Rubio promises anti-buyback bill 'soon,' but says he still supports free market over socialism

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio lashed out again Wednesday against Wall Street, vowing to present a bill “soon” that will try to push companies to stop spending so much of their cash on share buybacks.

In a tweetstorm that began in late-morning, the former Republican presidential candidate ripped into the culture of shareholder and executive enrichment that goes along with the drive to repurchase shares. His bill, a plan for which was unveiled Tuesday, would change the tax code so that share buybacks and dividends are treated the same way.

While the earlier presentation came from the Small Business Committee, which Rubio chairs, the tweets gave him the opportunity to state his personal views. Rubio’s aggressive approach to disincentivize buybacks puts him in line with prominent Democrats who have vowed to come down on the practice.

“No tax advantage for buybacks over dividends. But we’re going to give permanent preference to investments that will drive the creation of jobs & increase in wages,” he said in one tweet.

In another, he rejected the reasoning corporate heads give for repurchasing shares rather than reinvesting in other parts of the company.

Rubio said he believes in a free market and not socialism, but that current rules have to be changed to ensure that capitalism prevails.

Companies put just over $1 trillion into buybacks in 2018, though stocks still did poorly as the S&P 500 lost more than 6 percent.

The preference for capital and personnel investment isn’t limited to Rubio and the Democrats — the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey for January, released earlier this week, showed the lowest level in its history of those favoring buybacks. Instead, the market pros who responded said they most want companies to reduce debt.

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