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Marco Rubio to discuss the sharing economy in NYC today

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Marco Rubio’s second book, American Dream: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone, will be published in paperback this Tuesday. To mark the occasion, the rising GOP presidential candidate will give a speech at Civic Hall in New York City, and will then engage in a short Q&A with members of the New York tech community.

The appearance is being promoted as, “The Sharing economy and public policy: A discussion with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.” On the campaign trail, Rubio has frequently invoked Uber and Airbnb as models of how the economy has changed in the 21st century and how our policies must follow course. And in carving out the space to show that he’s a candidate of “The New American Century,” he’s relished posing his thoughts about the sharing economy with the woman he’d love to run against in next year’s general election, Hillary Clinton.

“[M]any Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car,” Clinton said in her first economic speech back in June.  “This ‘on demand’ or so-called ‘gig economy’ is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Rubio pushed back hard on those comments.

“She’s trying to apply 20th century constructs to a 21st century innovative industry,” Rubio said on CNN in reaction to the former first lady’s comments. “We’re trying to regulate Internet development the way we regulated telephony, you know, telephone systems 20 years ago. You cannot regulate 21st century industries with 20th century ideas. And her take on Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, these sorts of things, is a perfect example of someone who’s trapped in the past, and cannot understand how much the world is changing, and how much it’s going to change in the years to come economically.”

Before he became a presidential candidate, Rubio taught a course on Florida politics at Florida International University in Miami, and in American Dream he wrote about how he was able to educate his students on the benefits of the sharing economy by using Uber, and how excessive regulations were preventing the company from operating in Miami at the time.

Here’s an excerpt from the book’s second chapter, called,”Making America Safe for Uber.”

“The students in my class were genuinely intrigued by this innovative service and wondered why they didn’t have it in Miami…Politicians, I said, had passed rules to stifle competition that might threaten their constituents and supporters in the existing taxi and sedan-service industry…As my progressive young students listened to me explain why government was preventing them from using their cell phones to get home from the bars on Saturday night, I could see their minds change.”

“Before I knew it, I was talking to a bunch of 20- and 21-year-old anti-regulatory activists,” he added

It should be noted that while Uber (and its ridesharing competitor Lyft) are officially not in compliance with the rules and regulations in Miami-Dade County, the services continue to operate there.

Earlier this week Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that he will be pushing for a rewrite of county taxi laws that would deregulate part of the cab industry, and allow ridesharing to be legal by the end of the year.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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