White House Ties Republicans to a Tax-Hike Plan Disowned by GOP
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden, in his battle to craft a winning message on the fight to tame decades-high inflation, has sought to tie Republicans to a plan that calls for higher taxes on low-income Americans.
There’s one problem: The GOP has disowned the proposal.
In recent days, Biden and his aides have repeatedly cited Republican Senator Rick Scott’s “Rescue America” plan -- from February. That program included a call for “all Americans” to pay “some income tax to have skin in the game.”
The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates the proposal would raise taxes annually by $100 billion on some of the lowest-earning Americans.
“Congressional Republicans talk about inflation, but their only plan is to raise taxes on working families, taking even more money out of their pockets,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday responding to the latest inflation data, which showed a bigger jump in consumer prices than expected.
Gene Sperling, a Biden senior adviser, said on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin” on Wednesday said that Scott, who authored the plan, is not “just an average senator,” because he is the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and speaks for his fellow party members.
Despite Democrats’ attempts to link the plan to Republicans, it has very little support in the party. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has said “it’s not the Republican plan.”
Scott himself tried to soften the language in April, saying that payroll taxes -- the withholdings from paychecks that help fund Social Security and Medicare -- should also count as paying taxes, though he hasn’t officially updated the plan.
“What the president is doing is he lies about things,” Scott said in an interview with Fox News when asked about Biden’s framing of the plan.
About 57% of households have no federal income-tax liability because of tax benefits, like the earned income tax credit or child tax credit, that offset IRS bills.
However, far fewer households -- only about 17% -- pay no federal taxes at all, because many pay payroll and excise taxes, even if they don’t owe anything on income.
“The Republican party is not going to vote for tax increases at the worst possible time,” Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, said on Bloomberg TV.
GOP lawmakers have instead focused on blasting Biden and the Democrats for the $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill enacted in March 2021, saying it has helped fuel price surges.
Still, Democrats are hoping to use the Republicans’ absence of any alternative policy platform to highlight the point that the opposing party has few published ideas about how to address inflation.
“There isn’t an alternative plan they’ve put forward,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the White House briefing Tuesday. “So it’s either this, put together by the person who is leading the effort to win back the Senate, or nothing.”
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
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