Recurrent event data often arise in biomedical studies, with examples including hospitalizations, infections, and treatment failures. In observational studies, it is often of interest to estimate the effects of covariates on the marginal recurrent event rate. The majority of existing rate regression methods assume multiplicative covariate effects. We propose a semiparametric model for the marginal recurrent event rate, wherein the covariates are assumed to add to the unspecified baseline rate. Covariate effects are summarized by rate differences, meaning that the absolute effect on the rate function can be determined from the regression coefficient alone. We describe modifications of the proposed method to accommodate a terminating event (e.g., death). Proposed estimators of the regression parameters and baseline rate are shown to be consistent and asymptotically Gaussian. Simulation studies demonstrate that the asymptotic approximations are accurate in finite samples. The proposed methods are applied to a state-wide kidney transplant data set.