Politico’s Playbook has an excerpt from a new Ryan Lizza piece from The New Yorker that is not yet online. It contains a passage on the back-and-forth between labor and the Chamber that has a quote from a Rubio staffer that is going to raise eyebrows, to say the least:
“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.”
Here is the entire context:
[Chuck schumer aide Leon] Fresco and [Rubio aide Enrique] Gonzalez helped to unlock the deal with labor and the Chamber of Commerce. The two biggest sticking points were wages for foreign workers (the unions wanted them to be higher) and the objections of the Building and Construction Trades union, which argues that plenty of Americans are looking for this kind of work.
Rubio sided with the Chamber against the construction workers. ‘There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,’ a Rubio aide told me. ‘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.’ In the end, the wage issue was settled to the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s satisfaction, and the Building and Construction Trades union won a cap on the number of visas for foreign construction workers.
Rubio spokesman, Alex Conant, e-mails an explanation:
We strongly objected to the magazine including that background quote in the piece because it’s not what Sen. Rubio believes or has ever argued. In truth, Sen. Rubio has always said the reason we need a robust temporary worker program is to create legal avenues for US businesses to meet labor needs when not enough Americans apply for jobs. This is a persistent issue in many industries, like agriculture, and has been a draw for illegal immigration in the past. The legislation that Sen. Rubio agreed to sponsor creates a robust temporary worker program to meet our economic needs while protecting American workers and wages.
Sen. Rubio believes that American workers can compete against anyone in the world.