Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) have been sparring publicly over whether Republicans support cuts to Social Security and Medicare – and now Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and other hardline conservatives are getting involved in the fight.
Last week — just days after President Biden called out some Republicans for plans to sunset Social Security and Medicare in his State of the Union speech — McConnell renewed his staunch criticism for Scott’s “Rescue America” plan, which states that “all federal legislation sunsets in 5 years,” with no exceptions for Social Security and Medicare. McConnell has criticized Scott for the plan before, maintaining many Republicans’ claims that the party doesn’t support gutting the programs, despite the fact that pushing cuts has been a key policy ambition for the Republican Party for decades.
While Republicans like McConnell want to signal to Americans loudly and clearly that the party doesn’t back such efforts ever since Biden called them out during the SOTU, Scott and his sunsetting agenda are making their position harder to spin. And the messaging is made muddier by Scott’s befuddling claims that his 12-point-plan won’t actually harm Social Security or Medicare.
But RonJohn thinks we should trust him.
“The leader ought to be supportive of our incumbents,” Johnson said, according to Punchbowl News. “Sen. Scott’s done a good job in Florida. I think Floridians appreciate the fact that he’s forthright and honest with them. And I know from my personal involvement with Sen. Scott, his only interest is in saving those programs.”
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) agrees with Johnson. Braun said Scott “is concerned about saving” entitlement programs, “not sunsetting it in the sense of getting rid of it. If we want it there for future generations, we’ll have to do something to keep it alive.”
The conservative support comes after the Minority Leader targeted Scott’s plan during a radio interview last week.
“That’s not a Republican plan. That was the Rick Scott plan,” McConnell said in the interview.
Scott tried to push this so-called Republican agenda guidebook last year ahead of the midterms. His plan was widely rejected by the GOP, including by McConnell, and it’s clear his approach has not changed.
“I think we’re in a more authoritative position to state what the position of the party is than any single senator,” McConnell added. “It’s just a bad idea. I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own re-election in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any other state in America.”
But Scott is adamant that he knows what he is doing.
“I’ve won three hard statewide elections. I’m putting time into my state. And actually, I’m doing exactly what I told my state when I ran,” Scott told Punchbowl, in response to McConnell’s criticism. “I’ll win my election this time by doing the exact same thing. I put out a plan…”
“I didn’t come up here to be part of the establishment. I came here to change Washington. Not everybody wants to change Washington,” he added. “I believe that we have to do something else. So I put out a plan. If somebody has a better idea, they ought to put a plan out.”