Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he thinks big corporations — not American workers — are shaping up to be the chief beneficiaries of the tax law Republicans muscled through Congress last year.
"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 told The Economist in an interview published Monday. "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."
The Florida Republican's unexpected criticism reflects an awkward break with his party's preeminent talking point ahead of November's midterm elections. The GOP is fighting to maintain control over both chambers of Congress in part by trumpeting tax breaks and bonuses to middle-class employees they say were facilitated by the law.
But it's unclear how effective that strategy will prove when voters head to the polls in six months. According to a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult survey, more than half of registered voters say they haven’t noticed an increase in their paychecks as a result of the new tax law, and support for the law overall remains tepid.
And in the final days of last month's special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, GOP groups largely abandoned their tax-cuts messaging. Democrat Conor Lamb clinched the seat, even though President Donald Trump won the district by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016.
Still, the White House and Republican members of Congress including House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) have expressed interest in attempting to pass a second round of tax cuts to woo voters.
The GOP tax law will add more than $1.85 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, after accounting for the expected short-term boost to the economy, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.