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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: social security

Top Senate Republican: Slash Social Security Or We'll Wreck US Economy

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the number two Republican in the U.S. Senate, said on Tuesday that the GOP plans to use the debt ceiling as leverage to make cuts to Social Security and other social safety net programs.

"There's a set of solutions there that we really need to take on if we're going to get serious about making these programs sustainable and getting this debt bomb at a manageable level before it's too late," Thune said in an interview with Bloomberg News, adding that raising the retirement age is one of the solutions Republicans want to explore.

Playing politics with the debt ceiling could have disastrous consequences for the American economy, observers say.

If the debt ceiling is reached — which the Treasury Department says will happen some time in 2023 — the United States will be unable to pay bills for spending already authorized by Congress.

"Failure to set the debt ceiling at the level necessary to meet borrowing needs could jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States by preventing the Treasury from paying the government's bills," the House Budget Committee said in an explainer posted to its website.

Yet Republicans are dangling the threat of not raising the debt ceiling in order to make cuts to Social Security, one of the most popular social safety net programs.

The program has near universal support, according to an AARP poll from 2020. Ninety-six percent of voters said Social Security is "either the most important government program or an important one." What's more, voters do not want to see the program cut, with 89 percent telling AARP that "it would be unfair to people who are retired or near retirement to make major changes to Social Security that would affect them."

Republicans have floated multiple ideas for making cuts to the program, including raising the retirement age from 65 to 70 and forcing Congress to reauthorize spending and put the program at risk every year.

It's not the first time Republicans have held the debt ceiling hostage in an effort to extract concessions from Democrats.

In 2011, after the GOP took control of the House, Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling unless then-President Barack Obama agreed to significant spending cuts to the federal budget.

Eventually, Republicans agreed to raise the debt ceiling after Democrats compromised, allowing caps on discretionary spending.

However, the protracted battle led the credit rating agency S&P to downgrade the United States' credit rating to its current AA+ from its earlier AAA rating.

Republicans haven't said how far they're willing to go this time with the debt ceiling.

Thune told Bloomberg, however, that defaulting is "not an option."

Democrats criticized Thune's plan. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota called it "appalling but not surprising."

"Republicans will hold our entire economy hostage in their crusade against Medicare and Social Security," Smith tweeted.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Mike Lee Vowed To 'Get Rid Of' Social Security -- And Now Lies About It

Fox News host Sean Hannity has to know better than to ever start a sentence with what Republicans would never do. They’ve already proven, they’ll do anything, say anything, to get elected. Before Hannity could even form his mouth to allege on his show Tuesday that “not a single Republican” has ever said “they want to take away your Social Security and Medicare and cut it,” a video of Sen. Mike Lee of Utah saying exactly that in his 2010 campaign had already emerged on social media.

“It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said in the video. "People who advise me politically always tell me that's dangerous, and I tell them, in that case, it's not worth my running. That's why I'm doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.”

When The Daily Herald gave Lee the opportunity to clarify the statement, he relied on the ever-popular criminal defense of "I don't recall."

“So I don’t, I don’t recall ever having advocated for dismantling those—that’s sensitive stuff,” Lee told the Utah newspaper. “And I don’t I don’t recall advocating for dismantling them. I vaguely remember a time in 2010 when we were talking about a bunch of things.”

Lee rambled on in an attempt to defend himself, but the more he talked, the more assurance he seemed to give voters that he meant those words uttered more than a decade ago.

Lee claimed he was talking about a “need to end” what he dubbed a “pattern of the federal government occupying space that it wasn’t intended to occupy and spending too much money.”

“Perhaps that was close in time and in proximity to another conversation about Social Security, but I don’t remember ever in any time since I first became a candidate for the Senate ever saying, ‘No, we just have to end Social Security and uproot all the expectations of those who’ve paid into it,’” Lee said. “Quite to the contrary. As far as I can remember, every time I’ve spoken, I’ve said, ‘We do have problems with that,’ in part because, when it was created in the 1930s, it was sold to the American people as something that would be their property, it’s theirs. They have it, it’s just held, like in trust, in an account, by the government, in their name. It would always be their money.”

Lee said a “weird issue” arose when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the 1937 Helvering v. Davis decision that Social Security “was a tax and therefore not private property.”

The decision Lee referenced maintains that Congress has the right to spend in the interest of “general welfare” without violating the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which limits federal authority.

