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Republican Who Once Proposed Sunsetting Social Security Floats Leadership Bid

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BATTLE IN SENATE - Republican Sen. Rick Scott said Friday that he is "seriously considering" a bid to succeed Sen. Mitch McConnell as leader of the Senate GOP caucus, an announcement that brought renewed attention to his previous support for sunsetting all federal programs every five years—including Social Security and Medicare.

Scott (R-Fla.), who lost a challenge to McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2022, said in an appearance on "The Charlie Kirk Show" that McConnell's decision to step down as Republican leader at the end of the year represents "a big opportunity."

"We could actually have somebody that actually believes in this country and believes in solving the problems of this country running the Senate when we get a majority in November," said Scott, who is up for reelection this year. "We could make big change."

Two years ago, Scott—then serving as head of the Senate GOP's campaign committee—released an agenda under which "all federal legislation" would lapse and require reauthorization by Congress every five years. Critics were quick to note that Scott's plan would entail sunsetting Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other key laws.

McConnell, no friend of Social Security, was among those who pushed back on Scott's proposal, forcing him to belatedly amend it to exempt Social Security and Medicare from the five-year sunsetting process.

Scott, the richest U.S. senator, also proposed hiking taxes on low-income Americans. He dropped the plan after facing backlash.

So far, only Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has officially announced his candidacy for the GOP leadership position, though Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.)—the number two Senate Republican—John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) are other potential contenders, along with Scott.

Prior to his tenure in the U.S. Senate and as Florida's governor, Scott served as CEO of a hospital company that was hit with a total of $1.7 billion in fines for defrauding Medicare. At the time, the Justice Department described it as "the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history."

(Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams where this article was first published.)

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