In his comments to the New York Times the other day, Donald Trump tried to talk about the politics of the Republican tax plan, which went in some curious directions. The president argued, for example, that he would have made changes to deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) “less severe” if Democrats had gone along with the rest of the regressive plan.
I think this was Trump’s first public recognition that the GOP tax plan included harsh provisions that will adversely affect real Americans.
Apparently, the president isn’t the only Republican who’s suddenly open to less-than-flattering candor when describing the party’s new tax policy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) talked to the News-Press in Fort Myers the other day, and was asked for his overall impressions of the package.
“If I were king for a day, this tax bill would have looked different. I thought we probably went too far on (helping) corporations. By and large, you’re going to see a lot of these multinationals buy back shares to drive up the price. Some of them will be forced, because they’re sitting on historic levels of cash, to pay out dividends to shareholders. That isn’t going to create dramatic economic growth.”
In fairness, the Florida Republican acknowledged other parts of the Republican plan that he likes, but that doesn’t change just how amazing it was to see him make these specific criticisms.
Indeed, Rubio didn’t just acknowledge that GOP policymakers “probably went too far” to help big businesses, he also contradicted the entire Republican argument behind the initiative itself: GOP officials insisted that corporations don’t have enough money to make capital investments, so a giant tax break will free up resources and give the economy a major boost.
And yet, there was Marco Rubio effectively saying that Democrats are correct, and his party’s tax policy “isn’t going to create dramatic economic growth.”
It’s the kind of admission voters are likely to see in campaign ads later this year.
What Rubio didn’t explain is why he didn’t do more to make the legislation better. In a narrowly divided Senate, he was in a powerful position to make important changes to the Republican plan – make it less focused on cutting corporate taxes, for example, or more it more likely to strengthen the economy – but that didn’t really happen. GOP leaders instead made modest changes to the child tax credit, and that was enough for Rubio to vote for the plan (twice).
It’s a little late for after-the-fact criticisms.