Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is having a hard time keeping track of what Marco Rubio thinks. Most recently, he is torn about the tax scam. On Monday, Rubio created a minor Republican kerfuffle—and much joy among Democrats—when The Economist published an interview with him in which he told the truth about the tax cuts. Big corporations, he said, weren’t using the tax cut to “reinvest in American workers. […] In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
He was so sure of that he had his staff double-down on it on Tuesday, making sure that everyone saw the part of the interview where he touted his new idea to “reform [the] conservative movement” which will be “devoted to addressing the economic disruption and social disaffection that the President vigorously described.” (By the way, nice suck-up to The Donald there, Li’l Marco.)
The walk-back, however, was inevitable because it’s Rubio. And here it is, over the byline “Marco Rubio,” in the National Review: “Two Cheers for Corporate Tax Cuts.” In his op-ed, Rubio is trying really hard to split a hair. Softening Monday’s harsh criticism of the tax scam, he now says it “has been good for Americans. That is why I voted for it.” Then he attempts nuance. Overall, the bill (somehow) “helps workers,” just not its “massive tax cuts to multinational corporations.” See, he’s a good Republican and absolutely tax cuts are the best thing for America. But the splitting of hairs about which tax cuts are great and which tax cuts are merely good has him pretty much tied up in knots.
This is vintage Rubio. Remember when he was all for immigration reform, and he was going to be the guy to reshape the conservative movement to embrace Latinos? That was all in the lead-up to his 2016 presidential bid, and lasted all of two seconds. Now he’s looking at 2020, and thinks he can somehow be the conservative guy that reshapes the movement to care about income inequality, words he can’t actually say out loud so he calls it “disruption” and “disaffection.” That’ll last about as long as his immigration reform push.
Rubio actually got it right the first time. The tax scam is making a lot of massive corporations a whole lot richer. Just this week, Apple demonstrated that with the announcement that it was using its tax windfall to buy back an eye-popping $100 billion of its stock. The nation’s biggest banks have raked in nearly $2 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year. None of this has done much of anything to help the American worker, disaffected or not.