Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) faced early opposition to his proposal on Wednesday to let states take over the administration of government benefit programs, including a scathing indictment from a senior scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“The idea that what you want to do is collect money at the federal government level and hand it out to states is the exact wrong way to produce conservative policies,” Robert Rector told Buzzfeed.
As CNN reported, Rubio unveiled his proposal in the Lyndon B. Johnson Room on the 50th anniversary of the former president’s call for the U.S. to fight an “all-out war on human poverty,” arguing that the programs enacted to do so had failed Americans.
“We have to focus on policies that help our economy create those jobs and policies that help people overcome the obstacles between them and those jobs,” Rubio said. “The ‘war on poverty’ accomplished neither of these two things.”
Rubio did not name which specific programs he wants to hand over to state control, instead calling for them to be replaced with a “revenue-neutral flex fund,” as well as replacing the Earned Income Tax Credit with “a federal wage enhancement” for certain low-income jobs.
“This would allow an unemployed individual to take a job that pays, say, $18,000 a year, which on its own is not enough to make ends meet, but then receive a federal enhancement to make the job a more enticing alternative to collecting unemployment insurance,” Rubio said.
But Rector dismissed both ideas, telling Buzzfeed that the fund was “an extraordinarily bad idea” and arguing that the subsidy “doesn’t really change much of anything.”
Instead, Rector said, the party should avoid the argument over income inequality — a key Democratic Party talking point as the 2014 midterm elections approach — and focus on job creation.
“The war on poverty has been a complete catastrophe because welfare discourages work and sabotages marriage,” Rector said. “And what you need to do is fix those problems.”
Watch CNN’s report on Rubio’s proposal, aired on Wednesday, below.