Republicans have been working since the day President Biden took office to convince voters they should be given control of the House and Senate, but, for the first time, we got a look at what they’d actually do there.
While Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to answer questions about what the Republican platform might look like (When asked what he would do with control of the Senate last month, he said “I’ll let you know when we take it back”), Senator Rick Scott, the Chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign committee, has released an 11-point “Rescue America” plan outlining exactly what Republicans would do if they retook the Senate.
It’s a truly horrifying document, indicating Republicans would crush civil rights protections for groups like women and members of the LGBTQ community, punish single parents for living outside of the traditional “nuclear family,” fire teachers who don’t comply with conservative orthodoxy, question the legitimacy of any election they don’t win, and treat their political opposition as enemies of the state.
It also says that Republicans are going to raise taxes on middle and working-class families while slashing essential government services. Here are some of Scott’s most jarring statements in this regard, along with our thoughts:
“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.”
There are a small number of uber-wealthy Americans who avoid federal income tax thanks to a series of loopholes that allow them to claim little to no income. If that was who Senator Scott was talking about, we’d be cheering him on.
Unfortunately, Senator Scott seems more focused on a different group. It’s true that, in 2020, over half of households didn’t pay federal income tax, a pretty significant spike from prior years thanks to massive job losses and federal aid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of those extraordinary circumstances, most people who don’t pay any federal income taxes are exempt because they don’t make enough money. These are people who are making just enough, or often not enough, to keep their families afloat. While in 2017 the GOP seemed happy to write a tax bill that gave 83% of the benefits to the top 1%, they now want to raise taxes on everyone else, even those who may live well below the poverty line.
“We will immediately cut the IRS funding and workforce by 50%.”
The IRS has long been a Republican Boogeyman, and the GOP has used every opportunity to underfund it. The result has been a significant decrease in tax enforcement efforts and a reliance on increasingly outdated technology, all of which has only benefited the rich.
Over the next decade, the “tax gap”, money owed to the IRS and not paid, will likely reach $7.5 trillion. Academic estimates say that around 70% of the tax gap comes from the top 1%. This isn’t thanks to clever loopholes or accounting tricks: this is just good old fashioned tax evasion. Auditing the uber-wealthy can be complicated and requires specialized auditors and updated technology, which means the IRS needs MORE funding, not less.
In the end, Senator Scott’s plan is a wink and a nod to his wealthy donors to keep stealing. He offers no specific plans for taxing the rich or corporations, but throws in a few lines about ending tax benefits for single parents and universities that attempt to diversify their student body for good measure. He’s also worked with his Republican colleagues to help block the extension of the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and other benefits that working families rely on.
If Democrats want to stop the horrifying future that Senator Scott lays out in his 11-point plan, they need to deliver on the popular promises they ran on and give tens of millions of working Americans a financial boost. Things like raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich and corporations, and increasing funding for the IRS to stop wealthy tax cheats would go a long way in this regard.
If Democrats control the House, Senate, and White House for two years with nothing to show for it, they’re poised to pay the price in the 2022 midterms. And Senator Scott has laid out exactly how horrible a future with total Republican control on Capitol Hill would be.