North Carolina GOP Senate nominee Budd embraces tax hike for 102 million people


Republican Rep. Ted Budd said, 'You gotta be careful how you talk about' NRSC Chair Rick Scott's plan for a GOP majority.

Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina, the Republican nominee for his state's open Senate seat, has endorsed the idea of a tax hike for most Americans, agreeing that everyone, no matter their income level, should have "skin in the game" by paying federal taxes.

Budd also said that his party needs to be cautious about how it talks about National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott's unpopular "Rescue America" plan, which contained the provision that would have resulted in such a hike.

Budd was asked at a May 12 campaign event in Pittsboro, North Carolina, whether he supported the provision in the plan that read, "All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax."

"As long as you flatten it, I'm for that," Budd responded, captured in audio provided to the American Independent Foundation. "But I'm against raising taxes. I think we're on the same page here. Yeah, I like Rick Scott, but you gotta be careful how you talk about his plan right now. You're talking about the Rick Scott plan? I get you. I get you."

Scott's proposal was part of an 11-point plan announced Feb. 22 for what Republicans would do if they regained a majority in Congress in November's midterm elections. It also would provide for cuts to government assistance to kids and federal employment, stop government action to curb climate change, and institute an automatic expiration of every federal law every five years, requiring them all to be renegotiated and passed again by Congress, and including vital social safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

A Feb. 24 analysis noted that Scott's proposal would impact an estimated 102 million Americans who are either retired or work but make less than $28,000 annually. Contrary to the Florida Republican's assertion, although they are not subject to federal income tax, most of them do have "skin in the game" through federal payroll, gasoline, tobacco, and alcohol taxes; state sales taxes; and local property taxes.

While some Republican incumbents and candidates have dodged even commenting on Scott's plan, many have endorsed it in whole or in part.

Budd's concern about how the issue is discussed is not unfounded. A poll released in March by Morning Consult and Politico found that just 33% of registered voters supported "requiring all Americans to pay income tax, including low-income and retired individual," while 51% opposed doing so.

While Scott vowed Tuesday in a video, "In the words of famous UFC fighter Conor McGregor, I'd like to apologize to absolutely nobody in Washington," as of Friday he had updated his plan to 12 points instead of the original 11, had dropped his call for a tax increase, and was pretending it had never been there.

"Nothing in this plan has ever, or will ever, advocate or propose, any tax increases, at all," the new language falsely claims. It reads: "Able bodied Americans under 60, who do not have young children or incapacitated dependents, should work. We need them pulling the wagon and paying taxes, not sitting at home taking money from the government. Currently, far too many Americans who can work are living off of the hard work of others, and have no 'skin in the game'. Government must never again incentivize people to not work by paying them more to stay home."

Budd's suggestion that he wants to "flatten" the tax increases refers to a proposal, popular among some on the right, that Americans should simply pay a flat percentage of their income in taxes rather than the current progressive federal income tax system.

According to a 2015 report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, a "single flat tax rate would still have to be relatively high in order to raise enough revenue, or tax preferences would have to be reduced for nonwealthy households, which in turn would mean higher taxes on low- and middle-income taxpayers. ... No matter how a flat tax is structured, the wealthy would always win."

On Nov. 19, 2021, Budd joined the rest of his party's House members in voting against President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan, which would have raised taxes on corporations and those earning $400,000 or more to pay for climate and caregiving infrastructure.

In a press statement, the Budd denounced it as a "socialist spending spree" and warned, "No country has ever taxed and spent their way to prosperity, but that's exactly what President Biden and Congressional Democrats are trying to do."

Budd will face Democratic former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.