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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Marco Rubio has a good backstory, and he enjoys telling it.

Hard-working immigrant parents, humble beginnings in South Florida — and now he’s a U.S. senator running for president at age 44.

It’s a stirring, up-by-the-bootstraps tale, if you leave out the credit-card mixups, unpaid mortgage, and $80,000 speedboat.

On the campaign trail, Rubio promises in scolding tones to rein in government spending, yet in his personal life he has displayed absolutely no talent for managing money.

The idea of him sitting in the Oval Office with billions at stake is a little scary. To believe that prudence and competence will suddenly bloom when he gets a crack at the federal budget is optimistic in the extreme.

Rubio’s struggles to handle his own checkbook have been well chronicled by the Miami Herald and other Florida media. A few years ago he was caught nicking the state Republican Party’s American Express card for more than $16,000 in personal expenses, including travel to a family reunion and a paving job at his home.

Rubio said he accidentally took out the wrong credit to pay for the stone pavers, and that a travel agent mistakenly billed the GOP account for the reunion charges. All the money was repaid after reporters started asking questions.

While in the state Legislature, where he eventually became Speaker of the House, Rubio set up political-action committees. One of them gave him thousands of dollars in reimbursements for auto expenses, gas and phone bills. That PAC was, on paper, run by his wife.

Rubio also jointly bought a house in Tallahassee with his close pal, then-state representative and future U.S. congressman David Rivera, one of the sleaziest slugs to ever attain public office in South Florida.

During one stretch, Rubio and Rivera went five months without making any mortgage payments and were threatened with foreclosure.

Two weeks ago, they finally unloaded the house at an $18,000 loss. (Rubio no longer hangs out with Rivera, who is the subject of a federal corruption investigation.)

In his first book, the senator freely admitted his financial problems and mistakes.

Ironically, the books have brought him more income than anything else, including his seldom-used law degree.

In 2012, he received $800,000 to write about his experience as the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio has proudly said that he used some of that money to pay off his law school loans.

He doesn’t often talk about what else he spent the book money on: a 24-foot boat that cost $80,000. The purchase came to light last week, when the New York Times took a fresh look at Rubio’s finances.

We get it about the boat. You live in Miami, you want to channel your inner Sonny Crockett on Biscayne Bay.

That’s terrific, if you can afford it.

Not so terrific if you’re trying to build a nest egg for your young family.

Reviewing Rubio’s financial disclosure forms, the Times found that he earned $2.38 million from 1998 to 2008, yet he saved so little that his net worth at the end of that 10-year period was only about $53,000.

This is a man who spends money when he gets his hands on it.

Which lots and lots of regular folk do. The difference is, they don’t want to be president, and they don’t pretend to be qualified to decide our national fiscal policy.

To Rubio’s credit, during the last three years his savings have grown by about $150,000, boosted by a second hefty book deal. He and his wife have opened college accounts for their four kids and refinanced their main residence, reducing the monthly mortgage payments.

You see that and think maybe the senator’s growing up. Maybe he’s getting money-managing tips from Norman Braman, the auto tycoon who employs Rubio’s wife and is also his biggest campaign donor.

Then you see other moves and think nothing’s changed.

Last year Rubio closed a retirement account holding $68,000 in savings. Most financial advisors would never tell a client to do that, because the taxes and early-withdrawal fees are so high.

There’s no reason to cash out a retirement account at age 44 unless you’re totally clueless, or frantic for money. Depending on Rubio’s income bracket, his loss in taxes and penalties was $24,000 or more.

That’s a brutal hit, and for what?

Rubio said he needed to use his retirement fund for personal expenses associated with his upcoming presidential campaign — and also a new refrigerator.

Unless Sub-Zero makes a gold-plated model, he paid too much.

Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for The Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

  • Budjob

    If,Jesus Christ was a Republican,I wouldn’t trust him either! That is how much contempt I have for ANY and ALL Republicans!!

    • itsfun

      I feel the same way about people with closed minds.

      • stcroixcarp

        I assume you are super wealthy because if you were an average middle income person you would realize that voting republican is voting against your own financial interests. Rubio, Walker, Ryan and the rest are out to screw hard working Americans out of the Social Security benefits and Medicare coverage that they have EARNED and paid for. They want to privatize education so that your tax dollars will be sucked up by private corporations with no public accountability. They are in favor of eliminating the estate tax, so wealthy spoiled brats like Paris Hilton can inherit all her parents’ inherited money and not pay taxes. Republicans look out for their own and depend on bigots to help get them elected!

