As a Senate candidate in 2010, Sen. Marco Rubio railed against government spending and growing debt.
Now, Rubio and the GOP is pushing a sprawling tax cut proposal that could add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, raising a big question: What happened to fiscal discipline?
Already House Republicans have backed off demands the tax code overhaul be "revenue neutral" and the Senate this succeeded in pushing a budget plan that will glide the way for the cuts. Finding ways to pay for them will be difficult as it could require raising taxes on some or hindering Americans ability to contribute to 401(k) accounts.
Rubio, who is aggressively pushing for a doubling of the $1,000 child tax credit, echoes the argument from other Republicans: Tax cuts will boost the economy, making it easier to manage debt.
"How do you bring the debt under control?" the Florida Republican said in an interview Wednesday. "You can't tax your way out to it and you can't just cut your way out of it. …
"There are two ways to bring it under control. You have to have spending discipline, which we're not dealing with in the tax cut. You've got to look at your outlying years of spending and bring it into a spending arc that's more sustainable. That's part two. But part one is you've got to grow the economy. You have to generate more revenue and then you have to make sure you're not using that revenue to grow government. You're using that revenue to sustain a level of spending that is sustainable. …
"Our hope is that this will help grow the economy and we believe that it will. Just the ability to attract trillions of dollars overseas back to the U.S. to be reinvested here would hopefully lead to investment and growth and creation of jobs so that you find your position where you are not having more taxes, you're having more taxpayers. … That's the only way to bring debt under control. Growth and fiscal discipline on your spending side."
Some Republicans reject the approach.
"The Senate budget comes at too high of a cost: it does not balance, it adds to $1.5 trillion to the deficit, and it makes no reforms to Washington's culture of overspending," Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of 20 Republicans to vote against the budget, said this week.
Rubio also shifted the argument to Democrats.
"What's ironic is if I said to you, 'Let's take $1.7 trillion over 10 years and spend it on infrastructure and roads and bridges,' then the other side would have no problem with debt spending. What they have a problem with is allowing people to keep more of their own money or allowing employers to keep more money to reinvest. If it was government spending, then they would call it investment in the future. It's just kind of a philosophical difference. We feel that doing this is going to create more growth than spending government money."