes) NEVER seem to run out of money.

        As for Tea Party propaganda, I suspect you are getting only a filtered version thereof from some second-hand source that is predisposed to disagreement with free market ideas and the Constitution. We would all be better served by knowing each other’s actual positions rather than seizing every opportunity to hurl mud at every mention of the opposing party’s name. I’ve come to expect more from you.

        Another FL article points out a 4th straight month of job growth. Could that be from the several states taking unto themselves that which the Federal Government is no good at? The article quotes Federal monitoring, but no Federal solutions. Local governments know much better what is happening on the ground, and are more flexible in their planning than the Federal Government. The states also cannot print money, so they have to balance their budgets. That reality causes the states to take their own economies much more seriously than the economic never-land in which the Federal Government lives and creates policies and programs from. States have learned that when they cut business taxes, business growth occurs. When business growth occurs, jobs are created. When jobs are created, wages are paid. When wages are paid, taxes are collected. When taxes are collected, the states have cha-ching. People are the only ones who pay taxes, anyway. Business only passes the cost of their taxes onto the consumers of their products. There’s really no choice in the matter. The CEO’s, upper management, and share holders could be taxed more if you really buy into the class-warfare strategy, but that won’t happen as long as entrenched politicians are always reaching out to those very people for re-election money. That is where the Tea Party intersects with the mess we are in. The Tea Party pushes for less government (because that would be less wasteful and less burdensome), lower taxes (which can’t happen unless we reduce wasteful, burdensome government), term limits to get rid of entrenched politicians (which shouldn’t exist but wasn’t enumerated in the Constitution), honoring the 10th Amendment (which enumerates the proper powers to the several states that the Federal Government should not exercise) which would lead towards a Renaissance in our economy and our culture.

        That’s all.

  5. Sherry Epley says:

    While I absolutely agree that our governor and his cronies in our state legislature could care less about the working poor and under privileged, and that turning over even more tax money to them would be a horrible travesty, I feel the wording of this article is over the top and divisive.

    Instead of verbal bashing, which results in lowering one’s self to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, I would prefer to see some suggestions for improvements in education, training, creating high paying jobs, trimming government waste, political reforms, etc.

    Yes, Rubio is doing nothing short of pandering for votes. . . one of which he will never ever get from me. . . and Yes, we need to clean out the “good ole boys” from Tallahassee, and Yes, my home state of Florida has become a laughing stock on the late night shows! But, may we have just a little class and decorum please. . . while we at least try to join together to find healthy solutions to our problems.

    • El Geezerino says:

      Decorum? Is that when they make rooms pretty with matching carpets and drapes?
      What’s that? A Bobby Trendy thing?

      Just kidding…

  6. Rob says:

    The people who vote for him are also of the Wal-Mart mentality.
    Rubio says Washington shouldn’t “tell Tallahassee what programs are right for the people of Florida” “that if states were given the flexibility, they would design and pursue innovative and effective ways to help those trapped in poverty.”
    We already see those policies at work, Wil Weatherford leads the charge of denying Medicaid expansion to the poor.
    Now that is right up Rubio’s and his follower’s alley.

  7. Well... says:

    Oh please, as if either party truly cares about ending poverty, or if their constituents have food to eat every day. Yes, there is something called personal responsibility but there is also a lack of opportunity to make changes in ones life. Where are jobs that pay a living wage? Where is affordable health care? Where is advanced public transportation that allows interstate travel in a matter of a few hours (bullet trains)? I know, we need people flying so that industry does not suffer again but flying can be a major pain, why not give travelers options. I would love to get on a bullet train and go to a different state for work in the time it takes me to go to Orlando, Tampa or the panhandle by car. It would open up the work force so that way people can travel to where their skills are best served (moving is not always feasible). As long as the major political parties keep this nation divided worrying about social issues and keep our focus off our real problems (jobs, jobs without living wages, food costs soaring, gas holding steady around $3.XX or climbing, etc), they can continue to push everyone down. A powerful public is a voice that will be heard and as long as we are going after each other’s throats blaming one POTUS after the other, worrying about gay marriage, abortion, and religion, they will never have to change anything because it will all be talk to placate their party line(s)..

  8. Steve Wolfe says:

    None of you understand the simple truths of a free market economy. You are steeped in an agenda of attacks against what truly works because what you fear is the dismantling of the biggest social welfare engine ever assembled, which has clearly failed. The program that was intended to provide income redistribution has only resulted in more extremes. It has produced a permanent new plantation that cannot be escaped because the chains are now bureaucratic rules. The same money which has been wasted to support legions of unelected law makers could have been used to lift recipients out of poverty. Instead they got a pittance of life support while those bureaucrats drive their shiny BMW’s home from D.C. to the MD or VA burbs, secure in their high paying, low responsibility, high benefits, no accountability careers with annually refreshed furniture and equipment. The bureaucracy does everything to expand itself, but little to help its clients. Notice the growth of bureaucracy along with the growth of poverty. New programs, even overlapping one another, yet the same results. That’s the real bullshit. You cannot design a better, fairer, more efficient economy than the free market. History provides all the examples you need.

