The Catholic University of America

July 23, 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio Delivers Address on Values at CUA


Sen. Marco Rubio speaks on values July 23 during an event co-sponsored by the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.

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In a 30-minute address before a packed room in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center at The Catholic University of America, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) spoke on a wide range of issues confronting American society today including the breakdown of families, the need for education opportunities and well-paying jobs, same-sex marriage, abortion, and immigration.

During his talk, which was titled “Strong Values for a Strong America,” Rubio spoke about what he perceives as the erosion of values and the impact these cultural issues have on economic life. He began his speech by talking about a “success sequence” for Americans.

“In America, if you get an education, find a good job, and wait until marriage to have children, your chances of achieving economic security and professional fulfillment are incredibly high,” Rubio said. “In fact, if everyone in America lived lives that went in this order, in the order I’ve just outlined, some estimates are that the poverty rate would be cut by an estimated 70 percent.”

Unfortunately, he added, that sequence is becoming more difficult to follow for many Americans because of lack of education, lack of jobs, a declining marriage rate, and higher proportions of children being raised in single-parent homes.

“The economic price of this erosion in the success sequence is staggering,” Rubio said. “The unemployment rate is almost twice as high for those with only high school diplomas as it is for those with bachelor’s degrees, and almost three times as high for high school dropouts.

Over 20 percent of children raised without both parents live in poverty longterm, compared with just 2 percent of those raised in intact families. And only about 40 percent of children growing up in poor single parent homes will ever make it to the middle class or beyond.”

After speaking about various proposals he has made to encourage scholarships, anti-poverty campaigns on the state level, more affordable and accessible higher education, tax credits for families, and wage enhancement credits, Rubio said he believes there is no way to fix America’s economic well-being without also improving its moral and social well-being.

“The ultimate responsibility for our social well-being rests on us as a people,” he said. “What we do as parents, neighbors and members of a church, a charity or community will often have a greater impact on our nation’s future than what we do as voters or even as a senator.



Stephen Schneck, director of IPR, moderates a panel discussion of analysts and scholars in response to Sen. Rubio's address.

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“A strong America is not possible without strong Americans — a people formed by the values necessary for success, the values of education and hard work, strong marriages and empowered parents,” he said. “These are values that made us the greatest nation ever, and these are the values that will lead us to a future even better than our past.”

Rubio also addressed the controversial issues of same-sex marriage, abortion, and immigration reform. After acknowledging the country’s long history of discrimination against homosexuals, he said he is a supporter of traditional marriage.

“That is the definition of marriage that I personally support — not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws,” he said.

Rubio said abortion is a difficult issue because it involves two competing rights — women’s rights to make choices about their bodies versus the rights of the unborn to live.

“In weighing these two options, I know where I stand: An unborn child should be welcomed into life and protected in law,” he said. “It seems to me a decent, humane society will take tangible steps to help women with unwanted pregnancies even as that society defends an unborn child’s right to live.”

Rubio’s address was co-sponsored by Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR) and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was followed by a panel discussion of analysts and scholars, who offered their own perspectives on the senator’s remarks.

Moderated by Stephen Schneck, director of IPR, the panel included Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Richard V. Reeves, a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution; Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project; and Sister Ann Patrick Conrad, associate professor of social work at CUA.

After Rubio’s speech, Schneck said he was pleased with the way the senator had addressed a range of policy issues. He added that he hopes IPR will host more policy makers and candidates in the future.

“We’re trying to create here at Catholic University a public space, a forum for national candidates and national policymakers to come and address the concerns of this particular university community,” Schneck said. “Back in the 19th century when they founded this place, the bishops of the United States put Catholic University in Washington, D.C., for a purpose and I think that this particular forum was a continuation of that purpose.”

Barrett Duke, vice president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he was pleased with the partnership with IPR.

“I’m especially pleased that Sen. Rubio would pick this venue to describe a way forward for a more perfect union and I want to especially thank all of the panelists who did a fantastic job of helping us unpack and understand the meaning of what Sen. Rubio had to share with us in such a thoughtful and thought-provoking way,” Duke said.




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