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Politics / Issues

Rubio Criticizes Government Regulation of On-Demand Economy

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., center, talks with specialist Jay Woods, right, during a visit to the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Oct. 5

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio vowed Tuesday to cap the number of regulations government can impose on businesses, particularly "on-demand" startups like Uber and Airbnb that he considers models for a changing national economy.

Speaking in New York City to tech enthusiasts, Rubio praised the "disruptive" companies but said such businesses and the people who work for them are unfairly burdened by a meddlesome and "out of touch" government.

"The result is a worsening friction between our 20th century government and our rapidly changing 21st century economy," said the Florida senator. "We have to realize that all of the best innovation in our economy is happening in the unregulated space."

Rubio praised Germany for creating a new tax classification for independent contractors who work for a single company. He warned that other nations may siphon away talented entrepreneurs from the U.S.

Rubio said the on-demand economy requires the tax code be overhauled and he criticized New York City's recent efforts to cap ride-sharing giant Uber and Airbnb, which helps people rent out properties.

"The American people have chosen an economy in which the most valuable retailer in America, Amazon, owns not a single store; the largest transportation company, Uber, owns not a single vehicle; and the largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns not a single hotel," the senator said.

Rubio, though at one point briefly interrupted by a heckler, was received politely by the young crowd in heavily Democratic Manhattan.

Rubio, 44, is the youngest Republican in the race — though only five months younger than Ted Cruz, also 44 — and pitches himself as the candidate for the future. He's been showing more strength lately in the Republican race.

Other Republicans, Jeb Bush among them, have also lavishly heaped praise on Uber. Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has spoken more cautiously about companies like the ride-sharer, warning that they could be practicing "wage theft" by misclassifying employees as contractors.

Rubio stressed the need for a new generation of political leaders Tuesday night when he began a two-day swing through New Hampshire, home to the nation's first primary. The latest statewide polls show he's in the middle of the pack, trailing Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others.

"If we keep electing the same people with the same ideas, nothing is going to change," Rubio told about 200 people at an outdoor house party in Bedford, N.H.

He said too many politicians and policies are "trapped in the past" and said he was running for president to preserve the American Dream. "The time to turn the page is now."

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