Government Watch / Politics

What the Republican Establishment Won’t Admit About Rick Scott’s Plan

AMAC Exclusive-By Shane Harris

When Senator Rick Scott of Florida unveiled his “11-Point Plan to Rescue America” in early March, nearly everyone in the Washington establishment – on both the Left and the Right – immediately dismissed it and derided Scott himself for even releasing it. But what most pundits inside the beltway missed is that, despite a few questionable provisions, the vast majority of Scott’s plan, if reported honestly, will likely resonate with ordinary Americans. At the very least, the plan provides a forward-thinking roadmap for what Republicans could do with their newfound power if they do indeed take back Congress this November.

Soon after its release, Scott’s plan was already notable for doing the impossible in uniting conservatives and progressives against it, as the Left slammed it as too conservative while the Right seemed to believe Republicans shouldn’t put forward an agenda at all. Salon called it “Rick Scott’s loony-tunes 11-point plan,” while the normally friendly National Review called the plan “daft” and slammed Scott himself as a “howling hurler of hooey.” Republicans often haven’t sorted out their legislative priorities before gaining power – a mistake that has led to wasted time and cost the party dearly in recent years, something the reactionary media class and many elected Republicans ignore, and what Scott and GOP voters appear to recognize.

For all their electoral success in Congressional races since 1994 when Newt Gingrich led the GOP back to power for the first time in forty years (thanks in large part to having a specific set of legislative promises), Congressional Republicans haven’t exactly done a stellar job of advancing conservative policies once elected.

To be sure, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a major achievement and paved the way for three years of historic economic success under President Trump, a trend that was only accelerating when the pandemic hit. But infighting and disorganization among Congressional Republicans during the Trump years also sank the effort to repeal Obamacare (the very reason that voters first handed the GOP back control of Congress back in 2010) and stalled work on an infrastructure bill – both of which have now come back to haunt Republicans. During the Bush years, Republicans were similarly mired in internal divides that frustrated much progress on initiatives that might have staved off or at least slowed down the slew of progressive legislation during the Obama years. By contrast, when the GOP did have a real and bold agenda – Newt Gingrich’s famous “Contract with America” – they were able to force a Democratic president to moderate and usher in an era of relative prosperity.

Scott, no doubt aware of this history, appears to understand the need for a set agenda this time around and calls attention to the problem by asserting in a letter introducing the plan, “We must resolve to aim higher than the Republican Congresses that came before us.” While there can and should be some debate over what the specifics of the GOP’s governing plan should be if voters hand back power this November, it’s undeniably true that no one else aside from Scott has stepped up to the plate to even make an attempt at defining what Republicans should actually try and pass.

The plan itself consists of 128 bullet points organized around 11 broad themes. While some of those points are more general statements about what America would look like under Republican leadership – like asserting that “the nuclear family is crucial to civilization” and that “abortion kills human children” – the plan contains a slew of specific policy proposals aimed at turning that vision into reality. As just a few examples among many, Scott’s plan promises to reduce the government workforce by 25% in five years, pass legislation mandating that Congress balance the budget, develop a plan to make the U.S. #1 in the world in math and science by 2030, close the federal Department of Education and send all education money to the states, put term limits on members of Congress, and end training on diversity and Critical Race Theory in the military.

Most of the outrage – from both the Left and the Right – has centered on one bullet point in Scott’s plan, which says that “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.” That’s not exactly true – every American pays income tax, but with the way the system is currently set up, about half of taxpayers have no income tax liability at the end of the year. And admittedly, saying that the poorest 50% of Americans should pay more tax in isolation sounds like a losing strategy for any political party, particularly one that has for decades built an identity around lowering the tax burden.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed defending the plan, Scott says that it is only unsustainable runaway spending that has allowed the current tax system to take root and that “the change we need is to require those who are able-bodied but won’t work to pay a small amount so we’re all in this together.” Scott asserts that “this may be a scary statement in Washington, but in the real world, it’s common sense.”

The wisdom of this specific point is undoubtedly debatable. But that proposal is just one sentence in a 50+ page document, yet it has been used by both the media and establishment politicians in both parties to dismiss the plan entirely, something which seems neither prudent nor productive. While Republicans are understandably reluctant to go anywhere near something that appears to be a tax hike on the poor, that doesn’t mean that the plan itself is of no value.

