Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An American Son by Marco Rubio

I'm usually interested in reading what political figures on the national scene have to say about themselves, so I reserved a copy of Rubio's bio, and was looking forward to it coming in at the library. I have to say, I was a little bit disappointed, even before I finished it. I think it was mostly the quality of the writing, which seemed targeted at almost a junior high audience. Rubio never really shows any substance to his deeply held conservative convictions, though he does discuss his Catholic faith a bit. The whole flavor of the book seems like "What I did on my summer vacation", in my opinion.

He covers his family's history, as Cuban exiles, in great detail, and tells the tale of growing up in Miami, then Las Vegas, and returning to Miami to finish high school. College and law school get a bit less airtime, before his foray into politics, beginning with local offices, on to the state senate in Florida, and eventually being elected to the U.S. Senate, consumes the second half of the book.

Some points of interest for me were his descriptions of how the political process shapes what the state and local governments are really able to accomplish. In one case, Rubio and his associates were trying to push through some legislation that would have helped parents of disabled children to get more help with their treatment. The Florida House put together a bill that would have done what they asked for, sent it up to the Senate. The Senate, however, delayed nearly to the end of the legislative session, then killed the bill, sending back one of their own to the House that only covered autistic children's needs. With time running out, Rubio and his allies were forced to accept the Senate bill just to get anything at all done, and disappointed his constituents with children with disabilities other than autism.

Another situation was when Rubio was pushing forward serious tax reform in Florida. Most voters felt that property taxes were too high, and Rubio's proposal would have eliminated them (or maybe a large proportion of them). To make up the state revenues lost, he proposed a VAT tax (or something similar). The legislation later failed, but his political opponents in later races claimed he supported a huge tax increase - because of his proposing the consumption tax - to discredit him. His original idea was a tax reduction, coupled with offsetting the revenue loss in other ways, but the only part that got any notice was the increase.

Anyway, it's good read in some ways for political junkies, but I found it very difficult to plod through..

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