Posted tagged ‘Scott Brown’

The Education of Scott Brown…1/3rd term Senator edition.

March 30, 2010

Our very junior senator weighed in with an attempt to play in the big leagues today, and it wasn’t pretty.

Senator (sic) Brown put his name on top of what seems to have been a pre-packaged generic GOP attack op-ed in the Boston Globe, titled,”The Health Care Fight Is Not Over.” (h/t BarbinMD over at GOS)

Well, he got that part — and just about that part alone — right.  (To be fair, he did spell “Scott Brown” correctly as well.)  The fight isn’t over.  Next up are things like the public option, which the insurance industry seems to be begging Congress to pass, and or Medicare buy-in, not to mention an ongoing effort to replace fee-for-service with a less incentive-misaligning payment scheme.

But the piece itself is almost a type specimen of the GOPs one trick (a sadly effective one):  it is nothing more than the usual list of plaints, trumpeted as high crimes and misdemeanors.  Everyone of them has been painstakingly debunked, but the trick is to keep on repeating it — the caged-monkey faeces-flinging tactic– until the debunkers weary, and the falsehoods get to parade around the public square unmolested.  All it takes is a willingness to check your brain in a jar by the door, and it becomes easy to do this.  And sadly, my own senator (for a while, Brownie baby, just a little while), has shown himself ready, willing, and able to do just that.

Shall we fisk?

BY ELECTING me to the US Senate, the people of Massachusetts sent a clear message: Washington needs to get its priorities straight.

Err, no.  They sent a message that even a Cosmo centerfold who has Lot’s view of the instrumental use of daughters could beat out the worst candidate in living memory.  Don’t overthink what got you to that big dome, dude.

After my election, Washington politicians began an aggressive push to bend the rules and force their unpopular health care bill on an unwilling nation.

Err, no.  Health Care Reform had already passed both houses of Congress by the time Brown was elected.  And even after months of disinformation, the reform measure was just about equally balanced between yeas and nays.  “Divisive” — yes.  Unpopular in the conventional use of the term?  No. (It’s also worth noting that some measure of opposition to the bill came from those who thought the measure was not strong enough, and that, as the link above demonstates, the law has so far proved more popular than the bill, with a majority of Americans supporting what was, after all, a relatively modest and essentially conservative change.

They went into secret negotiations to make up their own rules…

Err, no.  Six committees, a year of debate and deliberation, extended negotiations with leading Republican Senators (remember the gang of six?), multiple votes and a supermajority in the Senate…not to mention a nationally televised and webcast health care summit that featured every major player in Congress on the bill, GOPer as well as Democrat, all led to a bill that passed through absolutely conventional methods.  The House passed its bill; the Senate passed its bill; the House then concurred with the Senate bill and by majority vote affirmed that measure.  It was just the way they draw it up in civics class.  And if Sen. Brown is decrying the use negotiations to sway votes by way of legislative sweeteners, the “backroom deals” so calumnied by the pearl-clutching set of temporary GOP Goo-goos, then he might want to opt out of the appropriations business altogether (and abandon whatever hopes he retains of being elected to a full term).

…and eventually found a way to circumvent the will of the people by using the reconciliation process to ram through their health care bill.

Err, no.  Last I heard, folks kind of liked getting rid of those backroom deals that so offend the nostrils of our squeaky clean new senator — the Nebraska pay-off an all that, not to mention the student loan reform that increases the money available to folks struggling to pay for college while reducing the federal deficit.  There was, of course, nothing untoward or unprecedented in the use of the reconciliation process to permit a majority of the US Senate to make minor fixes to already approved legislation.  After all, the GOP did it plenty when last they controlled Congress, those will-of-the-people cheating scoundrels.

For the last year, the American people have been shaking their heads at the closed-door meetings, sweetheart deals, and special carve-outs. It has been a very ugly process, and caused many Americans to lose faith in their elected officials in Washington.

Err, no.  Most folks in America have had little concern with minutiae of DC process.  And as for ugly?  No more — or rather, much less — than this, which truly does represent bad process and fiscal irresponsiblity, GOP style.  And as for passage of the bill affecting  faith in elected officials…well, rather more if you are a member of the party of no, than the folks who actually, you know, tried to do the jobs for which they had been elected.

This bill constitutes a massive increase in spending that our country…

Err, no.  See this.

…can’t afford

Err, no.  See this.

Instead of reforming the health care system and bending the cost curve down, we are doing the exact opposite.

