Because once just isn’t enough, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday announced that he had signed “the Pledge” not to raise taxes for the third time in his political career. A top contender in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Rubio’s decision to rededicate himself to never, ever, raising taxes was trumpeted by Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative group that has made signing its Taxpayer Protection Pledge practically de rigeur for any Republican politician with state or federal ambitions.
Rubio previously signed the pledge as a member of the Florida state legislature and later as a U.S. senator. In taking the pledge, Rubio promised to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses” and to “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and the creator of the pledge, said in a statement Tuesday, “Senator Rubio is a longtime leader in the taxpayer movement. He signed and kept the Pledge as a Florida state House representative and as a United States Senator. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to the American people, Senator Rubio continues to protect American taxpayers against higher taxes.”
He added, “Senator Rubio understands that government should be reformed so that it takes and spends less of the taxpayers’ money, and will oppose tax increases that paper over and continue the failures of the past."
To be fair to Rubio, there was at least a plausible reason why he might have felt the need to sign the pledge a second time: the wording for state and federal legislators is somewhat different. However, there is only one pledge for federal officeholders, so his third go-round with Norquist has the air of publicity-seeking.
Notably, it comes after one of his chief competitors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush refused to sign the pledge. It was not a slight that Norquist took lightly. The anti-tax activist has frequently pointed to the decision of former President George H.W. Bush to sign off on a tax increase during his first term as the reason why he was voted out after four years.
When Bush’s decision not to sign the pledge was announced last month, Norquist took to Twitter, writing, “If my Dad threw away a perfectly good presidency I would honor him by learning to avoid that mistake.” Bush’s move was and “unforced error” he added. “He should have learned from Dad’s screw up.”
Rubio did not release a statement about the pledge, but his staff issued a release quoting a recent op-ed in which he complained that “the $3.3 trillion we will pay in federal taxes this year is still not sufficient to cover federal spending. Washington, D.C. will spend a projected $580 billion more than it takes in this year, which will be added to our already $18 trillion national debt.”
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times