4:04 PM, Apr 15, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
While Hillary Clinton was meeting with voters in Iowa on her second full day as a presidential candidate, Marco Rubio spent part of his discussing a tax policy white paper at a Washington think tank. The newly declared candidate joined with Utah Republican Mike Lee at the Heritage Foundation to talk about their proposal to reform the tax code, which has already become a point of contention in Rubio's nascent presidential campaign.
The plan Rubio and Lee have introduced would accomplish a few big things: simplifying the income tax code into two brackets at 15 percent and 35 percent; eliminating most deductions except those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions; consolidate business tax rates to one rate, 25 percent; and an increase to the child tax credit to $2,500 per child.
There are plenty lines of attack against the plan from the left, but the proposal has earned criticism from the right, as well. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which largely shares the Florida Republican’s views on foreign policy and immigration, greeted Rubio’s entrance to the race with some skepticism. The paper's Tuesday editorial suggested the young Republican’s tax plan would be a departure from GOP standard-bearer Ronald Reagan.
Here’s the Journal:
With this proposal, Senator Rubio makes himself the party’s most visible ally of the “new” Republican idea that the Reagan tax-cutting agenda is a political dead end, and that the party now must redistribute revenue directly to middle-class families. It’s not clear how Candidate Rubio would hope to win a tax-credit bidding war with Hillary Clinton, who’d see and raise on the size of the credit and make it refundable to non-taxpayers. The Rubio tax credit looks like an obvious political gambit with no economic growth payoff.
Rubio took issue with that characterization at Heritage. “This is not a redistribution because this money doesn’t belong to the government in the first place,” he said. “What we recognize is that in our existing tax code, there is a penalty for those who are raising children.”
It’s an argument Lee has made numerous times: The tax code penalizes Americans who choose to have children, since the primary cost of raising those children (who are, in the eyes of the government, future taxpayers) falls on the parents. “Those who look at it as a bad thing try to describe the child tax credit as a subsidy, as a special-interest giveaway. It’s not. This is an offset to an existing penalty, to an inequity that exists under the current system,” Lee said at Heritage.
Some conservatives see tax credits as new, unpaid spending, preferring tax deductions as a way to reduce the burden on your average taxpayer. The political problem is there aren't a lot of people who can benefit from more or bigger tax deductions. Most middle-class Americans don’t itemize deductions on their tax returns, since the complexity of the code usually requires the services of a tax professional. The Tax Foundation estimated in 2010 that 70 percent of taxpayers would choose the standard deduction instead of itemizing. On the other hand, Lee has argued, the tax credit allows for any taxpaying parent to keep more money, even those who pay payroll taxes but don't make enough to pay income tax.
At Heritage, Rubio defended the credits in more philosophical terms. “One view is the government is entitled to a hundred percent of your money, and we’ll let you know how much of it you can keep. And the other view is, we’re entitled to a hundred percent of our money, but we understand we have to have a government, and we’re going to let you know how much we’re willing to send you,” Rubio said. “That’s the view that I adopt, the latter.”
Expect to hear that argument at a Republican primary debate stage soon.
2:01 PM, Apr 10, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
It appears to be a three-way tie in the Mike Lee presidential primary. At a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington Friday morning, the Republican and first-term senator from Utah spoke glowingly about his “three best friends” in the Senate who are or are preparing to run for president: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. Lee wouldn't say which candidate he preferred, though he seemed particularly laudatory of Rubio.
7:31 AM, Mar 4, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah have returned to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to tout their latest tax reform proposal. The Republicans call their plan both "pro-growth" and "pro-family," and say it addresses inequities in the tax code for businesses and middle-class families.
Here's an excerpt:
3:21 PM, Feb 18, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Republican senators Mike Lee, Ben Sasse, and Rand Paul have all been high profile opponents of the Obama administrations current plan to regulate the internet -- in particular, Lee has called the regulation a government "takeover" of the internet and says it amounts to a "a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on.”
Utah’s Mike Lee is the most important Republican not running for president Feb 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 21 • By MICHAEL WARREN
There’s an old saw in Washington that every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Utah’s Mike Lee doesn’t, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Over the past two years, Lee has been delivering speeches and introducing policy proposals at a pace that far outstrips his tenure and experience. On the whole, it looks like the beginnings of a domestic policy agenda for a future presidential candidate.
5:28 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In one final ignominious act of parliamentary genius, outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid rolled Republican troublemaker Ted Cruz of Texas over the weekend, robbing the GOP of a chance to stop Democrats in the lame-duck session.
The demise of the GOP has been greatly exaggerated. Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Ever since the Democrats were trounced in the midterm elections, they and the media have been trying to figure out how Republicans triumphed so thoroughly. Wasn’t the GOP supposed to be in permanent decline, on the wrong side of history, demography, and the issues? So far the soul searching has been almost nonexistent. National Journal’s Ron Fournier, a weathervane for centrist Beltway journalists, tried to dismiss the GOP’s triumph out of hand: “The Republican Party didn’t win the overall election—not with numbers like that.
10:31 AM, Nov 13, 2014 • By BRIAN BLAKE
As Republican euphoria over the November 4 election begins to subside and more practical considerations emerge, a looming question is whether the various factions within the Republican party will be able to work together. One recent but little-noted change in Senate leadership may have increased the likelihood of success: On September 16, Republican senators elected Senator Mike Lee of Utah as the new chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, the Senate’s conservative caucus. Replacing Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Lee will be given the reins of an organization that
9:32 AM, Apr 7, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Republican senator Mike Lee has an op-ed decrying cronyism. But first, he says, the Republicans must purge the unseemly activity from within its "own ranks."
9:20 AM, Mar 5, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Mike Lee, perhaps the United States Senate’s leading voice for a conservative reform agenda, has now endorsed Ben Sasse in Nebraska’s Senate race. Lee declared, “Nebraskans need Ben Sasse to represent their values, reformers in the Senate need his conservative vote, our country needs his voice.” Lee added that Sasse is “a strong constitutional conservative who understands the proper role of government” and who “also recognizes that we must run and win on the power of our positive ideas.”
11:31 AM, Feb 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Four United States Senators have a written a letter to FBI director James Comey about the indictment of author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza. Senators Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee are the four senators, all Republicans, to have signed the letter.
The letter quotes Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz as saying, "I can't help but think that [D'Souza's] politics have something to do with it. ... It smacks of selective prosecution."
Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By YUVAL LEVIN
Republicans these days are eager to replay the Reagan revolution. It is not hard to see why: In the 1980s, the GOP was the party of ideas, and the vision that Ronald Reagan and his supporters brought to Washington proved immensely popular with voters and profoundly improved American life. But in their effort to repeat Reagan’s particular policies, rather than his more impressive feat of developing policies that applied conservative principles to the problems of his day, today’s Republicans risk becoming detached from the country’s real concerns.
Utah’s freshman senator makes his mark Sep 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 01 • By TERRY EASTLAND
When I asked Mike Lee, the freshman Republican senator from Utah, how he identified himself politically, he said, “A constitutional conservative.” Note the adjective “constitutional.” It’s not surprising that the senator uses it.
Mike Lee takes point against Obamacare. Aug 5, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 44 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
On Wednesday, July 17, Senator Mike Lee strode onto the Senate floor and called for Republicans to defund Obamacare. His case was simple. If the White House is calling for a yearlong delay in the implementation of two key elements of the law—the employer mandate and verification of eligibility for subsidies on health care exchanges—then Congress shouldn’t fund it.