Updated 1:03 PM EDT, Thu September 14, 2023
As he looks to break through in the 2024 GOP primary, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott rolled out an economic plan on Thursday that takes aim at President Joe Biden’s policies and calls for making permanent former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.
“The 2024 election will be pivotal for your tax bill,” Scott says in the memo, obtained by CNN, that calls for reducing government spending, cutting taxes and increasing domestic energy production. “You can’t afford to have the Democrats in power when your tax cuts are on the chopping block.”
Scott, who has adopted a more aggressive posture recently toward his GOP rivals, is using Biden administration policies – many of which he says he’ll reverse – to create a contrast for his vision. He’s vowing to roll back Biden’s student loan forgiveness efforts, repeal regulations on energy production and agriculture, and cut government spending overall.
His 10-point plan also nods to one of the GOP front-runner’s signature legislative achievements – the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Scott is promising to make permanent. It’s part of his pitch to voters that if they like Trump for his policies they should consider voting for a candidate who lines up with the former president on important policy issues, but doesn’t carry some of liabilities that have hurt Trump and Trump-aligned candidates in the past.
“I would tell Trump supporters if you like his policies, if you like tax cuts, if you like $4,400 more in your pockets because you got to keep your own money, I wrote it and he signed it,” Scott told voters at a town hall in Le Mars, Iowa, in August. “On the domestic side, I’m your guy.”
Scott’s announcement comes the day after economic data released on Wednesday showed inflation accelerated last month, driven largely by increasing fuel prices. Inflation, despite falling overall, has been a sore spot for the Biden administration, with 58% of Americans believing Biden’s policies have made economic conditions in the US worse, according to a recent CNN poll.
“We aren’t at war; we aren’t in a pandemic; we just have the Biden Democrats in charge,” Scott says in the memo.
The Democratic Party denounced Scott’s economic plan, arguing it will benefit wealthy Americans at the expense of the working class and labeling the proposal “MAGAnomics.”
“Tim Scott said the quiet part out loud: he’s running on the same exact failed MAGAnomics as Donald Trump. That means more tax giveaways for the wealthy, doubling down on a tax law that created new incentives for corporations to ship American jobs overseas, and attacking Social Security and Medicare while leaving working families behind,” DNC spokesperson Rhyan Lake said in a statement on Thursday. “President Biden is the only person in the 2024 race who is fighting to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out, empower workers, and lower costs for families. We’ll take Bidenomics over MAGAnomics any day of the week.”
The plan, which also calls for increases in biofuel production and promises to promote the American agriculture, comes ahead of Scott’s trip to Iowa this weekend, including expected remarks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Fall Banquet on Saturday alongside several other Republican presidential hopefuls. The trip comes at a critical moment for Scott’s candidacy, after a recent CNN poll showed the senator with 3% among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters nationwide.
Scott says in his plan he will encourage domestic fuel production and undo Biden administration policies and executive actions on energy – including approving the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and increasing oil and gas development on federal lands. He aims to “sprint towards doubling nuclear energy production” over the next 10 years and says he will support agriculture workers by backing ethanol production, reversing regulations that he says hurt farmers, and blocking China from buying US farmland.
Scott also proposes moving the Department of Energy to Tennessee and the Department of Agriculture to Iowa, where he says he would “let a farmer run it,” echoing proposals from other Republican candidates like Trump, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to reorganize federal government operations.
The focus on agriculture underscores the key role Iowa, and its large constituency of farmers and agriculture workers, will play in as the first GOP nominating contest on the calendar. On Wednesday, Scott’s campaign unveiled two new TV ads in Iowa, part of a recent $8 million TV and digital media reservation across Iowa and New Hampshire.
Scott also promises to return non-defense government spending back to its pre-pandemic levels and lower taxes as part of an effort to reduce the federal deficit and lower inflation and interest rates. He pledges to “restore the culture of hard work that built America” by advocating for a “Welfare Reform 2.0” package that would build on the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and increase work requirements across all social safety net programs.
His criticism of government assistance programs and student loan forgiveness have been the frequent subject of his messaging since the beginning of his campaign. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, often invokes his own backstory, growing up in poverty and raised by a single mother who he says instilled in him an appreciation for “the dignity of work.”
Those principles frequently appear in TV advertisements that air in Iowa and New Hampshire, including one new advertisement that began airing in Iowa on Wednesday.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris believe in socialism and victimhood,” Scott says in the ad. “As president, I’ll eliminate their liberal spending and strengthen work requirements for welfare. Because if you’re able-bodied in America, you work.”