Democrats define new foe in tax debate: The Note

Sen. Rick Scott predicted the bipartisan backlash.

April 19, 2022, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

As the wealthiest current senator and the man controlling the Senate GOP's campaign arm while growing his own political war chest, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., generally doesn't need help getting the word out about his proposals.

Democrats, though, want to make him and his plans famous. Midterm messaging from the White House on down this tax season has an uncommon focus on a select few planks of Scott's "Plan to Rescue America" that many Republicans wish he'd stop talking about.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee now has billboards up in Florida and Wisconsin with Scott's face on them to supplement radio ads, mailings and a dedicated website. The White House used the tax filing deadline to blast out a statement saying President Joe Biden wants tax cuts for the middle class "while Congressional Republicans, led by Senator Scott, are proposing big tax increases on middle-class families."

PHOTO: Flanked by Sen. Roy Blunt and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rick Scott speaks to reporters following a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol, March 22, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Flanked by Sen. Roy Blunt and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rick Scott speaks to reporters following a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol, March 22, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already gone out of his way to say the Republican agenda would not include what he called "a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years."

Over on another wing of the GOP, former President Donald Trump's recently endorsed candidate for Senate in Ohio is among those who aren't fans either. J.D. Vance said at a recent primary debate that "advocating for middle-class increases" represents "a joke for the Republican Party."

Scott has responded by saying he wouldn't raise taxes on anyone who currently pays them. Still, he is standing by his proposals to ensure that all American workers pay at least some taxes, as well as his proposal to have all federal programs expire unless they're renewed by Congress.

"My whole life has been people telling me that, you know, you're doing it the wrong way. You can't, you shouldn't be doing this," Scott told The Washington Post in a story published this week.

Scott predicted the bipartisan backlash and has held it up as an example of "Beltway cowardice." But to Republicans who see plenty to run on this fall, Scott's plan so far stands out as something they're more likely to be running against.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

In an instant, a Florida federal judge upended the CDC's federal mask mandate for public transportation.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Mizelle ruled Monday that the mask mandate "exceeds the CDC's statutory authority." The CDC had recently extended the mandate to May 3, but because of the ruling, the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce it.

The aftermath of the decision prompted so much confusion that White House press secretary Jen Psaki couldn't immediately tell reporters if passengers boarding flights would need to wear a mask.

PHOTO: White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, April 18, 2022.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, April 18, 2022.
Susan Walsh/AP

"The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time -- two weeks -- to be able to assess the latest science in keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people," Psaki said. "So this is obviously a disappointing decision."

A later statement from a White House official clarified that the mandate wouldn't be enforced, allowing travelers to go maskless. The Association of Flight Attendants called out the confusion that the decision and its immediate implications could cause.

"In aviation operations, it is impossible to simply flip a switch from one minute to the next," said union President Sara Nelson.

The vacated mandate comes as the rate of new COVID-19 infections has increased by 21%. While the ruling is likely to be appealed, in the meantime it will complicate the White House's messaging on pandemic mitigation efforts.

The TIP with Brittany Shepherd

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is barreling toward a huge political win, as his state's legislature meets Tuesday in a special session to discuss (and likely pass) a redistricting map proposed by DeSantis and his advisers.

Last week, DeSantis put forward a map heavily skewed toward Republicans, creating 18 Republican-leaning and eight Democratic-leaning seats, which, if passed, would effectively eliminate Democrats' national redistricting advantage and threaten the slim majority hold the party has on the House of Representatives come November.

DeSantis' proposal also eliminates a Black majority district in northern Florida that the governor viewed as "racially gerrymandered" and splits up Black voters around the Orlando area.

PHOTO: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters before signing a 15-week abortion ban into law, April 14, 2022, in Kissimmee, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters before signing a 15-week abortion ban into law, April 14, 2022, in Kissimmee, Fla.
John Raoux/AP

While Republican leaders say they plan to pass whatever DeSantis presents, hundreds of protestors, including Black members of the state legislature, plan to protest outside the Florida State Capitol in Jacksonville on Tuesday as part of a Congressional Redistricting Day of Action.

Speakers will claim DeSantis and his legislature are "actively working to strip Floridians' freedoms away through deliberate and uncalled for attacks on Black voters' representation in government," according to a release from event organizers Equal Ground, a voting rights group.

Even if DeSantis can get his map through, it's unclear if it will withstand a challenge in the courts.

Only three states -- Missouri, New Hampshire and Florida -- have completed their redistricting processes.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

109. That's the number of candidates former President Trump has endorsed for governor, federal office, attorney general or secretary of state as of April 17. And as FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich and Jean Yi write, at least 78 -- more than 70% --believe the 2020 election was fraudulent, according to our research. One of the most consistent parts of Trump's endorsement strategy at this point is endorsing candidates who believe the "Big Lie." Read more from Nathaniel and Jean on Trump's endorsements so far.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Tuesday morning with ABC's Anne Flaherty on how the U.S. is combating an uptick in COVID cases. Then, ABC's Mary Bruce reports on the Biden administration restarting plans to drill for oil as gas prices soar. And, the Marshall Project's Maurice Chamass discusses why one South Carolina prisoner on death row is opting for a firing squad execution. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events