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There is a mixed bag among Republicans when it comes to U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s 11-point Rescue America plan — some openly support it, others demure on saying whether they back it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has flatly said neither part of the Democrats’ claim will be on the GOP agenda.
- Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, himself has said “It’s not the Republican plan. It’s more what I believe in.”
Social Security, Medicare and taxes are among the hair-trigger topics in American politics. Even a hint of trying to modify, change or raise any of the three can ignite a firestorm.
Enter the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which had this to say in a May 2, 2022, news release:
"Wisconsinites are fed up with Republican politicians pushing a disastrous agenda that could raise taxes on almost one in three Wisconsinites and sunset Social Security and Medicare in five years. The Republican agenda would threaten the hard-earned benefits that Wisconsin seniors rely on and hurt working families across the state."
That sounded a tad familiar.
We previously rated Mostly False a claim from Alex Lasry, a Democrat hoping to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, that said Johnson "is supporting the Republican plan that phases out Social Security and Medicare."
The election is still about five months away. Can the campaign already be in reruns?
Let’s look again: Are Republicans pushing a plan "that could raise taxes on almost one in three Wisconsinites and sunset Social Security and Medicare in five years"?
"Rescue America" plan rises again
When asked for backup, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin staffers pointed – as Lasry did – to the "Rescue America" plan, released in February 2022 by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida.
Scott is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. His 11-point plan addresses a range of issues, including education, crime and safety, immigration, government finances and what it labels "fair, fraud free elections" and "Religious liberty/Big tech."
Point number five in the plan – "Economy/Growth" — states: "No government assistance unless you are disabled or aggressively seeking work. If you can work, but refuse to work, you cannot live off of the hard work and sweat of your fellow Americans. 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."
So, that’s where the tax portion of the Democrats’ claim comes from.
A May 13, 2022 CNN report says that — if enacted — that would mean a tax increase for millions of people. According to estimates from the Tax Policy Center think tank, about 75 million American households in 2022, or 42% of the total, did not pay federal income tax. Americans who don’t pay federal taxes include the jobless as well as employed people who don’t earn enough money to file tax returns; and some retirees, people with disabilities and stay-at-home parents.
A state-by-state analysis released March 7, 2022, by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy said it found that in Wisconsin, 32% of residents would see their taxes go up under the proposal.
Meanwhile, as we have noted before, point number six in the plan — "Government Reform and Debt" — states: "All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again."
The proposal does not specifically say Medicare and Social Security would be phased out, but does refer to "federal legislation." And both programs were created generations ago through federal legislation.
So, that’s the Social Security and Medicare piece.
Taken together, the two areas show there’s at least some truth to the claim.
The biggest problem with the claim, however, is not whether the details can be extracted from the plan – it’s whether the document is, as stated, broadly endorsed by Republicans.
For his part, Scott — his position as head of the Senate GOP campaign arm notwithstanding – has said: "It’s not the Republican plan. It’s more what I believe in." He also told The Washington Post that "everybody’s got a different approach. That’s mine."
In an email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said many GOP candidates across the country have declined to explicitly repudiate Scott’s plan.
But that’s different than endorsing it.
As we noted in our March 18, 2022, fact-check of the Lasry claim, there is dissension among Republicans. Notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky opposes key parts of of the plan.
"Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda," McConnell said, according to The Associated Press. "We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half of the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years."
Here’s a sampling of what some GOP senators have said about the plan.
Mike Braun of Indiana: "I’m glad Rick did it. Nothing is going to be perfect" but "we’ve got to be for something."
Marco Rubio of Florida: "I have not seen the plan. I’ve read about it, but I think it’s good that people offer ideas. I’m not sure I agree with all of them. I don’t know all of the details of the plan."
John Cornyn of Texas: "This is not an approach embraced by the entire Republican conference. We’re going to keep our focus on inflation, crime, the border and Afghanistan. And some of these other things are things to think about … after the election is over."
Tommy Tuberville of Alabama: Said he’s "on board" with Scott’s blueprint and said Republicans need to be thinking about "a universal plan that we need to sell to the American people."
Finally, in a news release, Johnson offered praise to Scott for presenting a plan, but stopped short of endorsing it: "I think it’s important for elected officials to tell their constituents what they are for, and I support Senator Scott for doing so."
Johnson has said elsewhere he does not agree with all of what is in the plan, and his staff noted that in the past Johnson has said Social Security and Medicare need to be preserved for future generations.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin said Republican politicians are pushing a plan "that could raise taxes on almost one in three Wisconsinites and sunset Social Security and Medicare in five years."
There is an element of truth to the claim, in that the plan from Scott has those elements. But the claim goes awry by framing it as a plan endorsed by Republicans. Far from it. Scott has said it represents his ideas, not a platform.
And McConnell has explicitly said the two areas the Democrats hammered on will not be part of any GOP agenda.
For a statement that contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, our rating is Mostly False.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin, "Wisconsin seniors blast GOP plan to sunset Medicare and Social Security," May 2, 2022.
Email, Julia Hamelburg, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, May 25, 2022
Florida Politics, "Rick Scott promotes 11-point plan to ‘rescue America’ in national TV spot," Feb. 24, 2022
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, "Rescue America" plan, Feb. 2022
CNN "Fact-checking the Biden vs. Rick Scott argument over Scott’s tax proposal," March 13, 2022
PolitiFact Wisconsin "Ron Johnson has not endorsed plan to phase out of Social Security, Medicare, March 18, 2022.
PolitiFact National "Democratic ad exaggerates GOP embrace and scope of Scott's proposal on Social Security, Medicare," April 6, 2022
Sen. Ron Johnson, "Sen. Johnson: I will continue to expose failures of Democratic governance and the harm it’s causing Wisconsites," March 7, 2022.
Daily Caller, "Sen. Rick Scott Lays Out 11-Point Plan To ‘Rescue America’ Feb. 22, 2022
Washington Post "Republican clash shows the enduring appeal, and dubious benefit, of campaign platforms," March 3, 2022.
Politico "McConnell clashes with Rick Scott over Republican agenda," March 1, 2022
The Small Business Boom Under the Biden-Harris Administration, "State-by-state estimates of congressional Republicans’ middle class minimum tax proposal," April 2022
The Washington Post "Dissecting White House spin that most Republicans want to raise taxes," May 12, 2022
PolitiFact "No proof for Val Demings claim that Marco Rubio backs tax hikes like those indicated in Scott’s plan," March 9, 2022
Daily Caller "Sen. Rick Scott Lays Out 11-Point Plan To ‘Rescue America,’ Feb. 22, 2022
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