        • itsfun

          wish I was wealthy, but am not. To busy paying the taxes Democrats impose on me.

      • Budjob

        fun,It is not about having a closed mind.However,it is about experience with Republicans.The correct analogy with respect to Repubs,is as follows>> Many individuals view a glass as being half full,as being an optimist,if you view it as half empty,you would be viewed as a pessimist.But,I am a realist,meaning that if I stick around I’ll be the one that has to wash the glass!

    • etherbunny

      If Jesus really existed, he would probably have been a Democratic Socialist.

  • FireBaron

    But, Carl, we all know that Republicans don’t worry about spending money that isn’t there. They just put it on the nation’s credit card.

    • itsfun

      How much has the national debt grown under Obama?

      • johninPCFL

        Nearly as much as under GWB.

        Isn’t it just amazing how much wars cost?

        • itsfun

          Wrong; Under Obama the national debt has increased more than all of our other presidents combined.

          • johninPCFL

            Unless you look at the debt-to-the-penny site instead of Fox News’ i-make-this-crap-up site. Remember, the debt for a president starts on October 1 following his inauguration because the appropriations bills are signed for that year by his predecessor.

            All presidents until Reagan, national debt = $400B.
            Reagan leaves, national debt = $4T.
            GHWB leaves, national debt = $5T.
            Clinton leaves, national debt = $5.8T.
            GWB leaves, national debt = $12.8T.
            Obama current national debt = $18T.

            So, to sum up: Reagan added about $4T during his two terms. GWB added about $7T during his two terms. Obama has added $5T so far. GHWB and Clinton added about $1T each.

          • Independent1

            But there’s a big difference under Obama, no previous president ever inherited an economy that was on the verge of falling into a depression which was losing 800,000 jobs/month; along with around 10 million job s lost already; A deficit budget of 1.4T, with over 500 Billion in reduced tax revenuse,

            And an auto industry on the verge of bankruptcy, hundreds of companies gone belly up – including a number of huge financial corporations that had been in business 100 years plus; a totally broken housing industry with millions of homes in foreclosuer – not to mention reams of unfund legislation that had been passed by the previous administration which was still piling up deficits like 2 unfunded tax cuts, 2 unfunded wars, an unfunded drug benefit giveaway to big pharma, and a number of unfunded state mandates like NO Child Left Behind – some of which would be racking up deficits for years to come.

            Sorry, but Obama has signed only 1 piece of legislation running up deficts that was not directly trying to fix the disaster Bush Created, and that’s Obamacare. Remember too, that aside from his 2nd year, the GOP have run the budget because they’ve owned the House since 2011. So all deficts are really GOP responsibility!!!!!!!!!

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Actually, out of the past 3 GOP presidents, under GHWB, the national debt grew by $72 million. But then, he had only a 4-year term. Not long enough to amass the $6 trillion additional debt his son did. Try again liar boy.

        In fact, Obama has reduced the national debt by $1.7 trillion.

        • itsfun

          You’re wrong again. Seems like you would check facts once in a while.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            No…YOU are WRONG…I got that information from an ultra right wing paper…the NY Post…hate it don’t you?

            And then, according to the Government Office of Accountability, those are the same figures. Obama has reduced the national debt by $1.7 trillion…this for you dunderheaded bimbonical blockheads of the right is due to paying off some of the Iraq war debts.

            Now…who did Bush and Cheney employ as private military industrial vendors? $350 billion in profit to Halliburton (Cheney’s old CEOship) and another $220 billion to Blackwater (now XE and also offshore like Halliburton to avoid criminal charges of malfeasance).

            Boy you righties sure do lie, lie, lie, lie….Sorry if your maniacal insistence only YOU YOU YOU are right is all WRONG…rofmao…Your posts are a joke.

          • itsfun

            you are confusing the national debt with deficit spending.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Typical right wing mind. Can’t resist the urge to tell others what they are thinking. Mind control freak, are you?

            I am not confusing anything with anything. Why? Because unlike you, I don’t use fantasyland rhetoric. What I post, I post from sources that are reliable. You don’t.

            Then, you righties wonder why we get so fed up trying to reason with mentally unbalanced nut jobs who have cement blocks for brains.

            Try again. I gave you the sources. Stop being a coward, get off that double wide rump and do the research if you have the balls.

          • itsfun

            I’ll post more for you

            Mark KnollerCBS NewsMarch 19, 2012, 6:58 PM

            National Debt has increased more under Obama than under Bush


            News) The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama’s
            three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the
            George W. Bush presidency.

