Sayings things that hurt your own cause is typically reserved for late night Presidential tweet-storms. Marco Rubio has also, while not being Mike Lee-esque, typically been a pretty solid conservative voice. Given that, I’m not really sure what to make of the comments he recently made on tax reform.
Per the ‘The Economist’…
“Government has an essential role to play in buffering this transition,” he says. “If we basically say everyone is on their own and the market’s going to take care of it, we will rip the country apart, because millions of good hardworking people lack the means to adapt.” Economic liberty, in this retelling, becomes something the government is required to guarantee. It is the freedom to enjoy “the dignity of work”, says Mr Rubio. “There needs to be a conservative movement that addresses these realities.”
This is just odd.
Even if he believes that capitalism is inherently unfair, why would a conservative phrase in this way? We know he fought hard for increasing the child tax credit during the tax reform debate, so perhaps government social engineering is near and dear to his heart, but I didn’t think it had progressed this far.
The line about ripping the country apart and excusing those who supposedly can’t adapt is something you’d hear Bernie Sanders say (or Donald Trump).
It’s also an idea that conservative writer Kevin Williamson famously tackled when he wrote his very controversial piece on white, working class voters refusing to adapt to changing employment conditions.
You may not agree with everything Williamson wrote in that piece (it was unnecessarily combative in some ways), but the overall idea he puts forth is the one conservatives typically espouse. Markets change, job opportunities evolve, and it’s up to workers within that market to put themselves in position to survive in it.
Regardless, if it were just this first quote, you could explain Rubio’s comments away as him having more nuance than can be expressed in a few sentences.
Then he goes full Pelosi…
“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he says. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
I had to double check this three time stop make sure it was actually attributed to Rubio.
This is the kind of rhetoric we’ve heard over and over from Democrats in opposition of tax reform. The comment about buying shares back is something Elizabeth Warren routinely says.
It’s not just that he’s repeating Democrat language here. It’s that the assertions being put forth completely ignore the realities of our tax system.
Poor and low skilled workers didn’t get massively “poured back into” because they don’t pay taxes for the most part. Those that pay taxes get taxes cuts in a tax reform bill. Those that do not pay federal income taxes are not going to get tax cuts. These aren’t hard concepts to understand nor are they unfair.
Attacking share buybacks is short sighted as well. Instead of simply paying higher dividends to investors, a company buying back it’s own shares puts more money back into the company to reinvest. At worst, it helps drive up the cost of the company’s stock, which populate the retirement plans of millions of Americans.
For Rubio to abide in such false premises is confusing and disappointing at the same time.
Meanwhile, are Rubio’s critics taking this as a good change of heart and supporting him? Of course not.
Jennifer Rubio, who’s never met a principled position she won’t abandon in her fight against Trump, also laid into Rubio as being a coward in an op-ed at the WaPo.
They’re never going to like you Marco.
It should be noted that had Trump made these comments, his critics on the right would be telling us how stupid he is and how he’s sabotaging the GOP. Yet, here’s Rubio mimicking Chuck Schumer and handing the Democrats a campaign ad for November they’d of never dreamed would be dropped into their laps.
I’m not sure what Rubio’s game here is. Is he trying to out-populist Trump? Did he think it would win him accolades among blue collar workers? Does he just really believe this stuff?
I don’t know, but I don’t think this is going to work out well for anyone involved.