Below is the transcript of an interview with Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida that aired Sunday, August 7, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
Margaret Brennan: And now we turn to Capitol Hill and Senator Rick Scott of Florida, he’s among the votes on the Senate floor. He is also the chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee working to regain control of the Senate. Senator Scott, good morning. I know you’ve been up all night. So I appreciate your joining this morning.
Senator Rick Scott: I hope to be coherent.
Margaret Brennan: Well, you know, no matter what it looks like there’s no way to stop what’s expected to be a big win here for the Democrats. And I know you’re against it, but I want to pressure you about that because Medicare access isn’t expanded well for a state like yours, which has a larger population reliant on the Affordable Care Act than any other state, and Republicans like Disability Reduction. The CBO says this will cut it by $100 billion over the next decade. Aren’t there some good things here for you too?
Sen. Scott: So, Margaret, here’s the way I look at it. For now, this bill should be called the “law of war on the elderly.” I mean, this is a war on Medicare. If you look at this. That’s a $280 billion cut in Medicare. So, what will happen is Medicare will be caught and there will be elderly people who don’t get life-saving medicines because they
Margaret Brennan: – Lowering the cost of Medicare isn’t the same as the benefits, though, you know it.
Sen. Scott: Margaret, $280 billion that could have been spent. It was expected to spend. It will not be spent now. And pharmaceutical companies that will do more research won’t be able to spend money on research. There will be lifesaving medicines that older adults will not get. On top of that, I mean they’re going to raise taxes by over $700 billion. And let’s remember that companies don’t end up paying taxes. Shareholders pay taxes, lower income employees pay taxes, and less investment pays taxes. So, $700 billion will hurt the economy. And then, while gas prices are $2 more than they were when Joe Biden took office, there is a selective gas tax. So why – you know, we’re in a recession. Why might the government cost increase? We are increasing taxes.
Margaret Brennan: So your claim there, which you just repeated with respect to Medicare spending, is completely misleading. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only about 1% of new drugs will be affected by changes there in drug development. How do you respond to that?
Sen. Scott: Margaret, 1%. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. If your grandmother isn’t 1% important, and if there’s an effect — if it’s impacting — on a life-saving drug that we can do right now, we shouldn’t be — we shouldn’t interrupt Medicare like that. I can’t believe it and by the way, we should never raise taxes but especially in a recession. And why raise gas taxes right now when they’re $2 higher than they were when Joe Biden took office. This will continue to push us further into a bigger recession than we are now. Look where we are now. The labor participation rate is low, wages are negligible with inflation, two quarters of negative GDP. I mean – we – this – we pushed Joe Biden and these plans are pushing us into recession. So, I think we have to — we have to stop raising taxes. We make it easier for companies to build their businesses, compete and we’ll get more jobs.
Margaret Brennan: Well, you know, we just had the excellent July jobs number, but we’ll be looking at the details of that up front with economist Mary Daly. Let me talk to you about the politics of all this. Republicans were hoping to ride the historically high inflation we are in, and President Biden’s low approval ratings won in November. But the president and the Democrats had a really good streak here. Gas prices are going down. You have a huge spending bill going through. This is a lot of big wins for the Democrats. The president just authorized that strike to take out the al Qaeda leader. Isn’t it getting more and more difficult for Republicans to get the advantage they’re trying to make here?
Sen. Scott: Well, that sounds good, doesn’t it? But these – these are the talking points in the White House. But let’s think about this, 72% of Americans think we’re on the wrong track. Biden’s numbers are in the tank. And if you look at all the Democrats — all the Democrats who are running, they basically have to be the replacements for Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer. I mean, they have to defend inflation, high gas prices, you know, Afghan withdrawal, open borders, critical race theory, cut police funding, that’s what they have to defend because that’s what – that’s what – that’s what Biden is known for, that’s what He is known by the Democrats. Now, it’s going to be — look, it’s an election year. It will be a difficult year. We have 21 Republicans, and only 14 Democrats. The Democrats are outsmarting us, but we have good candidates. And I think Joe Biden will be our key here.
Margaret Brennan: You said it was going to be a tough year. I want to play to you what Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Fox last week.
(start a video)
Sen. Mitch McConnell: I think it’s going to be very tight — we have a 50/50 shot, and now we have a 50/50 state. And I think when the smoke for this Senate race wears off, we’re likely to have a very, very close Senate, either we go up a little bit or the Democrats go up a little bit.
(end of video clip)
Margaret Brennan: If things are so bad, why are they going to be so tight for the Republicans?
Sen. Scott: Well, first of all, we have — we have very good candidates. I mean the Democrats make good money. So we have to be able to get our message across, so you know, we have to collect our money. We have to work — to work hard, you know, we’ve been through a lot of primaries, so — but I think we’ll believe we’re going to win, but it’s going to be — it’s going to be tough. We have to collect your money, we have to work hard for the candidates – we have to work really hard. Everyone will help our candidates, but I’m optimistic.