He claimed that his issues with the decision aside, "it’s a commitment that we’ve made to people who’ve paid into the system" and “in the case of those who were retirees” or “within a couple of decades even of retiring, you can’t pull that away.”

Lee conveniently left out of his statement any promise to uphold that commitment for those not quite as near retirement age.

He also advocated for increasing the retirement age. “You can’t create an abrupt adjustment to that without creating a lot of problems, but I’ve established a very slow transition toward increasing the retirement age and having it hover based on life expectancy at the time,” he told The Daily Herald.

Problem is, Lee has already proven to be a liar.

At long last, the 2022 midterms are almost here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Republicans: We'll Force Massive Social Security And Medicare Cuts

Republicans are hoping to use a potential majority in the House of Representatives next year to force massive cuts to the federal budget, especially to safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. To do this, they say they will use must-pass increases to the nation's debt limit as leverage to get what they want, even though similar gambits actually cost the country billions of dollars during President Barack Obama's administration.

The debt limit, the maximum amount the government may legally borrow, is currently at about $31.4 trillion and will likely be reached in 2023. Congress will have to vote to raise, suspend, or eliminate that cap to avoid what economists say would be catastrophic default on obligations.

Aaron Fritschner, communications director and deputy chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, the chair of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, tweeted Tuesday, "House Republicans saying out loud that holding the debt limit hostage to demands for cuts to Social Security and Medicare is a 'top priority.'"

Bloomberg Government reported on Tuesday that Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Jason Smith (R-MO), and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), each a potential chair of the House Budget Committee should the Republicans regain control of the lower chamber in the 2022 midterm elections, said that they hoped to force major spending cuts and would use the upcoming debt-limit deadline to force Democrats to go along.

The report quoted Smith, currently the ranking member of the panel, as saying, "The debt limit is clearly one of those tools that Republicans — that a Republican-controlled Congress — will use to make sure that we do everything we can to make this economy strong."

"Our main focus has got to be on nondiscretionary — it's got to be on entitlements," Carter said. Social Security and Medicare are currently entitlement programs.

Arrington agreed: "Republicans have a list of eligibility reforms, and we don't like the tax increases."

Smucker said he wanted to see "some sort of means-testing potentially" for the programs, which provide retirement income and health insurance to older Americans.

Experts say that cuts to safety net programs would harm millions of citizens and that means-testing could make the programs less effective.

"From an effectiveness standpoint, we have a lot of evidence that more universal programs are better for a host of reasons including for helping very low-income people," Shawn Fremstad, senior policy fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told Vox in October 2021. "It has to do with not being so burdensome, not having so much paperwork to do. There's also a way in which more universal programs are less divisive politically."

Spokespeople for the lawmakers did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

But using the debt limit as a tool fits a recent pattern of Republicans demanding massive budget cuts and railing against rising debt — but only when a Democrat is in the White House.

Since President Joe Biden took office, GOP lawmakers have complained about the national debt — currently about $31 trillion — and blamed Democrats for the entire figure.

But congressional Republicans backed trillions of dollars' worth of new spending under Republican President Donald Trump, along with a large tax cut that was projected to add another roughly $1.9 trillion in debt over a decade.

Increasing the ceiling does not increase spending. As the Treasury Department explains, it merely allows the U.S. government to pay for the "existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past" and to pay the interest on the existing debt.

Under Obama, a group of far-right "tea party" Republicans won House seats on a promise to cut spending. In 2011, they used the threat of a debt default to force Obama and Democrats to accept automatic spending cuts through that year's Budget Control Act.

But even the specter of default rattled credit markets and caused the Standard & Poor's rating agency to downgrade the nation's credit rating.

According to a 2012 report by the nonpartisan General Accountability Office, the impact was costly. It "estimated that delays in raising the debt limit in 2011 led to an increase in Treasury's borrowing costs of about $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. However, this does not account for the multiyear effects on increased costs for Treasury securities that will remain outstanding after fiscal year 2011."

In a September 2021 blog post arguing for the abolishment of the debt ceiling, Josh Bivens, research director for the progressive Economic Policy Institute, noted that it "[h]as been used time and time again to enforce misguided austerity policies" without providing a useful measure of the country's financial situation, pointing out:

[People] tend to miss what was by far the greatest damage done by the 2011 debt ceiling episode: the passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) … The BCA's caps on federal spending explain a large part of why this spending in the aftermath of the Great Recession was the slowest in history following any recession (or at least since the Great Depression). … If this spending had instead followed the normal post-recession path, then a return to pre-recession unemployment rates would've happened 5–6 years before it finally did in 2017.

