Marco Rubio off his game on flood insurance?

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Being the house liberal at SaintPetersBlog, it’s not always easy for me to concede when Republicans do things better than Democrats. But there is simply no denying that Senator Marco Rubio has a top-shelf message machine. There’s a reason excited speculation in conservative circles around his presidential ambitions continues to bubble up, though pointedly less so after the immigration battles.

Indeed, the new nom du jour among Republicans seeking a savior to lead them out of the Tea Party-muddled wilderness and back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is, ironically, Texas Senator Ted Cruz. And it is in the recent work of Cruz and the issue of flood insurance where Rubio’s message machine may have finally broken down.

Flood insurance rates are set to spike October 1 thanks to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act

One would expect this to be a classic Marco Rubio issue. But the first person to file legislation to amend Biggert-Waters was Senator Bill Nelson. Yesterday, Rubio only offered a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott and state CFO Jeff Atwater, urging a vague, “long-term” fix, whatever that may be. The language in the letter sounds disjointed and unclear:

“I am increasingly concerned that the scheduled rate increases would have a devastating impact on Florida’s economy and housing market.” 

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

In the letter to the men who can do much less about federal legislation than he can, Rubio pledged to “continue working with my colleagues on solutions that work for Florida families, ensure affordability and preserve a path to solvency. We must find a better way and I welcome your feedback and assistance in the effort.” 

He “welcomes… feedback and assistance in the effort?” It’s not naming a Post Office in Aripeka. This is flood insurance rates, an issue that  affects thousands and thousands of his constituents.

Though there have been town halls and discussions here in Florida (and in other coastal states), flood insurance is not at the top of the agenda in Washington, D.C.  No, that would be a potential government shutdown and the non-possibility of de-funding the Affordable Care Act, embodied in what can only be described as Cruz’s shenanigans.

Indeed, it was Cruz — and Cruz alone — who dominated the news for several cycles, so much so that he left his own leadership scrambling to catch up. While Republicans in the Senate and the House — who never really wanted a government shutdown to begin with — were trying to figure out how to solve a problem like Ted, they were ignoring the issues back home.

At least Rubio was. 

And now he’s been caught flat-footed on an issue a lot of people — Democrats and Republicans — care about. If the flood insurance ball gets dropped, there will be political fallout on both sides, and Senator Rubio will have to wear quite a bit of it.