Rick Scott’s Reactionary Plans
by Mike Hersh
Florida Senator Rick Scott is perhaps the leading policy voice in today’s Republican Party. His proposed “Rescue America Plan” outlines detailed policies that would supposedly address our shared national challenges and crises. They do not.
At best, his approaches ignore the underlying causes of the serious problems facing us. Far worse, most of his proposals would exacerbate them. This is chilling because of Scott’s power and influence within his party.
As I will show, Scott’s views are the tenants and intentions of today’s GOP. He’s articulated their agenda, the policies that they will gleefully impose on us should they win the 2024 elections.
Rather than build on progress already made, Scott’s plans boldly outline a far right wing wish list that would block and even roll back progress on all of the challenges we face, dating back several decades, at the very least.
Instead of seeking common ground, Scott seeks to impose highly divisive and unpopular social, economic, and fiscal policies that would attack the basic human and constitutional rights along with the well-being of millions of U.S. residents.
Ignoring the fact that many or most of his proposals have already been tried and have already failed spectacularly—and were therefore repealed and replaced—Scott stubbornly substitutes his own intransigence and ideology for proven effective approaches.
Examining Rick Scott’s world view as well as his character, his veracity (or lack thereof), and his modus operandi is essential to understanding the horrifying implications of his far right wing agenda.
What you’ll discover is that Scott is an inveterate ideologue. He has a visceral distaste for programs in the public interest, especially if they’re proven effective, popular, and essential such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and public education.
When I say Rick Scott has announced that he’s coming for your Medicare and Social Security, as well as for your constitutional rights, I mean it. And so does he.
When you examine his record, you’ll see that he knows how to pillage the public treasury. He has a nasty habit of violating the public trust. He’s doggedly determined to deprive We the Taxpayers of the essential services we need and paid for.
To reiterate, we know this not only from his explicitly stated intentions as outlined in his “Rescue America” Plan. That’s also been his established track record for decades. So, let’s get to the details.
Often reading more like a rant from an extreme right wing radio talk show host (or from your unhinged, bigoted, homophobic relative who listens to right wing radio) than serious policy proposals, Scott’s plans are nonetheless very troubling. Even if we only regarded these radical, destructive proposals as a flotilla of trial balloons, we’d be foolish to dismiss them.
The details of Scott’s “Rescue America” plan clearly and incontrovertibly contains provisions that would place at risk every single federal program through sunsetting provisions, and without doubt eliminate every one that fails to be renewed by act of Congress every five years.
This including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and countless other programs upon which we rely to retire with dignity; uplift people from poverty; protect the environment, consumers, working families, and all of us from tainted food, unsafe products, abuses from employers, and on and on.
All of Scott’s protestations to the contrary are prevarication. We know this, because of his explicit statements and from his long career of actions against the public interest.
Other key provisions of his plans include: blocking and reversing progress on climate. This, by confusing weather with climate (“The weather is always changing”), and dismissing best practices on climate as “nutty policies.”
The plan also attacks equality and basic human rights including voting rights; and misinterprets the Second Amendment to block and overturn common sense, effective, and overwhelmingly popular gun safety policies. Scott also calls for imposing tax hikes on approximately 50% of U.S. residents specifically those least able to afford his new regressive tax hike policies.
Claiming, “Currently, far too many Americans who can work are living off of the hard work of others, and have no ‘skin in the game,’” Scott demands a tax on work, while disingenuously attacking current policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit that actually enable hard-working people to survive despite the long trend of deteriorating earning power for nearly all U.S. residents.
Scott’s plan outlines strict, simplistic, and dangerous radical austerity policies that would risk a costly and disruptive default on the national debt and other fiscal chaos, likely to trigger a world-wide economic catastrophe.
The plan explicitly would: “shrink the federal government, reduce the government work force by 25% in 5 years, sell government buildings and assets” and “Prohibit debt ceiling increases absent a declaration of war.” This would lock the USA into a fiscal strait jacket.
By eliminating ¼ of all federal workers’ jobs, Scott’s meat-ax approach would immediately throw 550,000 people out of work. It would also degrade the quality of life, especially health and safety, for all US residents by weakening or terminating federal government operations including:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration that tests new medicines for safety and efficacy.
- Public water systems that provide safe drinking water based on standards set by the EPA (which Scott also wants to slash).
- The Transportation Security Administration that monitors the 39 billion tons of cargo that are transported annually by passenger and freight carriers.
- The Federal Aviation Administration and the United States’ air traffic control system that keeps air travel safe.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture that enforces standards for food safety through inspection of meat, dairy and food to protect against contamination and disease.
- OSHA that protect America’s workforce by limiting exposure to toxic chemicals and other workplace harm.
- The Department of the Interior that protects our national parks and public lands.
- Agencies that enforce federal laws and regulations to protect U.S. residents from polluted air, water, and land.
- The U.S. Postal Service that prevents mail fraud.
- U.S. Weather Service that provides storm and other warnings.
- The Federal Housing Authority that helps Americans become homeowners.
- Consulates and embassies that help U.S. citizens traveling abroad.
