Sen. Rubio: Middle class is what makes us exceptional

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Welcome back, everybody, coming to you live from our nation's capital, Neil Cavuto here, where it looks at this time that they are getting further and further away from a possible deal.;

You just heard Chris Van Hollen saying it is possible to get one done by the end of the year, but realistically it gets tough when both sides are now starting to snipe at one another.

There is the issue; too, about what kind of a deal do you want? Do you want one as Republicans say skewed too much toward raising taxes or ones that Democrats fear could be skewed too much toward hitting entitlements? Therein lies the rub.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio telling me earlier he would prefer a deal that doesn't hike taxes and the ones they are considering right now are kind of upside down.

Marco Rubio moments ago.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: I am not voting for anything that kills jobs. I am not voting for anything that kill jobs.

CAVUTO: So, anything with a tax increase in it, whether it's deductions, limiting exemptions?

RUBIO: Well, I think we need to simplify our tax code, but not as a way of generating revenue, as a way of making our tax code more growth- friendly.

But here is why that is so important. If in fact the rates go up because the president refuses to budge then he will have to answer for that next year when our economy is not growing. When, unfortunately, people lose their jobs who work at a dental clinic as a medical billing specialist, or the paralegal at a law firm loses their job, or the courier at the law firm loses a job, these are not millionaires and billionaires.

These are working-class folks that may lose their jobs as part of the 200,000 jobs that will be lost if the president's tax increase goes through. If that happens, Barack Obama will be responsible for it. By I will not be complicit in hurting growth in America, which I know is the only way to solve this problem.

CAVUTO: You do not subscribe to the view a torpedo deal or no deal boomerangs and hurts Republicans?

RUBIO: I don't want us to go off the fiscal cliff, which, by the way, Congress created in a bipartisan way. This fiscal cliff is the direct result of the last fiscal cliff, when we had the debt limit showdown in the summer of 2011.

CAVUTO: Both sides agreed to it.

RUBIO: But I voted against it because it was a bad idea.

Why did they create this artificial crisis as a way to force action? It never works.

CAVUTO: But they did. They did. You might have voted against it, but they did.

RUBIO: They did. And now the country is going to be hurt.

Now they are going to do it again. Now what they are basically saying is, now let's hurt growth in America, let's cut a deal that hurts growth in America so that a year from now we will have an even worse fiscal cliff, which means -- and that is the real fiscal cliff.

We have a $16 trillion debt which these tax increases will do nothing to solve and you will have at least 200,000 less jobs next year than you have now. And the people who vote for that will be responsible for that decision and they will held accountable for that terrible public policy.

CAVUTO: I know you have been at the Kemp Foundation dinner and other venues; you have been talking up the middle class, the need to reach out to the middle class, expand the middle class.

For any reason in the last election, Senator, Republicans lost the middle class. They seemed to get stereotyped as the party that appeals only to the well-to-do.


CAVUTO: I guess what I am asking you is, how do you change that? The perception sticks in the eyes of some. How do you change that?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, what we need to understand is the middle class is what makes us different and exceptional. Every country has rich people, but what has made us different throughout history is that we have this broad-based vibrant middle class.

It is not just about people in the middle class. It's about millions of people that are trying to get to the middle class. From that, I always rely on my own life experience. My parents worked in the service industry, working-class folks, immigrants. They didn't make a lot of money, but they made enough as a bartender and a maid, to own a house and own a car and give us a chance at a better life.

Today all four of their children live a much better life than their parents did because of them and because of America's pro-middle class policies. We have to get back to that now. But the challenges of the 21st century are different because the two things that are standing in the way, our economy is not creating middle class jobs and too many of our people do not have the skills for the 21st century middle class jobs.

That's why we have to modernize our education system so that it meets that reality.

CAVUTO: Then what did you think of Mitt Romney's comments shortly after the election that this was lost, this election was lost because so many -- just paraphrasing here, Senator -- were indebted or getting something from the government?

