EDITORIAL:Cuba’s faring well, too well, with US welfare

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest editorial is from the Lakeland Ledger, a Daily News sister paper with GateHouse Media.

Slowly but surely tensions between the United States and Cuba are ebbing away.

President Barack Obama visited our island neighbor a few weeks back, the first sitting president to do so since 1928, in an attempt to smooth out the normalization of diplomatic and economic ties. Earlier this month, the first U.S. cruise ship in decades docked in Havana harbor. U.S. and Cuban officials are negotiating a pact for cleaning up oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Some are suggesting it’s time to end the U.S. economic embargo and reform immigration laws so Cubans can be treated like other migrants.

If we want to keep this train rolling, it’s time to listen to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio, of Cuban-American descent, has been a hardliner on Obama’s Cuba policy. He believes broad and rapid engagement and softening of steely-eyed, Cold War-era vigilance only strengthens the Castro brothers’ resolve to forgo expanding human rights.

He may have a point. But we’re cheering Rubio for another issue.

Last fall the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a surprising story about how taxpayer-funded welfare benefits provided to Cubans in America propped up the island’s economy. America’s 50-year-old liberal welcome mat provides readily available food stamps, welfare and other government benefits to those fleeing the Castro oppression that other immigrants or political refugees cannot qualify for within their first five years here.

A week ago the Congressional Budget Office, according to the Miami Herald, released a report that said ending the freebies for Cuban exiles would save U.S. taxpayers $2.5 billion over the next 10 years. Rubio and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, have filed a bill to end this practice.

“That is $2.5 billion, much of which, a significant percentage of which, is going to people that aren’t even living in the United States,” Rubio said in a speech last week. “For too long, America’s generosity has been abused,” Curbelo added.

Republicans howl loudly and vigorously when someone proposes expanding the welfare state for our own people. Why on Earth do they want to provide those benefits to people who don’t live or use them here?