            The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush
            presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama
            took office.

            The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury
            Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It
            was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which
            coincided with President Obama’s first day.

            The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.

            Mr. Obama has been quick to blame his predecessor for the soaring
            Debt, saying Mr. Bush paid for two wars and a Medicare prescription drug
            program with borrowed funds.

            The federal budget sent to Congress last month by Mr. Obama, projects
            the National Debt will continue to rise as far as the eye can see. The
            budget shows the Debt hitting $16.3 trillion in 2012, $17.5 trillion in
            2013 and $25.9 trillion in 2022.

            Federal budget records show the National Debt once topped 121% of GDP
            at the end of World War II. The Debt that year, 1946, was, by today’s
            standards, a mere $270 billion dollars.

            Mr. Obama doesn’t mention the National Debt much, though he does want
            to be seen trying to reduce the annual budget deficit, though it’s
            topped a trillion dollars for four years now.

            As part of his “Win the Future” program, Mr. Obama called for “taking
            responsibility for our deficits, by cutting wasteful, excessive
            spending wherever we find it.”

            His latest budget projects a $1.3 trillion deficit this year
            declining to $901 billion in 2012, and then annual deficits in the range
            of $500 billion to $700 billion in the 10 years to come.

            If Mr. Obama wins re-election, and his budget projections prove
            accurate, the National Debt will top $20 trillion in 2016, the final
            year of his second term. That would mean the Debt increased by 87
            percent, or $9.34 trillion, during his two terms.

            © 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            So, a right wing ultra conservative owned CBS is “your” Bible? That explains a whole lot. Why in the hell would you rely on a biased CBS report and not the GAO or Fed’s? Is it because you know that the GOP has virtually taken over government today and not even you can trust the BS the GOP spouts?

            The debt under Bush rose for, if you possess ANY shred of common sense…a 2001, 2004 and 2009 demand by the GOP for tax cuts. Tax cuts ALWAYS diminish incoming revenues when they come from the highest income earners and corporations.

            Did CBS also report how of the last 5 GOP presidents, nearly every one but GHWB had 2nd Term recessions?

            Try again hot shot…Halliburton made $350 billion from Iraq. Who the hell do you think is paying for that? Or do you like to believe all of the Iraq and Afghanistan war debts just magically disappear?

            Boy are you pathetic. You are something else: A liar and a deceptive right wing rabble rouser who just wants your way..which is not for the greater good but yours alone.

          • itsfun

            And I am suppose to believe a hateful old woman.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            What you believe is yours to choose. What you post about me or others is subject to scrutiny by the editor in chief. Need you be reminded to stay on topic?

          • itsfun

            I’m not the hateful one here. I don’t spend my time calling every person of a particular sex names. You are. I’ll let my posts stand up to any scrutiny by the editor in chief. Our political views are 180 degrees apart, and that is okay. This is what our country is about. Your name calling is not what our country is about.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Really? And is this an example of “how” YOU stay on topic? People like you love to play judge and jury. You don’t like being wrong..mostly because that mentality always errs on the side of wrong, not right.

            You ONLY have a right to your views if they don’t violate the US Constitution and try to bully others into your rhetorical ideology.

            CON states like Kansas with Brownback are down the toilet. So are several others as a result of attempting to live off federal tax subsidies the rest of us pay for.

            Why do southern and midwestern states get more for the $1 they pay in federal taxes while the blue states don’t even get 50 cents for their $1?

            Sorry if we up north are tired of the BS antics of red staters who hang onto relic industries that cost the rest of us in pollution clean up and spill fines.

            You want it? Pay for it out of your STATE not our federal tax dollars. You already get enough of federal tax dollars and spend it on your billionaires like the Koch boys.

          • itsfun

            If you don’t like what I post, the answer is simple – just don’t read my posts or if needed don’t have someone else read them to you.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Hey Bossy Boy…You answer MY posts. Don’t you boys EVER stop telling women what to do? I read ALL posts. Yours never stick to the topic and when they do, it’s pointless drivel you can’t ever prove in court.

          • itsfun

            I’m not in court old lady. I couldn’t care less about what you do. Like I said if you don’t like what I post, don’t read it.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            You will be in court if you lie about someone knowingly or distort the truth. It’s called Abuse of the First Amendment right to free speech. So can’t make up drivel when YOU respond to a post you don’t like. Because, that means if you can’t prove what YOU post, YOU are accountable for your deliberate lies and distortions. Sorry…there are 2 sides to every freedom…one is responsibility and the other abuse…choose the latter instead of the former at your own risk.

