Rick Scott uses ‘alcoholism’ as metaphor for current Social Security, Medicare spending levels
Rick Scott. Image via AP.

'The first step of the 12 steps is, "You have a problem!"'

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is continuing to make his case for reform of Social Security and Medicare, likening current spending practices to managing addiction.

During an interview on WDUN radio, Scott compared current spending levels on the entitlement programs to “alcoholism,” suggesting a “12-step program” was necessary to corral the fiscal liability while responding to a question from host Martha Zoller about Social Security and Medicare spending specifically.

“First, let’s acknowledge we have a problem. It’s like alcoholism. The first step of the 12 steps is, ‘You have a problem!’ OK? We have a spending problem in this country.”

Scott’s spokesperson McKinley Lewis called soon after this piece was first published to contend that despite the framing of the question by the host, the Senator was really talking about federal spending writ large in his use of the “alcoholism” and “12 Steps” tropes.

That said, the Senator went on to address the entitlement spending further specifically, saying that doing “nothing” would lead to bankruptcy of Medicare in four years and Social Security in 12.

“Let’s start by saying we have a problem,” Scott added, before going on yet again to pitch his plan to “rescue America,” which famously included a call for comprehensive reform of these core entitlement programs that went too far for even Republican Senate leadership.

Scott’s plan last year found resistance on his own side of the aisle, with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell trashing the concept at a press conference at the Capitol.

“Now let me tell you what will not be part of our agenda,” McConnell said during a press conference Scott attended. “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of a Republican Senate majority agenda.”

Of course, Republicans don’t have a Senate majority, with the party failing to fulfill Scott’s optimistic assurances that would happen when he was Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Scott went on to mount a failed challenge to McConnell as caucus leader, mustering just 10 votes late last year.

Scott contended he wanted a “review” of these programs.

“There are states around the country that say, ‘We’re going to review all of our programs every few years,’” Scott said during a March 2022 interview on 97.3 “The Sky” FM radio. “Let’s review all the programs every five years. I didn’t say, ‘Let’s get rid of the program.’ I say we’re going to review to make sure we keep it going.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Andrew Linko

    January 18, 2023 at 11:02 am

    Addiction, let’s look at your campaign account, for years you have been addicted to Real Estate, Securities & Investment, Health, Insurance, campaign contributions, as your FEC report shows. So before you give your campaign contributors rewards of Social Security trust monies, give all of us the freedom to opt out of our insurance premiums, investment fees, prescriptions costs that are used for political action and donations. Then maybe you can be transparent and accountable to speaking about millions of Seniors who rely on the income from the FICA taxes they paid and you despise!

  • Lynda

    January 18, 2023 at 12:07 pm

    Re: Our crazy republican(?) senator’s addiction to causing those who receive SS and use Medicare or Medicaid panic attacks.

    Scott tells his constituents that he grew up poor and only became a “Billionaire” when his father found a way to make HCA hospitals profitable: Medicare fraud.

    Scott has no understanding of the worry people whose only income and healthcare come from taxes paid into an actual Trust while they were working. Yes, Scott speaks of “entitlements” as a charity gift the governments give old or disabled or orphans when they meet fierce rules on who is eligible. Social Security is actually described as an Insurance program funded by workers through FICA taxes on every dollar earned by low income workers.

    No, Sen. Scott, Social Security is not “going bankrupt”. An easy fix is to raise the top income level now taxed to a level more representative of the wage growth at upper levels. Let everyone pay their fair share. So, Sen. Scott, your desire to “Tax the poor” is already being done through FICA taxes.

    Stop worrying, Sen. Scott, about the many ways you can hurt your low income constituents. Worry how you can manage to fool enough of them to vote you back into office. You aren’t MAGA in the way trump likes for the extremists. And for the rest of us your goofy plan to tax the poor and the other ideas in your losing campaign for Republican senators put us in the Never Scott camp.

  • Florida Voter

    January 18, 2023 at 2:31 pm

    Won’t someone rid us of this meddlesome senator from Florida? Isn’t there one brave soul willing to 2nd amendment solution this guy?

  • Tjb

    January 18, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    Rick Scott should accept the 4th of the 12 Steps:
    “ Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself”

    Senator Scott … will you honestly let us know what you discover in this search? Once this is done, could you let us know the folks you have hurt with your actions and policies as requested in Step 8.

  • Victoria

    January 18, 2023 at 6:57 pm

    This is rich coming from someone who did his best to hurt Medicare but had to plead nolo contendere to a massive fraud.

  • tom palmer

    January 18, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    Our main problem is having elected Senator Medicare Fraud in the first place.

  • rizza

    January 19, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    Alien Rick , what? Why not tax the super rich folks fairly? The 1 percent billionaires are getting richer and it’s time to tax them to help the poor. Keep trashing social security and medicare and we will finally be rid of your pox on our State, Bald Head Bozo

Comments are closed.


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