The following is a transcript of an interview with Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, August 7, 2022.
Margaret Brennan: We now go to Capitol Hill and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, between his vote in the Senate. He also heads the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, which is working to regain control of the Senate. Senator Scott, good morning. I know you stayed up all night. Thank you so much for joining this morning.
Senator RICK SCOTT: I wish I was coherent.
Margaret Brennan: Well, I — you know, no matter what it looks like, there’s no way to stop the big wins the Democrats have here. I know you’re against it, but I want to press you on this because expanding access to health insurance doesn’t do you any good for a state like yours whose residents depend on the Affordable Care Act more than any other state , Republicans like to reduce the deficit. The CBO said that would be a $100 billion reduction over the next decade. Isn’t there something good for you here too?
Sen. Scott: So, Margaret, that’s how I see it. Now, this bill should actually be called the Seniors War Act. I mean, it’s a war on Medicare. If you look at this. That’s $280 billion in Medicare cuts. So, what’s going to happen is that Medicare is going to get caught, and there’s going to be older people who don’t get life-saving medicine because—
MARGARET BRENNAN: — Although reducing health insurance costs is not the same as benefits, you — you know.
Sen. Scott: Margaret, it could have cost $280 billion. Expect to spend. It won’t be spent now. Pharmaceutical companies that will do more research won’t be able to spend their money on research. There will be life-saving medicines that the elderly cannot get. On top of that, I mean, they’re going to add more than $700 billion in taxes. Let’s remember that companies don’t pay taxes in the end. Shareholders pay tax, employees pay less tax income, and investments pay less tax. So that $700 billion actually hurts the economy. Then there was an excise tax on gasoline, although the price of gasoline was $2 higher than it was when Joe Biden was in office. So why would you — you know, we’re in a recession. Why increase the cost to the government? We are increasing taxes.
Margaret Brennan: So, the Responsible Federal Budget Committee is making your claim here, and you just reiterated that claim on Medicare spending, which is totally misleading. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only about 1 percent of new drugs will be affected by changes in drug development. So how do you respond?
Sen. Scott: Margaret, 1%. Wait a moment. Wait a moment. If your grandmother isn’t 1% important, if it affects the life-saving medicines we can do now, we shouldn’t — we shouldn’t cut Medicare like this. I don’t believe, by the way, that we shouldn’t raise taxes, especially in a recession. Why are we raising the gas tax now because it’s $2 higher than when Joe Biden was in office. This will continue to push us into a recession bigger than ours. Look where we are now. Low labor force participation, wages unrelated to inflation, and two-quarters of negative GDP. I mean — we — this is — Joe Biden pushed us and these plans are pushing us into a recession. So, I think we have to — we have to stop raising taxes. We have to make it easier for businesses to build their businesses, compete and we get more jobs.
Margaret Brennan: Well, you know, we just got great July jobs numbers, but we’re going to dig into the details with economist Mary Daly. Let me talk to you about the politics of all this. Republicans have been hoping to take advantage of the high inflation and all-time highs we’re in, and President Biden’s low approval ratings to win in November. But the president and Democrats are doing very well here. Natural gas prices fell. You have this massive spending bill being processed. That’s a lot of big wins for Democrats. The president has just authorized this strike to eliminate al Qaeda leaders. Wouldn’t that make it harder for Republicans to gain the advantage you’re trying to create here?
Sen. Scott: Well, you know, that sounds good, right? But that’s the talking point in the White House. But let’s think about it, 72% of Americans think we’re on the wrong track. Biden’s numbers are in the tank. If you look at all the Democrats — all Democrats are running, they have to — basically they’re surrogates for Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer. I mean, they have to defend inflation, high oil prices, you know, Afghanistan withdrawal, open borders, critical racial theory, defund the police, that’s what they have to defend, because that’s — this is — that’s what Biden is known for , which is known to Democrats. Now, this will be — it looks like it’s an election year. It’s going to be a tough year. We have 21 Republicans and only 14 Democrats. The Democrats are getting ahead of us, but we have good candidates. And, I believe Joe Biden is going to be our key.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said it was going to be a tough year. I want to play for you what Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Fox last week.
(start video clip)
Sen. MITCH MCCONNELL: I think it’s going to be a very tight — we had a 50/50 shot and now we have a 50/50 country. And I think when this Senate race smoke clears, we’re likely to have a very, very close Senate, either we’re up a little bit, or the Democrats are up a little bit.
(end video clip)
MARGARET BRENNAN: If things are so bad, then why are Republicans so nervous?
