MIAMI – Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott dropped his proposal requiring low-income Americans to pay at least some federal income tax in his revised agenda for the country, after facing withering criticism from fellow Republicans in Washington, President Joe Biden and Democrats.
In his updated “Rescue America” platform, Scott, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, instead proposed on Thursday that “able-bodied Americans under 60, who do not have young children or incapacitated dependents, should work.”
“We need them pulling the wagon and paying taxes, not sitting at home taking money from the government,” Scott’s revised plan said. “Currently, far too many Americans who can work are living off of the hard work of others, and have no ‘skin in the game’. Government must never again incentivize people to not work by paying them more to stay home.”
Scott’s previous proposal had said: “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.”
At a March news conference, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell knocked down Scott’s idea as he tried to shift the focus of the 2022 midterm elections back to Democrats’ control of Washington.
“Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda,” the Kentucky Republican said. “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.”
Scott’s previous plan, which would have raised taxes on about 40% of Americans, has become a Democratic talking point since it was first unveiled in February.
Democrats noted that forcing all Americans to pay some income tax would mean a tax increase for tens of millions of people. The Americans who don’t pay federal income tax — 75 million households in 2022, about 42% of the total, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center think tank — include both jobless and employed people who don’t earn enough money to have to file tax returns; people who are eligible for refundable tax credits that exceed what they would otherwise owe in income tax; and some retirees, people with disabilities and stay-at-home parents.
“Senator Rick Scott released an Ultra-MAGA Agenda. It could raise taxes on 75 million American families,” Biden said in a tweet last month. “Under this new plan, while big corporations and billionaires would pay nothing more, working-class folks are going to pay a hell of a lot more.”
Asked about raising income taxes, Scott previously told CNN that he wanted a “fair” tax system and tried portraying his proposal as a tax increase on the wealthy, rather than the poor.
“My focus is to make sure that it’s fair,” he said. “I want to make people’s taxes lower, but at the same time, you got billionaires out there that don’t pay income tax.”
Scott also pushed back on McConnell’s remarks. He said he wanted “a conservation about able-bodied Americans who are living off of government programs instead of working” and blamed Democrats for misleading the public about his plan.
Scott’s 11-point plan, which is a range of fiscally conservative and Trumpian proposals, also includes cutting the federal government workforce by 25% in five years and completing a wall on the US-Mexico border and naming it after the former President Donald Trump
The plan was intended to jump-start a policy discussion as the 2022 national political environment favors Republicans and their chances to win back control of both chambers of Congress.