Political Check-Up: Marco Rubio

Florida Senator Marco Rubio calls himself a true conservative and a fiscal hawk. What would his policies mean for you if he wins the presidential election?

A few weeks ago, Florida Senator Marco Rubio seemed to be in good position in the GOP race for the nomination. But then the recently departed (from the race) Chris Christie handed Rubio his Dean Scream moment. Christie called Rubio to task for being a little too robotic in his messaging regarding current President Barack Obama, and Rubio has since stumbled over his words multiple times on the campaign trail.

But Rubio has been resilient throughout the campaign, lingering around third for most of the race thus far and seemingly posing the biggest threat to front-runner Donald Trump among more moderate Republicans. If he did secure the nomination and go on to win the presidency, what potential impact would President Rubio have on your finances and your role as a physician?

Economic Reform—and a Very Specific, If Hopeful, Plan

It’s no surprise that limited government is a central tenet of Rubio’s position on the economy. Rubio has been a big supporter of balanced budget initiatives. Unlike some candidates who prefer to keep things vague, Rubio has a detailed economic and tax reform plan you can read here. The Cliff’s Notes version is that he would push hard for tax reform, regulatory reform, and entitlement reform (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid).

The tax reform plan calls for a 25% across-the-board corporate tax. For individuals, his plan proposes a system of just two tax brackets of 15% and 35%, down from the current seven brackets. His plan would eliminate most tax deductions. The idea is to simplify the tax code and stimulate growth through taxes aimed more at consumption than earnings—thus potentially encouraging saving and investing. Rubio has been less specific about how his plan would make up the several trillion dollars in tax revenue that would be removed under the reform. Rubio and his supporters have released projections showing that his proposal would lead to economic growth and ultimately add jobs and grow the economy. But those are the stated goals of every economic plan, and the experts are split on whether this view through the rainbow-colored glasses would have any chance of becoming reality.

Rubio’s plan on reducing Social Security and Medicare is less drastic than some of his GOP contemporaries. He would like to maintain the programs for current recipients but slowly phase them out for future generations.

Healthcare: Repeal and Roll Back

Like most Republicans, Rubio has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rubio’s main issue with the ACA, besides the general party line that it increases the role of government, is that it potentially limits access to physicians and insurance plans and puts a strain on the economy at large--and, in particular, small businesses. His proposed changes take the form of refundable tax credits that would be used to purchase health insurance; and reformed insurance regulations to lower costs, encourage innovation, and protect the vulnerable.

Those are interesting ideas, but cutting costs while expanding access has proven a difficult challenge for every politician who has tried to tackle the US healthcare system. For the moment, they remain more core concepts than a specific action plan, although Rubio has provided some detail around how he would invigorate Medicare. Rubio is staunchly pro-life, even in cases in which conception resulted from rape, or in cases in which the mother’s life could be in danger.

Image (cropped) by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons License.