This op-ed was first published in the Arizona Daily Star.
With every day seeming to bring news of significant changes in our world, it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s going on. Like many, I’m especially concerned by the invasion of Ukraine, an international conflict that involves our European allies.
As a member of the Army Reserve, I’m thankful that we have thoughtful, clear leadership from the White House and across the West to help guide us through these uncertain times.
But as a Democratic legislator serving in the state House, I know we can’t afford to be distracted from what’s going on elsewhere in Washington, on Capitol Hill.
Republicans want seniors to pay more taxes
In the same week that the world watched Russia’s abhorrent attack, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida recently outlined an 11-point plan that laid out policy priorities for a potential Republican Senate majority. The plan should worry every Arizonan.
Among many proposals, it specifically calls for every American to pay federal income taxes. That particular plank caused immediate backlash from many who pointed out that retirees would have to pay higher taxes — after paying into Social Security for their entire working lives.
The reaction from the public was so strong that Sen. Scott backpedaled to say that retirees would be exempt. But he said nothing about the many low-income Americans, including many military veterans exempted from federal income taxes, or active-duty service members eligible for specific exclusions on their federal income taxes. The men and women who put their lives on the line for our country shouldn’t see their taxes increase next year — especially in an economy where the wealthy are doing better than ever.
But that’s not all.
GOP wants to end Social Security and Medicare
This Republican plan would sunset any law after five years. That would mean hundreds of laws that have been on the books for years would have to be renegotiated, re-passed, and re-signed into law every five years.
For example, the Veterans Choice Act, championed by the late Sen. John McCain, gives veterans the option to seek private health care when the Veterans Affairs system doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Under this plan, that law could simply expire — limiting options for veterans when they need it most.
But that’s not the only law threatened. Sen. Scott’s plan for a Republican majority threatens every law.
What happens to the Social Security Act or the Medicare and Medicaid Act in five years? Many older Arizonans could see the health care and retirement benefits they need go away.
And the Affordable Care Act? It could be dissolved, forcing many Arizonans with preexisting conditions off their insurance.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to depend on Congress — the body whose failures have given us multiple shutdowns of the federal government — to have to successfully negotiate every law on the books, and do that in time and without political gamesmanship. The stakes are just too high for Arizonans to take those risks.
This Republican plan would affect us all. And as Arizonans, we deserve to know where our Republican elected officials stand.
For example, Attorney General Mark Brnovich has already tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its protections for those with preexisting conditions, taking his health care repeal lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now he’s running for Senate. Does he support this plan to endanger that law and so many others that Arizonans depend on?
Trying, uncertain times like these require leadership. I strongly urge Attorney General Brnovich and Gov. Doug Ducey to give Arizonans the certainty they deserve by vocally opposing this ridiculous Republican plan.