McConnell Breaks with Rick Scott on Agenda: GOP Won’t Raises Taxes on Half of AmericansMarch 1, 2022
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks on the Senate side of the Capitol to a weekly luncheon with fellow Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC.(KENT NISHIMURA / LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky publicly broke with a member of his own leadership team on Tuesday, saying that if Republicans win the majority in November, his party won’t raise taxes on half of Americans.
At a press conference, McConnell responded to Sen. Rick Scott of Florida’s expansive 11-point plan released last week that outlined his vision of a GOP-led Senate. Critics have specifically taken issue with a section that says “all Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount,” noting that half of Americans currently pay no income taxes.
McConnell’s decision to unequivocally quash elements of Scott’s political agenda highlights the fears some Republicans have over the plan and the potential damage it could do ahead of the midterm elections, especially when the party is expected to make gains. Scott serves as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is tasked with trying to take back the majority this fall. While Scott’s agenda is separate from the NRSC, Democrats have quickly linked Republican candidates and senators to the plan.
Politico reported minutes before the press conference that McConnell privately raised concerns with Scott at Monday night’s leadership meeting. But when asked on Tuesday, McConnell, who has said he’ll run for another term as the head of the Senate GOP caucus, vowed that a future agenda wouldn’t embrace Scott’s ideas on taxes, Medicare and Social Security.
“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell said. “We will not have as a part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”
“That will not be a part of a Republican Senate majority agenda,” he added. “We will focus instead on what the American people are concerned about: inflation, energy, defense, the border and crime.”
Scott regularly attends press conferences after GOP conference lunches. After delivering brief remarks, he walked away as McConnell returned to the lectern to answer reporters’ questions – including one on the Florida senator’s political agenda. As he answered the question, McConnell referenced Scott standing behind him but didn’t realize the Florida senator had left.
In the absence of a plan from Republican leaders, Scott has sought to fill the void with his own blueprint for a GOP takeover of Congress. He’s viewed as someone with higher political ambitions, though he said late last year he has “no plans” to run for president in 2024 and will seek reelection to his Senate seat. And according to Politico, former President Donald Trump recently urged Scott to challenge McConnell for his leadership role.
While the plan includes long-held GOP views on government, federal debt and voter laws, it’s also heavy on culture war issues that have become more central to conservatives and base voters – like critical race theory, gender identity and Trump’s border wall.
“It will be ridiculed by the ‘woke’ left, mocked by Washington insiders, and strike fear in the heart of some Republicans. At least I hope so,” Scott said in a statement on his political website.
Democrats, including the White House, have been eager to highlight some of the more controversial tenets of his plan as a way to boost their midterm prospects and hang onto their narrow majorities. They argue that Scott’s proposal would raise taxes for low-income families, citing a report from Tax Policy Center estimating that the lowest income households “would pay an average of nearly $1,000 more in taxes in 2022.”
“If anyone doubts where the Republican Party stands today, all they have to do is read the bizarre, truly stunning plan released by the junior senator from Florida last week, the head of the Republican campaign committee,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said from the floor Tuesday morning, “which proposed everything from raising taxes on low-income Americans to naming a useless and ineffective border wall after Donald Trump.”