Margaret Brennan: So you would agree that it would be difficult for the Republicans at best to have a slight advantage.
Sen. Scott: I’m very optimistic. I will- I- but- I am realistic that you know, you have to collect your money. Democrats. They make good money. Joe Biden is our key here. Incidentally, this bill will not help the Democrats. It will help the Republicans. Raise taxes $700 billion, cut $280 billion from Medicare, raise taxes on gas, and I have 87,000 IRS agents. Do you know how much – how happy people are that there are more IRS agents out there? I mean, that’s not — that’s not going to be common across the country.
Margaret Brennan: In a local radio interview in July, you talked a lot about your job as an executive and said, “We have to start electing the people we’re going to hire.” In Georgia, Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate candidate, lied about the number of children he had, and about his business dealings. His ex-wife said he put a gun to her head and said, “I’m going to blow your flowing mind.” In Arizona, candidate Blake Master called the Unabomber an underrated thinker. He said that al-Qaeda does not actually pose a real threat to Americans. I mean, I have a list of candidates who got some of them and said some pretty annoying things. Are you going to hire these people to work for you?
Sen. Scott: Well, you’d go through everyone – but I’m not the one who does. It is the voters of those countries who do that. Voters in those countries will make a choice.
Margaret Brennan: You’re trying to help the Republicans in the Senate and lead them to victory. These are your candidates.
Sen. Scott: You know Margaret, you remember, the voters in Arizona get to choose who they’re going to choose, they’re going to vote and what they’re going to choose, they’re going to choose between Blakemaster and Mr. Kelly. Mark Kelly voted to keep the borders open. He never voted for border security. He voted for a tax increase. He voted to cut Medicare. You know, he’s — he’s voted with Chuck Schumer, and with Joe Biden basically 100% of the time. Warnock has the same problem, and this election is going to be about Joe Biden. And so this election is going to be about all the bad things that happened — this — the fact that we’re in a recession, the fact, you know, 9% inflation, the fact that gas prices are up $2. All of these things, that’s what people look at. over there-
Margaret Brennan: These are your Republican candidates for the Senate. These are your candidates. Will you hire them?
Sen. Scott: And the voters in these states, and the voters in these states will decide whether to hire. Now I’m going to vote — I’m going to vote in Florida and that’s what I’m thinking. But voters in those states will choose in those states whom they want. It’s a choice between two people. But look at all the Democratic candidates, President Biden clones –
Margaret Brennan: – Yes. –
Sen. Scott: “Ah, and by the way, they will.”
Margaret Brennan: But if you were, I mean, you’d settle. You’ll admit that if someone goes for an interview with a private company, these things will show up as red flags for the HR department. So, it’s just–
Sen. Scott: Biden doesn’t campaign with anyone because he’s toxic. That’s what voters think. That’s why they say 72% of Americans say the economy is on the wrong track. When that happens, people will say, I’m going to take a serious look at someone else. And our candidates should go tell them what they’re going to do and we’ll make sure everyone knows exactly who they are – who the Democrats are. That’s what – that’s what’s going to happen across the country and we’ll have races, and we’ll see what happens.
Margaret Brennan: Would you advise all the candidates in these races to accept their election result because many of them are still wondering about the outcome of the 2020 race?
Sen. Scott: Well, Margaret, remember, that’s exactly what happened to me with Bill Nelson and Mark Elias. They did not accept the election result, and tried to illegally count the votes after Election Day after I won 57,000 votes. So, election security is very important to me. And I want to make sure that we — make sure that we do everything we can to make sure that people know the elections are fair. We’re really making teams, which I had to do in Florida in 18, teams of lawyers and volunteers to make sure this election is fair.
Margaret Brennan: But you accept elections — you know, is the integrity of these races where all the candidates are or are you only going to face them if they lose?
Sen. Scott: Well, I–I–want a free and fair election, so I’m going to work hard–working hard to make sure this election is fair because everyone has to make the decision at the time. Therefore, I am still disappointed with what happened to my race. They have — we spent millions of dollars making sure we won and we won election night and they tried to count illegal votes after election night and that’s wrong.
Margaret Brennan: Very quickly, before I let you go, do you think the US military should be deployed to defend Taiwan if Taiwan did that – China moved in that direction?
Sen. Scott: I think we have to be very clear that we are going to defend Taiwan. We should be very clear exactly what will happen to China, outlining what sanctions will happen to China if it invades Taiwan. I think all American companies need to understand their risks now if they are doing business there. And I think every American when they see a box that says, “Made in China,” they should return it to whoever sent it to them and say I’ll never buy another Made in China.
Margaret Brennan: Well, there’s a whole story on inflation out there, Senator, but that’s for another day. We should leave it there. Thank you for your time, and I’ll let you get back to work there. Face the nation will be back in a minute. stay with us