Joe Henderson: Tax plan forces Marco Rubio’s hand on national debt

Sen. Marco Rubio introduces Alex Acosta, President Donald Trump's nominee to be Secretary of Labor, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill

While the debate continues in Washington about tax cuts, it’s worth a trip in the Way Back Machine to revisit how U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio felt about the national debt.

To set the scene, Republicans and President Trump are pushing a tax cut plan that will add to the nearly $20 trillion deficit. Outgoing Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen told the congressional Joint Economic Committee that the consequences of even passing $20 trillion “should keep people awake at night.”

$20 trillion? The debt already is projected to rise another $10 trillion in the next decade, and the tax-cut plan under consideration gives the most benefit to a handful of the richest people in America. At this rate, the national debt should have us hiding under the bed while we’re awake at night.

That brings us back to Rubio, and a January 2016 appearance recorded by C-Span, Rubio, who was still a candidate for president at the time, spoke of a looming crisis if lawmakers didn’t get the debt under control.

“Obviously, the more debt (there is), the more capital is being dedicated to debt and less is available to the private sector. But beyond that there is the specter of a debt crisis. A debt crisis is not a good thing for a country that is trying to grow (the economy). It doesn’t inspire confidence in the future,” he said.

“If nothing changes, if we continue doing things the way we are now, we will have a debt crisis. We have been insulated up to now because of the global reserve currency, because so many other places are unstable. But eventually investors – the people who loan money to America by buying our debt – are going to insist on a higher yield.

“That means higher interest rates, higher return on their loaning of money to us. When that happens, interest payments alone will trigger the debt crisis. The result will be catastrophic for the most important economy in the world.”

If the nation was approaching economic catastrophe with the debt we have, imagine what would happen if the Trump tax cuts become law and the deficit gets even larger.

So, naturally, if Rubio truly believes in the potential calamity of a debt crisis, he will vote against the tax plan, right?

Well, we’ll see.

So far, Florida’s junior senator has expressed reservations about the plan, but so what? He expressed strong reservations about Rex Tillerson’s cozy relationship with Russia before falling in line and voting to approve him as secretary of state.

Rubio has joined Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah in proposing reducing the corporate tax rate to 22 percent from its current 35 percent; the Trump plan would cut the rate to 20 percent. Rubio says his plan would expand the child tax credit, which is laudable. Experts say it would increase the debt, though – and it won’t pass anyway.

In that same C-Span clip, Rubio said the only way to get the debt under control is to reform Social Security and Medicare, because those are programs that spend more money than they take in.

OK, assuming the basics of this tax cut proposal don’t change all that much and the bill is passed into law, there is going to be a lot less money coming into the government than is going out.

It is a given that the wealthiest people get the biggest break in this plan. The nonpartisan Policy Tax Center estimates the richest 1 percent of Americans will receive 20 percent of the benefit while the national debt expands to unimaginable levels.

Marco Rubio is a smart man, and I’m sure he knows what this plan does. He has warned about the impact the debt will have on this country, and he is faced with a vote that could make it worse.

So, what’s it going to be?

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Jodi

    November 30, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Marco Rubio I really liked and hardly anyone else does. His latest votes and work have not impressed me. He needs more of a backbone. There should be no deals made. Example: “you vote for this then I will do that for you.” That is why the government is so dysfunctional. Legislators need all to not be afraid of threats and bullying from others pressuring them to vote. They need to stand up for what they truly believe in and just say yes or no. I wish i could speak to Donald Trump or Mitch McConnel personally. I would never put up with their bullying or corruptness. Cutting billions of dollars for social security, Medicaid, and Medicare affects struggling middle-class and lower-middle class families terribly. Also, along with the elderly and disabled. This tax reform and health care situation is a legal form of murder. People are going to continue to suffer and wither away and die faster. I feel this what the Republicans and Donald Trump want. Only the rich,white, and wealthy to live in the United States of America. He is a racist. He should be impeached. Any normal class person would have been fired or in jail in a day.

    • Suzi Wickerd

      December 1, 2017 at 9:45 am

      I agree.

  • Suzi Wickerd

    December 1, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for such an informative article about the state of our country’s debt. In our home, we all believe that taxes are important for the benefit of a country and think that this tax plan is a scam. I can’t understand how the Republicans are following a President who has so many confusing and uncertain behaviors, especially with dangerous leaders in other countries.

Comments are closed.


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