Minutes after the GOP tax bill passed the U.S. Senate last year, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said "this GOP tax bill was never about helping the middle class."
Months after the GOP tax bill became law, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who voted for the tax bill, made an argument that sounded much like Nelson's.
"There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they're going to take the money they're saving and reinvest it in American workers," Rubio said in a recent interview with The Economist. "In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker."
Rubio's comments were quickly lauded by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking Democrats in Washington.
"We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves," Schumer's office said in a statement. Pelosi wielded a paper copy of Rubio's remarks while visiting Florida on Wednesday.
And the Koch Brothers' political wing expressed disappointment with Rubio.
“It’s disappointing to see Marco Rubio echo some of the false rhetoric of tax reform opponents, and we hope he clarifies his remarks," Americans for Prosperity said in a statement. "There’s no doubt that the full potential of tax reform will be realized over the long-term, but there’s also no denying the positive impact it’s already having on American workers, businesses and families across the country.”
Rubio explained his remarks in a National Review column published Wednesday where he said the GOP tax bill "has been good for Americans...but it could have been better for American workers and their families."
"The central reason why it wasn’t is that in the new economy, it isn’t enough to just cut taxes; you have to cut the right ones," Rubio wrote. "We in the conservative movement need to stop viewing big companies like they’re all General Motors in the 1950s."
And while liberals are pouncing on Rubio's comments as an illuminating look into what a Republican who isn't up for reelection this year really thinks of Donald Trump's biggest piece of legislation signed into law, a look back at Rubio's comments and stance on the tax bill shows that he was never enthusiastic about prioritizing corporate tax cuts over policies that directly affect middle and working class families.
In October 2017, as the tax bill was being drafted, Rubio said he wasn't going to vote for a tax increase on the middle class.
“But we’re not going to get to that point. We’re not that crazy around here," Rubio said.
In December 2017, after unsuccessfully pushing for an amendment that would net low-earners with children a larger IRS refund if they owed little or no taxes, Rubio told Senate GOP leadership he was planning to vote against the bill unless the child tax credit was expanded. A day after Rubio made his opposition public, the prospect of failure in the Senate caused negotiators to act. The $2,000 child tax credit’s refundable portion was raised from $1,100 to $1,400, and Rubio voted for the bill.
Rubio's critical assessment of the GOP tax bill isn't new, though his "no evidence whatsoever" comment sounds like a Democratic talking point coming from a onetime GOP presidential contender, a gift for Democrats as Republicans around the country, including Floridians in tough races like Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, are trying to campaign on the legislation as a reason to vote for them in 2018.
Rubio insisted he wasn't walking back his comments to the Economist after writing the National Review column on Wednesday.
"Not only did I not back down on tax cut, I doubled down & added detail for rationale," he tweeted.