Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Friday changed his proposal to “sunset” federal laws every five years after Democrats and Republicans repeatedly pointed out that it could jeopardize popular programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Scott’s “Rescue America” plan now says that all federal legislation would sunset every five years “with specific exceptions of Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits, and other essential services.” It previously included no such exceptions.
“The very idea the senator from Florida wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years I find to be somewhat outrageous,” President Joe Biden said in Florida last week, continuing months of relentless criticism of Scott’s proposal.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also tore into Scott’s plan, calling it a “bad idea” that wasn’t supported by other Republicans. The GOP leader suggested it could give Scott trouble with his own reelection campaign in Florida, a state with many retirees who rely on Social Security and Medicare.
The document now includes a note to Biden and McConnell saying they should have somehow known the original proposal “was never intended to apply to Social Security, Medicare, or the US Navy.”
Republicans had hinted they would seek changes to the popular retirement benefits in their showdown with Biden over the federal budget this year, but new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other GOP lawmakers have since said they wouldn’t touch the programs.
Scott rolled out his plan one year ago this month — not as a legislative proposal, but as an apparent campaign document amid speculation that he might launch a 2024 presidential bid. He served at the time as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, but stressed that the plan did not reflect the position of anyone but himself.
The Florida Republican has since stepped down from the campaign committee post. He also was removed from the Senate Commerce Committee after a failed bid to replace McConnell as Senate minority leader.
This week’s revision is not the first time Scott has edited his “Rescue America” document, which, when it first came out, was an 11-point plan. It’s now a 12-point plan.
One of the original points said all Americans “should pay some income tax.” Since half of American households don’t make enough money to owe federal taxes, Scott was essentially calling for a tax hike on tens of millions of poor and low-income working families.
Scott deleted the poor tax plan within a few months, replacing it with a call for all able-bodied adults to work and not receive welfare. As he has now done with regard to Social Security and Medicare, he insisted all along that the tax plan didn’t say what it said.
Scott announced in January he is running for reelection in Florida and doesn’t intend to run for the White House in 2024.