TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An 11-part plan drafted by U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is now under fire from the White House, after facing criticism from other Republican leaders when it was released. Scott’s policy agenda, as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, did not gain support from some of his GOP colleagues.
Criticism of Scott’s tax proposals and sunset idea for federal legislation both target specific features of the “Plan to Rescue America” drafted by the Florida senator in February. Analysis of the plan showed most Americans would end up paying at least 24% higher taxes, if it passed.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the Scott plan at the beginning of March, according to reporting by the Washington Post, telling reporters his own policy plans would not increase taxes on half of all Americans or “sunset[s] Social Security and Medicare within five years.” The Post reports House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also disagreed with Scott’s agenda.
Today, the White House pushed back on Scott’s policy agenda, sending an analysis created by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy which studied how implemented that the senator’s plans would affect everyday Americans.
What’s in Scott’s 11-point plan
Scott’s ideas to “rescue America” include making all federal legislation “sunset” in five years, saying “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”
Among the laws that could face erasure under the sunset policy, to McConnell’s point, Medicaid and Medicare legislation, food stamp, welfare, tax credits for business developers, even the 2017 tax reforms passed under former President Donald Trump. All of those laws, and hundreds of others, could potentially face the axe if Congress is unable to pass the laws a second, third, or fourth time, recurring every five years.
In Scott’s own words, his plan is not aimed at getting support from his Democratic colleagues, nor even some Republicans.
“This plan is not for the faint of heart,” Scott said in a statement accompanying his plan. “It will be ridiculed by the ‘woke’ left, mocked by Washington insiders, and strike fear in the heart of some Republicans.”
Scott’s plan takes aim at big policy changes fighting off American deficit and federal spending. The senator sends a weekly update on America’s inflation problems, and regularly pushes back on what he calls the country’s debt crisis. In his weekly update issued on Feb. 25, just days after publishing his 11-point plan, Scott said President Joe Biden’s leadership was fueling the inflation hurting Americans.
“Under Joe Biden’s failed leadership, America’s poorest families, like mine growing up, are really struggling to make ends meet. They are having to choose between gas and groceries. Shelves are empty. Gas prices are skyrocketing. What has Biden done to fix it?” Scott said. “Biden’s failures at home and abroad have created miserable uncertainty for families in Florida and across America. Our country can’t afford another year of his missteps and failures.”
Additionally, Scott proposes 12-year term limits for U.S. Congress and “government bureaucrats” with possible exceptions for national security reasons, proposes cutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service and its workforce by 50% “immediately” and requires all Americans to pay income tax as a way to make them have “skin in the game.”
Scott’s plan says over half of all Americans currently don’t pay income taxes.
The Rescue America plan explicitly said its policy directives would be used to balance the federal budget, saying states balance their budgets all the time. However, the federal budget is largely funded by taxes.
How Scott’s Rescue America plan would change taxes
Scott’s policy agenda did not clarify how cutting the funding and staff for the IRS would help to implement reductions of debt.
The statement from the White House said Scott’s policies would increase taxes on Americans by 40%, based on the analysis by ITEP and another report written by Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
Under Scott’s plan, Florida would be one of the areas hit hardest by increased taxes. If the Florida senator’s plan passes, his own constituents would see a 40.5% increase in taxes per resident. Florida would have the 11th highest tax increase under Scott’s Rescue America plan. The state least affected would be Washington, with a 24.2% tax increase per person, while the highest would be Mississippi with a 50.1% increase, according to the ITEP analysis.
The Tax Policy Center said Scott’s plan would increase federal income taxes by more than $100 billion in just 2022.
“More than 80% of the tax increase would be paid by households making about $54,000 or less, and 97% would be paid by those making less than about $100,000,” according to TPC.
ITEP’s analysis from March said Scott’s plan would have “the poorest fifth of Americans would pay 34% of the total tax increase under the proposal,” with an average increase of $1,000 per person due to the plan’s proposal of requiring a minimum income tax liability of $1 starting this year.
The change would “wipe out significant benefits that low- and moderate-income Americans” receive from the current structure of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, both of which were expanded by the Biden Administration since he took office.
The ITEP analysis shared by the White House also criticizes Scott’s notion that more than half of the country doesn’t pay taxes.
“It is true that some people do not pay federal personal income tax, although Scott’s claim that ‘over half of Americans’ fall into this category was only true in the unusual pandemic years of 2020 and 2021,” ITEP reported. “Some people do not pay federal income taxes simply because their incomes are very low.”
Additionally, TPC estimated that the lowest-income American households would pay an average of nearly $1,000 more in taxes in 2022, reducing their after-tax incomes by almost 6%. Those low-income households are the ones that make about $27,000 per year before taxes. TPC said families would lose over 20% of their after-tax incomes under Scott’s plan, with the change “slashing” their incomes by $5,000 per year.
According to the ITEP analysis, those making between $24,100 and $45,600 per year would have the biggest share of tax changes. That group, which the analysis labels as the second lowest 20% by income, would see a 53.2% tax hike, while the poorest would have an 80.2% hike instead.
The Americans in the top 20% of the U.S. wealth groupings would be responsible for a total of just 1% of the tax change, for a collective 4.1% of the overall tax hikes. The richest 1% of Americans, and the 4% below them, would see none of the tax changes affect them directly. According to ITEP, Scott’s plan would mainly change incomes for those making $128,000 per year or less.
American incomes are already suffering under inflation. Gas prices are skyrocketing, housing costs are surging, and the cost of groceries and materials continue to climb higher, as the supply chain remains in crisis.
The ITEP and TPC analyses shared by the Biden administration report that Scott’s plan would not put more money in American hands or decrease prices, but make more citizens pay higher taxes and force U.S. Congress to face a legislative fight every five years to preserve long-standing laws and policies. The federal legislature is already polarized, with a battle over passing budgets every year.
It is unclear how Scott’s plan would impact the yearly legislative agenda for any president, or any Congress, regardless of elections or party, if it gets the support he would need to enact it.