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What does Marco Rubio believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues

BY   April 13, 2015 at 9:31 AM EDT  | Updated: Feb 2, 2016 at 5:41 PM
Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland February 27, 2015. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, seen at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, told donors today that he is seeking the Republican nomination for president. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

He’s the son of Cuban immigrants. A law school student who got his political start as a congressional intern and rose to become Florida’s youngest-ever state House speaker. And his favorite hip hop songs come from N.W.A, Eminem and Tupac Shakur. But where does Marco Rubio stand on the issues? Here is a look at 10.

The budget: Balance it. Prioritize defense.

Rubio supports balancing the federal budget within 10 years and has long advocated freezing spending for everything but defense at 2008 levels. This year, the Florida senator proposed raising defense spending. He voted for the Senate Republican plan, which balances the budget and cuts $4.3 trillion in spending, including funds from Medicare and other programs.

READ MORE: What does Ted Cruz believe?

Climate change: It is real. It is not caused by man.

In January, Rubio supported a Senate measure stating that “climate change is real and not a hoax.” On a separate vote, he opposed a measure stating that human activity contributes to changing temperatures. That reflects a consistent stance from Rubio that mankind is not having the effect on the climate that scientists portray.

Watch the PBS NewsHour Democratic Primary Debate, 9 p.m. EST Feb. 11, on your local PBS station, and in our live stream, which will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Obamacare: Repeal it. Replace it with tax credits and fewer regulations.

Rubio has attacked the Affordable Care Act and wants to repeal it. His replacement proposal, outlined in a Fox News op-ed, calls for new tax credits to help people purchase insurance, revising health insurance regulations and reforming Medicare and Medicaid.

READ MORE: What does Donald Trump believe?

The Internet: Oppose net neutrality.

Last month, Rubio outlined strong opposition to “net neutrality”, or the new government policy that Internet providers should not charge different prices for different types of content. Rubio argues this gives the government too much power over winners and losers on the Internet. He is opposed to implementing further taxes on the Internet.

Immigration: Secure the border, then work towards a legal status and possible path to citizenship. More vetting for refugees.

Rubio supports a legal status for undocumented immigrants, but only after the U.S. border is secure. To accomplish that, Rubio said he would hire 20,000 new border agents and would complete the 700-mile fence at the border. The Florida Senator said he would not deport all of the undocumented immigrants in the country now.

READ MORE: What does Bernie Sanders believe?

In 2013, Rubio joined the “Gang of Eight,” which drafted and pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including a path to citizenship, through the Senate. After the bill froze in the House, Rubio refocused his efforts on securing the border with Mexico.

Rubio wants a more stringent vetting process for incoming refugees, one that would block many asylum seekers from resettling in the U.S. (He supported a bill to that effect in January, 2016.) He also believes in “commonsense” vetting standards that would allow very young and very old refugees into the country with fewer background check requirements than other refugees.

Social issues: The Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is the law of the land. Ban abortion after 20 weeks. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Rubio disagreed with the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex unions in all fifty states but said that Americans must abide by the ruling. Personally, the Florida senator told CNN that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Holding a nuanced position on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Rubio believes some kinds of businesses, like wedding photography, should be allowed to turn away gay customers, and others, like hotels, should not.

On abortion, Rubio co-sponsored a 2013 Senate bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks since fertilization, making exceptions for the life of the mother, rape or incest.

READ MORE: What does Hillary Clinton believe?

Taxes: Cut corporate taxes to 25 percent. Reform the tax code. Cap economic regulations.

Rubio proposes to simplify the tax code, outlining his tax reform plan in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Rates for corporations would fall to 25 percent, and they would still be able to deduct the full cost of their capital expenses. Individuals would be subject to just two rates: 15 percent for those earning under $75,000, and 35 percent for those earning above that. Capital gains taxes would be erased and families would be eligible for a new $2,500-per-child tax credit.

Rubio also proposes budget reforms that would leave the government and federal agencies unable to institute new economic regulations without repealing an equal amount of existing ones, essentially putting a halt to regulatory growth. He opposes replacing the sales tax with a Value-Added Tax.

Cuba: Block the Obama administration’s “normalization”

Rubio has vowed to block President Obama’s effort to work with the Castro-led government of Cuba and establish more normalized ties with its leadership. He argues the policy shift comes “at the Cuban people’s expense.”

In March, Rubio sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging the administration to keep Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terror.

Iran: Toughen sanctions. Scrap proposed nuclear deal.

A hawk on Iran, Rubio told radio host Hugh Hewitt in February that the only acceptable deal with Iran is one that totally ends its enrichment program.

He was one of the 47 Senate Republicans who signed an open letter to Iran’s leaders, warning about potential Congressional opposition to the deal. Rubio’s position: Increase sanctions on Iran until its government “completely gives up its nuclear ambitions.”

Islamic State: Aid local forces in Syria and Iraq.

To defeat ISIS, Rubio would expand air strikes against the group and work to build a stronger multinational coalition. He believes that both ISIS and the Al-Assad government pose threats to stability in the region. The Florida senator would provide arms directly to tribal and Kurdish forces in Iraq.

In addition, Rubio told Fox News he would like a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq to counteract Islamic State and other opposition forces.

Erik Andersen contributed to this story.

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