Seth Hanlon, a senior fellow on the progressive Center for American Progress' tax and budget policy team, told the American Independent Foundation on Tuesday that the same thing could happen again in 2023:

MAGA Republicans have proven willing to do just about everything to gain power and advance their extreme agenda. So it is totally foreseeable that they would attempt to take the country's credit standing as a political hostage in order to go after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Those programs are so vital and so popular that leading House Republicans apparently think they'll only succeed in their goal of gutting them by resorting to such an extreme and dangerous gambit.

The ironic part is that if House Republicans instigate a debt limit crisis like they did in 2011, it would not only risk catastrophic economic damage, but it would likely result in higher interest costs for the federal government — in other words, higher deficits.

Under Trump, Republicans in Congress did not force debt limit showdowns, supporting bipartisan increases and a temporary suspension of the cap.

But under Biden, they have reverted to their old strategies. Even after Moody's Analytics warned in September 2021 that "a default would be a catastrophic blow to the nascent economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic" that might cost 6 million jobs, slash household wealth by $15 trillion, and cause lasting damage to the nation's credit rating, House and Senate Republicans almost unanimously opposed a debt limit increase last December.

House and Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act in August, cutting the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. Every Republican in Congress voted no.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

As Campaign Falters, GOP Senate Nominee Flip-Flops On Social Security

New Hampshire Senate Republican nominee Don Bolduc is trying soften his pitch to voters while still saying he would privatize Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

On Friday, Bolduc — a far-right candidate and retired Army brigadier general — told New Hampshire Today that he is "not promoting privatization," but he does want to replace Social Security and Medicare with programs that are privately run.

"First of all, our seniors have nothing to worry about with me," Bolduc said on Friday. "I want Granite Staters to know that I will invest in a solid Medicare program that puts them in charge of their health care, not the government, and as far as Social Security goes, we are going to put that money back, we are going to give people the money that they put into it."

At an Aug. 2 town hall event in Pembroke, New Hampshire, Bolduc said he backed the end of the social safety net programs that provide health insurance for millions of older and low-income Americans.

"The privatization is hugely important," Bolduc said at the event, according to Politico. "Getting government out of it, getting government money with strings attached out of it."

This echoed previous comments Bolduc made during his unsuccessful 2020 Senate campaign.

At a May 2020 Hillsboro Republican Party meeting, Bolduc said "experts" at the Heritage Foundation — a right-wing think tank that for decades has pushed for privatizing Social Security — had been helping to inform his fiscal policies.

"I've been spending a lot of time on research, and I've been getting a lot of support from the experts at the Heritage Foundation, and I have developed some ideas, and — to go into a plan that will reduce our spending by $10.8 trillion over the next ten years," Bolduc said at the meeting.

He went on to suggest that the United States could reduce the federal deficit by cutting $2 trillion from Social Security, $1.2 trillion from Medicare, and $4 trillion from Medicaid.

At a Republican primary debate in August, Bolduc said he opposes letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices because "anything that the government's involved in is not good and doesn't work, period."

At another GOP debate in September, he again urged the replacement of Social Security with "a different system" for future generations.

But now, as a recent Emerson College-WHDH poll shows him trailing Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in the November general election race, Bolduc's campaign is claiming he has changed his position on privatization.

"Having served 10 tours of combat in Afghanistan, General Bolduc relies on his health care from the VA," spokesperson Jimmy Thompson told Politico. "He knows first-hand how important its services are to veterans, and he believes that every American who is eligible should be able to rely on the benefits they have paid into it, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security."

Thompson said Bolduc now "will oppose any effort to privatize these programs."

Bolduc's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for this story.

Hassan responded to the Politico story on Thursday by noting that 370,000 people in New Hampshire rely on Medicare for their health insurance. In a press release, she said:

Don Bolduc is so extreme that he would end Medicare as we know it and take away care from hundreds of thousands of Granite State seniors. While I have a record of fighting to lower costs for seniors, Don Bolduc has actually said that he would end Social Security and Medicare as we know it. New Hampshire seniors have spent their lives paying into Social Security and Medicare, and Don Bolduc would create immeasurable harm by taking away these critical programs.”

Since winning the GOP nomination, Bolduc has walked back his position on a federal abortion ban and has abandoned the conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election.

Other prominent Republicans have also been caught in recent months endorsing the end of the popular public entitlement programs.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has proposed a "Rescue America" plan which calls for a five-year sunset on every single federal program, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

This means that Congress would need to re-pass each of those programs every five years or they would cease to exist.

Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters said at a June 23 forum hosted by the right-wing advocacy group FreedomWorks, "Maybe we should privatize Social Security, right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it."

And on August 2, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a Wisconsin radio station that Social Security and Medicare should not be mandatory spending.

"What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending, so it's all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt," he said.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

'Self-Serving Millionaire' Johnson Targets Medicare And Social Security

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has suggested that he believes federal programs like Medicare and Social Security should be included in annual budget discussions; an initiative that could ultimately threaten to impact the lives of millions of benefit recipients.

On Tuesday, August 2, the Republican lawmaker made his remarks during an appearance on "The Regular Joe Show." During the discussion, show host Joe Giganti asked Johnson about the PACT Act — which was passed to provide aid for veterans who suffered from exposure to toxic burn pits — as well as the debates surrounding discretionary and mandatory spending.

The Wisconsin lawmaker, who is currently campaigning for a third Senate term, admitted that he seeks to shift the full federal budget toward discretionary spending. The proposed change would include Social Security and Medicare, programs he believes need to be re-evaluated and restructured.

"Defense spending has always been discretionary," Johnson said. "VA spending is discretionary. What's mandatory are things like Social Security and Medicare. If you qualify for the entitlement you just get it no matter what the cost. And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It's on automatic pilot. It never ... you just don't do proper oversight. You don't get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It's just on automatic pilot.

"What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so that it's all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken that are going to be going bankrupt," he said.

Johnson also insisted that "as long as things are on automatic pilot we just continue to pile up debt, mortgage our kids' future, this massive debt burden, combined with this massive deficit spending that sparked this inflation that's wiping out people's wage gains, making it impossible for them to make ends meet. Again, this didn't just happen."

"The fact that you're struggling economically it's because of Democrat governance and Democrat policies in the federal government that is spending way more money than it should and doing things that never was even envisioned by our founding fathers to be doing."

However, Johnson's Democratic election opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), argues otherwise. In a new statement, he pushed back against Johnson's remarks criticizing him for his stance.

“Self-serving, multimillionaire senator Ron Johnson wants to strip working people of the Social Security and Medicare they’ve earned. Wisconsinites pay into Social Security through a lifetime of hard work, and they’re counting on this program and Medicare – but Ron Johnson just doesn't care,” Barnes said in a statement.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also offered her perspective via Twitter. "While [POTUS] and congressional Democrats fight for the Inflation Reduction Act, which would let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, congressional Republicans like @SenRonJohnson want to put Medicare on the chopping block. That would devastate families."

Despite his remarks, Johnson's spokesperson Alexa Henning has also responded to the backlash insisting the Republican lawmaker seeks to keep both programs financially stable.

"The Senator’s point was that without fiscal discipline and oversight typically found with discretionary spending, Congress has allowed the guaranteed benefits for programs like Social Security and Medicare to be threatened," Henning said in a statement.

"This must be addressed by Congress taking its responsibilities seriously to ensure that seniors don’t need to question whether the programs they depend on remain solvent. As he said, we need a process to save these programs and no one is doing anything to save them long-term. We just continue piling up debt, mortgaging our children's future, and putting these programs at risk."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Arizona GOP Senate Candidate Wants To Privatize Social Security

.Arizona Republican Senate candidate Jim Lamon has repeatedly said he wants to save and preserve Social Security. But his own campaign website reveals that he aims to raise the program's eligibility age and to privatize it, leaving millions of Americans to fend for themselves.

In a video message on his website, Lamon claims, "Social Security is headed for a train wreck, for bankruptcy. Politicians who kick the can down the road, we must save Social Security. I intend to be bold in the U.S. Senate to make it happen."

"So we got to get the priorities: national defense, internal security, border control, our law enforcement agencies, those people who can't provide for themselves mentally, physically, and also, of course, Social Security, Medicare," he said in a November radio appearance with Arizona talk show host Jeff Oravits.

But his campaign policy page reveals that his idea of saving Social Security is actually making significant cuts to the program and privatizing it for people who are not yet retired.

After blaming the "deterioration" of the 87-year-old entitlement program on China and abortion, Lamon calls for a series "fundamental systemic improvements."

First, he says, America must "gradually increase the benefits access age" because "47% of people on Social Security are younger than 65; the intent was never to support people still well able to work."

