MIAMI (CBS4) - As President Barack Obama campaigned in South Florida on behalf of the so-called Buffett Rule – a plan whereby the wealthiest Americans would be required to pay at least 30 percent in income taxes – Senator Marco Rubio sat down with CBS4 News for an extended interview in which he criticized the proposed law.
"The number one issue for America is we have to grow our economy and create jobs," Rubio told CBS4's Jim DeFede. "Somehow the perception is being created that if your paycheck is a million a year you pay less in taxes. That is not true. What the president is talking about when he talks about the Buffett Rule is investment income. It's not money you make on a weekly or biweekly paycheck, its money you make on investments."
The rule gained its name from billionaire financier Warren Buffett, who famously complained that he paid a lower percentage in taxes than his secretary. Support for the Buffett Rule increased when Mitt Romney released his tax returns showing he paid a tax rate of less than sixteen percent.
Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support raising taxes on the wealthy, but Rubio said the public anger is misplaced.
"There is a reason why we tax investment income less than we do regular income and the reason is because we want people to risk their money in America," he said. "We want people who have money to put their money at risk. We don't want them to put it in a coffee can. We don't want them to send it to another country. We want them to take that money and give it to a business, or use it to start a business, or invest it in existing businesses, so those businesses can grow and hire more people and create jobs.
"I understand the polls, I can read a poll just like Barack Obama can," Rubio continued. "I understand that people look at it and say, `Yeah, how come Warren Buffett pays less than his secretary?' What they need to understand is the reason why he may pay less than his secretary is that she makes her money on a paycheck and he makes his money on investments. We have always wanted Warren Buffett to instead of putting that money in a coffee can, to take his money and invest it because that created jobs."
Asked if the economy was getting better, Rubio was reluctant to acknowledge the signs of improvement.
"I think the way to look at it is the economy is not growing fast enough for us to feel it in the real world," he said. "There are just too many people working twice as hard and earning half as much. And you have way too many people that can not find a job in what they got a degree in. They went to school, they graduated, this is what they want to do with their life, [but] they can't find a job there – so that has to be addressed."
The President will argue that housing prices are stable and starting to come up, consumer spending is up, factory production is up, the stock market is back around 13,000, and the unemployment rate is down.
"The bottom line is all of those had nowhere to go but up," Rubio said. "Now look I'm not discouraged by those things. I think it's good. I'm glad they're not getting worse. I'm glad we're not heading into another recession or, God forbid, into a great depression. I'm happy about that because at the end of the day I love my country more than I love my political party and I certainly want our economy to do well. But the point is its not growing fast enough."
You can see more of Jim DeFede's exclusive interview with Senator Marco Rubio on "News and Views with Eliott Rodriguez" Sunday, April 15 at 11:30 a.m.
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