Update 2 p.m.: Contradicting this morning's reports, Rubio now says he will block the GOP tax bill unless his child tax credit is included in the final version.
Sen. Marco Rubio has gleefully pushed the GOP tax bill even though analysts say it will do nothing for Miami's middle and working classes while giving huge tax breaks to millionaires in Brickell. But Rubio has tried to put some gloss on that plutocrat's dream package by insisting that his colleagues slightly increase the corporate tax to pay for tax breaks for 9 million low-income families with children.
The GOP leadership actually gave in this week and bumped up that corporate rate — but then pointed one of those novelty guns at Rubio that unfurls a giant "fuck you" flag when the trigger is pulled. That's because the GOP will actually use that extra corporate tax to — you guessed it — give even more tax cuts to millionaires.
Short of Mitch McConnell walking up to Rubio on the Senate floor, delicately removing a fine calfskin leather glove from his wrinkled hand, and dramatically slapping little Marco across the face with it, that move was as close as a deadly insult as the Republicans could deal the junior senator from Florida.
Rubio has spent months pushing for the child tax credit. He has demanded it repeatedly on Twitter. He has warned he could cause "problems" if it's not included. He has pushed for it on Facebook Live. Rubio has staked a big part of his legislative identity on this (admittedly, quite reasonable) demand.
And the GOP laughed, said nah, and sent him Crying Jordan memes on his own face.
If Rubio actually had any hint of moral fiber, now would be the perfect moment to stand up against the tax bill. Not because it's an insane proposal that would throw gasoline onto the raging inequality inferno sucking all oxygen from the economy. Not because it would create massive deficits that would certainly require mass cuts to social security and Medicare. Not even because it would be the best thing to do for most of his constituents.
He could oppose the deal because his colleagues just told him they think his threats are roughly as hilarious as Roy Moore's horseback-riding skills.
Rubio knows he's been insulted. Last night, he tweeted out a National Review story calling the defeat of his child tax credit (cosponsored with Mike Lee of Utah) a "slap in the face." The previous day, he had called out the insanity of the GOP's position:
20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40k was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1million is fine?— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 12, 2017
He could just about kill the deal if he wanted to! Republicans have already lost Bob Corker's support. If Rubio flipped and, say, brought Mike Lee along with him, Trump's signature deal would be screwed.
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SHOW ME HOW
But Rubio will probably not do this. He will make some loud, annoyed noises about how he was not listened to, write some tweets, and then roll over and vote for the bill that will do nothing for those 9 million poor families but will make Ted Cruz and a dozen other legislators much wealthier and give private jet owners new breaks.
Take it from April Ponnuru, a senior adviser at the Conservative Reform Network who worked closely with Rubio's office to expand the credit, according to the Washington Post: “This isn’t a guy who wants to be off the reservation. He wants to be a team player, and wants to be supportive of tax relief in general,” she told the Post today.
There's a simpler explanation: Rubio is a party hack more concerned with his own advancement than with doing anything meaningful with his considerable power in Washington.
The good news for those 9 million poor families, though, is they'll save a lot on that private jet once they get around to buying one.