According to the Social Security Administration, workers can access benefits if they are at least 62 years old, disabled, or blind. Dependent family members can also receive benefits in some circumstances. Lamon's plan would force those people to work longer to receive the benefits they are entitled to receive.

A Lamon spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Lamon also calls for "universal savings accounts" that would allow individuals in invest their money in risky retirement funds rather than guaranteed government retirement benefits. He calls this an "option for every worker to enjoy the benefit from investment in the US economy while also creating a tangible, inheritable asset for their children, instead of the government-controlled trust fund model."

That would turn Social Security from a pension program into a government-endorsed 401(K) plan. Under then-President George W. Bush in the early 2000s and again in 2018, Republicans unsuccessfully pushed similar privatization schemes.

Experts say a plan like this would benefit the wealthiest Americans and put millions of future retirees at the mercy of the stock market. Someone who put their Social Security funds into a bad investment could be left with nothing, leading to exactly the sort of poverty for senior citizens that the program was designed to end.

In a 1997 article, Brookings Institution economist Henry Aaron wrote that privatizing Social Security was "a bad idea whose time will never come."

"It is far and away the most important U.S. antipoverty program," Aaron wrote of the existing system. "Privatization is a bad idea because it places risks on individual workers that they should not be expected to shoulder and that Social Security now spreads broadly among all workers. It would create costly and needless administrative burdens."

Polls show little support for what Lamon wants to do.

An August 2020 survey by AARP found that 96% of American adults said Social Security was either the most important program or one of the most important programs the government operates.

Another poll that month, conducted by Data for Progress, found 54% of likely voters ranked "preventing cuts to Social Security benefits" as their most important issue for the 2020 election.

Lamon has also been open about his desire to cut Social Security and other entitlement programs.

In a January appearance on the right-wing Charlie Kirk Show, he said that he would preserve the programs for those who already rely on Social Security and Medicare, but "after that, Charlie, everything's on the table" for cuts. "And I intend to be brutal," he promised.

In a radio interview that month on Tucson radio station KVOI's Inside Track, Lamon endorsed entitlement cuts to balance the federal budget, saying, "'Oh Jim, are you going to take those?' You're damn right, because that's where the money is."

After Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released his party's "Rescue America" plan, which includes letting Social Security and Medicare expire every five years and be subject to reapproval by the Congress, Lamon embraced the package. He joked to supporters in March that it appeared Scott could have plagiarized the plan from his own website, claiming, "Looks awfully familiar!"

While Republicans have long wanted to dismantle Social Security and other government entitlement programs, in 2016 candidate Donald Trump ran on a promise to preserve the programs without cuts.

"Every Republican wants to do a big number of Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid," he said in April 2015, just before kicking off his campaign. "And we can't do that. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years."

"I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid," he reaffirmed in May 2015.

As he did with most of his major campaign promises, Trump abandoned this pledge, vowing in January 2020 that he would make major cuts to the social safety net "toward the end of the year" because he had such a great economy.

Lamon was not only a strong Trump supporter; he also fraudulently pretended to be an elector for Trump in the Electoral College after President Joe Biden won the presidential election in Arizona in 2020.

Lamon has a complicated relationship with government programs. In a March fundraising email, he decried COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation, including the Paycheck Protection Program that provided billions in forgivable loans to businesses, as a "socialist spending binge." But DEPCOM Power, an energy company he founded and ran at the time, took $2.6 million in funds from that very program in May 2020.

Recent polling by RealClearPolitics shows Lamon and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich as front-runners for the GOP nomination for Senate, with venture capitalist Blake Masters close behind.

The winner will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly on Nov. 8.

Kelly has pledged not to dismantle entitlement programs, saying in a 2020 ad, "I've got a message for Arizonans: I will protect Social Security and Medicare. Period."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Even Fox News Is Calling BS On Rick Scott

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), has drawn a great deal of criticism from Democrats for his proposal to raise taxes on half of Americans — specifically, those with lower incomes. But some Republicans are calling Scott out as well, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And Scott got some pushback from Fox News’ John Roberts as well during a March 27 appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

In his 11-point Rescue America Plan, Scott proposes, “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.”

Roberts, not to be confused with the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative chief justice, quoted Scott’s plan directly and told the NRSC chairman, “That would raise taxes on half of Americans and potentially sunset programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Why would you propose something like that in an election year?”

Scott disingenuously responded, “That’s, of course, the Democrat talking points” — and Roberts told him, “No, no, it’s in the plan…. Senator, it’s not a Democratic talking point. It’s in the plan.”

