Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida outlined his plan to improve the economy Monday, continuing an attempt to shift focus from his failed immigration overhaul to his policy ideas.
Speaking during an afternoon forum hosted by Google and the Jack Kemp Foundation, Rubio advocated changes he said would create high-paying, middle-class jobs while ushering in “another American century,” with reforms such as an overhaul of the tax system, an increase in trade and research opportunities, and advances in the technology sector.
“While we are facing the full brunt of the disruptions created by the economic revolution [of the 20th century], its opportunities are not reaching quite enough Americans,” Rubio said. “The enormous challenge, the fundamental challenge before us, is to help people overcome these challenges and to access the promise of our time. Achieving this is going to require us to replace the antiquated policies and institutions of the last century with ones built for this new era.”
Rubio said that for the United States to position itself to win in a new global economy, wide-ranging transformation is needed in Washington, and he outlined three main avenues for reform.
The first is to enact policies aimed at fostering innovation.
Rubio argued that while the American people produce 35 percent of the value of the world’s goods despite composing just 4 percent of the global population, we would be doing even more except that “Washington has put up a blockade of restrictions and regulations and taxes that prevent innovators from accessing the full range of opportunities afforded by the American free enterprise system.”
His plans for collapsing those barriers call for preserving Internet freedom, expanding access to the wireless spectrum by selling it to private companies through federal auctions, and promoting technology development at the Department of Energy.
“We want to build projects and companies that not only change our lives and the numbers in our bank account but that change the world and change it for the better,” Rubio said.
After spurring innovation, Rubio said Washington’s second avenue of reform must be the expansion of markets for U.S. products and services by actively engaging in the global economy.
He pushed for the White House to be given “trade promotion authority” to expedite international trade deals; called for increased cooperation between federal research agencies and the private sector; and urged creation of a “national regulatory budget” that would be established by an independent board and would require the government to measure and offset the costs of any new regulation.
“We need trade policies that make it easier for our products to make it to a global network of consumers,” Rubio said.
Rubio said the United States must not lose sight of the fact that it is in constant competition with other global energy producers, and called for a repeal of the ban on crude-oil exports and for streamlining the regulatory review process for natural gas pipeline development.
“The interstate highway system of the last century helped foster an explosion of economic opportunity,” Rubio said.
“What we need now is an interstate energy pipeline system because it can have a similar impact on our economy. Unlike the interstate highway of the 1950s, the private sector, not taxpayers, can and will pay for this new system.
“What they need from government is a reduction or elimination of the regulations that are preventing the private sector from doing this now.”
Rubio said the country’s third avenue for reform should be on how to make it the best country in the world in which to invest. Hindering that from happening is what he said is the highest combined corporate tax rate of any advanced economy on the planet.
“If you combine federal and state taxes, our corporate rate is nearly 40 percent,” he said. “The global average is under 25 percent. Just on taxes alone it is more expensive to invest in creating jobs in America than in most other developed countries. If we stick with the status quo, what we risk is losing the next great American company before it even has the chance to begin.”
Rubio’s proposals call for sweeping reforms of the tax code, including a decrease in the highest corporate tax rate, immediately allowing companies to deduct all their expenses and expenditures from their taxable income, and allowing companies to avoid U.S. taxes on earnings made and taxed abroad.
“Under the current tax system, the safe thing for companies to do is leave [their money] in the bank,” Rubio said. “We see evidence of this in the fact that American businesses are sitting on an estimated $4 trillion to $5 trillion in uninvested cash. That is more than the size of the entire German economy. That is over twice the size of the Russian economy. Instead of this money being invested to grow and hire, it’s just sitting there.
“Under the changes we are working on, the more a business invests, the less the government takes away from them. That serves as a powerful incentive to invest, to grow, to hire, and to give their workers raises.
“We no longer have the luxury of wasting time on the failed promises of big government or the divisive rhetoric of class warfare,” Rubio said. “The world around us is changing quickly, and we have waited far too long to change with it.”
Rubio, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, wants to rebuild his image after he angered conservatives last year by leading a push for a major overhaul of immigration laws that many on the right viewed as an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
The son of Cuban immigrants, he was dubbed the “savior of the Republican Party” by Time magazine last year but is having a hard time ingratiating himself with GOP conservatives, The Wall Street Journal reports. Most of his proposals on Monday are likely to garner support from other conservatives.
Rubio finished seventh in a straw poll of possible presidential contenders at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Last year, he came in second to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who also won this year’s poll.
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