The Competing Sides of Marco Rubio’s Mouth


Neo-Marxist Marco, meet Supply-Side Marco. May the worst man win.

Marco Rubio is no stranger to changing worldviews. His current views on immigration cannot be reconciled with those he espoused when he co-sponsored comprehensive immigration reform as part of the Senate’s so-called Gang of Eight. His anti-abortion view today is far harsher than his view of just a few years ago.

When a politician does this, the favorable spin is that his views “evolved.” The negative spin is: “flip-flopper.”

Although the media rightly report “evolving views” and “flip-flops” when they occur, they’re fairly unexceptional. Politicians routinely express views that clash with views they previously held.

But what if a politician expresses conflicting worldviews simultaneously?

That’s much more of a political no-no. The negative spin is that he’s “talking out of both sides of his mouth.” There really isn’t a favorable spin. Perhaps the most charitable one could be is: “Bless his heart. He seems a bit confused.”

Does Marco have a problem on this front? Look closely, and it sure seems so.

When asked at last week’s debate if he supports an increase in the minimum wage, Marco explained that he didn’t because “if you raise the minimum wage you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine.” Put another way, Marco believes that machines will destroy jobs.

Ironically, that view is similar to that of one from the philosopher class Marco so disdains, specifically, Karl Marx. As Marco does, Marx feared the replacement of labor by capital. He believed this would increase the amount of surplus labor, thereby driving down the value of labor and, therefore, wages.

So, what do we call the Marco who espouses this worldview?

The name “Marxist Marco” doesn’t quite fit. Although Marco and Marx feared the same problem, their views on how to solve it differed sharply. Marx believed the solution lay in sharing the surplus generated by the advance of technology more equitably. Marco, by contrast, believes the solution is to keep wages so low that machines won’t replace people.

So, let’s call the Marco who holds the view that machines destroy jobs “neo-Marxist Marco,” who of course speaks from the right side of Marco’s mouth.

You would think that since Marco expressly does not want people to become more expensive than machines, he could not at the same time want machines to become less expensive than people. After all, wanting machines to become less expensive than people would completely contradict not wanting people to become more expensive than machines.

But in thinking that you would be very, very, very wrong.

Meet “Supply-Side Marco,” who of course speaks from the other right side of Marco’s mouth. Supply-Side Marco played an outsized role in drafting Marco’s tax reform proposal, including the part related to purchases of machines.

When business owners decide whether to purchase machines, you see, they take into account the tax benefit of doing so. In other words, it’s the after-tax cost that matters in deciding whether to purchase.

Supply-Side Marco proposes we maximize the tax benefit of buying machines. Historically, our tax policy has been to allow the cost of a machine to be deducted from income gradually over the machine’s useful life. The tax term for that is depreciation. Supply-Side Marco believes that’s wrong. Instead, he believes the entire cost of a machine should be treated as an expense in the year it’s purchased, thereby maximizing the resulting tax benefit.

Thus, Supply-Side Marco wants to drive the after-tax cost of machines as low as possible. In other words, he welcomes machines becoming less expensive than people.

The bottom line? The views of Supply-Side Marco directly contradict those of Neo-Marxist Marco.

Is Marco talking from both sides of his mouth? Let’s be charitable: Poor Marco. Bless his little heart.  He seems a bit confused.



  1. SBED is a good acronym for Rubio (see the last sentence):

    From: Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi

    Rubio storms through his stump speech in Nashua, blasting our outdated infrastructure with perfect timing and waves of soaring rhetoric. We have outdated policies in this country, he says. “We have a retirement system designed in the 1930s. We have an immigration and higher-education system designed in the 1950s. Anti-poverty programs designed in the 1960s. Energy policies designed from the 1970s. Tax policies from the Eighties and Nineties…”

    The punchline is something about needing to burn it all to the ground and remake everything into a new conservative Eden for the 21st century. “An economic renaissance, unlike anything that’s ever happened,” he gushes.

    I raise an eyebrow. Any vet of this process will feel, upon seeing Rubio in person, a disturbance in the campaign-trail force. He checks all the boxes of what the Beltway kingmakers look for in a political marketing phenomenon: young, ethnic, good-looking, capable of working a room like a pro and able to lean hard on an inspirational bio while eschewing policy specifics.

    A bitter Bush recently pegged Rubio as a Republican version of Obama, a comparison neither Rubio nor many Democrats will like, but it has a lot of truth to it. The main difference, apart from the policy inverses, is in tone. 2008 Obama sold tolerance and genial intellectualism, perfect for roping in armchair liberals. Rubio sells a kind of strident, bright-eyed dickishness that in any other year would seem tailor-made for roping in conservatives.

  2. Boy oh boy! I wish I could argue with you about this…but I can’t. I would have never put these two points together as you did, but once you did so, I couldn’t find a flaw in your reasoning. I like Rudio, especially as an alternative to Trump and Carson. I suspect, however, that you are going to make my continued support difficult, aren’t you?

    • He’s probably not alone, Steve. When you’re constantly making stuff up, as most of politicians do, sooner or later you’re going to contradict yourself. But careful with Rubio. He’s been sponsored by a Florida billionaire, Norman Braman, his whole career and is 100% loyal to him. Effectively, Braman is running for President without having to be vetted.

      • I did not know that, Bob. It is true that there is a certain bliss in being ignorant. I need to do some serious research on the candidates. I don’t expect to find a perfect condidate, but it would be nice to find one that didn’t evoke a gag reflex.

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