Ahh, that “cost curve.”  This is simply false.  The law is imperfect — the more so because of unified GOP opposition on tactical, rather than policy grounds.  It became an insurance reform rather than a fundamental change to the health care delivery system, which, to be sure, is needed.  But the law contains significant pilot approaches to cost-cutting and thus represents a major federal measure to put downward pressure on cost increases (got that?).  Does more need to be done…absolutely — but returning to the status quo ante ain’t going to cut it.  (Nor will the GOP rationing-by-death approach.)

For starters, we can work in a bipartisan manner to repeal the worst parts of this bill.

Uhh.  No we can’t.  This is too dumb even to bother digging up links with which to ridicule this with.  We’re in “All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten” territory here.

We should replace the worst parts of this legislation with solutions that would actually lower costs and improve the quality of care — such as allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines, measures that will prevent waste, fraud and abuse, support for increased prevention and wellness programs, and reforms to limit costly litigation and defensive medicine.

Oh FSM, this again.  See what I mean about monkey faeces?*  OK — state opt ins already exist in  the form of the health care exchanges.  The phrase “waste, fraud, and abuse” must be available on a programmable function key available to every politician who doesn’t want to specify exactly what he/she is going to cut — but the bill contains oversight mechanisms and a number of technological fixes that address some of the low-hanging opportunities in reducing waste/fraud — note the administration’s emphasis on electronic medical record keeping as a core example.  Tort reforms are a convenient shibboleth, a GOP standard that has been repeatedly shown to be at best a minor component of health care cost growth.  Trotting this out shows Brown isn’t even trying; this is just a standard-issue bit of blather that for some reason the Globe accepted as authentic opinion.  The cross state-lines argument is similarly a red herring.  Some cross-border transactions are already enabled in the law  in the exchange mechanism — which retains the crucial element of host-state and or Federal regulatory control.  Lose that, and we’re back to situations worse than the status quo ante, as Ezra Klein has tirelessly pointed out.

Individual states should have the flexibility to solve the health care problems in a way that is best for their specific state, similar to the approach we took in Massachusetts that has resulted in a state-specific plan that covers 98 percent of our citizens without raising taxes.

Err, no.   I mean, for one thing the federal plan is, as President Obama pointed out just this morning, largely modelled on the Massachusetts plan — which suggests that we are onto a pretty good thing.  And second, we’ve seen what state-specific approaches do.  That’s what we’ve had for last umpty-ump years, and it’s left us with a system in which medical costs are soaring out of control while more and more Americans join the 45 million or so uninsured each year.  This is what we’re trying to fix, bozo…and not any sentient being’s idea of a solution.

This disastrous detour of a health care bill as distracted the attention and energy of Congress for the past year.

Huh?  Scotty, my Senator.  If the small matter of the ongoing trainwreck of 18 percent of the US economy that is failing at twice the cost of our nearest competitor nation to deliver outcomes that match those of our international peers is not smack in the middle of something to which Congress is supposed to devote attention and energy, I don’t know what could be. If it is too much for you, then do us all a favor and resign a job that is clearly beyond your competence.

Now, it is time to listen to the people and focus on their top priority: jobs.

Uh, Senator Brown?  Have you noticed that there is some kind of a connection between the health care sector and the labor market?  You haven’t?  You should.

It would be a mistake for the administration to try to ram through other items on the liberal agenda when so many Americas are struggling. Americans want their government to fully focus its attention on the economy and getting our citizens back to work.

Beyond the walk-and-chew-gum problem referenced above, I assume you mean such liberal agenda items as this, or this, or this — that last being only a modest down payment on the jobs concern, but still.

Only when we start heeding the will of the American people can we begin to restore faith in government, and it all starts with commonsense, practical solutions that will put Americans back to work and get our economy back on track.

Ahh, now we get to it.  When in doubt, give up on anything approaching an actual rational statement, and channel the quitta from Wasilla.

The op-ed is in fact more valuable than its individual parts are risible.  It gives us a clear reading of the intellectual capacity of our new senator.  There is not one original phrase in the entire piece, and most of what is there is simply wrong.  You could replace Scott Brown this; work on the speech synthesizer just  a bit; and no one would ever know.

*See, e.g. this from GOP Senate election chief John Coryn of Texas, in a memo leaked to, among others, CNN:

“On the trail, it’s critical that we remind people of the fact that it was Republicans who fought to force insurance companies to compete with one another over state lines for Americans’ business,” Cornyn writes in the memo. “It was Republicans who fought to reform the junk lawsuits that raise medical costs and lower quality by forcing doctors to practice ‘medicine.’ It was Republicans who fought for policies that protected Americans with preexisting conditions and it was Republicans who proposed health care reforms that didn’t cut Medicare by $500 billion and raise Americans’ taxes by $400 million.”

