One of the key planks of Senate candidate Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) campaign is scaremongering about the nation’s deficit and debt. “The United States government spends more money than it takes in,” Rubio said. “It’s as simple as that. You can’t do that for long without getting into trouble.” Rubio has repeatedly called on President Obama to “stop spending money we don’t have.”
However, Rubio’s concern with the deficit seems to evaporate when it comes to tax cuts. Democrats in Congress want to allow the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire on schedule at the end of the year, but yesterday on Fox News, Rubio wholeheartedly endorsed making the cuts permanent and “doing it now”:
RUBIO: I would argue in favor of making permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. And I would argue doing it now, before they recess, so that people have some level of certainty. [...]
VARNEY: You’re arguing economics. I put it to you that, if you suggested that we not increase taxes on the rich on January the 1st, you would be demagogued to death. You would be accused of giving money to the rich at a time of a nasty recession.
RUBIO: Well, the bottom line is that we need folks to create jobs in America. And jobs in America are created by people that have money or access to money.
This proves that Rubio is actually not at all serious about addressing deficits, as the Bush tax cuts are one of the main drivers behind the country’s long-term deficits. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found, the Bush tax cuts will cause $3.4 trillion in deficits over between 2009 and 2019. The debt-service costs caused by the Bush tax cuts amount to “$1.7 trillion over the 2009-2019 period” and more than $330 billion in 2019 alone.
Not only that, but Rubio is incorrect that cutting taxes for the wealthy inevitably spurs job creation. The Bush tax cuts actually led to “the weakest jobs and income growth in the post-war period,” with monthly job growth the worst of any business cycle since 1945. Rubio’s call to extend the cuts for the wealthy also comes at a time when income inequality is the worst it has been since 1928. In fact, according to the latest data, “the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007.”
Of course, Rubio is hardly alone in believing that spending adds to the deficit but reductions in revenue somehow do not. “Allowing Americans to keep more of their money through tax rate reductions is an entirely separate issue,” said Ryan Patmintra, a spokesman for Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) when asked about the deficit effect of extending all the Bush tax cuts.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.