One prominent Republican is putting some distance between himself and the tax reform bill passed by his party and signed into law by President Donald Trump last year.
Sen. Marco Rubio expressed skepticism that tax cuts aimed at corporations would ultimately be passed on to workers in the form of increased wages and benefits.
Though several companies announced one-time bonuses and other incentives in the weeks after the tax law went into effect, the Florida Republican said it is not yet clear that workers will see widespread and lasting benefits.
“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 said in a recent interview with The Economist.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Rubio pitched slashing the corporate tax rate as part of his platform, though his proposal would have cut the rate from 35 percent to 25. Trump’s plan included an even steeper cut to a current rate of 21 percent.
As NBC News reported last year, Rubio opposed the GOP tax bill on the basis that it did not extend child tax credit benefits.
“I want to support tax reform and it’s important for the country, but I think this needs to be part of it,” he said at the time.
In the end, Rubio supported the bill after a concession that increased the refundable amount of the tax credit.
Months later, he expressed a different concern, explaining that it is still not clear corporations are interested in passing their tax savings on to employees.
“In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses,” he said. “There’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
His candid comments immediately attracted attention on both sides of the aisle, particularly among Democrats who predicted corporate executives would generally choose stock buybacks over investments in their workers.
A Rubio spokesperson sought to clarify his comments, however, telling reporters that the senator has “pushed for a better balance in the tax law between tax cuts for big businesses and families, as he’s done for years.”
The source went on to explain that Rubio still believes lowering the corporate tax rate was the right decision for the American economy.
“As he said when the tax law passed, cutting the corporate tax rate will make America a more competitive place to do business, but he tried to balance that with an even larger child tax credit for working Americans,” the Rubio spokesperson said.
Though he has generally supported the legislation in public forums so far this year, Rubio expressed some concern shortly after its passage that the benefits “probably went too far” in favor of corporate interests.
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