Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, introduced the “11-Point Plan to Rescue America” earlier in March. The plan is a detailed agenda that illustrates what Republicans will do if they recapture control of Congress in November.
The plan has been controversial. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Minority leader, has expressed his public opposition — while Democrats have seized on some of its specific proposals, including a call for everyone in the country, even the very poor, to pay federal income taxes.
Also controversial has been the plan’s approach to Social Security. While the program is only mentioned briefly, Scott’s document says it would “force Congress to issue a report every year telling the public what they plan to do when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.” In addition, the plan calls for “no government assistance unless you are disabled or aggressively seeking work.” It also calls for all legislation to sunset after five years, requiring Congress to pass laws again if they are considered to be worth keeping.
“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,” McConnell said last week. “That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda.”
A few days after defending the Social Security language in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Scott appeared Sunday on Fox News Sunday. According to a transcript, host John Roberts asked how Scott could make such proposals in an election year, and Scott answered that those were “Democrat talking points.”
“No one that I know of wants to sunset Medicare or Social Security, but what we're doing is we don't even talk about it. Medicare goes bankrupt in four years. Social Security goes bankrupt in 12 years,” Scott said, referencing last year’s Social Security Trustees report, which had the main trust fund running out a year earlier than previously projected.
“I think we ought to figure out how we preserve those programs. Every program that we care about, we ought to stop and take the time to preserve those programs.”
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), who authored Social Security reform legislation called Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust legislation, wrote a letter to the Journal last week opposing Scott’s proposal and pushing his own.
“The urgency to act on Social Security is clear,” the Congressman wrote. "The elderly are not only the most susceptible to this pandemic; since they are on fixed incomes, they are also the most susceptible to inflation. They need help and they need it now. It has been more than 50 years since Congress enhanced Social Security benefits and 39 years since it strengthened the program.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.