“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.”
The revised proposal references a Republican belief that Congress’ expansion of unemployment benefits in 2020 and 2021 — particularly a federal weekly boost of several hundred dollars — prompted some jobless Americans to avoid returning to work because their unemployment checks were larger than their paychecks had been. Most GOP governors ended at least one of the federal programs early in an attempt to address labor shortages in their states.
Republicans have also long drawn attention to the fact that some people earn too little to pay federal income taxes. Most of them, however, still pay other levies, including sales and payroll taxes.
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.”
“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.”
The President called attention to Scott’s plan in a speech on the economy in mid-May, contrasting it with the Democrats’ proposals to raise taxes on billionaires and corporations and provide more support for working families. Biden also argued that Scott’s plan would put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid “on the chopping block” every five years.
Emilie Simons, a White House spokeswoman, said Thursday that Scott’s latest proposal is “a vague attempt at a clarification,” and chided the senator for saying there had been “confusion” around the original provision.
“If he made a mistake, he should say so rather than saying there was ‘confusion’ and releasing a vague attempt at a clarification,” said Simons. “If he has a new plan, he should put out the specifics of whose taxes would go up and by how much. We would welcome a public debate on the specifics.”
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.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Steve Contorno, Tami Luhby and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.