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Rick Scott’s line on taxes manages to become even less coherent

Rick Scott apparently believes a key to balancing the budget is more tax breaks. He doesn't appear to be kidding.


As Sen. Rick Scott moves forward with his re-election plans, the Florida Republican confirmed to NBC News yesterday that he still embraces his controversial “American Rescue” plan.

“I’m going to continue to push it,” the incumbent said, noting that the blueprint is still on his website.

That, of course, is the same agenda that included proposed tax increases on lower-income Americans — an idea that sparked fierce pushback from both parties — though Scott later edited that part out of his plan.

It was against this backdrop that the GOP senator, who’ll face voters next year, turned his attention to tax policy again yesterday, insisting that to balance the budget, policymakers should, among other things, “cut taxes.”

In fact, in remarks at a Capitol Hill press conference this week, the Floridian said he’s found it “easy” to balance budgets by simply “growing” new revenue.

This is a familiar refrain from some on the far-right: If Republicans simply cut taxes, this will fuel growth and create jobs, which will in turn lead to new revenue to offset the cost of the tax breaks. It’s a staple of GOP orthodoxy: The party doesn’t need to pay for tax cuts because tax cuts pay for themselves.

This idea has been tested repeatedly in the real world, and it’s failed every time. Most recently, Scott and other Republicans slashed taxes during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, and budget deficits predictably soared. In fact, GOP policymakers added trillions of dollars to the national debt, even before the Covid pandemic, thanks in large part to the tax breaks they handed the wealthy and big corporations. The stream of new revenue that the party assumed would flow into the treasury never materialized.

Perhaps Scott failed to notice?

Federal budgetary policy can be incredibly complex, but broadly speaking, there are a limited number of ways to balance a budget: Officials can take in more money, they can spend less money, or they can do some combination of the two. Much of the Republicans’ focus of late has been on Door #2: The party says it’s desperate to slash government spending, even as it expresses great reluctance to identify what spending cuts the GOP wants to make.

When Democrats suggest looking behind Door #1, and perhaps rolling back ineffective tax breaks for the wealthy, Republicans balk.

But for Scott, that’s apparently not good enough: He not only says he opposes tax increases, the senator also believes the deficit will shrink if Congress approves tax cuts.

This, of course, is the same GOP senator who became notorious for spending much of last year defending his plan that included tax hikes on those who could least afford it.

To hear Scott tell it, this is an area of expertise for him. Why he believes this is something of a mystery.