          • itsfun

            You are absolutely nuts. People can have opinions about anything and there is no law against opinions. You are trying to talk about slander and that is only when someone is hurt by a lie. Your problem is you only believe in one side. You only believe what you read in your favorite rags. You only believe in hating men. I’ll post what I want, when I want. Like I said if you don’t like my posts don’t read them.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            No. I am all too sane and common sense for the unabalanced men and women in some areas of this country. I talk about slander because I know the definition better than you will. As a published author, I have to insure that nothing I write EVER slanders or is libelous.

            I don’t have any problems. You do. You don’t like opposing opinions. Neither do 2 year olds going through the Terrible Twos. Too many with your mentality today are enforcers of only YOUR opinions. ALL of your posts reflect that hidden agenda to force others to agree with your self-righteous, misguided ideology.

            I love men who are not lunatics. I also love men who don’t pretend to be omnipotent authorities on everything in this life. Grow the hell up. I am not going to pander to your childish need to be constantly agreed with. Hitler had that attitude. So do you.

            It is the duty of EVERY American to correct what we KNOW are lies, deception and distortions that support hidden agendas. That is precisely what my posts do. I present substantiating facts you try to pretend are NOT true. How idiotic is that? You live in a world of fantasy and lies. I do not.

            What YOU want is a country that allows Your kind to get one over on the rest of by forcing silence as your “rule.” Try again big baby.

          • itsfun

            You are such a compulsive liar that you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and hit you.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            No…I don’t need to lie. You do. Not a single one of your posts include ANY information you can prove in a court of law…MINE ALL Do…suck it up pallie…Your posts are just another of the right wing minds all hot to insist on controlling the rest of us. Too bad you are failing miserably at it.

          • itsfun

            seeing as how you are so obsessed by court prove I am lying. You are accusing me, so prove it.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I use our US court system as the example of why your posts are lies. You can’t prove them. What about that don’t you seem to be able to mentally process?

            There’s more than one way blockheaded right wingers lie. Either they deliberately omit facts they don’t like or…worse they skew facts to fit their ignorant agendas.

            I provided the sources (GAO) regarding Obama’s numbers. You challenged that. But, your challenge was unsubtantiated by any verifiable proof. That makes you a liar who likes to make bogus statements to suit your childish need to be an “authority.”

            Any bona fide authority be it in math, science or technology has to PROVE and substantiate what he states…So do you…get to it.

          • itsfun

            like I said you have the burden of proof here. If you can’t prove your malicious posts then you are slandering me. Maybe I should pursue legal options against you.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            No…YOU have the burden of proof. In any debate, if you challenge the Pro statement who has already provided the basis of their Pro position, your challenge MUST provide contradictory proof.

            I know mentally flawed men like you always use the back door to exit whenever the heat gets too hot for you. It’s not working with me.

            Now..either YOU prove what you post with facts you can substantiate or you prove you are a liar. It IS that simple.

            I can prove you are a liar. You never met me and yet you manage to make assumptions about a perfect stranger.

            You have NO legal points to pursue. I do. You used biased sources like CBS, owned by a billionaire media mogul who proclaimed for all the world to hear that his media will publish and broadcast what HE tells them to.

            I give you government sources as substantiation and you go off the deep end. Gee…so do most mental patients.

          • itsfun

            In this country when you accuse someone of something YOU have the burden of proof.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Only in that foreign country you live. If I made a statement and provided substantiation of my statement..You now have to provide unbiased, substantiation.

            First of all, this topic is about Rubio..Not Obama…YOUR first mistake. From the moment you brought Obama into the post, you knew you were instigated a contradiction because your negative labels and facts were from BIASED sources.

            So..YOU have the burden of UNBIASED proof. In this country, if you use bias as proof, you also indict yourself for the inability to be factual.

          • itsfun

            nope ever hear of innocent until proven guilty? You are accusing me, you have the burden of proof.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Your posts reflect the petulance of a spoiled, overindulged two year old. If you post a biased lie, I will never hesitate to accuse you of lying. Most decent, honest people have zero tolerance for liars. That you don’t proves your posts are not credible by a long shot.

            You are guilty of using biased sources to prove your “innocence.” Which means you are trying to use negatives to prove negatives. How ridiculous do you plan to get?

          • itsfun

            Who made you the person in charge of what news sources are biased? Your arrogance is only superseded by your hate.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            The 1st Amendment put me in charge of seeing to it that bias is not the rule rather than an exception. I stand on facts that can be proven. Not ideological biased rhetoric.

