The run-up to the presidential election is really a debate about growth and taxes, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida told me on Monday’s Kudlow Report.
“Growth helps the debt be more manageable, unemployment, all of these things,” he said. “Tax increases do not lead to growth. The reason why I oppose increases in taxes is not some religious objection, or even an ideological one. It is the knowledge that increasing taxes discourages growth.”
Rubio said that taxes remove money that was going to be spent into the economy. “When the government spends that dollar, they’re going to be a lot less efficient, a lot less stimulative,” he said.
Rubio, who is being considered for the vice-presidential slot by Mitt Romney, also spoke about the debt crisis, health care, and Arizona’s controversial immigration law, on which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.
I asked him whether there could be a compromise like the one former Florida governor Jeb Bush mentioned in an earlier appearance — $10 of spending cuts for every $1 of revenue increases. Rubio held firm: “I’ve always believed that was a false choice. The goal is not to give each side what they want. The goal is to solve the problem.”
Hours after the nation’s highest court upheld one of the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration law — that police can make checks for immigration status — Rubio agreed with the decision. “I’ve always believed the Arizona immigration law was constitutional,” he said. Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, also admitted that he had “mixed feelings” about it initially.
Rubio said, “I understand why Arizona did it. I understand why the people of Arizona are frustrated. I believe they have the 10th Amendment right to pass that law.”
Part of the law that was upheld instructs law-enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of anyone they detain. But Rubio said the federal government needs to fix the problem with several steps: “Secure the border, have an electronic verification system in place, and modernize our legal immigration so it reflects the 21st century needs of our country.”
Weighing in on health care, Rubio said he would like to see Obamacare replaced with a free-market system in which insurance companies compete for consumers’ dollars.
“I think once there’s more choice, once the consumer is in charge of their health-care dollars, the market’s going to meet that demand,” he said. “Now, all of a sudden, companies are going to try to figure out how to make themselves more attractive so that you choose them over somebody else. Right now they don’t have to do that.”
Rubio added, “From the point of view of the marketplace, insurance companies, if they want my business, if I control my health-care dollars, and I get to choose from any insurance company I want, I’ll go to you and say, ‘Hey guys, I would love to buy your insurance, but I have a kid who is sick. Will you cover them as well? Because this other guy will cover them, and I’ll go with them if you don’t do the same.’ I think that now the consumer is empowered to make that argument.”
Rubio said that for chronically ill Americans, state governments could create high-risk pools to provide insurance. “I think that’s the one focused, narrow place where government — state government — can be helpful to folks,” he said.