Rick Scott battles Fox host who calls out his false claim about tax plan

Senator’s ‘11 point plan’ has been roundly rejected by Democrats and even Mitch McConnell

John Bowden
Monday 28 March 2022 17:41
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Senator Rick Scott battles Fox News host over tax plan

A Republican senator who is facing blowback from both sides after releasing his “11 point plan” to “rescue America” battled with a Fox News host over the weekend over whether proposed income tax hikes were a “Democratic talking point”.

Sen Rick Scott released the policy proposal in late February; the plan calls for shrinking the federal workforce by one quarter and selling government assets while also hitting on a number of other GOP talking points from critical race theory to voting rights legislation, which it falsely refers to as “institutionalizing dishonesty and fraud” in election systems and generally as an attempt to “rig elections”, playing on Donald Trump’s false claims regarding the 2020 election.

Mr Scott’s plan also plainly calls for income taxes to be hiked on millions of Americans. On a website launched by his office to promote the plan, it reads: “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

That quote in particular was highlighted by Fox News’s John Roberts, temporary host of Fox News Sunday, during an interview with the Florida senator over the weekend.

“That would raise taxes on over half of Americans and potentially sunset programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security,” Mr Roberts told the senator, referring to another part of the plan that says that any federal program would “sunset”, or end, in half a decade unless Congress acts to renew the legislation.

“Why would you propose something like that in an election year?” Roberts continued. Republicans are hoping to retake one or both houses of Congress in the midterm elections later this year.

Both of those provisions are clearly stated in Mr Scott’s plan. However, the Republican senator responded by insisting that Roberts was spreading a “Democratic talking point”.

“Sure, well of course John that’s the Democratic talking point,” said Mr Scott, before an incredulous Roberts interjected.

“No, no! It’s in the plan!” Roberts said, laughing. “It’s in the plan.”

As Mr Scott attempted to shift back to what he called “reality”, Roberts insisted again: “It’s not a ‘Democratic talking point’. It’s in the plan.”

“And also in the plan, it says we ought to every year talk about how we’re going to fix Medicare and Social Security,” Mr Scott said.

The senator went on to insist that “no” senator would be willing to let those programs expire, but were refusing to deal with them politically as the programs approach funding crises. He didn’t address the central issue, however, of his plan forcing such programs to sunset unless the famously-divided and deadlocked Senate could reach a compromise for their reauthorisations.

The Senate has let widely-popular programs sunset after failing to reach compromises before, the most famous recent example being the Violence Against Women Act which expired in 2019 and was not reauthorised until earlier this month.

And despite Mr Scott’s claim that criticism (or direct quotes) of his “11 point plan” constitute “Democratic talking points”, the proposal’s call to raise income taxes on millions of Americans has been denounced by Republicans as well, including most importantly the leader of his caucus, Mitch McConnell.

Mr McConnell publicly tore into the income tax proposal at a press conference in early March while flanked by other members of Republican Senate leadership; Mr Scott, who had attended the press conference as well, ducked away moments before the minority leader criticised his plan.

“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” said the GOP leader on 1 March, before adding: “Let me tell you what will not be on our agenda. We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda.”

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