Marco Rubio Had Money Problems. Like Everyone.

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from Bloomberg Businessweek,

We already knew Senator Marco Rubio was a risk-taker. If he were a cautious man, he wouldn’t have challenged a sitting governor for a Senate nomination in 2010, and he wouldn’t have launched a presidential campaign when his former patron Jeb Bush was likely to run. Now the New York Times reports that Rubio is a risk-taker when it comes to personal finances, too.

The story is remarkably moralistic, repeatedly characterizing as “inadvisable” and “imprudent” decisions that are quite common and, in context, not especially dangerous. It revealed a candidate who resembles the people he hopes to govern more than he does many of his rivals.

Like roughly 70 percent of college graduates, Rubio finished school in debt. He didn’t save much money through his 20s and 30s. Now 44, he only recently began accumulating savings: He has put away some money for his kids’ education, but hasn’t yet saved much for his retirement. This isn’t an unusual financial trajectory, and it’s odd for the Times to call Rubio’s student loan debt “a deep financial hole of his own making.”

I wouldn’t defend every financial choice Rubio has made, and reporters may yet dig up information that makes his judgment look worse. His relationship with his most important campaign donor, Norman Braman, is worth knowing more about. But the information the Times just gave us isn’t especially damning.

And what do Rubio’s spending habits tell us about his fitness for the presidency? We’re supposed to conclude that if he can’t handle his own finances he’ll mess up the country’s.

As far as the election goes, the Times report will do more to help Rubio than to hurt him. Conservatives are concluding that a newspaper most of them distrust has it in for him — especially since this story came out just a few days after a feeble one about Rubio’s traffic tickets. The senator is already capitalizing on that perception to raise money for his campaign.

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