            I am an arrogant American when it comes to men who lie, deceive and abuse their First Amendment rights by distorting history, facts and truth. If you want to be force fed lies for your entire life, be my guest.

            Just don’t expect the rest of us to EVER stand by and allow YOU and your truth distorters to ram it down OUR throats.

            If we do not stand against lies, we are subjects of submission to lies.

          • itsfun

            I truly feel sorry for someone as full of hate as you are.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Clearly, you would feel sorry for people who are all TOO truthful…thank you. You just proved what a bunch of phonies do when they need to base their opinions on lies, distortions and contortions of facts and truth.

            You needn’t feel sorry for me. Like many othes who fight for truth and justice, Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker and Upton Sinclair, shoving truth in the faces of phonies who feast on delusions of truth, we expect phony sympathy from people like you.

            Sometimes, when you fight to hoodwink, hide the truth and facts, you fool only yourself.

          • itsfun

            You have no ideal about truth and justice. You are a phony.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Actually, this proves just how low a mental function your brain has. I’m a published author of 2 books and I’ve ghost written over 4300 online articles for businesses and blogs…You can google me under my pen name, Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker. That ought to shut you up about me being a phony. I am who and what I say I am because unlike you I have nothing to hide. Try again …your IQ just dropped another 100 points.

          • itsfun

            How many more do you want?

            $7,060,259,674,497.51–Federal Debt Up $7 Trillion Under Obama
            By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 4, 2014 | 4:04 AM EDT

            ( – The total federal debt of the U.S. government has now
            increased more than $7 trillion during the slightly more than five and
            a half years Barack Obama has been president.

            That is more than the debt increased under all U.S. presidents from
            George Washington through Bill Clinton combined, and it is more debt
            than was accumulated in the first 227 years of this nation’s
            existence–from 1776 through 2003.

            The total federal debt first passed the $7-trillion mark on Jan. 15,
            2004, after President George W. Bush had been in office almost three

            ype=”node” title=”federal-debt

            When President Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the total federal
            debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on July
            30, 2014, it had risen to $17,618,599,653,160.19–up
            $6,991,722,604,247.11 from Obama’s first inauguration day.

            By the close of business on July 31, 2014, it had risen to
            $17,687,136,723,410.59—up $7,060,259,674,497.51 since Obama first
            inauguration day.

            As of June, there were 115,097,000 households in the United States,
            according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The $17,687,136,723,410.59 in
            debt the federal government had accumulated as of the end of July
            equaled $153,671.57 per household.

            The $7,060,259,674,497.51 in new debt that the federal government has
            taken on during Obama’s presidency equals $61,341.82 per household.

            The median household income in the United States in 2012 (the latest
            year estimated) was $51,017. Thus, President Obama has increased the
            federal debt by more than the typical household’s annual income.

          • itsfun

            You use such nice language when you post. When you post it is obvious you just make up the numbers, then call people names. You need professional help.

  • charleo1

    Should we trust Rubio on finances? He’s a Republican isn’t he? The man makes no difference. Like G.W. Bush? Then you’ll love Jeb, Cruz, Walker, Christy, Trump? Want more? Easy decision for me, friends! Are we better off than we were 8 years ago? Why choose failure over success?

  • itsfun

    His 80,000 boat will fit in the Clinton’s swimming pool. How many people have lost their homes in the last 8 years? He paid his student loans, how many people don’t pay their student loans? He sold his house for a 18000 loss. He has experienced what it is like to owe and not have enough money to pay. He has proven he knows how to get out of debt and what need to be done. How many Americans are not in debt and have not had money problems. If anything this shows how one can come back from bad times.

    • Daniel Jones

      What in the name of God has this to do with a swimming pool of whatever size?

      • BillP

        Nothing at all to most people but the right wing can’t allow any criticism of any right wing politician without bringing Clinton or Obama into it. They do however detest when they are reminded how W ruined the economy and took a surplus and left with a debt.

      • itsfun

        pointing out how hypocritical it is for the Clintons to have millions and millions and be super rich and have everything money can buy and then complain about a man who has a 24 foot boat and a foreclosure on a house.

  • FT66

    Rubio spends like a drunkard sailor. He is not aware that people lead by examples. With what we know now about his handling of finances, he doesn’t deserve to be even considered to be heard on how to lead the nation. He will tank it in a huge hole.

  • Daniel Jones

    I wouldn’t trust Rubio with a lemonade stand.

  • Miami Runner

    He couldn’t manage a kiosk at the flea market.

  • etherbunny

    In a word: No.