Rubio’s Party
A young conservative challenges Governor Crist.


What do you make of President Obama’s plans to change the taxation of deferred corporate income?

RUBIO: He’s dealing with a symptom rather than the cause. There’s a reason why companies move their assets overseas and do these things. Those are legal loopholes that exist because they’re trying to escape the punitive and anti-competitive nature of the American tax system. If we had a system that’s fair, there are few countries in the world people would rather do business in. . . . Our laws are stable; their contracts will be enforced here; we have a system of infrastructure that’s still superior to the rest of the world; we still produce the best college graduates in the world. So all things being equal, everyone would rather be in America doing business and headquartering their companies here.

And there’s another thing that’s really wrong with our tax system, and we’ve been complicit in it as Republicans. We’ve allowed the system grow so complicated that it benefits those people who can afford to hire lawyers and accountants to find loopholes, and lobbyists to create loopholes. And I think the Republican party stands to blame for that as well. So I think the Republican party is ripe for reform — if not from the inside out, then from the outside in.

FREDDOSO: Tell me how Charlie Crist is part of the problem — why you’re taking him on?

RUBIO: Charlie Crist is a very pleasant man. I consider him a friend. . . . My issues with him are not personal. Unlike most politics, where people think the purpose of a political debate is to destroy your opponent, and therefore they have no choice but to vote for you — that’s not how I want to run.

I do think that Charlie Crist has proven to have more confidence in the ability of government to grow the economy than I have and than Republicans should have. The evidence of that is, he campaigned statewide with Barack Obama, not just to accept the stimulus dollars, but actually in favor of passing it. Every single Republican member of the House voted against it, and yet our governor campaigned across the state in favor of it. It was one of the worst things he could ever do to my children. He’s now permanently saddled them with trillions in debt that they will work their whole life to pay off.

On environmental policy, Charlie Crist has proposed big government mandates. I think we can improve our environment and become energy independent without destroying our economy . . . with the California-style environmental restrictions that he tried to implement in Florida. The legislature obviously didn’t go along with it, but the regulations would have made us a more expensive place to do business and therefore less competitive.

On tax reform, Floridians have a right to be deeply disappointed. I proposed what I thought was a bold plan, to replace property taxes on your primary residence with a consumption tax, 30 percent of which would be paid by non-Floridians. It’s like the Fair Tax, except applied to the property tax. Of course, Crist and his supporters have said that I proposed a sales-tax increase; they ignore the big part of it, which was the tax-cut component that would have eliminated property taxes and would have been the single largest tax cut in Florida history. Florida’s economy would be much better off today if we’d done that plan. But . . . instead, we supported his cosmetic plan, called Amendment One, which no one remembers because it didn’t do anything. . . . 

And finally, something that’s very important for a senator, very recently he appointed a liberal to the Florida Supreme Court, which has, for at least the next ten years, given us an activist court in Florida. He had an opportunity to appoint a majority strict-constructionist court that would follow the Constitution and interpret the law instead of creating it. Instead, for his last appointment, he chose someone who is anti-Second Amendment, someone who I think will tilt our Florida Supreme Court away from the principles we believe in. Two of his appointments were great, one was mediocre, and the last one was outrageous.