Rubio, who helped shape compromise immigration bill, positions himself as no-compromise budget warrior
Sen. Marco Rubio didn't even wait for the bipartisan budget accord to be released before calling it a failure, on Sean Hannity's radio show. When the deal was announced, Rubio fired off a strongly worded statement. On Wednesday he continued the attack on Mike Huckabee's radio show and Fox News.
The Florida Republican, still dealing with the fallout for helping write the Senate immigration bill, has a new favorite cause -- one that puts him at odds with Rep. Paul Ryan, a potential 2016 GOP presidential rival, and other Republicans eager to move past politically damaging budget showdowns and break the growing stronghold of outside groups such as Heritage Action.
"It’s not just this budget, it’s this lack of long-term thinking around here," Rubio told Huckabee. "There are no long-term solutions apparently possible in Washington, and we are running out of time. That’s why I’ve become opposed to the deal they’ve come up with.”
Rubio has consistently talked about dealing with long-term budget issues. But it's not hard to divine a political calculation in his aggressive approach. While he talks about long-term budget thinking, he's espousing smaller steps on immigration.
Piecemeal immigration reform is the reality in the House (even President Obama has acknowledged that) but Rubio's newer tone softens his ownership of the comprehensive bill. On Hannity yesterday a listener could have assumed he disagreed with the sweeping approach. Rubio also penned a column about the budget for Breitbart, an outlet that relentlessly criticized him on immigration.
Immigration reform legislation came together in the spirit of compromise Ryan pursued with Sen. Patty Murray, albeit in more modest terms. But Rubio, who knows the pain Ryan is now feeling from some conservatives, has pivoted away from compromise.
In a fundraising letter Wednesday for his Reclaim America PAC, he wrote:
"If we had a conservative majority in the Senate, Republicans wouldn’t need to compromise on our principles to avoid another government shutdown. Let's solve this problem and elect a conservative majority in 2014 so we can tackle the long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending and stop compromising on our principles of less spending and less debt."
On Thursday morning, a frustrated Ryan suggested Rubio was playing games.
"Read the deal and get back to me," he said on Morning Joe. "People are going to do what they need to do. In the minority (meaning Senate Republicans) you don't have the burden of governing, of getting things done."