So much of the recovery has gone to such a small segment of the population, people at the “upper echelon”, Rubio calls them. “The answer is not a series of tax increases to redistribute wealth,” and more spending programs, which is how he describes President Obama’s proposals in Tuesday’s State of the Union speech.

It’s good there’s a conversation, he says, “It’s the age old debate between free enterprise and a more activist government.” In that debate, Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is firmly on the free enterprise side, but he’s not an anti-government hardliner. “I could never have gone to college if not for a Pell Grant,” he says in his opening remarks at the Wednesday breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Like a lot of young people today, Rubio had student loans to pay, joking that his wife wondered whom this “Sallie Mae” was taking so much money out of his paycheck. He credits the “quality of opportunity” that America gave him as the son of a bartender, and wonders why millions today don’t have that same opportunity.

“Why are so many people shut out of this prosperity?”