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“Stuck Between Obamacare And A Hard Place”: As A Massachusetts State Senator, Scott Brown Voted For Romneycare

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown will officially kick off his campaign to unseat New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tonight, as he attempts to return to the world’s greatest deliberative body (or something) after being ousted from his Bay State Senate seat by Democrat Elizabeth Warren two years ago. According to leaked excerpts of the speech he plans to deliver tonight, Brown will be campaigning against Obamacare, just as he did in 2010 when he won an upset in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

“Along with our money and our health plans, for a lot of us, it feels like we’re losing our liberty, too. Obamacare forces us to make a choice, live free or log on — and here in New Hampshire, we choose freedom,” Brown plans to say. (Get it? Because New Hampshire’s state motto is “live free or die.” But wait, if Obamacare is the major assault on freedom Republicans claim it is, do you have the choice to live free under it? Or is it just that “log on or die” didn’t send the right message? But I digress.)

There’s definitely a danger for Brown in taking this approach. Yes, the health care law has, according to a recent WMUR Granite State poll, a less than stellar approval rating in New Hampshire, with only 34 percent saying they approve of it while 53 percent say they oppose it. (Let’s add the caveat that the poll doesn’t say what portion of the opposition thinks the law goes too far and what portion thinks it doesn’t go far enough.) But Brown will have a hard time getting around the various problems other Republicans are running into when it comes to making Obamacare a focal point of a campaign.

For starters, the law may be unpopular in theory, but in practice, signups under Obamacare’s New Hampshire exchange have exceeded expectations. Does Brown have a plan for providing for those folks? Or how about the estimated 50,000 people who are going to receive health insurance under New Hampshire’s recently approved Medicaid expansion, which was made possible by Obamacare and on which Brown has thus far been mum? Those are real people who are experiencing real benefits from the law.

And therein lies the problem for Republicans, which Brown is eventually going to run into as well: Providing the benefits of Obamacare requires something that looks like Obamacare. Just look at this quote a Republican aide gave to Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur (emphasis added):

As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act. … To make something like that work, you have to move in the direction of the ACA. You have to have a participating mechanism, you have to have a mechanism to fund it, you have to have a mechanism to fix parts of the market.

And Brown knew this once upon a time. As my former colleague Igor Volsky noted, as a state senator Brown voted for the Massachusetts health reform law that looks a whole lot like Obamacare.

This is exactly why the long awaited Republican health care alternative never actually comes to fruition. (Sure, some individual lawmakers have proposed plans, but the party hasn’t coalesced around one bill.) To actually craft an alternative, the GOP would either have to admit that Obamacare is a pretty darn conservative measure or admit, like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan did the other day, that the popular provisions and benefits of Obamacare have to go away as well in order to enact a more Republican-y plan.

Will that latter approach work in still quite blue New Hampshire? Or will Brown try to get away with hand waving about an Obamacare alternative that will never materialize? Either way, spouting “live free or log on” will be no slam dunk.

 

By: Pat Garofalo, U. S. News and World Report, April 10, 2014

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Scott Brown | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Running Against History”: It Looks Like Scott Brown May Have Picked Exactly The Wrong State

Republican Scott Brown is not just a pretty face or the first senator to be seen around the Dirksen Senate Office Building in full biking gear for his afternoon rides. How else is he to keep his tall, lean physique in fighting form in the deliberative body? After all, the once senator from Massachusetts may be the future senator from New Hampshire.

But there’s more to that story than switching states. Brown has already earned a unique place in U.S. political history, despite a slender record of service after winning a special election to fill the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat in 2010, as he is the first man to fully face the ramifications of the rise in formidable women players running for high office in the past 20 years. The Senate now has an all-time high of 20 women. If Brown wins, he will cut into that peak, reached in 2012. Does he want to cycle against history?

Brown will likely become the only man ever to run in three consecutive Senate races against three women candidates. You read it here first. I say this despite Mark Leibovich’s wry piece in the New York Times Magazine giving Brown the sobriquet, “Superhypothetical.”

