Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) believes his personal backstory is the perfect antidote to criticisms of his policy agenda. At the first debate for Republican presidential candidates held earlier this month, the Florida senator boasted about what the GOP can expect if he's the nominee: "We will be the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars."
At face value, the claim seemed odd, if not ridiculous. Rubio has outlined his economic vision, which is based largely on a tax-reform package that lavishes new wealth on the rich. What does this have to do with appealing to bartenders, maids, and mechanics?
The answer came in an interview this week with CNBC's John Harwood.
HARWOOD: How do you think people who live paycheck to paycheck will receive that your tax plan eliminates taxes on estates, capital gains, and dividends? RUBIO: First of all, capital gains and dividends is investment. My father had a job as a bartender at a hotel. And the reason why he had a job as a bartender is because someone with money invested in that hotel. That's why he had a salary, and that's why he had tips.
In other words, the far-right senator is genuinely, sincerely committed to trickle-down economics.
Rubio seems to believe Republicans can go to bartenders, maids, and mechanics with a pitch: "We'll give big tax breaks to people 'with money.' Eventually, this will mean jobs for you -- top earners will need people to mix their drinks, clean their rooms, and repair their cars."
Remember, the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities published an analysis in March of the tax-reform package Rubio co-authored, and it concluded the plan is "outrageously" tilted "in favor of the country's highest-income people."
The "big losers" under the plan, the CBPP added, "would be the working-poor people who feed and bathe the elderly, care for preschoolers, clean offices, and perform other essential tasks. The big winners would be the country's 400 highest-income filers, at a cost of much higher deficits."
In fairness, it's worth emphasizing, as we did last week, that Rubio's 2016 plan includes some middle-class tax breaks, too, including a $2,500 child tax credit. The package is stacked in the wealthiest Americans' favor, but it's not 100% to 0%.
That said, the senator's comments to John Harwood are telling: if you like trickle-down economics, you'll love Rubio's platform.