- FEMA that provides support for victims of hurricanes, floods or other disasters.
- The National Park Service that maintains national parks.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that helps to maintain the nation’s ports, harbors and navigation channels.
- The federal agencies that provide 60 percent of all research funding to Universities.
- The Small Business Administration that helps Americans start, grow, and build businesses.
- Veterans Affairs’ facilities that treat millions of Americans each year.
- Customs and Border Patrol agents that protect our borders.
- Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control who research and develop ways to diagnose and treat diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as more specialized agencies like the National Cancer Institute.
- The “Do Not Call” Registry makes it easier for consumers to stop getting telemarketing calls that they don’t want.
Adapted from “50 WAYS GOVERNMENT WORKS FOR US”: https://www.sec.gov/spotlight/sec-employees/psrw50ways.pdf
Under Scott’s vision, the next Republican take over of the federal government would resemble a hostile take over of our entire system, one in which the corporate raiders dismantle it and sell it off for parts. Presumably to further enrich and empower their rich and influential donors.
See: CNN: “26 things Rick Scott’s ‘rescue’ plan for America would do Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, Cillizza, Chris; February 23, 2022: https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/23/politics/rick-scott-rescue-america-plan-gop/index.html
Alarmingly, Scott calls for a blitzkrieg against public education including closing the Department of Education and undermining public schools, while censoring and micromanaging curricula, and imposing unconstitutional mandates including loyalty oaths on public schools and children.
CNN reports that Scott’s plan would also dictate that: “Public schools will teach our children to love America because, while not perfect, it is exceptional, it is good, and it is a beacon of freedom in an often-dark world.” This, while “repeatedly trying to craft a contrast to what Scott calls ‘the woke left’ and ‘wokeness.’”
See: CNN: “GOP senator’s call for all Americans to pay income tax sparks criticism from White House,” Pathe, Simone; February 22, 2022.
Scott’s obsession with trivialities like catch phrases, and his infatuation with failed dysfunctional Dickensian policies over reasonable policy choices are hallmark of his regressive and dangerous vision. So much so that Rick Scott would make an alarmingly cruel Ebenezer Scrooge-like villain.
Scott’s own articulation of his policies reveal they are absolutely reactionary, regressive, and reviled. So much so, that even his fellow Republicans and right wing media have castigated him for saying the quiet part out loud.
None of their criticisms should be taken as repudiation of these policies. Rather, they’ve merely voiced concerns that if voters knew the scope and impact of this anarchical, Ayn Rand inspired approach of taking a meat axe to the public interest, then millions upon millions would never vote to elect Republicans.
Make no mistake: Scott has mapped out the backward course that many if not most Republican elected officials and party leaders seek to impose on the majority of us who disapprove of them. This mainly through stealth, misdirection, and propaganda as opposed to the attacks in plain sight Scott has proposed.
Scott’s plans outline and expose the GOP’s plans for a one-size-fits all, top down, nationwide imposition of several disastrous and dysfunctional policies from Washington D.C. to all corners of the USA.
Many or most of these onerous policies have already been or may soon be enacted by Republican dominated state governments. Again, this includes many failed and unsound policies that we’ve already widely rejected as divisive, hateful, and counterproductive.
Scott has “revised” his plan under fierce criticism from his Republican Senate colleagues and right wing pundits, including FOX News interviewers.
As FOX reported, “Scott released his plan last year as a proposed Republican legislative agenda ahead of the midterm elections. Democrats seized on several of Scott’s proposals, including a blanket statement that ‘all federal legislation sunsets in five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.’”
See: FOX News: “Under attack from Biden, Rick Scott amends ‘Rescue America’ plan to exempt Social Security, Medicare. Rick Scott says he put his position down ‘in black and white’ so anyone can know where he stands,” Pandolfo, Chris; February 17, 2023: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/under-attack-biden-rick-scott-amends-rescue-america-plan-exempt-social-security-medicare
While many of his Republican colleagues quickly distanced themselves from the bold and often overwrought rhetoric Scott features in his plans, he is not by any means an outlier or a fringe back bencher. On the contrary, Scott is perhaps the most clear and outspoken voice in the GOP about his party’s plans.
By choosing him to serve as Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Senate Republicans affirmed their reliance on his leadership in “the fight to restore the GOP Senate majority.”
Despite his shady background in business and in public office, Scott remains one of the most respected and powerful voices in the Republican Party. His statements must be taken seriously as they indicate the intentions of most if not all Republican leaders.
Rick Scott’s Background
Rick Scott has a concerning record, even according to fellow Republicans. Politifact quoted a spokesperson for Republican then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum saying, “Rick Scott oversaw the most massive Medicare fraud scheme in American history.” This refers to the historic Medicare fraud case brought against Columbia HCA while Scott was the CEO of that corporation.
Politifact also reported, “Scott resigned as CEO [of Columbia HCA] in July 1997, less than four months after the inquiry became public and before the depth of the investigation became clear. Company executives said had Scott remained CEO, the entire chain could have been in jeopardy.”
