Scott Brown on healthcare reform: whole plan should be scrapped
Scott Brown said Sunday that he would work with President Obama on pocketbook issues like $33 billion in tax cuts to businesses that hire. But he sees no future for the healthcare reform bill.
Massachusettsâ€™ newly elected Republican senator, Scott Brown, was not in attendance at the meeting between President Obama and House Republicans Friday. But on Sunday, he spoke as if he was ready to help Mr. Obama turn the country around.
â€śI want to be able to provide, you know, my knowledge and my energy to helping,â€ť he said on ABCâ€™s â€śThis Week.â€ť
Mr. Brown won the Massachusetts race in part by distancing himself from the Republican party to win over independents â€“ calling himself a â€śScott Brown Republican." It was, in many respects the key to his victory, with independents outnumbering Democrats or Republicans in Massachusetts.
He sought to continue to carve out that independent identity Sunday.
In some respects, he persisted in railing at the Washington establishment under Obama. Asked if the entire healthcare reform deal now before Congress should be scrapped, he replied: â€śYes.â€ť
â€śIt was on its last legs before I even got elected, because the Democrats even were upset at the backroom deals, for example, in Nebraska,â€ť he added. Itâ€™s time â€śto go back to the drawing board and do it in a transparent, bipartisan manner.â€ť
Signs of cooperation
Yet Brown also offered support for Obama. He said would have voted to confirm Obama appointees Ben Benanke for the Federal Reserve and Timothy Geithner for the Treasury. Moreover, he said he backed Obamaâ€™s proposed $33 billion tax credit for businesses, and even refused to endorse the widespread Republican criticism that Obama is soft on terror.
â€śI don't think it's just about the president,â€ť he said. â€śSo I'm not going to give him a grade and say who did â€“ President Bush or President Obama â€“ who did the better job.â€ť
His answers clearly reflect the political demands upon him: If he veers to the right when he arrives in Washington, he risks alienating the voters who elected him. Yet his comments suggest that, at least at first blush, Brown is well situated to take advantage of the political situation created by his election.
Brown suggested that Obamaâ€™s meeting with House Republicans came as a direct result of the Massachusetts election, and the math supports his theory. Now one seat short of the 60-seat, filibuster proof supermajority that existed before Brownâ€™s election, the Democrats must win at least one Republican vote to move bills through the Senate.
While it is difficult to imagine the Senate's most junior member bucking his party on key votes, his moderate voice could help in laying the groundwork for bipartisan cooperation â€“ something missing from Obamaâ€™s first year.
â€śI hope I'm on the front of the line, you know, leading the chargeâ€ť toward bipartisanship, he said.
'Big tent' Republican
Brownâ€™s election could also have an effect on the Republican Party itself: His platform supports abortion rights and Massachusettsâ€™ right to legalize gay marriage here. In a party that has seen talk of â€śpurity tests,â€ť Brownâ€™s election shows the benefits of a â€śbig tentâ€ť strategy that includes a greater variety of opinions.
â€śI've always been a big tent person, you know? We need more people to come into our tent to express their views in a respectful and thoughtful manner,â€ť he said.
Brown was clear, however, what the bedrock of his political philosophy would be. â€śMake no mistake, I am a fiscal conservative,â€ť he said. â€śAnd when it comes to issues affecting people's pockets, and pocketbooks, and wallets, I'll be with the Republicans if they are in fact pushing those initiatives.â€ť
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