Marco Rubio says big business is 'cooperating with Marxism' and is led by people who are the 'product of decades of anti-American indoctrination'

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Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida walks to the Senate subway after a vote in the US Capitol on May 26, 2021.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on May 26, 2021. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
  • Sen. Rubio delivered a speech on "American Marxism" at a nationalist conference in Orlando.

  • Rubio said that corporate leaders were "the product of decades of anti-American indoctrination."

  • He also claimed that China was turning American corporations into lobbyists for the Chinese.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida took aim at big business on Monday, excoriating corporate leaders for being the "product of decades of anti-American indoctrination at our elite universities" and insufficiently patriotic while arguing that corporate leaders were not an ally in the "fight against socialism."

It's just the latest in Rubio's rhetorical war on the spectre of socialism; in September, he said that a multi-trillion dollar social spending bill central to President Joe Biden's agenda was "Marxism."

Rubio made the remarks at the National Conservatism conference in Orlando, a gathering of right-wing activists and intellectuals who promote a nationalist brand of conservatism." Other speakers at the conference include Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, Ohio Senate candidate and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance, and tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

Rubio had to address the conference remotely after his flight was cancelled.

According to Rubio's prepared remarks provided by his office, the senator said that Biden was trying to "Build Back Socialist" and that his agenda was supported by just 8% of Americans who "believe America is a systemically racist country, with a shameful history and an oppressive free-enterprise capitalist economy."

Rubio invoked his Cuban exile heritage and the effects of communism in his ancestral country, saying that by "making everything political," America's universities, tech companies, corporations, media, and sports and entertainment industries were employing "tactics used by Marxists to take over countless nations and societies all over the world."

Hawley, for his part, said at the conference on Sunday that those same entities were waging an assault on traditional masculinity.

Rubio also decried corporate leaders for identifying as "citizens of the world."

"They are the product of decades of anti-American indoctrination at our elite universities and they feel no obligation to America or its national interest," the Florida senator said of America's corporate leaders. "I'm not here to tell you big business is the enemy. But I'm here to tell you big business is not our ally in the fight against socialism."

He also sounded an economically populist note, saying that American corporations had become disloyal to the nation in their pursuit of profit.

"Most dangerous of all, the Chinese Communist Party figured out a way to use our own corporations against us," Rubio said. "Inviting them in as partners, stealing their know-how and secrets, turning them into lobbyists in Washington on behalf of their agenda, and ultimately standing up their own companies to replace ours."

Rubio's blistering rhetoric against big business is a marked shift from his 2016 campaign, when he largely fell within the pro-business paradigm that has characterized Republican politics for decades. The Florida Republican launched his 2015 campaign by pledging to reform the tax code and reduce regulations in order to "create millions of better-paying modern jobs."

He later voted for the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%.

"They come running for help to conservatives when the left threatens to raise their taxes," Rubio said of corporations. "But on most days they are eager culture warriors who have mastered the art of wrapping 'wokeness' in the language of free market capitalism."

Rubio's remarks are also part of a broader trend on the right in which Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have sought to paint Democrats as socialist, Marxists, and communists as a rhetorical strategy.

The senator also used his remarks to tout a bill he introduced last month to "fight back against woke corporations" that would require corporate directors to prove that corporate initiatives that Rubio describes as "woke" are in the best interest of shareholders.

"The real fight isn't about the tax rate on billionaires," Rubio said. "The real fight is about a small, radical, but incredibly powerful minority that wants to... erase our culture and traditions, throw away our values, and walk away from a free enterprise economy that is still the envy of the world."

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