Some see Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a business-friendly Republican, as the most viable potential threat in a general election against the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
The one-term senator was a middle-of-the-pack candidate for the first few months of campaign season, but he gained ground after several strong debate performances. He is now seen as the last, best hope for the Republican establishment to beat Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Below are his views on a range of key issues:
'Too Big to Fail'
Marco Rubio said during the fourth Republican primary debate in November that government is behind the rise of "too big to fail" institutions, putting them at an advantage relative to smaller banks.
"Do you know why these banks are so big? The government made them big. The government made them big by adding thousands and thousands of pages of regulations. So the big banks, they have an army of lawyers, they have an army of compliance officers. They can deal with all these things," he said. "The small banks … they can't deal with all these regulations. They can't hire the fanciest law firm in Washington or the best lobbying firm to deal with all these regulations. And so the result is, the big banks get bigger, the small banks struggle to lend or even exist, and the result is what you have today."
Rubio added, erroneously, during the fourth primary debate that the biggest banks "go around bragging" about their designations as systemically important.
"You know what they say to people with a wink and a nod? We are so big, we are so important that if we get in trouble, the government has to bail us out. This is an outrage. We need to repeal Dodd-Frank as soon as possible," he said.
He faced some criticism for the remarks, as MetLife, a major insurer, has sued the government over its designation as a SIFI. Other firms, banks and nonbanks alike, have complained about the additional regulatory burdens placed on them due to their size and status.
Most notably, Rubio vowed to "repeal and replace" the Dodd-Frank Act during the first Republican primary debate in August, the first candidate to raise banking issues during the discussion. He warned about the impact the law has had on small businesses and community banks, suggesting that the number of community banks has fallen 40% since its passage. That's an overstatement — the figure is closer to 18% nationally — though the local industry in Florida has been harder hit.
Rubio has also touted a plan to establish a "national regulatory budget" to help rein in costly regulations, based on legislation he introduced in March 2014. The proposal would require Congress to set a cap on the costs federal regulations can impose on the economy, as well as limits for each executive branch agency. A newly created agency would be tasked with estimating the costs of all existing rules as well as any proposed rules before they could be implemented.
Marco Rubio, who has taken significant campaign donations from financial players like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, has said little about Wall Street's influence on policy.
Though Rubio has not spoken out about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the campaign, he previously backed efforts to change the agency to a five-member board from a single director and subject it to congressional appropriations.
Rubio has not discussed monetary policy or the central bank in detail.
Rubio introduced his tax plan as a Senate bill, co-sponsored with Sen. Mike Lee.
Individual income tax: Would establish three brackets of 15%, 25% and 35%, with the top rate applicable to taxable income over $75,000 for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers. His plan would eliminate all exemptions and deductions other than the charitable contribution deduction and a home mortgage interest deduction.
Capital gains: Tax on capital gains and dividends reduced to zero.
Corporate tax: Top rate of 25%.
Estate tax: Rubio would eliminate the estate tax.
Health Care and Employee Benefits
Like other GOP candidates, Rubio has called for the repeal of the Affordable care Act. He has also said he wants to:
- Make the Medicare Trust Fund permanently solvent.
- Enhance the Medicare Advantage.
- Leave Medicare and Social Security the same for those at or near retirement age.
- Revamp the benefits system for future generations by gradually increasing the retirement age on par with the increase in life expectancy and reducing the growth in benefits for upper-income seniors.
- Transition Medicare to a premium-support system, which would give seniors a generous but fixed amount with which to purchase health coverage, either from Medicare or a private provider.
- Exempt Americans over 65 who wish to keep working from the payroll tax.
- Abolish the retirement earnings test.
- Give all workers the choice over whether or not they join a union.
- Rubio has opposed any increase in the federal minimum wage.
|Top 10 Financial Donors|
|Capital Group Companies||$11,200|
|Apollo Global Management||$10,800|
|Avista Capital Partners||$10,800|
|Clarey Capital Group||$10,800|
|St Christopher Holdings||$10,800|
Source: Center for Responsive Politics. Data as of Sept. 30, 2015