The change came after Scott took relentless fire from President Biden, Democrats and even fellow Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 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.
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.
Scott called the attacks “gotcha politics” and insisted his plan to end every federal program after five years did not mean he wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare. Notably, his revised plan did not mention Medicaid or ObamaCare.
But the fact that McConnell had to disavow the plan, and that Scott eventually revised it, shows Republicans recognize how politically vulnerable they can be on the issue of Medicare and Social Security.
And it’s not just Democrats and GOP leaders going on the offensive.
This week, former President Trump attacked new Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley for her previous support of cutting Medicare and Social Security.
Trump has leaned into attacking his current and potential 2024 rivals on entitlements, looking to exploit divisions in the Republican Party over the issue — just as Biden and the Democrats are doing.
Trump’s populist 2016 campaign marked a stark recalibration of historical Republican opposition to the programs, beginning on the very first day of his candidacy in 2015 when he vowed to “save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — without cuts.”
But as president, each of his White House budget proposals included cuts to Social Security and Medicare programs.
There’s a long history of politicians attacking each other over accusations of slashing Medicare (an ad from 2011 accuses Paul Ryan of wanting to throw Grandma off a cliff).
But underpinning the political fights is the fact that Medicare is quickly running out of money. And lawmakers realistically only have three options to fix it: cut benefits, cut payments to industry, or raise taxes.
None of those are going to be politically popular to either party, but decisions will need to be made relatively soon.