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Marco Rubio just went off on corporate stock buybacks

Stock buybacks are at a record high thanks to the Republican tax law, which Rubio voted for. Now he wants changes.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said he wants to change the tax code to make stock buybacks less likely. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said he wants to change the tax code to make stock buybacks less likely. DIRK SHADD | Times
Published Feb. 13, 2019
Updated Feb. 13, 2019

Sen. Marco Rubio unleashed a Twitter rant on stock buybacks that you might expect from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but not necessarily the Florida Republican.

Last year saw a record $1.1 trillion in stock buybacks, the common term for when a company buys back its own stock from the marketplace.

Of course, the precursor for this was Republican tax bill championed by President Donald Trump, which Rubio voted for. The new law lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and many economists predicted it would go toward stock buybacks, and not necessarily an investment in growth or wages like Republican leaders promised.

Those economists were largely right as the impact of the cuts have been much more mixed than the administration promised, according to recent reports on the affects of the law after a year. It has also ballooned the deficit (Republican leaders said it would do the opposite, arguing people would have more money and higher wages to spend) leading to a record national debt.

Rubio’s enthusiasm for the Trump tax cut has always been more measured than some of his GOP colleagues. He threatened to vote against it unless the bill’s authors added a larger tax credit for working families, which they did.

It’s also not clear there’s any momentum within his own caucus to dis-incentivize buybacks in the tax code. For example, his Florida counterpart, Rick Scott, wasn’t bothered by how the corporations spent their money, he told the Tampa Bay Times earlier this year.

“I don’t know that everybody is going to spend the money exactly the way I would have them spend the money,” Scott said. “But however they spend the money, it goes back to a person, right?”

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