early and often

Rick Scott Backtracks, But His Plan Is Still Ultra-MAGA Madness

Scott just can’t let go of his demagogic plan. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Back in February, for unclear reasons, National Republican Senate Committee chairman Rick Scott of Florida released an “11 Point Plan to Rescue America.” He claimed he wasn’t trying to associate the NRSC’s candidates with this “agenda,” but at the same time he insisted Republicans needed one, telling Politico, “We ought to have a plan and what we’re trying to get done when we get the majority.” Go figure.

In any event, Scott’s “rescue plan” was hardly a dry policy document. Here’s how I tried to describe it at the time:

Scott claims the “plan” contains 128 “ideas,” which may be accurate if you consider owning the libs and cutting culture-war capers “ideas.” The “plan” is innovative insofar as it marries the very latest in apocalyptic hate-filled MAGA rhetoric with fiscal and social positions from the museum of conservative ideology circa 1964.

While there was plenty of material to alarm sane people in Scott’s document, his Senate boss, Mitch McConnell, noticed two really toxic proposals right off the bat at about the same time delighted Democrats realized the Floridian had given them priceless talking points for the midterms. McConnell denounced them with Scott standing nearby.

“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,” McConnell told reporters. “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.”

The Kentuckian was referring to Scott’s demand that all Americans pay federal income tax to exhibit they had “skin in the game” as well as Scott’s proposal that all federal laws (including Social Security and Medicare) sunset within five years.

The minimum-tax “idea” made it easy for Democrats, including President Biden, to charge Republicans with plotting a tax increase affecting over half the population. Eventually, Scott was pressured by other Republicans into backtracking, though he did so via this highly disingenuous video that pretends he didn’t propose what he proposed:

Yes, Biden erroneously associated Scott’s plan with a specific dollar amount that a conservative think tank had proposed as a minimum tax. But he didn’t invent the basic idea; nor, for that matter, did Scott. The idea of making those people pay income taxes has been a hardy perennial of right-wing demagoguery for ages; it was, for example, the basis of Mitt Romney’s famous 2012 gaffe arguing that non-taxpayers (“the 47 percent”) were going to the polls to vote themselves more government benefits. Scott now claims his minimum-tax “idea” was “poorly worded.” No, it was poorly thought out and impolitic, so he’s completely dropping it in favor of another hoary piece of right-wing demagoguery: a work requirement for any able-bodied person (under 60, of course — Scott is from Florida after all) receiving federal benefits of any sort. He doesn’t explain how it would work, of course, but presumably this means no Medicaid for adults who don’t or can’t find work and their children. Do we really want them showing up in emergency rooms for expensive care when they get sick? Surely the former (though somewhat disreputable) health-care executive Rick Scott knows the answer to that.

In any event, Scott was so worried about the stink of the tax-hike idea that his revised plan has 12 points rather than 11; the new one loudly advertises hatred of all taxes and includes the very dumb idea of making it even harder than it already is to avoid an economy-crushing debt default. But what interests me is the fact that he did not take the time to get rid of some of the other howlers in the original plan while he was at it. The five-year sunset on all federal laws that McConnell considered as bad as the minimum tax is still there. So is the truly stupid idea of a 12-year “term limit” on all federal nonmilitary employment, which would impose costs and inefficiencies nearly as severe as Scott’s other proposal to force the relocations of federal agencies outside Washington. And you’d think a revision would have enabled Scott to clean up the embarrassing conflation of conservative religion and science in the “point” entitled “Gender, Life, Science.” Get this:

Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. We believe in science: Men and women are biologically different, “male and female He created them.” Modern technology has confirmed that abortion takes a human life. Facts are facts, the earth is round, the sun is hot, there are two genders, and abortion stops a beating heart. To say otherwise is to deny science.

Take that, you science-hating pro-choice majority!

I don’t pretend to understand why Scott persists in this madness. Perhaps he’s tired of hearing his successor as Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, described as representing the future of Trumpism. But McConnell is rightly annoyed that the chairman of his conference’s 2022 midterm-campaign arm is peddling this poison for the jollification of MAGA extremists when he doesn’t have to face voters until 2024. Maybe by then Scott will have a 13-point plan that’s been scrubbed by someone with a conscience and a grasp of public opinion.

More on Politics

See All
Rick Scott Backtracks, But His Plan Is Still MAGA Madness