Rick Scott Unveils an 11-Point Agenda That Includes Tax Hikes for Millions

Rick Scott Unveils an 11-Point Agenda That Includes Tax Hikes for Millions

Senate Republican leaders have made it clear that they aren’t interested in detailing their plans if they win control of Congress in the midterms elections. Asked last month what his party’s agenda would be, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dodged: “That is a very good question,” he said. “And I'll let you know when we take it back.”

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, apparently has a different view. Scott has released an 11-point, 31-page plan laying out the conservative agenda he’d want to pursue if Republicans win Senate and House majorities this year and the White House in 2024.

The plan is heavy on culture war controversies and traditional right-wing talking points. It starts with the claim that “the militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms – but they want more.” It promises to have kids say the pledge of allegiance and to finish construction of Trump’s border wall — and name it after the ex-president. There’s plenty of fodder for Trump supporters who still falsely claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

But Scott also proposes dramatic cuts to the federal government and calls for cutting the government workforce by 25% in five years. “Many government agencies should be either moved out of Washington or shuttered entirely,” the plan says.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin notes that the plan lacks “any proposal to bring down inflation (which Republicans have been hollering about for months); to increase wages or reduce income inequality; to prepare workers for the 21st-century economy; to provide relief from tariffs (which are essentially taxes); and to increase school performance on basic subjects.”

And the proposed cuts, Rubin writes, “will not be popular with anyone who visits national parks, relies on federal law enforcement, has an issue with Social Security, needs a tax refund or thinks we need a strong national defense.”

Scott pairs his call for smaller government with a call for tax increases on millions of lower-income Americans. “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount,” the plan says. “Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

The proposal, as The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake notes, rekindles the makers-versus-takers divide that led to Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe. “The language of the plan itself effectively acknowledges it’s advocating for an income tax increase on ‘over half of Americans’ — a group of people that is overwhelmingly lower-income. And in fact, the number of Americans to whom this would apply has climbed during the pandemic,” Blake says.

He adds: “The political ads almost write themselves: The leader of the effort to elect a Senate majority wants to use that to raise taxes on as much as half of the country, however modestly. The GOP has for years defined virtually any new tax as a tax increase, and this meets that definition.”

The plan also contrasts with how former President Trump celebrated the idea of not having to pay income taxes and proposed a 0% income tax rate for individuals making $25,000 a year or married couples making up to $50,000. “Trump proudly projected his plan would increase the number of Americans who didn’t pay income tax to 75 million,” Blake says.

The bottom line: “Taken as a whole,” Rubin says, “the agenda reveals that the GOP is not a political party with ideas to improve the lives of Americans. It’s a frightful expression of White grievance and contempt for the intelligence of voters. And it confirms what we have long suspected: Republicans don’t lack an agenda; they’re just shy about revealing how unpopular it is.”