“Instead we should grow our economy so that we create new taxpayers, not new taxes, and so our government can afford to help those who truly cannot help themselves,” he said.
He also said the “sequester” cut could be replaced with “responsible spending reforms,” rather than higher taxes, and that lawmakers must be wary of “unconstitutionally undermining the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans” in the wake of the mass school shooting in Connecticut.
For the most part, the two Republicans basically stuck with a familiar message of economic liberty, blaming Mr. Obama for adopting policies that have led to erratic job growth and a sluggish recovery from the recession the Democrat inherited from his predecessor George W. Bush, a Republican.
Mr. Rubio said lawmakers should push to reform the federal tax code and said the first step in balancing the federal budget is reducing the the costs of entitlement programs such as Medicare, which his parents have benefited from.
“I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother,” he said. “But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it.”
He also called for lawmakers to embrace a “responsible, permanent solution” to the problem of illegal immigration — starting with following through “on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”
Mr. Paul agreed, saying Republicans need to “embrace the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future.”
“We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you,’” Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican said.
Some other Republicans, though, warned Tuesday that any effort to legalize people living here illegally cannot come at the expense of the American worker. “The president’s plan meets the desire of businesses for low-wage foreign workers while doing nothing to protect struggling American workers,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and ranking member of the Senate budget committee.
The dueling GOP responses were the latest evidence of a party still looking to redefine itself after the November elections in which Republicans lost seats in both chambers of Congress and Mr. Obama captured a second term despite a sluggish economy and high unemployment.
Republicans are grappling over how to modernize their message to appeal to the nationwide electorate, in particular the Hispanic vote that Mr. Obama won by a whopping 71 percent to 27 percent margin over GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said that Mr. Rubio “embodies the American dream” and that “as the child of immigrants, he’s uniquely positioned to speak to the aspirations of the middle class.”
Mr. Rubio, one of two Republican Hispanics in the Senate, also has thrust himself into the middle of the immigration debate by embracing a five-page framework for comprehensive immigration reform that would grant most of the estimated 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in the country legal status “on Day One.”View Entire Story
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By Andrew P. Napolitano
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