Rick Scott: 'Sunsetting' Medicare And Social Security Will Save Programs
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said Sunday that his party's plan to make Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security expire every five years was the best way to "preserve" the vital entitlement programs.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Scott was asked about his controversial 11-point "Rescue America" plan for a potential 2023 Republican majority in Congress.
"Two of the big points are, 'All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently, over half of Americans pay no income tax,'" host John Roberts pointed out. "It also says: 'All federal legislation sunsets in five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.'"
"So, that would raise taxes on half of Americans and potentially sunset programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security," he continued. "Why would you propose something like that in an election year?"
Scott first dismissed the direct quotes from his proposals as Democratic "talking points."
Then he argued that talking every year "about exactly how we're going to fix Medicare and Social Security" would somehow keep the programs alive.
"No one that I know of wants to sunset Medicare or Social Security, but what we're doing is, we don't even talk about it. Medicare goes bankrupt in four years. Social Security goes bankrupt in 12 years," Scott predicted. "I think we ought to figure out how we preserve those programs. Every program that we care about, we ought to stop and take the time to preserve those programs."
Scott's plan would do the opposite of preserving the safety net. By making every single federal law expire every five years, his idea would likely paralyze virtually the entire federal government.
In recent years, Congress has struggled to agree on even must-pass legislation to continue funding the federal government. Scott and most other Republicans have voted against even paying the federal Treasury Department's existing debts and averting government shutdowns. With a five-year expiration date on every federal law, this would mean that, without a drastic change in his party's behavior, entitlement programs, civil rights laws, and even federal highway programs could simply cease to exist.
Scott's previous record when it comes to protecting Medicare is also questionable. According to PolitiFact, during his tenure running a hospital company called Columbia/HCA, Scott "oversaw the largest Medicare fraud at the time" in U.S. history.
Scott said his plan, which would raise taxes on more than 100 million American families, is a good idea.
"I'll put my record up against anybody on tax cuts. I cut taxes and fees 100 times as governor," Scott said on Sunday. "But here's what's unfair. We have people that don't — that could go to work and have figured out how to have government pay their way. That's not right. They ought to have some skin in the game. I don't care if it's a dollar. We ought to all be in this together."
His proposal to make everyone pay some federal income taxes would punish millions of retirees and low-income working families who make less than $28,000 annually, who already contribute revenue via payroll taxes, gasoline taxes, tobacco taxes, alcohol taxes, and other non-income tax forms of revenue.
And while it may not sound like a lot to charge all Americans $1 in income taxes, the Tax Policy Center notes that this "would effectively repeal refundable individual income tax credits" and could cost the poorest 20% of American families an average of more than $1,000 annually.
As the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Scott is a key member of the GOP leadership and is in charge of its effort to regain a majority in the 2022 midterms.
While many of the Republicans he's working to elect and reelect have been silent on the plan, several have endorsed all or most of it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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