McConnell Slams Scott as White House Doubles Down on Social Security, Medicare Messaging

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks through a hallway at the U.S. Capitol on January 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Senate is in session after the weekend. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The White House appeared to see an opening on Social Security and Medicare after Biden batted down Republicans who heckled him when he mentioned Scott’s proposal during his State of the Union address.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a blistering rebuke of a member of his conference this week, slapping back at a proposed plan that would sunset federal programs every five years amid a messaging battle over Social Security and Medicare that came to a head in recent days.

As President Joe Biden made a visit to Florida on Thursday, where he doubled down on critiques made earlier in the week of Republicans’ stance on the entitlement programs and pointed to Sen. Rick Scott in particular, McConnell did not mince words distancing himself and the party from the Florida Republican.

“It’s just a bad idea,” McConnell said of a proposal from Scott last year that would include Social Security and Medicare in an interview released on Thursday, reiterating that the programs are “not to be touched,” while adding, “I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own reelection in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any state in America.”

Scott has been the recipient of McConnell’s ire since he launched the first challenge against the Kentucky Republican for leader in his tenure just months ago. McConnell said his pushback against Scott didn’t have “anything to do” with the challenge. Even so, lambasting a member of one’s own conference is an uncommon occurrence, especially for McConnell.

Scott has pushed back on Biden’s claims about his party and their plans for the entitlement programs throughout the week, saying that the White House is twisting his words.

“Nobody believes that I want to cut Medicare or Social Security,” the Florida Republican told CNN this week. “I’ve never said it.”

But the White House appeared to see an opening with the issue after Biden batted down Republican hecklers during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. The president has since taken the message on the road, warning Wisconsinites and then Floridians that Republicans might cut Social Security and Medicare. Biden named Scott among them, pointing to the plan that would require Congress to reauthorize federal programs every five years, meaning that programs like Social Security and Medicare could be in jeopardy.

“The very idea the senator from Florida wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years, I find to be somewhat outrageous,” Biden said. “So outrageous that you might not even believe it.”