Rick Scott Drops Tax Hike Plan That Drew Bipartisan Backlash

Rick Scott Drops Tax Hike Plan That Drew Bipartisan Backlash

Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida on Thursday revised his proposed agenda for the GOP and ditched language that had called for all Americans to “pay some income tax to have skin in the game.” That proposal, among others in Scott’s plan, drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans and became a regular attack line for President Joe Biden.

Scott’s updated plan now says: “Able bodied Americans under 60, who do not have young children or incapacitated dependents, should work. We need them pulling the wagon and paying taxes, not sitting at home taking money from the government. Currently, far too many Americans who can work are living off of the hard work of others, and have no ‘skin in the game’. Government must never again incentivize people to not work by paying them more to stay home.”

After unveiling his original plan in February, Scott tried to back away from his call for tax increases and clarify that seniors and those who were not “able-bodied” would be excluded from his requirement — though that led to questions about just how the plan would work and how all Americans would have “skin in the game.”

Scott’s updated document now says: “Nothing in this plan has ever, or will ever, advocate or propose, any tax increases, at all” — a claim that appears impossible to reconcile with either the initial language Scott proposed or the revised version.

Scott leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but he issued the plan on his own rather than as a party platform. Many Republicans shied away from the plan or, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did, openly criticized it. “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,” McConnell told reporters in early March. Still, Democrats including Biden have hammered the Scott plan, suggesting, somewhat misleadingly, that it represented the true agenda of congressional Republicans.

“One of the 28 planks in this plan was poorly worded and enabled the establishment from both parties in Washington to twist it into campaign-style attack fodder,” Scott said in a video released Thursday announcing his revised agenda. “What I was trying to say is that every American needs to pull their weight, every able-bodied American who can work should work.”

Scott’s updated plan also calls for making the 2017 Republican tax cuts permanent and for requiring a supermajority of two-thirds of each house of Congress to raise any taxes or fees.

Why it matters: Scott is clearly still eager to position himself as an anti-establishment presidential contender. He may be backing away from the original tax language he used, but his revised plan still provides plenty of fodder for fact-checkers — and political opponents. Perhaps most notably, his call for all federal programs to sunset or be renewed by Congress after five years is still in there, among a host of other controversial — or downright wacky — ideas.