RUBIO: Well, I wasn't on that call. I have only read what has been reported on it. I think Mitt Romney is a great person, would have been a great president. I'm not going to criticize him. I will tell you my personal perception is that the vast majority of Americans want what my parents had, which is an opportunity, an opportunity to do better for themselves and an opportunity to give their kids their chance at whatever they want to be. We have answers for that. Limited government and free enterprise and conservatism has real durable answers for that. We just need to start making that connection for people.


CAVUTO: But I think what he was saying, sir, is that there are so many who get so much from government that they are almost like embedded loyal voters.


CAVUTO: Now, some criticized that remark for being callous and indifferent and bit of sore-loserish, but did he have a point?

RUBIO: I will not comment on his comment, because I wasn't there and, like I said, I will not stand here now and criticize him.


CAVUTO: Jon Huntsman Sr. said; go away, Mitt, after that.

RUBIO: Well, again, I think Mitt Romney is a great person and would have been a great president.

I will just say this. I think the vast majority of Americans want a government that creates the conditions for them to have a chance to get into the middle class, the kind of growth and the kind of educational opportunities. Most people would -- the vast majority of Americans would much rather have a job that pays more than a welfare check.

And I believe that with all my heart. I know that to be true. I think we have answers for that. And we should pursue them.

CAVUTO: Looking at the 2016 race -- I know you don't talk about it now -- Newt Gingrich got some headlines recently when he said that the present crop of potential candidates would have a tough time against a possible Hillary Clinton Democratic nominee, that the Democrats could once again run the table. What do you make of that?

RUBIO: Well, I didn't hear him say that.

All I can tell you is that four years is a very, very long time. You think back four years ago and how different the world looks politically. There will be two or three things that happen between now and then that will change the dynamic of everything.

And from my perspective, what I'm really focused on, is making sure that, for the broadest number of Americans possible, limited government and free enterprise, the principles that have truly helped build our country into an exceptional one, is one that is being sold to and appeals to the broadest number of Americans.

I think we have great principles to sell. I think we need to apply our principles of conservatism to the challenges of the 21st Century, and if we do that, I think the country will be better off, conservatives will be better off, the Republican Party will be better off.

CAVUTO: Senator, today, Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan signing off on a law that would, unions say, effectively kill them off, much like Wisconsin. Now, the governor says he's simply granting workers in the state a right to be in a union or not be in a union. As you know, President Obama there yesterday saying he is against this measure, as he was in Wisconsin. What do you make of this?

RUBIO: Well, full disclosure, I haven't read the bill in detail; I've only read press accounts of it. I believe people should be allowed to join a union; I believe people should be allowed not to join a union. I come from a right-to-work state and it's worked well for Florida.

We have unions in Florida and some unions do a very good job of representing their workers. My dad was in a union. I walked a picket line with the culinary workers in Las Vegas back in 1983 or '84, I forget the exact date.

But the point is that I respect unions, I think they have a role to play in America, but I also think that workers should have the right to decide whether they want to be part of a union or not. And I think the elections on whether to unionize or not should be fair elections and open elections, not rigged elections. And as long as we have that, I think America will remain competitive.

CAVUTO: Unions argue that this is a Trojan horse on the part of the governor, that although he says, "This is about giving workers the right to choose whether they want to be in a union or not," it is really an effort to kill off unions, that left with their own devices and signing up for whether they're going to pay a union fee or not, most in this environment would opt not to. So it is really a backdoor way to kill unions.

RUBIO: Well, listen, if you think of the unions' perspective for a second. If the law basically forces people to be a member of your organization and forces them to pay a fee, that's a good deal for you, but I'm not sure that's good for the worker.

So I respect unions, I think they have an important role to pay and I listen to them, we meet with them, and they raise valid points on a lot of issues like worker safety and so forth, but I also respect the right of individual workers to decide whether they want to pay that fee and whether they want to join a union.

Now, I'm not an expert on the Michigan law. I don't know all the details of it. But, again, I come from a right-to-work state in Florida and we have unions, they exist in Florida. They don't have as much power as they do in some other states, but they exist and they represent their workers well on many occasions.


CAVUTO: All right, Marco Rubio.

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