On every issue that matters to Americans, including many the media won’t cover, Scott has specific plans for how to address it. Moreover, he collects in one place all of the things that Republicans should be talking about heading into the midterms, a sort of first draft of one master document that Republicans can use to send a clear message to voters about what they stand for.

With the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats facing down a cascade of self-inflicted crises and a wave of public disapproval, it can be easy for conservatives and elected Republicans to settle into a comfortable pattern of attacking the Left for their failed policies and incompetent governance. That is indeed a worthy endeavor, one that must be undertaken with vigor, but not at the expense of having a real plan to implement once elected – a plan that the American people should be well aware of when they head to the ballot box. On that, the GOP may do well to follow Scott’s lead.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_


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R Mellor
2 months ago

Agreed Republicans tend to waste their advantage! Hope they understand this going forward !

Edward
2 months ago

When Dems are in power they are (more) unified and aggressively pull our country to the LEFT. When Republicans are in power (not unified) they do nothing to pull the country back to the RIGHT. Consequently the country over time keeps moving further and further LEFT. This is the reason so many Conservatives/Republicans are frustrated. All the reasons, explanations, excuses, etc. don’t matter, this is what is happening.

Mario Capparuccini
2 months ago

The Republican Party needs to go the way of the Whigs and be replaced by a true Conservative party. I mostly vote Republican because the alternative is the party of Satan. Why do the Republicans speak against Senator Rick Scott when he had the courage to articulate a vision? One can disagree with one of his points without lambasting the entire document. Republicans never learn that you cannot beat something with nothing.

Steve
2 months ago

I have zero confidence that the GOP will do anything except continue to be a speed bump for the DCP and the Media, they will continue to be run over at will. This will continue until the established hack leadership of the Party is removed, McConnell, Graham, Cornyn, McCarthy, and probably many others. These corrupted hacks have played a major role in bringing us to where we are today.

Guy
2 months ago

For those old enough to remember the contract with America: No contract; No support.

A trillion is a big number. The U.S. of A. is thirty trillion in debt. Calculate how many years it will take for a clock to tick off one trillion seconds (about 32,500 years).
A trillion is a BIG number!

Lee S McQuillen
2 months ago

Candidates are salesmen – they are selling themselves and their plans. With no future plans proposed, they have nothing to sell. They all need to wake up!

In addition, what’s really wrong with everyone paying some tax, even if it’s only $25 or $50 on a very short form to reduce processing costs.

TIKA
2 months ago

none of his issues matter if we don’t take democrat communism head-on and defeat it. which of “his issues” would you trade for in favor of communism?

Dr. LA
2 months ago

Scott’s updated plan stems from previous proposals, none of which made it very far to address the economic issues facing the USA. But what are the alternatives? A national sales tax (or Value Added Tax if you prefer) would encourage companies and wealthy individuals to simply store their money away and not invest it in goods or infrastructure so they would owe no tax (or perhaps spend it outside of the USA!). A national flat income tax would undoubtedly soon be riddled with “exceptions” and require another army of IRS workers to administer and enforce. Congress has no incentive to reign in inflation and escalating taxation because that fuels their over-budget spending, which is the root of the whole problem. How could so many Americans be duped that the trillions of dollars of “Covid relief” funding is “free money” that will haunt our children for generations?

Jack Thomas
2 months ago
Reply to  Dr. LA

Dr. LA,

There is no such thing as “free money.” That especially applies to Washington D.C. Everything politicians propose has a cost, either obvious at first glance or hidden in federal budget footnotes.
To your point about a “national flat income tax,” you’re absolutely correct. Congress really has no incentive to get control of government overspending which seems the lifeblood of its very existence, rather than focusing on its duty to serve the best interests of American citizens..

Hal
2 months ago

Most Americans are still naive about taxes. Yes, every adult citizen pays Income Tax, Businesses pay taxes, etc ….. but what seems to escape real understanding of citizens is that INFLATION is the way the Federal Government adds to its “taxing.” Ergo, we need a balanced budget amendment applied to our political leaders who, as a group, can’t confine their governing to keeping the government on a responsible spending basis …. and will continue to do so until forced by LAW to provide a balanced budget and adherence to same (and add might some meaningful penalty that forces them to do this). Otherwise, they will continue to spend recklessly hiding behind inflation.

PaulE
2 months ago
Reply to  Hal

Dare to dream. States have a balanced budget amendment and depending on the party in power, it works one of two ways:

1) Under responsible Republicans, what you get is a degree of spending restraint and generally lower taxes.

