Monday, January 30

Scott wants to ‘rescue America’ through Pledge of Allegiance, strict gender roles

WASHINGTON—Republican Sen. Rick Scott wants to rescue the nation by declaring men and women biologically different, raising taxes on low-income earners and spurring children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Florida senator and chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued his “11 Point Plan to Rescue America” Tuesday morning ahead of his appearance at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

The document released by Scott begins with a letter predicting the plan’s decision by his political opponents.

“I’ll warn you; this plan is not for the faint of heart. It will be ridiculed by the ‘woke’ left, mocked by Washington insiders, and strike fear in the heart of some Republicans,” Scott says. “At least I hope so.”

Scott’s plan comes as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to release a broader agenda for the GOP conference if the party retakes the Senate in 2022.

Scott’s plan will likely serve as a de facto Senate GOP agenda in the absence of a formal one and as a potential preview of a national platform if Scott pursues the presidency in 2024 or 2028.

The first plank in the former Florida’s governor’s plan involves children saying the Pledge of Allegiance, something that already happens daily in schools across Florida and the nation.

“Our kids will say the Pledge of Allegiance, salute the flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them,” the first plank states in the plan that leans hard into the popular narrative on the political right about dwindling patriotism in American schools.

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But the pledge is already a standard portion of the daily routine in schools throughout the nation, including in Florida where state law requires that the “Pledge of Allegiance to the flag shall be recited at the beginning of the day in each public elementary, middle, and high school in the state.”

PolitiFact debunked in 2020 a viral Facebook post claiming that students no longer say the pledge in schools.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that schools cannot compel individual students to say the pledge. Florida requires students to obtain parental consent in order to opt out of the pledge, a rule that was upheld as constitutional by the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in 2008.

The next item in Scott’s plan is the elimination of questions about racial demographic categories on government forms.

“Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms. We are going to eliminate racial politics in America. No government policy will be based on race,” the plank holds.

Scott’s plan would also strip universities of their tax-exempt status and end their eligibility for federal aid if they take race into consideration for the application process.

Another portion of Scott’s plan would prohibit government forms from including questions about gender identity or sexual orientation. In the plank’s description, Scott simultaneously invokes science and the Bible.

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“Men and women are biologically different, ‘male and female He created them.’ Modern technology has confirmed that abortion takes a human life. Facts are facts, the earth is round, the sun is hot, there are two genders, and abortion stops a beating heart. To say otherwise is to deny science,” Scott’s plan states.

In addition to the pieces of Scott’s plan focused on cultural battles, the fiscal portion of his agenda includes major changes to tax and budget policy, including a 25 percent reduction of the federal workforce, a prohibition on raising the debt ceiling unless war is declared and Requiring millions of low-income Americans to pay federal income tax.

“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,” Scott’s plan states. This would mean requiring low-income Americans who fall outside the threshold for income tax to pay taxes.

The Florida Democratic Party seized on this portion of the plan, saying in a statement that Scott’s “out-of-touch ‘blueprint’ would raise taxes, lower benefits, and make life harder for the vast majority of Floridians — while totally ignoring the question of how working families are supposed to pay their bills or find affordable medical care.”

A 2021 report from the Washington-based Tax Policy Center found that 107 million households, or roughly 61 percent, owed no federal income tax in 2020, a spike in non-payers that the nonpartisan think tank called, “eye-popping, but temporary ,” and attributed to the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The report predicted that the percentage of non-payers would fall to 40 percent by 2026 based on current tax laws.

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