Rubio is a product of a state that adopted and stuck with term limits. He knew he would be exiting his state's House of Representatives after a certain time period and after being limited to just two years as speaker of the House. Yes, he chose to run for the U.S. Senate and defeated the powerful then-Gov. Charlie Crist in a Republican primary. But he did so against all odds, risking his political future on a platform far more conservative than that of Crist, who now has become a Democrat.
Anyone who witnessed "necessary tax increases" and begrudgingly agreed to both in the Ronald Reagan years and later that of George H.W. Bush knows all too well what usually results from these sorts of deals. Promises of later spending cuts never arrive, but the tax policy left in the wake of such compromise is almost impossible to alter.
The Republicans just don't get it. President Obama is a master at this game, a brilliant political player and policymaker. And he does not yield. Even when Republicans gain an inch, such as raising the threshold for marginal rate increases to the $400,000-plus area, they give a mile in other new taxes, an end to deductions and extension of all types of credits and special tax treatments ranging from motor sports facilities to all types of "investments" that have already proved to be flops.
Yes, Rubio likely was looking to the future when he cast his "no" vote among a sea of Republicans -- many who are truly rock-solid conservatives. But it was about time someone, even on the "cooler" Senate side, did think about the future. Republicans must either learn to stand this president down by enduring a few days or weeks of Gingrich-like tough press, a la the 1990s, forcing the president to actually moderate an aggressive slide towards the left, or continue to be pummeled.
The next test -- that of the debt ceiling -- is just around the corner.