WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Thursday there isn't much point in raising tax rates on the wealthy, because they also have the money to hire people who will help them get out of paying taxes.
"The billionaires and millionaires that are going to be impacted by higher rates, they can afford to hire the best lawyers, lobbyists and accountants in America to figure out how not to pay those higher rates," Rubio told National Journal’s Major Garrett at The Atlantic Washington Ideas Forum. "The people that are going to get stuck by that bill are the small businesses, the partnerships, the S corporations, that cannot hire the lawyers to get them out of it."
President Barack Obama has called for an end to the Bush-era tax cuts for those in higher income brackets. Republicans, meanwhile, say an extension of those tax cuts must be a part of a deal to avoid hitting the so-called "fiscal cliff," when the government will reach its deficit limit and could begin defaulting on its debts. Tax cuts will expire at the end of the year unless Congress votes to extend them.
Rubio said he doesn't have a "religious, spiritual objection," to tax increases, but that he still opposes them for economic reasons. He said the president's proposal would raise only $80 billion per year in new revenue, 7.7 percent of the national deficit -- not enough to make a significant dent in the debt, he argued.
"The question becomes what problem are you solving and are you willing -- are you prepared -- to wipe out some small businesses in exchange for seven and a half percent of deficit reduction potentially?" he said. "I think that's a bad trade off."
As for the fiscal cliff, Rubio said an agreement must be made, likely without broader entitlement reform because there is simply not enough time.
"The sequester was a dumb idea when they came up with it and it's a dumber idea today," he said. "And it was bipartisan dumb. So the people want bipartisanship, there you have it."
CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to reflect that Rubio stated he has no "religious, spiritual objection" to tax increases, not to tax cuts.