President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union message, cast himself once again as would-be deliverer of the American middle class.

He called yet again for a "balanced" approach to putting a dent in a $16 trillion national debt. "Balanced approach" means "with tax increases."

The Democratic Party takes the position that the federal government needs their money more than Americans do.

This proposition is and should be a hard sell.

As of tax year 2009, the richest 25 percent of Americans - adjusted gross income of $66,193 - paid 87 percent of federal income taxes.

The bottom 25 percent of Americans - income of less than $32,048 - paid 2.25 percent of federal income tax. (But they get eaten alive by payroll tax withholding.)

Who's left? The middle class.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., responded by contending that what the American middle class needs is not more government, but more economic growth.

His life story makes his point especially difficult to dismiss.

Rubio's parents were Cuban immigrants. His father worked as a bartender, his mother as a cashier and a maid.

And here he is, one generation later, in the U.S. Senate, engagingly, nervously responding to the president.

Rubio's trajectory is what most Americans actually want for each other - the freedoms that create the economic opportunities that enable them to thrive on their own.

Americans want government that respects working people, doesn't blow their hard-earned money, and doesn't kill the economic engine.


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Most Americans are happy to help people who truly cannot help themselves. But most working people are exasperated with an oversized government that passes out handouts to stay in power.

They want a strong economy that gives them the chance to build their own version of the dream - not become serfs on a federal plantation.

The president came off as what he is - a polished professional politician.

Rubio came off - water bottle and all - as evidence of what a robust economy can do for ordinary people.

It's a more attractive vision by far.