It’s hard to explain why Florida’s junior senator would vote against the economic bill extending the Bush tax cuts on household income under $450,000. Or maybe it’s painfully easy to explain: Rubio is indeed planning to run for president in 2016.
Rubio stood with the handful of his peers who voted against the package, including Rand Paul (R/Tea-Ken.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), and Thomas Carper (D-Del.).
Those looking for a less cynical explanation of Rubio’s vote won’t find any help from the senator’s office, which issued this statement.
“I appreciate all the hard work that went into avoiding the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’. I especially commend Senator McConnell’s efforts to make the best out of a bad situation. Nevertheless, I cannot support the arrangement they have arrived at. Rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing. But rapid economic growth and job creation will be made more difficult under the deal reached here in Washington.
“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they’ll pay this new tax and, chances are, they’ll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.
“Of course, many Americans will be relieved in the short term that their taxes won’t go up. However in the long run, they will be hurt when employers pass on to them one of the largest tax hikes in decades. Furthermore, this deal just postpones the inevitable, the need to solve our growing debt crisis and help the 23 million Americans who can’t find the work they need.”
If, as Pres. Obama recently explained, there is a $2,000 tax increase on all Americans, that will in fact put an end to the economic growth and recovery we’ve been experiencing as funds are diverted away from consumer goods, automobile purchases, home renovations, and all the other ways people spend money that actually do create jobs.
It bears emphasizing when discussing the topic of the tax cuts that they only apply to the portion of income above $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for households. The first $399,999.99 or $449,999.99 of income for all Americans would still be taxed at the lower rate. Every time you hear a pundit use the phrase, “people who make $400,000 or more” as if the entire tax bill would be at one (higher) rate, you are hearing a misstatement.
What is also usually overlooked is how easy it is for wealthy people to not claim income on their tax returns, but to claim instead capital gains or deductions, which are both are taxed at much lower rates.
Rubio fails to explain how “spending reforms” will achieve “rapid economic growth” and not instead bring back recession, as Europe’s recent experiments with austerity measures prove. Maybe he’ll get to that on the campaign trail in another couple of years — if he’s not on it already.