On our latest episode of The Class Room, Brian Tyler Cohen dug into the 2022 Republican agenda that Mitch McConnell desperately wants to hide.
Full transcript below:
When Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, was asked what Republicans would do if they took back the Senate majority, He said, “That is a very good question. And I’ll let you know when we take it back.”
But, we know exactly what Republicans would do in power. Senator Rick Scott released the whole thing online: The 11 Point Plan to Rescue America.
Scott isn’t just any random Senator; he’s the Republican in charge of retaking the Senate.
Mitch McConnell is not happy with Scott releasing his plan.
But, Scott’s plan didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s backed by the Heritage Foundation, the most powerful think tank on the right, which hosted him for a speech rolling out the plan.
We took a deep dive into Scott’s 11 points and found out there is a conservative governing plan: a plan to enrich corporations and the ultra-wealthy at the cost of working people.
And while Mitch McConnell claims that Scott’s proposal isn’t the Republican agenda – we’ve got the receipts. Republicans have been pushing similar dangerous policies for decades.
BREAKDOWN OF PLAN:
There’s a lot in Scott’s plan,
Rick Scott: “We’re going to secure a border we’re going to build the dam all and we do it we’re going to name it after Donald J. Trump… We’re going to stop this racial politics… We need to secure our border…We gotta build our economy, not the government’s economy… Stop borrowing money, stop raising peoples taxes… Like education should be a, it should be a state issue not a federal issue.”
But want to focus on a few points that will most affect America’s working people. Let’s start with sections 6 and 7.
Scott’s plan says “We will drastically simplify the tax code” and “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if it is a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”
So what does that actually mean? A minimum income tax: even for people with little or no income, rather than taxing people at the top income brackets.
So when he says “all Americans should pay” he isn’t targeting the ultrarich and corporations who actually evade taxes, but millions of working people who are struggling to make ends meet.
Scott hasn’t released the numbers of his tax plan, but The Tax Policy Center at The Brookings Institute estimates a plan like this would raise taxes on 50% of American households.: People who make under 27k a year would pay an extra thousand dollars a year—and it would be even worse if they had kids, as much as 5000 dollars a year in extra tax spendings.
All in all 80% of the hike would be shouldered by households making 54k or less, and almost all of it would be paid by people making less than 100k. And because 85% of Americans fall into that category, chances are pretty good that you will be paying more.
This is again part of the long term plan. The brains of the operation, The Heritage Foundation, has long advocated for increasing the number of Americans who are subject to taxation.
Back to Mitch McConnell. He says he doesn’t want to talk about Scott’s agenda, but we know the truth: Scott’s agenda is the party’s agenda and McConnell’s agenda:
Gutting Tax Enforcement Against Billionaires
Back to Scott’s stated plan. This is in part 6: “We will immediately cut the IRS funding and workforce by 50%”
That might sound good: most people have negative associations with the IRS, but it would really be immensely detrimental.
We know how bad it could be because the GOP has already made big cuts to the IRS: they just didn’t do it all at once.
Throughout the 2000s they’ve slowly chipped away at the IRS budget, cutting 2 billion dollars in just ten years.
Does that mean they’re auditing and policing fewer low-income taxpayers? No.
A weaker IRS almost wholly helps corporations and the ultra-wealthy.
Your taxes are likely pretty simple, but the super-rich have complex tax filings that allow for them to find loopholes and get away without paying what they owe. It takes more resources to go after the super-rich who have fancy accountants and lawyers, paid to hide things and litigate over it.
An IRS with fewer resources is going to have to pick its battles, and go for the easier targets.
A ProPublica report shows that as the IRS loses resources, they run audits and investigations on the rich way more than the poor, even though most tax evasion is done by the rich.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that audits on millionaires fell 71% in the past decade.
Meanwhile funding for free tax assistance programs—where low and middle-income Americans get help filing their taxes–is down 7%.
Gutting the IRS means destroying one of the last few resources we have to get the rich to pay their fair share, and transferring the tax burden to lower-income Americans, which doesn’t just mean the destitute: it means you.
Again, this isn’t new or a surprise: In 2016, the Republican Study Caucus — which includes ⅔ of House republicans — called for eliminating the IRS. The same year, Majority Leader McConnell put bills freezing IRS hiring and preventing IRS spending on the Senate calendar. This wasn’t the Rick Scott platform, he was still governor of Florida. It all came from party leadership. Once again, Rick Scott’s plan is Mitch McConnells plan, the party’s plan.
Getting Rid of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (through sunsetting)
Then there’s this: “All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”
Yes, that’s as wild as it sounds: a plan where all federal legislation would expire after 5 years and be completely rewritten
Just one example: sunsetting would destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as we know it; forcing legislators to remake them from scratch. That would hurt a whole lot of people.
