Sen. Scott’s Agenda is the Republican Agenda: Offensive and Unpopular
When Sen. Rick Scott of Florida released his 11-point plan to “rescue America,” he must have known it would be a political lightning rod. The plan may be the very reason Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been alarmingly evasive when questioned about the Republican agenda should his party regain control of the Senate after this year’s midterm elections.
While Sen. McConnell and many other members of the Republican caucus would like to keep the spotlight squarely on what they perceive as Democratic weaknesses, releasing an agenda of their own to be scrutinized creates a choice — a choice Republicans are trying to obscure.
Democratic policy priorities poll well above 60 percent in many cases. Conversely, the last time Republicans controlled the Senate, they failed in their broadly unpopular Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal attempt, passed unpopular tax cuts heavily favoring the wealthiest Americans, and pushed through two historically unpopular Supreme Court justices, one just days before the 2020 election that President Trump lost.
Yet, despite evidence of unpopularity at every turn, to Sen. Scott’s credit, he released his 11-point plan arguing, “Americans deserve to know what [Republicans] will do when given the chance to govern.” Among the exaltation of unpopular policies was the following statement:
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.
Steve Wamhoff, federal policy director at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, highlighted in a blog post why this revival of the “takers” mythology is deeply flawed. In ignoring the federal payroll taxes that all working people pay, and the many regressive state and local taxes including sales taxes and property taxes that affect nearly everyone at all income levels, Sen. Scott perpetuates the misunderstanding that large numbers of Americans pay nothing. Aside from being incorrect and offensive, it is absurdly hypocritical.
Sen. Scott claims to want everyone to have some skin in the game. At the same time, he is against a minimum tax requiring uber-profitable corporations (and indirectly, their wealthy shareholders) to support the public investments that make their profits possible.
The logic, or lack thereof, becomes especially tortured when considering the frequency with which Sen. Scott laments the recent inflation numbers, calling inflation “a vicious tax on working families that eats income.” Can someone “taxed” by inflation also have no skin in the game? Apparently, Sen. Scott thinks so.
Perhaps the saddest irony of them all is the lengths Sen. Scott goes to portray himself as a man of the people, citing his modest upbringing in recurring statements. Earlier in February, he offered, “Our poorest families, like mine growing up, are having to make the tough choice between buying gas and groceries.” Back in December, he shared, “I watched my mom struggle with rising prices when I was growing up and I know just how hard inflation can be on a family when every penny counts.” Yet, when these poorest families are making these tough choices and when every penny counts, Sen. Scott audaciously proposes a tax increase for these very families.
How much skin do you need, Sen. Scott?
It’s galling to see a senator propose a minimum tax for those who do not receive enough in wages to pay federal income taxes but oppose a minimum tax for the most profitable corporations in the country. It is politically obtuse to argue that the poorest families for whom every penny counts lack skin in the game and should be required to pay more taxes. It is no wonder Sen. McConnell is trying to keep the Republican agenda a secret. They don’t just want skin in the game. They want a pound of flesh. And this is, as has always been, deeply unpopular.