Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is once again defending the Republican tax law, just days after he said there’s no evidence it has helped American workers.
On Wednesday, Rubio tried to indignantly correct a Politico story that said he is “walking back” his earlier criticisms of the recently-passed Republican tax overhaul, insulting an intern and failing to make his point any clearer in the process.
The tax overhaul, passed and signed into law last December, raises taxes on middle class people making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year by more than $5 billion, cuts taxes by more than $5.5 billion for people making more than $1 million a year, punishes wage-earning employees, and repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The changes will likely force billions of dollars in cuts to safety net programs and kill — by conservative estimates — 10,000 people every year.
It was an interview with The Economist last week, Rubio acknowledged some of the bill’s failures, as well as the failure of trickle down economics in general.
“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,” Rubio said in the interview. “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.”
Politico compared that quote from his interview released last Thursday to a quote from an op-ed he published in The National Review Wednesday where he said, “On the whole, the tax cut bill helps workers. It’s just not massive tax cuts to multinational corporations that do it.”
He goes on, saying, “Overall, the Republican tax-cut bill has been good for Americans. That is why I voted for it. But it could have been even better for American workers and their families.”
His Wednesday article, Politico speculated, “may be seen as act of political damage control following blowback from some conservatives over his less than glowing review of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
Rubio responded to Politico’s assessment on Twitter, first noting pointlessly that the article had been written by an intern.
Although written by intern at Politico, this article is a reminder of how difficult it can be to discuss public policy in political press. Not only did I not back down on tax cut, I doubled down & added detail for rationale https://t.co/4NTDOxcEju
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 2, 2018
“Not only did I not back down on tax cut, I doubled down and added detail for rationale,” Rubio tweeted.
Perhaps that was Rubio’s intention, but that isn’t actually what his vague opinion piece published Wednesday does. The piece is literally headlined, “Two Cheers for Corporate Tax Cuts,” while the subhead of his Economist interview released two days earlier proclaimed, “The Florida senator thinks that reheating Reaganomics is a dead end.”
In his National Review piece, Rubio does attempt to explain some of his thinking, but he ultimately only ends up waffling on whether stock buy-backs can benefit workers.
“Stock buybacks, by increasing the share value of foreign shareholders and driving new investment to its most productive use regardless of where or what that use might be, isn’t guaranteed to go fully to Americans’ paychecks,” he writes. “When this happens, it can encourage arbitrage, not American productivity.”
And while Rubio derided corporate tax cuts last week, on Wednesday, he said the cuts can be positive if geared to benefit Americans, writing, “We need an internationally competitive corporate tax rate, but the gains from corporate tax cuts should be geared to benefit Americans as much as possible.”
Rubio also cheered the conservative Reaganomic principles he was much less certain of just days earlier, adding that they just need to be reassessed in this new economy.
“Conservative principles still work,” he wrote. “But they need to be applied to the characteristics of a new and very different economy.”
Ultimately, Politco’s assessment seems right: After criticizing the party’s central achievement during the Trump administration, Rubio appears to be trying to clean up his mess a little bit, the latest in a long line of incidents wherein Rubio wants to have his cake and eat it, too.
Also, insulting an intern is rude.