If anyone doubts that Sen. Marco Rubio has earned his status as the star of the Class of 2010, this clip of his interrogation of Tim Geithner should cinch his reputation. Rubio picks apart Barack Obama’s proposals on deficit reduction and job creation by pointing out how high the top marginal tax rate will go under the plan — all the way to 45%, a large increase over today’s 35%. Geithner protests that it only impacts a “tiny fraction” of taxpayers, but Rubio then hits him with Obama’s 2009 quote about the disaster of hiking taxes at all in a recession. Geithner sputters about deficits and the need to raise revenues, but in the end admits that the economy is in serious trouble:
A couple of notes are in order here. First, note how Geithner tries to defend the proposal by telling Rubio that the tax hikes come at the end of 2012, so they won’t have a bad impact until the economy is recovering. That’s simply sophistry. If tax hikes are coming, people will change their behaviors to account for them now, and that means less investment, fewer jobs, and protracted stagnation. The additional uncertainty for the next year will cause even more retreat by capital on top of the effect of pending tax increases. And pushing the tax hikes off until after the next election is so blatantly political that the term hackery doesn’t quite cover it.
Geithner also tries telling Rubio to check out CBO scoring as a defense against one of Rubio’s arguments, a response that should have elicited gales of laughter after the collapse of the CLASS program. In fact, Republicans in the Senate want to impose some reforms on the CBO and its scoring of legislation after the CLASS debacle:
Demands to reform the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) rules have roared into life amid bitter accusations of disingenuousness following Friday’s collapse of a key component of President Obama’s healthcare law.
The implosion of the long-term care benefit known as the CLASS Act, which administration officials acknowledged could not be made to pay for itself, as its critics had always maintained, is giving new life to lawmaker proposals to change the way CBO scores legislation.
“Congress knows the scoring rules and then manipulates them to achieve the appearance of savings that don’t really exist,” said Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Sessions, who has introduced legislation to end a host of budget gimmicks, sees the CLASS Act’s scoring as “one of the most spectacular examples” of budgetary manipulation in history, according to Miller.
Geithner is left with no argument at all, except that this administration simply won’t cut budgets and reform entitlements to address deficits, and so has no choice but to raise taxes in a recessionary/stagnation environment. Rubio operates as deftly as a surgeon to make that point clear without overplaying his hand.