Democrats seize on GOP Senator Rick Scott’s plan to tax more Americans
Democrats are slamming Republican Senator Rick Scott in response to his newly unveiled GOP agenda heading into the midterms, warning if Republicans retake control of the Senate, it will lead to tax increases on millions of Americans.
On Tuesday, Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is charged with getting Republicans elected to the Senate, released an 11-point framework to “Rescue America,” amid criticism by Democrats that Republicans would rather blame Democrats but don’t have any real ideas of their own to run on in the 2022 midterm elections.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has not released a public legislative agenda for what his party would do if it retakes control of the chamber in 2022. When asked in January about what the GOP agenda would be, McConnell told reporters, “I’ll let you know when we take it back.”
Scott says he’ll support McConnell again to be the party’s Senate leader, but upon releasing his plan, Scott wrote that “if Republicans return to Washington’s business as usual, if we have no bigger plan than to be a speed bump on the road to America’s collapse, we don’t deserve to govern.”
His plan addresses a number of issues from education to a national voter ID law to immigration, laying out what Republicans will do if they win later this year. Included in the framework are several steps to address the economy and government spending, but one line in particular has come under fire.
“All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount,” the plan states. “Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”
Democrats were quick to seize on the statement.
“Senator Rick Scott explains the Republican plan to raise taxes on more than half of Americans,” tweeted Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “He wants working families and seniors to pay more.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also weighed in, tweeting that Senate Republicans “just released an economic plan that doesn’t include a single proposal to lower prices for the middle class.”
One day after the plan was unveiled, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced it would start running new radio ads highlighting the Scott tax plan. The five-figure ad buy would target voters on streaming radio including Pandora and iHeart radio stations and podcasts.
“We’re making sure voters know the facts about Senate Republicans’ agenda: a tax hike on millions of seniors and over half of all Americans,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director David Bergstein. The ad ends: “if Republicans win, we’ll pay the price.”
Some 61%, or nearly 107 million households did not pay federal income tax in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic slammed the U.S., according to analysis by the Tax Policy Center last year. But the organization anticipated the spike would be temporary and that the share of those not paying federal income taxes would drop to 102 million households — or 57% — in 2021. The study also noted, nearly everyone paid some other taxes, including state and local sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, or state income taxes.
Scott’s plan to have all Americans pay some income tax brings to mind Mitt Romney’s 47% comments, made when he was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
In the leaked recording taken at a fundraiser, Romney argued that 47% of people would vote for President Obama “no matter what” and were dependent on the government. He said they were people who pay no income tax. He went on to state his job is not to worry about them because he would never be able to convince them they should take “personal responsibility.”
President Obama and Democrats hammered Romney for those remarks, pointing out that the 47% included seniors on Social Security, veterans, students and more. The remarks went on to haunt Romney for the rest of his losing presidential bid, and he later expressed regret for them.
The tax stance in Scott’s plan comes as Democrats in leadership are facing mounting challenges heading into the midterms, with the COVID-19 pandemic stretching into a third year and inflation soaring 7.5% in the past year.
In response to Democrats’ derision of the plan, Scott doubled down, claiming their “fake outrage” about the plan “further illustrates just how out of touch they are with the American public.” He tweeted that Americans “want everyone to pay their fair share. Working Americans all pay taxes on their income, and retirees already paid plenty.”
Tony Fabrizio, a pollster for former President Trump, applauded Scott’s “courage for staking out an agenda,” but added he didn’t understand “embracing or saddling the] GOP with a tax increase.”
Even before Scott rolled out his plan, Democrats had been attacking Republicans repeatedly over taxes, ever since Trump and the Republican-led Congress passed their tax cuts in 2017.
According to the Tax Policy Center, higher income households received larger tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income, with the largest cuts going to the top 95th to 99th percentile of incomes. At the same time – the Treasury Department found billions of taxes owed go unpaid by the wealthiest Americans every year.
Democrats have called for a reversal of the Trump tax cuts. They’ve also pushed for more money for the IRS in part to conduct more audits on the wealthiest Americans and corporations.But the Scott plan calls for a different approach to the contentious agency, stating Republicans will “immediately cut the IRS funding and workforce by 50%.”