WASHINGTON -- Florida Sen.
In a much-anticipated speech, Rubio, who is expected to be 2016 Republican presidential contender, said there was "a better way to help catch those in our society who have fallen down and help them get back on their feet."
As Democrats have coalesced around the idea of addressing economic inequality, Rubio argued that the lack of economic mobility was just as significant a challenge.
In the midst of a debate in the Senate over extending unemployment benefits and with President
"Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American Dream," Rubio said. "Our government programs at best offer only a partial solution. They help people deal with poverty, but they do not help them emerge from poverty."
Rubio voted against advancing a bill Tuesday to extend unemployment insurance for 1.3 million jobless Americans.
With his speech Wednesday, delivered from the Senate's
He said Americans were "rightfully troubled that many of our people are still caught in what seems to be a pervasive, unending financial struggle." But he argued that Johnson's anti-poverty campaign had shown the failure of a liberal belief "that government spending is the central answer to healing the wounds of poverty."
Rubio called instead for building on
He also called for replacing the earned income tax credit with a "federal wage enhancement" for those who take low-paying jobs.
Rubio spoke at the same time that House Majority Leader
As he has before, Cantor called for expanding charter schools, saying that "school choice is the surest way to break this vicious cycle of poverty." He took aim at New York Mayor
"The fact is, the government's approach to fixing our schools has been too slow, too sporadic and too ineffective," Cantor said. "And while we wait, we are losing generations of kids."