Marco Rubio seems to like taking risks. Announcing that he will run for the presidency, as he did in Miami on Monday, means that he may lose his Senate seat next year. But we’re glad he’s running, as we were glad to see him challenge Charlie Crist for that seat in 2010, because his instincts have generally served him, and conservatives, well.
Rubio is probably the most charismatic potential Republican nominee. He speaks movingly about his love for the United States and the opportunities it has offered him and his family. He is the field’s most articulate advocate of strong American leadership in foreign affairs. These traits alone would be enough to put him in the top tier of Republican candidates.
But he has gone above and beyond that, spending the last couple of years churning out a number of innovative, conservative policy proposals on taxes, higher education, health care, and entitlements. Rubio enters the field with a comprehensive plan for individual and corporate tax reform, which he produced alongside Senator Mike Lee of Utah. The plan is not perfect, but it is an excellent starting point for how conservatives should be thinking about tax policy: It reduces distortions in the tax code, cuts rates for almost all Americans and businesses, encourages corporate investment, and provides badly needed tax relief to middle-class families.
Rubio’s audacity has not always served him well, however. Joining with Democrats to push a comprehensive immigration-reform package in 2013 was a huge mistake. Rubio’s work was presumably well intended — something indeed must be done about our immigration system — but he chose dishonest allies whose visions for immigration reform were incompatible with conservative priorities. At times, his own arguments, including nonsensical talk about how today’s lackadaisical border enforcement amounts to the “real amnesty,” were slippery.
#related#When the bill foundered in the Republican House despite immensely strong support from big business and other powerful factions, Rubio backed away. He has now repented, assuring conservatives that he has learned we must have competent immigration enforcement before making any promises about amnesty. The Gang of Eight folly was so great, though, that the senator has a ways to go in winning back the Right. Outlining immigration policies that will favor our national interest over the priorities of ethnic pressure groups and business lobbies — the 2013 plan did more or less the opposite — would be a good step.
Rubio has been among the most eloquent and constructive critics of the Obama administration on nearly every issue. As a young politician with a fresh policy agenda, he looks well suited to becoming a trenchant opponent of the Hillary Clinton campaign, too.