Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Serving or Selling Out?

No sooner than Scott Brown, the newly-elected, Tea Party-activist backed
Republican U.S. Senator sat down in the very seat formerly occupied by
the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the liberal icon, that Sen. Brown did something
quite unexpected and to some, dismaying --- Brown voted in favor of a
jobs bill endorsed by Persident Obama. He joined four other Republican
senators in cutting off a potential GOP filibuster on the bill, which faces
a final vote today in the Senate.

Now, the other four Republican senators who voted for the bill were certainly of no surprise; Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins,
George Voinovich from Ohio, and Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri.
They each have a history of going against the party's leadership (including
Republican presidents) and its platform on important issues, voting often
with their Democratic colleagues. Sen. Bond has been the least egregious
of these four in this regard, but now feels free to buck the GOP more as
per his whimsey, as he is not seeking another term this fall. The other
three, though, have well and truly earned the acronym moniker "RINO"
(Republican In Name Only) by having amassed voting records virtually
indistinguishable from those of the Senate Democrats over time.

But what gives with Sen. Brown? He ran on the promise to vote against
President Obama's health care legislation, and it was thought by the
voters in Massachusetts that Brown would oppose Obama and the
Democrats on all of their lavish-spending ideas. Brown assured his state's
voters that he would also fight any legislation which would increase both
the nation's deficit and debt, and of course send taxes on a rocket ride.
Did he make a "pie crust promise" just to get elected?

The Peasant will play "Devil's Advocate" here, quoting Jeffrey Berry, a
political science professor at Sen. Brown's alma mater Tufts University:
"Scott Brown knows that he's going to be judged differently in 2012 than
he was in 2010... He's facing a different electorate, with more Democratic
voters, and Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, in what is still a blue
state." Indeed, this is true. Sen. Brown likely figures that he will be seen
as working to create jobs in his economically distressed state.
Furthermore, the Democrat's jobs bill has some provisions that have strong bipartisan support, including a proviso exempting businesses
hiring the unemployed from Social Security payroll taxes through
December of this year, and giving them a $1,000 credit if new hires
stick around for a full year. Important sweeteners, these are. And,
Sen. Brown was elected only for the final two years of Sen. Kennedy's
final term, so he has a limited window of opportunity to show the
voters in Massachusetts that they were right to vote him into that
open Senate seat.

On the other side of the ledger, however, the jobs bill --- should it pass
and be signed into law --- might not be any more effective in job creation
than was Obama's 2009 Stimulus Package (called the "Porkulus" Package
by opponents). One of its supposed benefits was to foster job growth as a factor in stimulating the economy, and all it did was consume $780+
billion with unquantifiable job creation to show for it.

Some of those who voted for Scott Brown have contacted him to voice
their dismay and displeasure at his stunning vote, calling him a "RINO"
and accusing him of selling out right out of the starting gate. But The
Peasant urges calm and patience, as Sen. Brown deals with the political
realities of being a Republican senator from a Democratic state. He was
elected not because his state's electorate had suddenly turned Republican,
but because it has grave doubts about at least some of the policies of the
Democratic administration that it had helped vote into office. The voters
of Massachusetts want to sample what Scott Brown has to offer before deciding to buy for the long haul. Let's wait and see what the new U.S.
Senator from Massachusetts does in the weeks and months to come.


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