Republican rebuttal to Biden to warn against 'socialist dreams'

by Reuters
Wednesday, 28 April 2021 22:33 GMT

(Updates with excerpts of Scott's response)

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - After President Joe Biden lays out his ambitions to reshape the U.S. economy and address racial injustice on Wednesday, Republican Senator Tim Scott will argue that the Democratic agenda amounts to "Washington schemes" and "socialist dreams."

A rising star in his party and the sole Black Republican in the Senate, Scott has promised to deliver an "honest conversation" and an "optimistic and hopeful message" in his own nationally televised remarks.

"Our best future won't come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams. It will come from you — the American people," Scott said in experts of his speech released ahead of delivery.

He will also credit former President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed for the success of the vaccine rollout, attribute the economic recovery to last year's Republican-supported COVID-19 relief and use the pandemic-related closure of public schools to argue for school choice.

As coronavirus deaths soared into the hundreds of thousands last year, Trump faced criticism from public health experts for often refusing to wear a mask in public and encouraging thousands of his supporters to gather for campaign rallies.

Scott, of South Carolina, will also laud Republican economic policy for benefits to minorities, women and low-income Americans.

"Just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime. The lowest unemployment ever recorded for African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans. The lowest for women in nearly 70 years. Wages were growing faster for the bottom 25% than the top 25%," he said in his prepared remarks.

"That happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans."

POLICE REFORM

A week after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, Biden is expected to use his speech to make the case for far-reaching police reforms.

Scott, 55, a leading figure in renewed congressional talks on police reform legislation, addresses Biden's remarks from his own experience as a poor Black child from a single-parent home who became a self-made businessman before entering national politics.

Scott's appearance comes at a time when Republican state legislatures across the country are advancing new voting restrictions, which Democrats denounce as a return to "Jim Crow" segregation.

His will not be the only speech responding to Biden. Unusually, progressive Democrats have tapped Representative Jamaal Bowman to deliver their own address afterward.

Scott has described Democratic partisanship as a barrier to helping Black communities.

"As a Black guy, I know how it feels to walk into a store and have the little clerk follow me around, even as a United States senator," Scott said in a floor speech last year after Democrats blocked his own police reform legislation, which they argued was not sufficiently far-reaching.

"The stereotyping of Republicans is just as toxic and poisoned to the outcomes of the most vulnerable communities in this nation," he said.

Scott has come under scrutiny in recent days, after the Washington Post reported that his narrative about a grandfather dropping out of elementary school to pick cotton overlooked the fact that his family owned the farm where he worked.

Republicans jumped to Scott's defense, along with some Democrats including Representative Karen Bass, a Black lawmaker involved in police reform legislation.

"Tim Scott is an honorable man," Bass tweeted. "It doesn't matter what party you're in – the journey of his family, from cotton to Congress in one lifetime, should be celebrated." (Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

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