Rubio: Republicans are 'primarily' to blame for culture of dependency

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday said his party was “primarily” responsible for the culture of dependency on the federal government in the United States.

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Rubio was discussing the Gang of Eight immigration bill on "The Rush Limbaugh Show," when Limbaugh said he didn’t understand the argument that Hispanics were a natural Republican constituency because a poll showed that 70 percent of Hispanics believe “that government is the primary source of prosperity.”

“I'd say that's a growing problem in America in general,” Rubio said. “I think we have a growing problem in this country that too many people have forgotten what the true sense of prosperity is … and let me tell you who I blame for that first and foremost. I blame that primarily, quite frankly, on decisions made by the Republican Party in the past to embrace crony capitalism and corporate welfare as conservatism, when, in fact, that's not what we're about.”

Rubio didn’t identify any specific members of his party, but referenced “multiple candidates” who campaigned as small-government conservatives and later governed as big-government liberals.

That comment seemed at least partially directed at former President George W. Bush.

“I also think that while we've had multiple candidates in the past that have campaigned as limited-government conservatives ... until it's their government program that they're trying to protect, or what have you,” he said. “So I don't think necessarily Republicans have always governed as the limited-government movement and the result is you see this kind of confusion in the American electorate about what the source of prosperity is.”

Rubio said the party needed to do a better job of explaining that “free enterprise is the only way to consistently create the kind of growth and opportunity that America's always been identified with.”

“We are about upward mobility,” he said. “We're about the true free enterprise system. We're not about big companies being able to use the federal government to create rules and regulations that make it harder on their competitors.”