Rubio: Obamacare Is ‘Middle Class Tax Increase’

Thursday, 28 Jun 2012 02:05 PM

By Nick Tate

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, said the Supreme Court ruling confirms that Obamacare is essentially a “Middle Class Tax Increase,” and predicted opponents will win new support for repealing the healthcare law.

In an interview with CNBC, Rubio – a potential Mitt Romney running mate on the GOP ticket against President Barack Obama – said the court’s decision to uphold the law could also further stall the nation’s lagging economic recovery and create tax problems for millions of Americans who will be required to have health insurance by 2014.

“First of all, let's be clear. I think it's pretty telling for the Obama administration [that this] is a victory for the middle class tax increase. That's what this is. That's what the Supreme Court has said today,” he said. “It's important to realize what the Supreme Court decides is not whether something's a good idea or not.

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What they decide is whether it's constitutional. And the reason why they say this is constitutional is because this is a tax increase.”

What that means, he said, is that most Americans will now be required to have health insurance – through their employers, government-run programs or buying it on their own – or pay a penalty to the IRS.

“The IRS can come after you and will come after you,” he said. “We have now created an IRS problem for millions of Americans. Anyone who thinks that's good for economic growth is out of their minds.”

Rubio said the court’s ruling is coming at a very difficult time for the nation’s economy.

“We just came out with numbers today, less than 2 percent growth, an anemic economic growth,” he noted. “You watch today the numbers on the market. You watch the economic reaction to that. It will be negative because people do not think this is good news.”

He also said the law, as defined and upheld by the high court, amounts to “a broken promise” by Obama not to raise taxes on the middle class.

“Barack Obama said he would not be raising taxes on the middle class. This is exactly what this is,” he said. “When he told Stephanopoulos on ABC this wasn't a tax increase, he obviously did not know what he was talking about because his lawyers before the Supreme Court argued this was a tax increase, and today the Supreme Court affirmed that.”

Rubio said congressional leaders will now regroup and seek to repeal the law, despite the court’s decision. He added that opponents may gain new allies in Congress, from some Democrats, who may now support the healthcare measure, not that it’s been declared a new tax law.

He said he will “do everything I can to ensure this tax increase doesn't go into effect,” when Congress takes up the healthcare debate again.

“Here's what's going to happen. I hope there are Democrats in the Senate that will say, while they agree with all of us that we do have a health insurance problem in America, they never intended to create an IRS problem for millions of Americans,” he said. “This was never what anyone wanted, I hope. I hope we'll have a chance to redo this thing in the right way, not this way.”

He also predicted the ruling will push healthcare issues to the forefront of the presidential campaign, along with jobs, the economy and tax issues.

“This is going to become a big issue again,” he said. “[I] think the focus is going to be back on it…as it hurts our economy, as it hurts unemployment figures, as it hurts economic growth. You're going to hear more and more about this on the campaign trail. This is one of the main things this election is all about."

In addition, Rubio said he will continue to champion healthcare changes he believes are sensible. Among them, offering consumers more choices, the ability to buy insurance the way employers do, offering tax benefits for insurance and covering high-risk patients with pre-existing conditions.

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“We all want Americans to have more choices in terms of health insurance. I've never denied, I don't think anyone does, that we don't have a health insurance problem in America,” he said. “I don't think you do that by growing the debt, taking choice as way from people, by trying to force states to deficit spend in order to put people on the [Medicaid] rolls, and turning the IRS into a mechanism for health insurance.

“These are things to talk about in a reasonable way, but we don't have to sick the IRS on people in order to do that. That's the fundamental problem.”

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