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Rubio to frame bitter tax, spending fights in humanizing terms

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will look to jettison Republicans’ caricature as a party of the rich in the official Republican response Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

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Rubio, the Cuban-American senator and a rising Republican star, will frame Washington’s bitter fights over taxes and spending in humanizing terms. His remarks seem firmly tied to the broader Republican effort to expand its reach and shirk the image of a GOP that has grown older, whiter and more dominated by men.

“Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren't millionaires. They're retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They're workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They're immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy,” Rubio will say, according to English-language excerpts released by his office. (Rubio will also deliver a pre-taped response in Spanish.)

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Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Aug. 30, 2012 in Tampa.

“Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors,” the Florida senator will add.

Rubio’s speech will also seize upon anemic U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of last year to argue that increased revenues would only stifle the sluggish recovery from the 2008 recession.

The Gaggle talks about Marco Rubio's Republican response and discusses whether it is a big deal for him as a senator.

“Raising taxes won't create private sector jobs. And there's no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion,” Rubio will say. “That's why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy."

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The Republican’s speech sets the stage for this spring’s fight over alternative Democratic and Republican budget proposals, both of which are tied into resolving the so-called “sequester” – the swift, automatic spending cuts that make up part of the “fiscal cliff.” Lawmakers delayed the onset of these cuts until Mar. 1, but lawmakers appear nowhere near a deal to avoid its effects, which would threaten to hamper economic growth and harm national security, according to the Obama administration.

Among other policy specifics upon which Rubio will touch are budgets and entitlement reforms. The first-term senator will call for ratifying a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution – a proposal that has failed before in Congress – as well as changes to Medicare that would shore up the program’s solvency for future generations.