    You are so partisan that you have your heads right where the b.s. originates. If the Democrats held the banner for free markets, you’d all be marching in the streets for free enterprise. Instead you demand more of what has been proven unworkable. What was that definition of insanity?

  9. m&m says:

    WalMart is always the target of topics like this but what I see is WalMart hiring a lot of challenged people that probably could’nt get a job any where else.. I applaud them for that. It make them feel useful and part of society..

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Wow, I think you finally came up with a job for George W. to keep busy at now that he’s unemployed.

  10. Bunnell Resident says:

    Most people who live in poverty have parents who are Democrats, therefore the only logical explanation is that Democrats create poverty. I say this light heartedly but to say Republicans created poverty is like calling Obama the Anti-Christ. Both ideas are possible but neither is plausible.

  11. Anonymous says:

    do not trust any one of them they all talk from both sides of their mouths. sick and tired of hearing that they work as a dish washer and mom and day struggled and they lived in a one or two bedroom apt., woo, woo woo woo, so did a lot of other americans and their kids are probably doing the same now in this generation, working as dishwashers because of the corruption in washington and the state governments.

  12. rickg says:

    Senator Rubio would no doubt like the states to become fiefdoms and dissolve any sort of federal government unless of course to wage war… My wish is that some day the voters of this state wake up and realize who they have put into office these last 16 years and why haven’t things gotten any better.

  13. DJH says:

    I couldn’t even finish reading this garbage article.Typical Liberal trash.Obama is working his 6th year and you liberals do what you do best blame the GOP for his failed polices.Why don’t all you Dems man up and except this Presidents failed policies.I know it’s tough to stop blaming some else.

  14. Freddy says:

    To quote the author this is “The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit”

  15. Outsider says:

    The war on poverty does not solve problems in the long run. All these entitlements, which were supposed to be for temporary relief of temporary circumstances, encourage generation after generation to create more children they cannot support on their own and give those children a dependent mentality. After spending ten trillion dollars on poverty fighting programs, there is no less poverty today than when they started; in fact, more people are on food stamps and the like than ever before. It amazes me that after witnessing six years of the economic devastation of the liberal destroyer in chief and his Democratic accomplices someone can actually blame our economic malaise on Republicans. How long are are we going to blame economic stagnation on “bumps in the road?” We have the most liberal administration in recent history and we have the worst economic “recovery” as well. As one example I will cite the left’s recurring gripe that corporations are keeping trillions of dollars “in overseas accounts” to avoid paying U.S. taxes. First of all, it’s in an overseas account because that’s where the money was earned. Secondly, we have among the highest corporate tax rates, loopholes included, in the industrialized world. The result is trillions of dollars sitting overseas, and if it’s sitting overseas, guess where it can’t be spent or invested? If we instead lowered the corporate tax rate, or proposed a tax holiday, perhaps requiring a certain percentage of the tax-free money be invested in capital projects here in America, then we can get some of that money back here in the U.S. to be spent here, CREATING JOBS, regardless if it’s new factories or just those evil rich people buying dinner, cars and boats. Recently a major pharmaceutical firm moved it’s headquarters to Ireland because of the favored tax status. We lost jobs as a direct result. So, instead of letting leftist ideology dictate our economic policies to the direct detriment of U.S. citizens, let’s allow reality to guide us.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Bravo, Outsider. If the comment I submitted 2 days ago gets posted you will hear an echo in the room.

  16. Sherry Epley says:

    Dear El Geezer,

    LOL! I absolutely love your clever comments and sense of humor! I just thought the wording in the article was “over the top”. . . but not you. . . never YOU! And, you are absolutely right. . . I should not have people running for the dictionary every time I want to raise a little consciousness.

  17. El Geezer says:

    I always enjoy reading your comments. I am thrilled to have brought a smile to your face!
    Thank you Sherry, and thanks to FlaglerLive that puts up with my sometimes nutty musings.

  18. nomad says:

    And what role did Hillary Clinton played in all this? She was on the board of Walmart for 30 YEARS! Even when her husband was president. She only gave up the position when she became either a NY senator or Secretary of State – because of conflict of interest. And, didn’t Obama give some pro Walmart loving speech in front of a Walmart just last month?

    The link to the excerpt from a very interesting article:The Democrats’ New Fake Populism

    ( http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/the-democrats-new-fake-populism/)

    […] the Occupy movement proved that the Democrats fear real left populism much more than they fear far-right populism. We now know that the Obama administration worked with numerous Democratic Party mayors and governors across the nation to undermine and destroy the Occupy movement through mass arrests, police violence and surveillance. And because Occupy succeeded in changing the national conversation about income inequality, the Democrats were forced to engage with the rhetoric of the movement they dismembered, and now use the plagiarized language as proof of their “populism.”

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