Marco Rubio and the Party of Growth (Not Austerity)

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) attends a press conference on an agreement for principles on comprehensive immigration reform framework at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2013.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio gives some SOTU response spoilers to Steve Hayes, and this exchange jumps out:

On debt, one of several areas in which Rubio believes the president is a failed leader, he wants to recast the familiar GOP argument. “The goal is growth,” he says, arguing that with pro-growth policies the federal government could generate an additional $4 trillion in revenues over the next decade, “more than any tax hike” under consideration.

This is sort of an emerging GOP theme. Cuts are unpopular, especially cuts to entitlements. The GOP, identified with cuts from 2009 through 2012, can no longer include that in the elevator pitch. Instead, it must say—not wrongly!—that economic growth would pay for the government we want to have. Yes, that government should be pared down. But let the Democrats talk about how. “Balancing government’s books is a nice goal, but that is not our primary objective,” says Gov. Bobby Jindal in the reform speech he keeps making. “We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth.” That’s similar to what Democrats say when they defend government spending and some higher tax rates.

It’s not the message of the Fix the Debt dead-enders: “We need austerity now because we can’t count on growth.” Actually, as my colleague Matt Yglesias reminds me… it’s sort of the message of George W. Bush.