Rubio: Let's stop talking about new taxes and start talking about new taxpayers

On his radio program today, Rush Limbaugh flagged this stunning, impassioned and oh-so-encouraging speech by Florida GOP freshman Sen. Marco Rubio, which he recently made on the Senate floor:

Let’s stop talking about new taxes and start talking about new taxpayers, which means jobs. This debt is the No. 1 issue on everyone’s minds and rightfully so. It is a major issue, but everywhere else, in the real world, the No. 1 issue on people’s minds is jobs. And I tell you, every other problem facing America — a mortgage crisis, a home foreclosure crisis, this debt problem — all of these issues get easier to deal with if people are gainfully employed across America. And the impact that unemployment is having across this country is devastating. …

Our job here [in Congress] is to do everything we can to make it easier for them to find a job, not harder. And I think that’s what we have to do when it comes to ‘a balanced approach’ and when we talk about revenue. We don’t need new taxes, we need new taxpayers, people who are gainfully employed, making money, paying into the tax system and then we need a government that has the discipline to take that additional revenue and use it to pay down the debt and never grow it again. …

So you look at all these taxes that are being proposed and here’s what I say: I say we should analyze every single one of them through the lens of job creation, issue No. 1 in America. I want to know which one of these taxes they’re proposing will create jobs. I want to know how many jobs will be created by the planes tax. I want to know how many jobs will be created by the oil company tax that I’ve heard so much about. How many jobs are created by going after the millionaires and billionaires that the president talks about? I want to know! How many jobs do they create? …

I traveled the state of Florida for two years campaigning. I have never met a job creator who told me that they were waiting for the next tax increase before they started growing their business. I’ve never met a single job creator who has ever said to me I can’t wait ’til government raises taxes again so I can go out and create a job. I’m curious to know if they say that in New Hampshire because they don’t say that in Florida. So my view on all that is, I want to know how many of these tax increases the president proposes will create because if they’re not creating jobs and they’re not creating new taxpayers, they’re not solving the problem.

Precisely. I so appreciate Rubio taking aim at the president’s “balanced approach” and at the idea that the country can actually raise revenue by raising taxes. Sure, more revenue would be nice — and additional revenues are indeed one way to pay down the debt and deficit — but as several Hot Air commenters have pointed out, tax receipts historically have remained at about 18 percent of GDP regardless of tax rates. Why? Because incentives matter: Folks respond to tax increases and to tax cuts in ways that bring receipts right back to the average range. The only way to really grow revenue, then, is to grow the economy.

But, while I’m at it, I want to talk about another potential category of “new taxpayers.” Forty-nine percent of Americans presently pay no income tax at all. By contrast, the top 1 percent of income earners paid 38 percent of all federal income taxes in 2008 and the top 5 percent paid nearly 60 percent. To use the cliched comparison, if an American family of four — the two children intractable teenagers — faced seemingly insurmountable debt, and the family decided to tackle the problem by “raising revenue,” which would make more sense? For the parents to work two jobs each? Or for the teenagers to pitch in a little bit? Maybe find a part-time job?

Of course, that comparison is insulting — for that non-tax-paying 49 percent of Americans consists of adults, not teenagers, and they surely don’t have the bratty attitude that they owe nothing to the causes our taxpayer dollars go to or, worse, that they themselves are owed everything. Of that percentage, surely some are capable and willing to contribute something. Maybe a few dollars?

Talk about shared sacrifice.

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