Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed Sen. Rick Scott's, R-Fla., plan to sunset all federal programs, including Medicare and Social Security, days after President Joe Biden dubbed it the Republican Party's plan at the State of the Union.
McConnell on Thursday said that provisions in Scott's plan could harm his chances of reelection next year in Florida, the state with the highest number of senior citizens in the country. When asked about the provision that would require Social Security and Medicare to be reauthorized every five years, McConnell told longtime Kentucky radio host Terry Meiners that it's "not a Republican plan. That was the Rick Scott plan."
"The Republican plan, as I pointed out last fall, if we were to [become] the majority, there were no plans to raise taxes on half the American people or to sunset Medicare or Social Security," McConnell explained. "So it's clearly the Rick Scott plan. It is not the Republican plan. And that's the view of the speaker of the House as well."
McConnell was referring to a provision in Scott's 12-point plan that would require all Americans to "pay some income tax to have skin in the game." Scott explained that the provision was introduced because approximately half of Americans currently pay no federal income tax. The proposal has since been dropped in a revised version of Scott's plan.
During his State of the Union address, Biden made it a point to criticize Republicans such as Scott and Sens. Mike Lee, Utah, and Ron Johnson, Wis., who have called to slash or even eliminate the programs.
Democrats are using the proposal and statements from Republicans as an attempt to frame the GOP as an extremist party and gain more voters from the senior population.
Johnson aided Democrat's plans on Thursday when he described Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme," eliciting attacks from others in Congress.
McConnell has been distancing himself from Scott's plan since it was released last year, realizing the negative political ramifications it would have for the Republican Party. His comments on Thursday sent a clear message that GOP leadership wants no affiliation with the senator's proposal. Even former President Donald Trump, who is currently the only candidate announced for president, warned his party not to cut Medicare and Social Security.
"I mean, it's just a bad idea," McConnell said of the proposal. "I think it will be a challenge for [Scott] to deal with this in his own reelection in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any state in America."
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Chris Hartline, Scott's former communications director, said that McConnell is mistaken about his predictions.
"Lol. Rick Scott knows how to win Florida a hell of a lot better than Mitch McConnell does," Hartline said in a tweet. "Some DC Republicans can keep parroting Democrat lies, but that won't stop Rick Scott from fighting for conservative principles instead of caving to Biden every day."
Lol. Rick Scott knows how to win Florida a hell of a lot better than Mitch McConnell does.
Some DC Republicans can keep parroting Democrat lies, but that won't stop Rick Scott from fighting for conservative principles instead of caving to Biden every day. https://t.co/UQZkPC2z24
— Chris Hartline (@ChrisHartline) February 10, 2023
Scott has accused McConnell of removing him from the Senate Commerce Committee as revenge for trying to challenge the GOP leader.
"He completely opposed me putting out a plan," Scott said last week in a CNN interview. "I believe that everybody up here — this is not a Republican-Democrat issue — we all ought to be putting out our ideas and fight over ideas up here."
"He didn't like that I opposed him because I believe we have to have ideas — fight over ideas. And so, he took Mike Lee and I off the committee," the former Florida governor said.
Johnson on Thursday stood by his view that Social Security and Medicare should be eliminated as federal entitlement programs and that they should be considered by Congress as annual discretionary spending
"We've got to put everything on-budget so we're forced to prioritize spending," Johnson told WISN-AM in Milwaukee. "That doesn't mean putting it on the chopping block. That doesn't mean cutting Social Security. But it does mean prioritizing."
He also reiterated his long-held view that Social Security is a form of fraud. "It's a legal Ponzi scheme," Johnson said.
"The Extreme MAGA Republican crowd claims Social Security is a Ponzi scheme," tweeted House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. "More evidence they want to destroy it. Dems must stop them."
The Extreme MAGA Republican crowd claims Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.
More evidence they want to destroy it.
Dems must stop them.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) February 10, 2023
Rep Ted Lieu, D-Calif., added that Johnson's use of the term "ponzi scheme" and Scott's proposal was representative of their true colors. "When people show you who they are, believe them," Lieu wrote.
GOP Sen Ron Johnson calls Social Security a "legal Ponzi scheme."
GOP Sen Rick Scott has a plan to eliminate Social Security in 5 years.
GOP Sen Mike Lee wants to pull Social Security "up by the roots, and get rid of it."
When people show you who they are, believe them. https://t.co/RhKXk04FEL
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 10, 2023
about the GOP on Social Security