Rick Scott Repeats Romney’s 2012 Mistake
The GOP senator proposes a platform that includes a call to tax Americans who don’t pay the federal income tax.
Republican Senator Rick Scott (FL), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), recently released the party’s platform of ideas. Unfortunately, it included what amounts to a needless and foolish self-inflicted wound. One of the platform ideas states: “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.” Ask President Mitt Romney how well that worked for his 2012 campaign.
Arguably one of the most politically damaging mistakes Romney made in his failed bid for the White House was his infamous claim that 47% of Americans were dependent on the government because they paid no income tax. Despite the fact that Romney’s comment was accurate on the merits, it provided an easy setup for Barack Obama and the mainstream media to bash him as a wealthy, out-of-touch elitist who lacked compassion for the struggles of working Americans.
Which brings it back to Scott and his boneheaded decision to essentially repeat Romney’s mistake. Joe Biden and the Democrats are seemingly in a polling free-fall, thanks almost entirely to Biden’s disastrous policies combined with his abysmal leadership on the world scene. Biden has brought rampant inflation, supply chain disruptions, and war in Europe. Moreover, the Democrat Party is in the midst of destroying itself with its full embrace of the radical Left, and Scott has effectively thrown them a political lifeline. Note to Scott: You should have let them sink.
Now, like Romney, Scott is not wrong on the merits. Nearly half of Americans don’t pay federal income tax and thus don’t quite have “skin in the game” when it comes to most federal spending. However, they do pay taxes. If you earn a paycheck, you see Uncle Sam take a sizable bite before you even get the money. The difference between payroll taxes and federal income taxes is that the latter are initially deducted and then reconciled, often with a refund, when individuals file their annual tax returns. Many folks may not see or care about that distinction, and when they hear the claim that they aren’t paying taxes when they know they’re paying taxes, they find it insulting.
Furthermore, Republicans have long been the small-government, low-tax party. That was brought home in 2017 when Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a law that reduced rates, doubled standard deductions, and effectively lowered taxes for everyone across the board.
After Scott’s pitch, it didn’t take long for Democrats to blast Republicans for wanting to tax Americans more. “Senator Rick Scott explains the Republican plan to raise taxes on more than half of Americans,” railed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “He wants working families and seniors to pay more.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was also quick to drop an ad claiming, “We’re making sure voters know the facts about Senate Republicans’ agenda: a tax hike on millions of seniors and over half of all Americans,” and ending with the tagline: “if Republicans win, we’ll pay the price.”
Thankfully, Scott’s blunder came months before the election and in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and as Biden has flailed about in a vain effort to hold Vladimir Putin at bay. There’s still time for Republicans to dump this proposal and instead propose cuts to out-of-control government spending in the wake of the national debt hitting $30 trillion.
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