To put it another way Brown got the word, and the Globe got suckered (and I’m hoping it was that, and not connivance) into publishing what is in essence the GOP Politboro line of the day.  There is nothing in this column, that is, that suggests that Scott Brown himself has an original thought or an informed opinion about one of the most important pieces of legislation of the last several decades.  Not an inspiring sight…but not a surprise either.

Chronicles of the Gutless, or When Did the GOP Become Such Cowards? Scott Brown edition

January 11, 2010

Just listened to the last debate in the MA Senate race and caught the exchanges between Scott Brown (R-Soundbite) and Martha Coakley (D).

Lots of stuff to notice — mostly that if I were a committed anti-abortion voter, I would  have no one to vote for in this election, as Scott Brown was for, against, and unsure of what he thought on the issue, especially around his proposal a couple of years back to permit hospital workers to refuse to inform rape victims of the existence of a morning-after contraceptive.  He sponsored the idea, then voted in favor of a bill requiring such information, and finally said he was for Roe v. Wade…or sort of.

I have no idea what he really thinks (and how he would vote), and I’m not sure he does either, but I do know that neither supporters nor opponents of women’s right to make their own medical decisions should have any warm and fuzzy feelings about the man right now.

I also liked the zinger that third party guy Joe Kennedy (obligatory no relation reference here) got off on Brown, noting how he’s against taxes now, but declined to support an anti-income tax measure in the run up to the last election.  I actually think that his was the right position at the time, but he sure is running as if he hopes no one remembers that moment of GOP apostasy now.

But all of that is just the secret sauce on top of what makes me think that Brown is truly in tune with the gutless heart of modern Republican “thought” (sic — ed).

That would be his stance on trying accused terrorists in civilian courts, as opposed to maintaining our version of a no-exit gulag beyond the reach of law.

He said, repeatedly, that he opposed trying such suspects in civilian court at — as he said over and over again — “taxpayer expense.”

The witlessness of that got me, of course:  these dudes aren’t a drain on the American public purse now, Mr. Brown?  You think that all those water bills and their three squares, Guantanamo style, come free?

But more deeply, when did the macho-er-than-thou “Mission Accomplished” GOP become so terrified of a handful of violent men (not to mention all those lumped in with the baddest guys who ended up there by accident, but that’s another story) that the mere thought that the rule of law might apply to their cases would send allegedly grown men and women reaching for their blankies?

That’s the rub, for me.  It has always seemed a fundamental mistake to dignify those who aim to blow up random children, women and men with the epithet “enemy” or “combatant.”

Our adversaries — at least  those who use overstuffed jockstraps as weapons — are not warriors. They are not soldiers to be dignified by any hint of equivalence with the men and women we have sent in harm’s way.  They are mere thugs, and they should be treated as such.

This isn’t mere semantics.

We have done nothing to serve the interests of al Qaeda or its kin as to acknowledge them to the world as enemies capable of inspiring fear.  What a recruiting tool, to enable some persuasive person to proclaim to young men that the world’s only superpower fears its “enemy combatants!”

Add to that the help we have given them as our leaders cowered and then masked their fear in the false bravado of torture.  Abu Ghraib was understood to be what it was: not an aberration, but an expression of the policy of the US government — driven by the fear evoked by the specter of global terror.

And now Scott Brown, with all the deep grasp of the issue that only service to Wrentham and posturing in the rump minority of the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can bring, comes along and tells us that torture, and indefinite detention, and the suspension of habeas corpus and all the rest remains the only way to deal with the existential threat posed by this bunch of thugs.

Maybe — if we were truly weak, if we were a  fragile, illegitimate rump state, dependent on every last dirty trick of security-apparats to push off  the throes of disintegration.

But we are not.  We are the United States of America, and if that means anything anymore, after all the broken faith of the Bush years, then it means we are capable of using the law to protect and to punish those who have earned the penalty.

Scott Brown doesn’t think so.  His 30 years of military service seem not to have endowed him with spine, or much of a sense of the Constitution he has sworn to protect.  He’d rather cower, and leave those he fears in the cells forever.


We need better in a Senator.  We need someone who is not afraid of shadows, one who understands that the equal application of the law is a defense against those who threaten the idea of America — and not now, nor ever, our weakness.

My Massachusetts readers:  don’t forget to vote come Tuesday, 19 January 2010.

Image:  Georgios Iakovidis, “Cold Shower,” 1898