2) Under typical Democrats, what you get is constant increases in spending on “social issues” followed by regular increases in taxes to pay for it all. Of course the Democrats will say they wish the tax hikes could be avoided, but due to the always pressing need for more spending for critical social needs, it is just unavoidable.

At the federal level, it would work the same. Democrats would just say their hands are tied by the new constitutional amendment that mandates their increased spending by paid for by higher taxes.

What is needed is a spending amendment to restrict governmental spending increases on anything other than national defense. If you look at the national budget each year, what you will find is the budget is littered with thousands of items that honestly could be zeroed out with little consequence.

Robert Belcastro
2 months ago

Does Scott still adhere to enacting gun control?

Robert Messmer
2 months ago

If I remember correctly part of the “Contract With America” was the adoption of term limits. That was the first thing the newly elected Republican congress jettisoned.

Pat R
2 months ago

I’m sure term limits on them was the top objection, but since that wouldn’t look good, they chose the item they knew would get potentially an additional 50% voter approval – tax for all.

Rich
2 months ago

The very thought that Senator Rick Scott actually HAS a PLAN is monumental. Unfortunately many in our government are more concerned with making politically correct statements that won’t offend anyone than telling the truth for the welfare of our country. Also, too many Americans only want to hear what makes them happy, not the truth. Sad to see our moral values so compromised.

DouginFL
2 months ago

Why don’t we just abolish the IRS, come up with a flat rated tax plan, with a minimum income requirement to be taxed. Thus not punishing those who make below an established level of income, while those above the threshold, pay an equal amount based on say a 15% to 18% level for personal income, and establish a corporate income level to be taxed also at a flat rate. If they sell goods in this country, they pay taxes in this country. No more ludicrous tax laws that require a Phd, or tax attorney to circumnavigate. No corporate welfare either. All the rest of Mr Scotts’s ideas can be negotiated, a fiscally responsible government with term limits is not an absurd idea IMHO. Most all of this should be delegated to the states as was the original intention of our founding documents. Governance for and by the people, not the elected reps inside the beltway that are no longer in touch with their constituents.

Robert Belcastro
2 months ago
Reply to  DouginFL

A National Sales Tax is simplest and easiest to administer. Right now, it’s almost a billion $$$ to administer this unwieldly tax structure.

Kevin
2 months ago

Do you need further proof that WE THE PEOPLE are being played? Both parties are against this nation. Time to wake up to that fact. It is NOT a two party system, it is now one big one. Good night Gracie.

John
2 months ago

Well, it’s a great start. You have to have a map to know where you’re going, and the Republicans absolutely must develop and adopt a plan, similar to this one, if they are going to be successful when they regain control of the House and Senate. Do something is the operative phrase.

Lee S McQuillen
2 months ago
Reply to  John

They need a plan such as this one TO REGAIN the House and Senate.

Stephen
2 months ago

I don’t see anything wrong with a proposal stating that able body persons who aren’t willing to work should pay taxes. Get to work if you are physically able. Others can’t afford to carry you

Peter
2 months ago

Flat tax is the answer. Then everyone pays.

Honey
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Actually, The Fair Tax which is on consumption is the answer.

Lawrence Greenberg
2 months ago
Reply to  Honey

Yes and no. Every study I have ever read shows that the poor are hit the hardest by this because they spend a greater portion of their income on necessities. Don’t get me wrong as I agree with your position in general, but I am just adding in a fact which needs to be considered.

Dyana Hilliard
2 months ago

An extremely salient point of this article is that the Republicans, should they gain a majority in the House and Senate in November, should actually DO something this time! They have, again and again, just completely wasted any majority they’ve had in the past. It’s far past time for them to stand up for the constituents who put them in office, and if they cannot do that, they need to go. We all need to quit voting for these losers who do absolutely nothing for us when they get to D.C.

BJ Mcullough
2 months ago
Reply to  Dyana Hilliard

We have too many wimpy, weak people in DC and we need fighters like Jim Jordan, etc. The so called leaders are not leaders but just playing a game. Term limits are a must to get rid of the do nothing Republicans. Ryan was a wimp and in the end he would always cave in to the Dems. We need strong smart leaders willing to fight.

Melinda
2 months ago

While I haven’t read all of Scott’s plan, it sounds like he has some common sense, a rare commodity in politics. And while I’m not sure the very poor should pay taxes, they should at least not get all the “freebies” the government hands out, unless they are willing and able to work at something.

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