Biden tangles with Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott: ‘I think the man has a problem’

By: - May 10, 2022 3:48 pm

U.S. Senator Rick Scott speaking with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden pledged Tuesday to make a fight against inflation his top domestic priority while rebuking Republican economic proposals he said miss the mark — zeroing in on Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott.

The president’s remarks at the White House came after Scott earlier in the day called on Biden to resign because, he said, the chief executive is “unwell, unfit for office, incoherent, incapacitated and confused.”

“I think the man has a problem,” Biden retorted after told by a reporter about Scott’s broadside.

In his speech, Biden directly called out Scott for releasing an 11-point plan that Biden said represents the “ultra MAGA agenda” by a Republican Party that he finds increasingly extreme in its views on everything from tax policy to entitlement programs.

“Their plan is to raise taxes on 75 million American families, over 95% of whom make less than $100,000 a year in total income,” said Biden, who at one point mistakenly referred to Scott as being from Wisconsin. “They’ve got it backwards in my view.”

Biden instead touted his proposal to institute a minimum tax on billionaires and corporations, noting that “55% of the largest corporations paid net-zero in federal taxes on $40 million in profits.”

“That just isn’t right,” he said.

Biden also rejected a plank in Scott’s plan that calls for all federal legislation to sunset within five years. Scott’s proposal says that “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”

Biden said that would put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in peril and turn the safety net programs into bargaining chips that Republican lawmakers could hold “hostage” in exchange for other proposals.

“Now if I hadn’t seen it in writing, I’d think somebody is making this up,” Biden said.

Scott, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, on Tuesday also released another statement, inviting the president to debate inflation.

“I’m glad we’re having a discussion about Joe Biden’s inflation and the impact it’s having on hardworking Americans,” Scott said. “We know that Joe Biden can be rolled up to the podium and give a speech from a teleprompter — albeit with a notable amount of rambling incoherence. But I believe the American people deserve a real debate on this issue.”

Divide in GOP

Biden, however, is not the only high-ranking politician to rebuke Scott for releasing his plan.

Several members of Scott’s own party have become frustrated with questions about various elements of the proposal and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly rebuffed it shortly after Scott released it earlier this year.

“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide, in consultation with my members, what to put on the floor,” McConnell said. “Let me tell you what will not be a part of our agenda: 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. That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda.”

Republicans, McConnell added, would instead use time in the majority to address “inflation, energy, defense, the border and crime.”

Biden sees two paths

The rest of Biden’s midday speech on inflation focused on issues he’s repeatedly asked Congress to approve, including lowering the cost of prescription drugs and advancing legislation to boost renewable energy production.

Biden said that Americans have a choice to make on two paths forward to address inflation.

“​​My plan is to lower everyday costs for hardworking Americans and lower the deficit by asking large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to not engage in price gouging and to pay their fair share in taxes,” Biden said.

“The Republican plan is to increase taxes on middle class families and let billionaires and large companies off the hook as they raise prices and reap profits in record amounts. And it’s really that simple.”

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.