Under fire, Rick Scott changes plan to exempt Social Security, Medicare from sunsetting
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has amended his 12-point Rescue America plan to say that his proposal to sunset all federal legislation in five years does not apply to Social Security, Medicare or the U.S. Navy.
After taking relentless fire from President Biden, Democrats and even fellow Republicans, Scott has amended Point Six of his plan, which includes the sunset proposal, to make “specific exceptions of Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits, and other essential services.”
“Note to President Biden, Sen. Schumer and Sen. McConnell — As you know, this was never intended to apply to Social Security, Medicare, or the U.S. Navy,” Scott states in bolded language, addressing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
In an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Examiner, Scott said Democratic leaders and McConnell played “gotcha politics” with his plan.
“I have never supported cutting Social Security or Medicare, ever. To say otherwise is a disingenuous Democrat lie from a very confused president. And [McConnell] is also well aware of that. It’s shallow gotcha politics, which is what Washington does,” Scott wrote.
“Everyone outside of Washington perfectly understood what my plan was trying to accomplish, but that hasn’t stopped Washington politicians from doing what they do best — lying to you every chance they get. So, since the folks up here are clearly too confused and disingenuous to get it, I’ll put it down in black and white so they can read it, or have someone read it to them,” he added.
Biden targeted Scott’s plan at his State of the Union address when he claimed, “some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years,” drawing boos and jeers from GOP lawmakers in the House chamber.
Scott doubled down on his proposal to sunset all federal programs, insisting in a statement the day after Biden’s speech: “This is clearly and obviously an idea aimed at dealing with all the crazy new laws our Congress has been passing of late.”
McConnell then on Tuesday disavowed that Senate Republicans would support cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of negotiations to raise the debt limit — or any time.
“It continues to come up. The president was talking about it in the State of the Union,” he told reporters. “So let me say it one more time: There is no agenda on the part of Senate Republicans to revisit Medicare or Social Security. Period.”
McConnell and his allies blamed Scott’s plan, which he unveiled last year as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for muddling the party’s message in the midterm elections.
McConnell and Scott traded blows over who was to blame for the GOP’s disappointing election performance during a leadership race in which Scott challenged McConnell for the top job.
Scott argued his party leadership failed to lay out a clear agenda and that hurt GOP candidates.
In his Friday op-ed, Scott accused the GOP establishment in Washington of being complicit in letting the federal government amass a huge debt.
“One more inconvenient truth: Washington Republicans are as responsible for the massive increase in our national debt as Joe Biden and the Democrats. Too many Republicans have caved to the Democrats too many times, and the result is a $32 trillion bill that’s about to come due,” he wrote.
The White House and Senate Democrats insisted on Friday that Scott’s statement does not close the door on the possibility that Republicans will still push for Medicare and Social Security cuts.
“For the past year he has explained the absence of an exception by saying, ‘If it’s worth keeping, we’re going to keep it.’ But make no mistake, his true colors are undeniable and on the record,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates.
Nora Keefe, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said “nothing Rick Scott says today can hide Republicans’ efforts to attack these vital programs.”
Scott argued in his Washington Examiner op-ed that “Medicare and Social Security are on the verge of insolvency while inflation is skyrocketing” and predicted that Biden will call for major tax increases to shore up those programs.
He said the president’s “ultimate plan” includes “massive tax increases to fund his liberal wish list” and “new Medicare and Social Security taxes.”
Biden said at his State of the Union address that he will offer a fiscal plan next month to cut $2 trillion from the deficit.
This story was updated at 2:59 p.m.
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