Lest we forget, he beat Martha Coakley, the state’s Democratic attorney general, when she forgot to campaign and even took a vacation shortly before the election. Then he lost to feisty Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in 2012. And now he comes into the fray again — well, almost. Bowing to party pressure, he has formed an exploratory committee in New Hampshire, where his family has a vacation home. That means that he is taking all the right steps to challenge a popular Democrat, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, in the red-flecked Granite state.

Let’s say that Brown is, for all intents and purposes, jumping into the race this spring. That is roughly the consensus among the politerati. Republican party operatives are delirious at the thought that Brown could clinch their goal of painting the Senate red overnight. And he could, because Shaheen is not the only vulnerable Democrat in this cycle. Two Southern Democrats, Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Pryor, are in deep danger and don’t want any “help” from President Obama.

If the wily Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky becomes the Majority Leader, even by a margin of 51-49, that will effectively doom President Obama’s chances of getting any major legislation passed in his second term. Big money stands by, ready to help Brown become a powerful contender.

In fairness to him, Brown is no Ted Cruz tea partier, but a telegenic New England moderate with some appealing qualities. If Brown declares and engages, New Hampshire will be the most closely watched state on the 2014 political map. Accustomed to the drill, voters there will love the national media trudging through the leaves to take their political pulse. They are an unusually seasoned, sophisticated set of voters in a small state and the outcome is bound to be a close call. For Shaheen, a former governor, the home court advantage could prove decisive.

More interestingly, gender may help Shaheen where she lives; the state’s other senator is a Republican woman, Kelly Ayotte. In fact, the state’s congressional delegation is all female, and the governor is a woman, all of which is the stuff of history. That is hard evidence that Brown will have to pedal uphill in a state that favors electing women, lately.

For Brown, the race will break his personal tie, one way or the other, when it comes to running against women. And it sure looks like he picked exactly the wrong state.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, March 24, 2014

March 25, 2014 Posted by | Politics, Scott Brown | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Need To Support All The Troops”: Military Women In Line To Get Same Rights As Civilian Women

If you’re a member of the U.S. military and you happen to be a woman, you might think you were entitled to the full range of health care allowed your civilian counterparts. But you would be wrong. That’s why Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., crafted an amendment to the National Defense Appropriation Act that would grant, according to the Ms. magazine Web site:

the same rights as civilian women under federal policies that provide affordable abortion care to women who are the victims of rape or incest. Under the current policy, servicewomen are only eligible for abortion care if the woman’s life is at risk.

On Thursday, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the amendment by a 16-10 vote. The measure must next move to the Senate floor, and faces an uncertain future if, as expected, the appropriations bill goes to a joint conference. (The House bill is not expected to include a similar provision.)

Currently, abortions are forbidden to military personnel unless they are victims of sexual assault or the pregnancy endangers their lives. But if the pregnancy is the result of a rape the soldier, sailor or Marine must pay for her own abortion — a cost that can be prohibitive on a military paycheck. And in a war zone, a woman in uniform will likely find no civilian medical professionals available to her who will perform the procedure.

This is all the more galling when one considers the epidemic of sexual assault against military women that continues to grip the armed forces — assaults perpetrated by men who are supposed to be their comrades.

In 2009, reporting for CBS News, Katie Couric delivered this statistic:

One in three female soldiers will experience sexual assault while serving in the military, compared to one in six women in the civilian world.

And the numbers haven’t changed much. Because of the stigma attached to reporting one’s rape by a fellow soldier, it’s not unheard of for a woman made pregnant through rape to try to self abort. (For one account, see Kathryn Joyce’s outstanding 2009 article, “Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected by Constitution They Defend,” at Religion Dispatches.)

If Congress really wants to show its appreciation to all of our troops, it will pass the appropriations bill with the Shaheen amendment in tact. But with this Congress, whose freshmen claim to love, love them some Constitution, military women will likely learn the limits of the right-wing version of the U.S. Constitution. (Now, what do you need all those rights, for, little lady?)

 

By: Adele Stan, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 26, 2012

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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