Rubio: Fiscal cliff deal shouldn’t include tax hike

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that raising rates on the wealthy as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff would not raise enough revenue to justify the harm he said it would do to the economy, and suggested he would not vote for a deal that includes tax hikes.

“As far as the rates are concerned, look, I don’t have a religious, spirtiual objection to higher tax rates. I have an economic objection to it because of the impact it has on growth,” Rubio said, speaking at the Washington Idea’s Forum.

Rubio argued that small businesses paying individual tax rates would bear the brunt of the tax hikes, while “the billionaires and millionaires that are gonna be impacted by higher rates, they can afford to higher the best lawyers, lobbyists and accountants in America to figure out how not to pay those higher rates.”

Raising rates in the way that President Barack Obama has proposed, Rubio said, would also only bring in “about $80 billion a year in new revenue, which is about 7.5 percent of your annual deficit,” an amount that was not large enough to justify the “impact on growth” he believes would occur.

“I think that’s a bad trade off,” he said.

Asked if he would vote for a deal that included increased taxes, Rubio said he would not vote for a deal that was not “a solution.”

“You can’t cut your way out of this … and you can’t tax your way out of this dilemma. The only answer to this dilemma is rapid and healthy economic growth,” he said.

The White House said Thursday that Obama would not sign a tax deal that extended tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they will not raise taxes, but Boehner has said that raising new revenue by closing tax loopholes could be an option.

Though Rubio will not have a seat at the table during the fiscal cliff negotiations, the positions he stakes out now are those of a likely 2016 contender who is expected to play a big role in the Republican Party in future years. The Florida Senator is heading to Iowa this weekend, home of the first presidential nominating contests, to speak at a fundraiser for Gov. Terry Branstad.

Rubio denied that that trip has anything to do with his presidential ambitions.

“My trip to Iowa has nothing to do with 2016, it has to do with Gov. Branstad,” he said. “And I accepted that invitation when I fully expected Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States, and believed that in 2016 we’d be working for his re-election.”

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