Sen. Scott: Well, first of all, we have — we have very good candidates. I mean, Democrats are raising a lot of money. So we have to be able to get our message across, so you know, we have to raise money. We’ve got to work — work hard, you know, we’ve been through a lot of primaries, so — but I believe we’ll win, but it’s going to be — it’s going to be tough. We have to raise money for you, we have to work very hard for the candidates – have to work very hard. Everyone will help our candidates, but I’m optimistic.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do agree that it would be nervous for the Republicans to have a slight advantage at most.
Sen. Scott: I’m very optimistic. I would – I – but I – I’m realistic, you know, you have to raise money. Democrats. Good money is being raised. Joe Biden is our key. By the way, this bill won’t help Democrats. This will help Republicans. $700 billion in tax increases, $280 billion in Medicare cuts, higher gas taxes, and I have more than 87,000 IRS agents. You know how happy people are to have more IRS agents? I mean, it’s not — it’s not going to be popular across the country.
Margaret Brennan: In a local radio interview in July, you talked about your business as an executive, and you said, “We should start electing people we’re going to hire.” In Georgia, Republican participation MP candidate Herschel Walker lied about how many children he has and his business dealings. His ex-wife said he pointed a gun at her head and said, “I’m going to blow your mind.” In Arizona, candidate Blake Master called Unabomber an underrated thinker. Al Qaeda, he said, does not actually pose a substantial threat to Americans. I mean, I have a list of candidates here and they have some candidates and say some very disturbing things. Would you hire these people to work for you?
Sen. Scott: Well, you check everyone, but I’m not the one doing it. It’s voters in those states who are doing it. Voters in those states will make a choice.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re trying to help Senate Republicans and lead them to victory. These are your candidates.
Sen. Scott: So, you know Margaret, as you remember, voters in Arizona choose who they’re going to vote for, they’re going to vote, what they’re going to choose, and they’re going to be between Blackmaster and Mr. Kelly. choose between. Mark Kelly voted to keep the border open. He never voted for border security. He voted for tax increases. He voted to cut Medicare. You know, he is — he voted for Chuck Schumer, basically 100 percent for Joe Biden. Warnock has the same problem, and this election will be about Joe Biden. So, this election is going to be about all the bad things that have happened — this — the fact that we’re going to go into a recession, you know, the fact that inflation is 9% and the price of gas goes up by $2. All of that, that’s what people call concerned. there – there –
Margaret Brennan: — these are — these are your Republican candidates for the Senate. These are your candidates. Will you hire them?
Sen. Scott: The voters in these states, the voters in these states will decide if they want to hire. Now I can vote — I can vote in Florida, that’s what I think. But voters in those states choose who they want in those states. It’s a choice between the two. But it seems — all the Democratic candidates are clones of President Biden —
Margaret Brennan: —Yes —
Sen. Scott: — oh, by the way, they would —
MARGARET BRENNAN: But if you were, I mean, you’d admit it. You’ll admit that these things can be red flags for HR if someone goes to a private company for an interview. So, it’s just-
Sen. Scott: Biden didn’t run with anyone because he was — he was — he was 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 say, I’m going to take a hard look at other people. Our candidates have to go tell them what they’re going to do, and we’re going to make sure everyone knows exactly who the Democrats are. That’s it – that’s what’s going to happen across the country, we’re going to have games and we’re going to see what happens.
Margaret Brennan: Are you advising all candidates in these races to accept their election results because many of them are still questioning the results of the 2020 campaign?
Sen. Scott: Well, Margaret, remember, that’s exactly what happened to me with Bill Nelson and Mark Elias. They didn’t accept the election results, and after Election Day after I won by 57,000 votes, they tried to count the votes illegally. So, election security is very important to me. I want to make sure we make sure — make sure we do everything we can to make sure people know the election is fair. We’re already building teams, which is what I had to do in Florida for 18 years, teams of attorneys and volunteers, to make sure these elections are fair.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you accept the election as — you know, the integrity of these races that all your candidates are in, or if they lose you’ll just have a problem with them?
Sen. Scott: Well, I-I-I want free and fair elections, so I’m trying to make sure those elections are fair because everyone can make a decision at the time. So, I’m still frustrated with what happened to my game. We used to — we spent millions to make sure we won, we won election night, and they tried to count illegal votes after election night, which was wrong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Soon, before I let you go, do you think the US military should be out there to defend Taiwan if it’s made in Taiwan — China takes action?
Sen. Scott: I think we have to be very clear that we are going to defend Taiwan. We have to be very clear about what will happen to China, what sanctions will happen to China if they invade Taiwan. I think all American businesses need to understand the risks they face right now if they do business there. And I think every American whenever they see a box that says “Made in China” they should send it back to their person and say I’ll never buy a product made in China again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, here’s a full story on inflation, but that’s for another day. We must leave it there. Thanks for your time and I’ll get you back to work there. Facing the country will be back in a minute. stay with us.