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Rick Scott complains 'rich have gotten richer' after backing huge tax cuts for the wealthy

The Florida Republican senator, whose estimated net worth is $200 billion, also falsely accused Democrats of cutting funds for the Medicare program he is trying to sunset.

By Josh Israel - January 27, 2023
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Rick Scott
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 26, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) complained Thursday that “the rich have gotten richer” over the past 20 years as the federal debt has increased. Appearing on Fox News, Scott falsely claimed that Democrats do not want to help American families.

But Scott himself backed a massive tax cut for wealthy Americans that added more than $1 trillion to the national debt. And he has pushed a controversial plan that could end Medicare and other safety net programs entirely.

Fox News host Harris Faulkner asked Scott about recent claims by Peter Navarro, a Fox Business host and director of the National Economic Council under former President Donald Trump, that Democrats are lying about the national debt.

“They are not going to be honest with the American public. I mean, they like all the spending,” Scott replied. “As we’ve run up this debt over the last, especially over the last 20 years, guess what? The rich have gotten richer, right? Wall Street’s done really well. The D.C. bureaucrats are doing really well. That’s who’s making money off this and that’s who’s pushing this.”

After Faulkner suggested that Democrats do not care about “the middle class and seniors,” Scott charged, “They cut Medicare! Just what, four months ago, they cut $280 billion out of Medicare. And they want to say we want to cut it? No, I’m gonna fight like hell to make sure we preserve Medicare and Social Security because we can, we should, we owe it to our seniors, but gotta do it by living within our means.”

Scott then tweeted out video of his appearance on Fox News, writing: “Wall Street is making $ Washington establishment is making $ and who is hurting… YOU. Democrats LIE about wanting to help American families when in reality they are the ones bankrupting the country.”

Scott and other wealthy Americans got richer in recent years in part thanks to Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which he supported. Scott has pushed to make permanent the law’s individual tax provisions, which mostly benefited the very wealthy while raising taxes for about 10 million families. The GOP-backed legislation added an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt; its proposed permanent extension could increase that total to $2.3 trillion.

Scott’s dishonest claim that Democrats cut $280 billion from Medicare appears to be a reference to the historic Inflation Reduction Act, enacted in August 2022. That law, which invested hundreds of billions of dollars into affordable health insurance and energy and climate infrastructure, included provisions allowing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices on prescription drugs.

These changes significantly reduced the copays Americans on Medicare will have to make for prescription medications and for insulin, and it will save the government an estimated $288 billion. They will in no way cut benefits for the more than 65 million Americans enrolled in Medicare.

According to Insider, as of December 2021, the Florida Republican, reportedly the nation’s wealthiest senator, had an estimated net worth of at least $200 million. A 2018 assessment by OpenSecrets put his net worth at almost $260 million.

Much of Scott’s wealth comes from his time as CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare, a chain of for-profit hospitals. During his tenure, the company perpetrated the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history. According to PolitiFact, he stepped down after the fraud came to light and the company later paid $1.7 billion in fines for its wrongdoing. In 2010, Scott said of the events at Columbia/HCA, “There’s no question that mistakes were made and as CEO, I have to accept responsibility for those mistakes.” He denied having been directly aware of the fraud.

Scott released an ad on Wednesday urging passage of his 12-point “Rescue America” plan, the same widely unpopular package of proposals he pushed during his tenure as National Republican Senatorial Committee chair for the 2022 midterm elections.

That plan explicitly calls for every single federal law — including the ones that created social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — to expire automatically every five years.

Last March, Scott argued that making Congress reauthorize the programs twice a decade would actually help preserve them.

“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,” he told Fox News. “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.”

But with Republicans in Congress frequently unwilling even to vote to pay the U.S. Treasury Department’s existing debts or avert federal government shutdowns, a five-year expiration date for every federal law could well mean they would refuse to reauthorize the programs, which would simply cease to exist.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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