Thursday, January 26, 2012

Last Call

Reiuters conveniently gives the Republican party a way out of having to consider Sen. Marco Rubio for the Veepstakes later this year by noting of all things that like thousands of Floridians who are his constituents, Rubio is way, way underwater on his ritzy Miami mortgage.

In some ways, the story of Rubio's finances is similar to those of hundreds of thousands of his constituents in a state where more than 40 percent of homeowners are "underwater," owing more on their homes than the homes are worth.

It is a crisis driven by falling property values and ill-advised home equity loans that drove up homeowners' debts.

Rubio owes far more on his $384,000 Miami home than it is worth, and at times has had difficulty paying his mortgage.

He bought the home in 2005 for $550,000 with a $495,000 mortgage. He soon had it appraised for $735,000 and took out a home equity line of credit for $135,000.

In 2008, despite earning a declared $400,000 - including his $300,000 salary from the Miami law firm Broad and Cassel - Rubio failed to pay down the principal on his home for several months, according to Florida campaign finance disclosures.

During the same period he did not make payments on a $100,000-plus student loan from his days at the University of Miami, the disclosures said.

Rubio's spending habits also have gotten attention in Florida.

Before joining the Senate last year, he was caught up in an Internal Revenue Service investigation of the Florida Republican Party's use of party-issued credit cards. He frequently had used his party credit card for personal use, and later reimbursed the card company for about $16,000.

Rubio's handling of his personal finances contrasts sharply with the image of him on his Senate website, which highlights Rubio's efforts to prevent Washington from "piling up debt."

"We need a government that stops spending more money than it takes in," the website says.

Rubio's financial issues have led Florida Democrats to cast him as a hypocrite.

I'm honestly not sure whose neck Rubio would be a bigger anchor around:  Romney (who could pay off Rubio's debts with the collective change in his couch cushions in all of his many, many houses) or Gingrich (whose awful comments on Latinos "not understanding" wealth and entrepreneurship aren't exactly going to resolved by a guy who can't pay off his debts in a fiscally austere party of wackos.)

And that's before you factor in what race would mean to Republican voters with Rubio on the ticket.

On the other hand, counting anyone out when the party in question nominated Sarah Palin last time this happened is a huge mistake, frankly.  Guessing veeps at this point is an exercise in futility.  But I finally get to break out the Veeps tag again, huh.

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