Senator Marco Rubio declined to say who in his office told The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza that “there are some American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it” and downplayed the importance of the now-controversial quote.
“I’m the senator. It’s my bill. I’m the one that votes on these things. I’m the one that makes decisions. Whatever other people want to opine or say to a reporter or somebody else, I can’t control that,” Rubio said.
Rubio said the aide was “trying to enunciate the counterargument to what the union position is — not necessarily the way I would say it, or certainly what I believe. I think the American worker is the most productive worker on the planet. And we’ve created significant safeguards in the bill to protect the American worker.”
“I’ve never viewed a guest-worker program as a way to replace Americans,” he added. ”I viewed it as a way for industries to be able to find labor in those industries where there is a shortage of domestic labor.”
Lizza had asked two Rubio aides about the argument put forth by labor unions that there are ample American workers to fill jobs in the construction industry. The aides responded:
Rubio Aide 1: Yeah. I mean, one of the problems you have with this, “Oh there’s American workers who are unemployed.” There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly because . . .
Rubio Aide 2: But the same is true for the high-skilled workers.
Rubio Aide 1: Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said previously that the aides were only describing the views of “some industries,” rather than espousing their own views. However, the full context provided by Lizza offers evidence to the contrary — both aides, for instance, apply the argument to industries besides construction (“the same is true across every sector,” the first aide says).