U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday to discuss rising cases of COVID-19 in Florida, reopening schools, additional help for small businesses, former Vice President Joe Biden’s economic plan, banning Chinese companies from U.S. capital markets and other matters.
Rubio weighed in on rising COVID-19 case numbers in Florida.
“It’s a very serious situation,” Rubio said. “We’re going to have to deal with this virus for the foreseeable future — as is, by the way, every country in the world… Suffice it to say though, it’s a lot of positive cases, right. And while the vast majority of those people will never even be symptomatic, the more people that are infected, the more people they have a chance of reinfecting or passing it on. As a result, you will eventually reach people that are in a higher risk category, and they’re the ones that will wind up in a hospital, and potentially in an ICU, and potentially dying from the virus. That’s always been the concern, that secondary infection.”
Rubio also tackled reopening schools in Florida.
“I think in many of our counties the answer to that question is yes, we could. In others, I think we’re going to have to take additional measures to be able to reopen schools, and I think we need to be flexible about all sorts of things. It isn’t going to be school the way we’re used to in normal times,” Rubio said.
“The costs of not reopening our schools are extraordinary. In terms of learning loss, in terms of being unable to open the rest of our economy. What is a parent who is being required to go to work supposed to do with a nine-year-old? Leave him at home all day in front of a computer to do school work? It’s just not feasible, not to mention the learning losses. So we’re going to have to figure out a way to do that in the safest way possible. We have to mitigate risk here. As long as we have a virus, we will not have zero cases, and that’s just something we’ll have to accept and work around and try to do the best we can with,” Rubio added.
Rubio, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee, also touched on helping small businesses.
“In terms of whether we need to do more, I don’t have any doubt that we do, particularly for smaller firms. We continue to work on a plan — I think we’re 90 percent of the way there — about how to help truly small businesses under 300 employees…not just for payroll, but for the costs of paying for some of these adaptive technologies that they have to come up with in order to comply with local regulations,” Rubio said.
Rubio took aim at Biden‘s plan which the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee unveiled last week.
“Since the Industrial Revolution, there hasn’t been a great power in the world that hasn’t also been an industrial power. So we have to remain an industrial power, and we have to do what we can to rebuild that,” Rubio said.
“It’s great to see the vice president talk about that, but I think he’s been in public service now for the better part of three decades. Why didn’t he do it during the last 30 years? Why didn’t he push for these things when he was vice president of the United States? I’m glad he’s now joining the chorus, but ultimately if we look at some of the things that President Trump has done, he’s laid the groundwork and continues to lay the groundwork for the reindustrialization of America. And that will include doing some of the things that we have normally been uncomfortable with doing,” Rubio added.
“But the world has changed, the Cold War is over. Some of these relationships we had on trade with some of our Cold War partners need to be reevaluated, and what’s happening with China cannot continue — it’s completely unacceptable. We allow them to cheat and they have used that to become a rival instead of a responsible country,” Rubio added.
Asked about raising taxes on individuals to pay for additional federal relief in response to the pandemic, Rubio offered a response.
“I never view taxes as a way to be punitive or as a way to socially engineer outcomes in the economy. Taxes are about generating revenue for the government, and it should be done number one in a way that is fair, and number two that is conducive to economic growth… I would prefer to invest that money — for that money to be invested to add industrial capacity and innovation, and investing here in the United States on functions that create dignified work for Americans… What I am never going to be in favor of is the notion that we should use the tax code to go after the people who we decide make too much money,” Rubio said.
He also talked about additional economic support.
“The first point is that this is very much like being in a wartime footing. Ultimately, if we don’t help stabilize elements of our economy, it won’t matter what we do moving forward, we won’t be able to pay any of this back. We won’t have an economy to generate revenue. If you destroy the architecture of the economy, or even its foundation in many cases, how are you ever going to get yourself to a place where you can generate revenue?” Rubio asked.
“We are talking about industries that will vanish, that may disappear — certainly small businesses are an example — and will take a decade or more to help rebuild some of these things. I don’t view any of this as a bailout, I view it as simply preserving some of the basic infrastructure of the economy, so that when the time comes to recover we have an economy for us to recover around as opposed to building it up from scratch once again,” Rubio continued.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rubio talked about banning Chinese companies from U.S. capital markets.
“I just believe if you’re listed on a U.S. exchange, you should have the exact same transparency requirements as any other company that’s on there. Because you have investment funds, you have American investors vote directly and across other funds investing the future into these companies with very little transparency on their books. So I just don’t believe that if you’re going to be listed on our exchanges that you should not have to comply with those requirements. And we’re going to keep pushing hard on that. We ‘ve already made some progress with the bill Senator Kennedy got passed,” Rubio said.