Rubio calls for business tax breaks in economic plan pitch

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Story highlights

  • Rubio called for a slashing of the corporate income tax rate and an increase in the child tax credit
  • He also mentioned Hillary Clinton by name numerous times

Detroit (CNN)Marco Rubio on Thursday unveiled his economic plan, focusing on slashing taxes for businesses and increasing child tax credits to build an American economy that he said would be "even grander and richer in opportunity than ever before."

Speaking to the Detroit Economic Club, Rubio laid out his plan in a 25-minute speech in a glowing ballroom at the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit, speaking to a packed room of 300 local public and business leaders. The club has hosted every sitting president since 1960, except President Barack Obama, who addressed it as a senator. The site was abandoned for nearly 20 years until it was revitalized in 2006 by the hotel chain.
The Florida senator used the automobile innovation of Detroit -- "the heart of the old economy," as he put it -- to push for a new economy based on "pro-growth, pro-family tax reform, because currently, it's neither."
    He harped on what he said was a need to lower the corporate income tax rate, a common refrain among other GOP candidates including Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, offering a plan to reduce it from 35% to 25%. For small businesses, he wants to allow every dollar invested in a small company to be expensed as to lower the tax burden for owners.
    Rubio, the son of immigrants, wants to increase the child tax credit from $1,000 a year to $2,500 a year per child.
    The Florida senator, citing the Tax Foundation, said his plan would grow the economy by 15%, grow wages by 12.5% and create almost 2.7 million full-time jobs over 10 years.
    He also mentioned Hillary Clinton by name numerous times, saying she "believes the way to win the race for the future is to drive in reverse, to revert back to more regulations, higher taxes, and bigger government."
    By contrast, Rubio touted himself as a different kind of candidate who embraces the future and wants to modernize the government, calling for limiting Washington's regulatory oversight.
    "This is outrageous, it's unnecessary, and I would stop it by instituting a National Regulatory Budget that limits the costs each agency's rules can impose," he said.
    At the end of the speech, Rubio took a few questions from a moderator, who compiled them from online and written submissions. He was asked his opinion on the strong support in the polls for unconventional candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
    "Four times in the last five elections, the American people have voted for change," Rubio quickly responded. "And the change doesn't happen. So people are upset. They're angry."
    In a direct attack on Trump and his frequent campaign slogan, "Make America great again," the senator added, "Some say we're going to make America great again. America is great. I know we are a great country. How can we even be greater?" He added that he hoped the anger "can motivate us, but we cannot let this anger define us."
    He was also asked if it's difficult to run against his longtime friend and mentor Bush. "I'm not running against Jeb Bush. I'm running for president. I'm not running against any of the other Republicans. I think we are blessed to have so many good people running." Taking a jab at the much smaller Democratic field, he added, "The Democrats are struggling to find one."
    In an organized call by the Democratic National Committee, Brandon Dillon, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, did not mince words in his response to Rubio's proposed plan.
    "I think the most egregious thing about Rubio coming to Michigan is the fact that he has the audacity to do so in Detroit when, if he had had his way, Detroit would have gone bankrupt. Without the auto bailout, this state would be in a depression," Dillon said. "Under Rubio's plan, we would have been left for dead. Rubio and other GOP candidates have a plan that favors the rich over the middle class."