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Sen. Marco Rubio: 'Contract With America' More Critical Now Than Ever

By    |   Thursday, 25 September 2014 08:07 PM

Editor's Note: Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the "Contract With America," which was written by then-Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, who later became speaker of the House, and Texas Rep. Dick Armey. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio shares his insights on the contract and its importance today with Newsmax.

When I became speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2007, I gave a speech laying out a plan to confront the challenges Floridians faced.

I said: "To tackle the big and relevant issues of our day with bold and innovative ideas is without question the most rewarding way to serve. What will it take to fully capitalize on the opportunities before us? It will take what it has always taken: leadership."

I believe that’s true at every level of politics. And I believe the measure of a politician is not in how good they look on TV or how popular they are with the media, it’s in their ideas to help everyday people: the single mom desperate to give her kids a better shot in life, the college graduate with crippling student debt and no job, the working parents struggling against a rising tide of bills and payments.

So before I became speaker, I toured the state to talk with people in difficult circumstances just like those — and I put together a book titled "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future."

Through this book, Floridians knew exactly what my goals would be in office, and I stuck to those goals and am proud of what we achieved as a result.

This method of leadership, powered by ideas and sustained by an open communication of those ideas to the people they impact, is certainly not one that I invented myself. Others have taken a similar approach, often with great success. One of the most notable instances in our nation’s history was an initiative announced 20 years ago: the "Contract With America."

It was led by a remarkable idea man: Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, then minority whip and future speaker of the House. He partnered with other Republican leaders, including Texas Rep. Dick Armey and policy leaders at the Heritage Foundation, to craft a revolutionary collection of ideas for restoring the promise of America.

Every Republican candidate signed the contract — and that November, the American people gave it their stamp of approval by giving Republicans the majority.

Today, the American Dream faces enormous challenges. These have been brought on by dramatic changes to the nature of our economy, and made worse by the failure of our policies and institutions to adapt.

The duty of Republicans who serve or aspire to serve in public office today is much like it was 20 years ago: We must stand for bold and innovative ideas, those adjusted to meet the challenges of a new day.

These challenges are many and have changed greatly since the time of the "Contract With America." High-skilled jobs of the future have replaced low-skilled jobs of the past. Higher education is no longer an option for some, it is a necessity for all. Global competition requires us to compete for investment and innovation. And too many children are raised today without the comforts of a stable home.

Just as I did in the Florida House, I have spent this year developing dozens of ideas that would tackle these challenges head on. On some, I’ve partnered with leaders from both parties, such as Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Cory Booker (N.J.); and Reps. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Aaron Schock (Ill.).

My proposals would make higher education accessible to everyone, spur the transformative innovation that can create new industries and millions of jobs, open America to the possibilities and realities of our increasingly globalized economy, save our crucial retirement programs from self-destruction, and encourage rather than punish marriage and parenthood.

I placed no copyright on these ideas. I encourage and welcome any candidate for office today, in either party, to adopt these policies to their own platform — and if elected, to help me improve them. Because I truly believe that despite our challenges, we Americans have good reason to be hopeful.

No nation is better-positioned to access the full promise of the 21st century than America. But first, we need leaders who will offer hope and ideas — the hope of ushering in the most prosperous era in human history, and the ideas required to make it a reality.

Our current administration and many of its allies were elected by offering exactly that. They promised "hope" and assured our people their ideas would move us "forward."

They have failed on both counts. Instead of hope and ideas, they have clung to hopeless ideas. Instead of moving us forward, they have moved us backward.

Yet despite this failure, most Democrats today are running on the same failed ideas. Instead of looking at the modern needs of our people, they suggest pumping today’s money into yesterday’s policies and programs — many of which have been failing for decades.

That’s about as logical as blowing air into a popped balloon, and just as certain to fail.

Offering new ideas is not an option for our leaders, it is a duty. One our founding fathers understood would be necessary.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that "laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind." If we don’t keep pace with the times, he explained, "we might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy."

That boyish coat confines America today. It is bursting at the seams, as leadership failures at the highest levels have left us struggling to grow and advance. But in spite of the ties constricting them, our people are ready for the 21st century. They are prepared to capture its hope and its promise.

The American Dream is ready to be reached by more people than ever before. We only need our leaders, from the state legislatures to the halls of Congress to the White House, to adopt modern ideas — ideas that empower our people, unleash the innate power of our economy, and usher in a new American Century.

Marco Rubio is the junior Republican senator from Florida.

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When I became speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2007, I gave a speech laying out a plan to confront the challenges Floridians faced.
marco rubio, contract, america, republicans, congress, house
Thursday, 25 September 2014 08:07 PM
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