HuffPost’s Josephine Harvey notes that during a recent appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Scott “got away with making false claims” about what’s in his Rescue America Plan. But Roberts clearly had no intention of letting Scott lie about what’s in his own plan.

McConnell recently said of Scott’s Rescue America Plan, “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Details Leaked On GOP Plan To Raise Taxes  On Working Class, Gut Social Security

They’re at it again: Republicans want to raise taxes on poor and working-class Americans, end Social Security and Medicare, jack up pollution and corporate profits, all while continuing to pamper their billionaire donor base.

This time it’s the guy in charge of getting Republican senators elected and re-elected, Florida’s Senator Rick Scott.

You may remember him as the guy who ran the company convicted of the largest Medicare fraud in the history of America, who then took his money and ran for Governor of Florida, where he prevented the state from expanding Medicaid for low-income Floridians for all the years he ran the state.

Now he’s the second-richest guy in the senate and, IMHO, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2024. And, true to form, he’s echoing the sentiments of the richest guy in the Senate, Mitt Romney, the last guy before Trump to have that nomination.

“There are 47 percent who are with him,” Romney said of Obama voters back in 2012, “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. These are people who pay no income tax.”

Low income working people in America generally pay a higher percentage of their income as taxes than do most of our billionaires and multi-multi-millionaires. They pay Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, taxes in the form of fees for everything from a driver’s license to road tolls to annual car inspections.

As Romney pointed out, though, about 47 percent of Americans in 2012 made so little money that, after applying the standard deduction, they paid no income tax.

This doesn’t just reveal how few people pay taxes, though. To the contrary, it reveals how many Americans are living in or on the edge of poverty.

The simple reality is if you want more people to pay income taxes, all you have to do is raise working people’s pay. We saw this in a big way between 1950 and 1980, when Keynesian economics reigned and labor unions helped wages — and the taxes they paid — steadily rise for working people.

But Republicans don’t like the idea of what they call “wage inflation.” They’d rather just squeeze working people harder, while continuing their subsidies of the lifestyles of the morbidly rich “donor class.”

More than half of Americans make so little money from their employment that they can’t deal with an unexpected $1000 expense like a car accident or medical bill. And it’s these very people who Rick Scott and the GOP believe need to be further taxed so they’ll have what Scott calls “skin in the game.”

In the early years of the Reagan administration, before his neoliberal “trickle down” and “supply side” policies started to really bite Americans, only 18 percent of Americans were so poor that their income didn’t qualify to be taxed.

As “Right to Work for Less” laws spread across America and Republicans on the Supreme Court made it harder for unions to function, more and more working people fell below the tax threshold.

Today it takes two working adults to maintain the same lifestyle that one worker could provide in 1980, so an estimated 61 percent of working Americans this year will make so little pay that their income isn’t subject to taxation.

Rick Scott and the GOP’s solution to this situation isn’t to raise the income of working-class people. Quite to the contrary, they’re suggesting that low-income people should be hit with their very own income tax — in addition to the dozens of other taxes they’re already paying — all so multimillionaires and billionaires like Scott and his friends can hope to see their own taxes go down a tiny bit.

Doing his best imitation of Newt Gingrich, Scott has rolled out his 11-point-plan to soak the American middle class, lock down elections, destroy consumer protections, increase pollution and climate change, and squeeze a few more dollars out of every family, no matter how tight their budgets may already be.

Scott calls that “rescuing America.” And it may be true, if you’re morbidly rich and made your money spewing pollution or hustling opioids.

His plan not only calls for a 50 percent cut in the IRS workforce, presumably to end all audits of rich people like Scott, but also demands all federal legislation to “sunset” within five years. That would almost certainly end Social Security and Medicare, programs that have been in the crosshairs of Republicans since Reagan’s day.

Realizing how “raising taxes on 60% of American voters” will play in campaign ads, Mitch McConnell has backed away from Scott’s bizarre proposal. But Fox “News” is all over it, inviting Scott on repeatedly to hawk his plan and prepare the ground for his candidacy. After all, billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and his family need their tax breaks!

As Sean Hannity told Scott during a recent appearance, “I want to applaud you. I'd like to see the House and the Senate come together on these issues, make these promises to the American people, get elected and then fulfill those promises.”

No doubt multi-millionaire Hannity was speaking his own truth. But for the majority of Americans who are so poor they barely have to pay income taxes, Scott’s plan is just the latest in a 40-year barrage of assaults and insults coming from the GOP.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet