Rubio gets State of the Union shoutout

President Obama gave a shoutout to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during the State of the Union address Tuesday as he called for enlarging the Earned Income Tax Credit, a popular incentive for the working poor.

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Obama proposed strengthening the credit for single workers, who currently receive much less than workers with children. He cast the tax break as an important weapon in the fight against income inequality, and — in a speech where he often discussed going around Congress — a possible area where the White House could work with Republicans.

In fact, Obama specifically cited Rubio, a top contender for the White House in 2016, who laid out similar ideas during an anti-poverty speech this month.

“Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point,” Obama said about the tax credit.

“Think about that: it helps about half of all parents in America at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Sen. Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, help more Americans get ahead.”

Single workers currently can receive a lump sum of no more than $487 a year from the tax credit, less than one-tenth as much as someone with three or more children.

Other top Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), have spoken positively about the credit in recent weeks, a policy they generally find preferable to an increase in the minimum wage. Ryan, for instance, said this month that the tax preference boosts employment for low-skilled workers.

But Republicans have also worried about fraudulent claims of the income credit and other refundable tax incentives. They allow many taxpayers to not pay federal income tax each year, making up a sizable portion of the 47 percent of people Mitt Romney said were "dependent upon government" during his 2012 campaign for president.

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