Gutting these programs would be absolutely devastating to millions of working people:
Almost 70 million people collect some kind of social security benefit every month, and not just retirees: it’s disability insurance and life insurance. Without Social Security benefits, about 4 in 10 adults aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line,
If the Republicans got rid of Medicare, 64 million Americans over the age of 65 would lose their health insurance. 94% of adults 65 and older with Medicare coverage (94%) report being very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of their medical care.
Over 85 million Americans relied on Medicaid or CHIP for their health insurance in 2021. If the Republicans eliminated this program, millions of children, disabled people and working people would have no health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic.
And that’s not all: the Department of Veterans Affairs, or “VA,” runs the Veterans Health Administration, which millions of our nations vets rely on for their health care. Under the Scott plan, the VA Health system could also see either cuts or continued privatization: handing over the health of our veterans to profit-driven health facilities and insurance companies.
It’s right there in the plan: “Many government agencies should be either moved out of Washington or shuttered entirely.”
Scott is pushing this despite the fact that a few years ago, a study found that wait times for appointments were longer in Private sector health facilities than the wait times for veterans at the VA, and that VA care is generally both higher quality and less expensive for taxpayers than private sector care.
As wild as it sounds for Scott to propose eliminating or privatizing these programs, it’s long been part of conservative dreams to privatize, weaken or destroy all programs which help working people.
Like in 2005, when Senator McConnell rose to support President George W Bush’s social security privatization program called “voluntary personal retirement accounts.”
And in 2018 when he suggested cuts to get the country out of debt: “It’s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular: medicare, social security, Medicare. That’s 70% of what we spend every year… hopefully at some point we’ll get serious about this.“
If the Republicans take congress in 2022, they’ll be able to get serious about it. But there’s an even more pressing issue:
Letting Fossil Fuel CEOs Ruin the Climate
Hidden in the “America First” section is “The weather is always changing. We take climate change seriously, but not hysterically. We will not adopt nutty policies that harm our economy or our jobs” and “America will be energy independent.”
Yeah, who wants ‘nutty’ policies like the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act. It would be ‘nutty’ to have legislation stopping power plants from dumping toxic waste in waterways. Way too nutty.
Scott and his party want to do absolutely nothing to stop the impending climate crisis, and even ramp up oil and fuel production.
We don’t need to tell you how scary it is. You remember the most recent UN report. “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land.” The report found that we only have until 2025 to stop increasing emissions, and only until 2030 to reduce them by at least 43%.
These years are critical moments in protecting the very future of humanity, and Scott’s plan would scuttle whatever last hope we have of survival, all to further enrich a handful of energy billionaires.
Scott proved that’s his goal as governor of Florida: he allegedly banned the phrase “climate change” from all government communications. The Tampa Bay Times reported that, as Governor, Scott had millions of dollars directly invested in the oil and fossil fuel industry.
Scott has already introduced a bill in the Senate called the “FREE American Energy Act” to roll back energy protections: it would give states authority over drilling licenses on federal lands, rescind President Biden’s 2021 climate executive order, and severely inhibit environmental agencies regulatory power.
Once again, this has been their plan, and messaging strategy, all along:
- 2011: “First, let’s increase american energy production by cutting the red tape and opening up areas that the administration has either temporarily blocked, stalled, or closed off to production. And let’s block any new regulations that will drive up production costs for energy, including the administration’s proposed new e.P.A. Regulations on carbon emissions.“
- 2013: “The abundance of coal in America and in Kentucky in particular is a god-given resource, for decades it has powered our factories, transported our goods, and warmed our homes…. 1:04:03 And they come with the right of all Americans to take full advantage of this god given resource to create clean and safe energy… no reason that shouldn’t hold true now. “
Scott’s plan would be a disaster for working people, but a huge boon to the billionaires and big corporations that fund the GOP.
Republicans like Scott know their pro-corporate agenda isn’t popular, so they stoke fear and hatred of immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people to cover up their other intentions.
Scott’s agenda is full of distractions and dog whistles that aim to divide people and stoke these tensions. He proposes criminalizing free speech and protest, banning the teaching or study of certain topics related to race, gender, and sexuality, restricting voting rights, and rolling back abortion rights. For a political party that claims to be all about small government and personal liberty, this platform would expand freedom only for the wealthy and powerful, and bring more dangerous authoritarianism and control for the working class.
But, don’t let the GOP fool you into thinking they don’t have an agenda – they do, it’s just terrible for people like you.
When they tell you what they’re going to do, you should believe them.