Richard Elliott, UMBC:
This election has shown the ugliest sides of the Republican Party. Donald Trump, derided by many as not being a true conservative, has risen to the top of the polls and is likely to take the nomination. Ted Cruz, architect of the 2013 government shutdown, and rookie senator Marco Rubio are running with about equal support. While Marco Rubio is quickly becoming the establishment choice by some standards, his palatable acceptance as the ‘best of the worst’ skews the fact that his stances are extremely right‐wing. My following analysis shows how on just a few hot‐button issues he is, ideologically very separate from the American public. Abortion, foreign policy, capital gains taxation, and Medicare are just some of the hot‐button issues where he departs from the average American’s stance.
Rubio’s opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Even evangelicals Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan supported policies that were more permissive of abortion. Reagan passed the Therapeutic Abortion Bill in 1967 while he was the governor of California to grant the right to abortions for women whose “physical or mental health” was at risk. Gallup polls have indicated that 51% of all Americans want abortion to be legal under some circumstances whereas only 19% of Americans support abortion being made illegal in all circumstances. He has also spoken out against Planned Parenthood and said that the organization incentivizes abortion , despite the fact that access to sex education and contraception has been proven to lower abortion rates.
Rubio has spoken negatively of the Iran deal, wants sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, and even wants to reinstate sanctions against Cuba. He is more than open to the concept of using American troops in Syria to fight ISIS and is also an ardent supporter of Israel. While this is not particularly far from the stances of other Republicans and even Hillary Clinton, his rhetoric towards Russia, China, and Iran is harmful to our country’s foreign policy. He was one of the 47 Republican senators who signed the infamous letter to Iran this past year and, according to a Fox News source, “absolutely wants a permanent troop presence in the Middle East”. The letter sent to Iran by the 47 Republican senators was treasonous and could have potentially undermined relations with Iran. Recent Gallup polls have shown that fewer Americans believe that Russia’s military is a crucial threat to the United States and that 53% of Americans oppose troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Military action in the Middle East is an enormous economic sink and has cost over $2,000,000,000,000 while worsening living conditions for many Iraqis, causing nearly 250,000 casualties amongst Americans and Iraqis , and leading to the rise of ISIS.
Rubio has proposed something no other candidate besides Steve Forbes has ever proposed: removing the tax on capital gains. While other Republicans have proposed tax plans that give cuts to the wealthy, no tax on capital gains is outside of mainstream economic discourse. This is mainly because capital gains taxes are primarily paid for by the wealthy, as the wealthiest 10% of Americans own 81% of stocks. When asked why he would get rid of capital gains taxes in a CNBC interview, he said that removing the current 15% tax on capital gains would raise investments and create new jobs. The capital gains tax is currently expected to bring in around $1.7 trillion over the next decade. In fact, an Atlantic article called “Marco Rubio’s Extreme Tax Plan” states that his tax plan would deliver $1,000,000 in tax breaks to the richest .1% of Americans and cut government spending by $6,800,000,000,000 over the next decade while passing a balanced budget amendment, delaying Medicare and Social Security spending, and raising military spending; a combination that the author likened to “running a marathon while fasting.” In a recent Gallup poll, 52% of the American public also supported wealth redistribution by the government while 62% believed that upper‐income people pay too little in taxes.
On Medicare, Rubio supported Republican Paul Ryan’s plan to transition Medicareinto a voucher system. This position was attacked as “backwards” by DNC spokesman Michael Czin, as it was “soundly rejected by voters in the 2012 election.” Rubio has twice voted for Medicare cuts. According to recent Gallup polls, only 19% of Americans support cutting Medicare benefits without increasing taxes.
While Trump’s main platform includes building a wall along the Mexican border that will supposedly limit illegal immigration and banning Muslim immigration “until things get worked out,” and Cruz’s platform includes creating a balanced budget amendment, removing the corporate tax, and undoing the recent legalization of same‐sex marriage nationwide, their extreme right‐wing stances make Rubio’s far‐right stances appear mainstream. This form of a balance fallacy is a major problem for the upcoming election. Rubio, being viewed as the “establishment candidate” will move public opinion and political discourse even further to the right.