Politifact added, “As part of the 2000 settlement, Columbia/HCA agreed to plead guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies. A corporate felony comes with financial penalties but not jail time, since a corporation can’t be sent to prison. Among the 14 felonies, Columbia/HCA pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
See: Politifact: “Rick Scott and the fraud case of Columbia/HCA,” Sharockman, Aaron;June 11, 2010: https://www.politifact.com/article/2010/jun/11/rick-scott-and-fraud-case-columbiahca/
An opinion article published by The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports, “When the federal investigation of Rick Scott’s former hospital company became public in 1997, the board of Columbia/HCA forced him out. Scott left with $300 million in stock, a $5.1 million severance and a $950,000-per-year consulting contract for five years.”
Adding, “Columbia/HCA gave kickbacks to doctors so they would refer patients. Columbia/HCA made patients look sicker than they were, so Medicare would pay more. Columbia/HCA kept two sets of books.”
See: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Gov. Rick Scott took responsibility? No, he took $300 million,” Schultz, Randy; October 02, 2018: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/fl-op-col-rick-scott-medicare-fraud-20181002-story.html
Scandals continued to plague Scott when he became Governor of Florida, as a quick online search reveals. Most search engine hits relate to the massive Columbia/HCA Medicare scandal under his watch, but there are too many other allegations of serious wrongdoing to discuss in depth.
One noteworthy scandal involved Scott’s alleged retaliation against Gerald Bailey, “the former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [who] asserted he was pushed out after resisting questionable and unethical requests from the Scott administration and the governor’s re-election campaign,” according to an Associated Press report.
The A.P. quoted Republican then-Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi (who served in that office from 2011 to 2019) as saying, “This is ridiculous. We have to have better procedures in place so this type of thing does not happen again.” The report added, “Questions are mounting from fellow Republicans in a state where Scott was once a tea party stalwart.”
See: The Associated Press, “Widening Scandal Surrounding Governor Rick Scott,” February 4, 2015 https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/widening-scandal-surrounding-governor-rick-scott/92463/
For a rundown of other scandals, see: Orlando Weekly: “Rick Scott’s latest round of scandals: A private passenger rail line and a natural gas pipeline create another ethics conundrum,” Manes, Billy; July 29, 2014 https://www.orlandoweekly.com/news/rick-scotts-latest-round-of-scandals-2242589
All of these scandals provide important insights into Rick Scott’s ethical lapses, his plans, and his relentless drive to impose his extreme and ideological will upon the rest of us, by hook or by crook—mainly crook.
Today, the USA is facing a combination of serious challenges as well as existential crises. These include: the climate emergency; the COVID-19 pandemic; lack of basic economic and human rights and necessitates including housing, nutrition, fair wages, a voice in the workplace, transportation, and especially healthcare for millions of us, our families, and people in our communities.
Also, long-term declining standards of living for millions of U.S. residents; persistent and deadly hatred against marginalized people: racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-LGBTQ+ and other pernicious bigotry, as well as other social strife; widespread gun violence, police brutality, corporate misconduct and more.
Rick Scott’s vision is to blame the victims, ignore root causes, deny science and medicine, and leave us all alone and on our own to struggle against vast and powerful multinational special interests. All of this would make our already dreadful problems much worse for all of us as individuals, families, communities, and as a nation.
Ironically, Senator Scott has done all us who care about each other and our nation a favor. This, by exposing the GOP agenda, even if at times only briefly and then quickly dissembling about it.
He’s done us another favor by opening a clear window and showing everyone the easily explained set of extreme, unreasoning, unreasonable, and unpopular policies that the Republicans would quickly impose upon us if they were to regain control of our federal government.
He’s let us know that the GOP would start their hostile takeover by dismantling, dismembering, and selling off our democratic republic for parts, and by subverting the essential mission of whatever depleted wreck was left.
Now that we know without any doubt what the right wing plans to do, the question remains: what do we plan to do about it? I propose repeating all of the gory details about each and every one of the failed, antagonistic, and dysfunctional GOP policies that Scott outlined.
Also, warning everyone we know that the Republican Party is intent on turning back the clock to the 18th Century rather than lead us forward into the 21st Century. We must continually point out the already horrendous impact of these Republican policies we’re already seen in the states where they’ve taken effect.
It’s up to all of us to ensure that every voter understands what every Republican stands for before casting their ballot. Failure to loudly dissent against the dangerous path the GOP usually secretly advocates for would be catastrophic
Luckily, by focusing on these extreme right wing Republican views, we can and must inform the voters to oppose these dark designs before it’s too late. By exposing them and forcing GOP candidates to run on their previously hidden stealth agenda, we should be able to get out the vote.
It’s up to us to sound the alarm and engage voters about the GOP’s stark and heartless agenda. I hope we will never stop putting all of these proposals to a vote in the court of public opinion and eventually at the ballot box in 2024.
The choices couldn’t be more clear to anyone familiar with the Republican strategy. Rick Scott has given us all the information we need. If we engage in persistent and successful efforts to inform voters, we should empower a massive electoral victory.
(Don’t take my word for it, Scott has laid out all the details of his hideous plot to further secure oligarchic control of our country here: rescueamerica.com)