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“It’s Not My Job”: Scott Brown, “I Am Not Going To Create One Job”

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, appeared on a local radio show this week and caused a bit of a stir. Specifically, he suggested his supporters in neighboring states should come to the Granite State, take advantage of same-day registration, and vote for him, in effect calling for voter fraud on a massive scale.

The problem, of course, was that Brown was kidding. If you listen to the audio, it seems he probably wasn’t serious about the scheme, though given his personal circumstances, this is an odd thing for Brown to joke about.

But a day later, the former senator was entirely serious when he made these comments to a group of voters:

“Here’s the thing. People say, ‘What are you going to do to create jobs?’ I am not going to create one job, it is not my job to create jobs. It’s yours. My job is to make sure that government stays out of your way so that you can actually grow and expand. Obamacare’s a great example. The number one job inhibitor right now is Obamacare…. We have to repeal it.”

As is too often the case, Brown seems a little confused about public policy. On health care, there’s literally nothing to suggest the Affordable Care Act is undermining job growth, just as there’s literally nothing to suggest unemployment will improve if Scott Brown takes health care benefits away from millions of Americans. The very idea is bizarre.

But that, of course, is secondary to the Republican’s boast that he is “not going to create one job.” This is so misguided, it’s the kind of comment that’s likely to linger for a while.

Note, for example, Brown is simply wrong on the basics of economic policy. The public sector creates jobs all the time. How a former U.S. senator can fail to understand this is a bit of a mystery.

Also, when he was in Massachusetts, Brown used to say that he could, in fact, create jobs through government policymaking. What caused the former GOP lawmaker to change his mind when he changed states? Why did he think he could create jobs in Massachusetts, but not in New Hampshire?

For that matter, just as a matter of rudimentary political competence, what kind of candidate tells voters, “I am not going to create one job”?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 4, 2014

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Economic Policy, Jobs, Scott Brown | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Snyder’s Insulting Redskins Logic”: Irrational Insistance That Native Americans Are Somehow Being Honored

Fear not for the future of free speech after the Washington Redskins’ trademark fight. The legal dividend could be more free speech, not less.

A lot of my fellow First Amendment advocates sound nervous about cancellation of the Washington pro football team’s trademark by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this past week.

Even among those who sharply disagree with team owner Dan Snyder, who irrationally insists that Native Americans somehow are honored by a word that major English dictionaries call “insulting” and “usually offensive,” there is widespread concern that the patent office is deciding what trademarks are “disparaging” to Native Americans or anyone else.

The decision can’t force the NFL team to change its name, but it could hit Snyder in his wallet.

If the ruling stands up in court, he could lose the right to block other companies from selling caps, cups, jerseys and other merchandise with the name and Indian head logo.

Critics see that potential penalty as an infringement on Snyder’s First Amendment rights.

Yet, viewed another way, the decision can be seen as an expansion of everyone else’s right to do what the government’s trademark allowed only Snyder to do.

Sometimes government not only is allowed but obligated to decide what is not only legal but also proper. The states, for example, routinely ban certain words, numbers or names from vanity license plates that they view as obscene or insulting.

A Santa Fe man, for example, unhappily lost his New Mexico vanity license plate in 2012 after state officials declared its message, “IB6UB9,” to be unacceptably naughty.

But we have courts to temper such judgments. The New Hampshire Supreme Court in May overruled state workers who rejected a request for “COPSLIE,” according to news reports. State regulations allowed for vanity plates to be denied if they were deemed “offensive to good taste.” (This particular request, I would add, also violates good sense.)

All states bar plates that are “obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic group, or patently offensive,” according to Stefan Lonce, author of “LCNS2ROM: Vanity License Plates and the GR8 Stories They Tell.”

Similarly, the federal patent office is allowed to reject applications for trademarks that are disparaging to particular racial, ethnic or religious groups.

That’s why a federal appellate court in May upheld the patent office’s refusal of a trademark to the website titled “Stop! Islamization of America.” Although the owners contend the website only opposed “political Islamization” and not the Islamic faith, the court ruled, “The (patent office) board disagreed, as do we.”

Yet it is hard to see where the group’s free speech rights have been infringed. Their website and Facebook pages remain online. So do Web pages by civil rights and anti-hate organizations that oppose the group’s positions.

Snyder similarly remains free to use his team’s name, if the revocation sticks, but so can anyone else. He only loses certain government protections, such as preventing other users of the team name from selling or exporting team souvenirs and presumably cutting into his profits.

Of course, the Redskins’ name has seniority, as its defenders point out. The team has been using it since the 1930s. But words do change in their meanings and implications over time.

I am reminded of how tea party protesters used to display tea bags on signs and used “tea bagging” to describe their anti-tax protests in early 2009, until liberal commentators made a mockery of the verb.

As a sign of respect for the right of people to be called what they want to be called, I stopped using the term to refer to the movement after an avalanche of emails expressed outrage over the “obscene slur.”

Yet, I have been dismayed to hear some — although certainly not all — of the same people who were angrily offended by that T-word unable to understand why Native Americans are similarly offended by the R-word.

That’s why I am not very upset that the patent office decided to cancel the Washington football team’s trademark. I am only disappointed that the government had to be asked.

 

By: Clarence Page, Member, Editorial Board; The Chicago Tribune, June 22, 2014

June 23, 2014 Posted by | National Football League, Native Americans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“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

“The Education Of Scott Brown”: A Slowly Dawning Lesson, Running Against An Abstraction Is Easy

Less than two years after losing his re-election bid in his home state, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is apparently trying again, this time running in New Hampshire – where’s he still learning quite a bit.

It’s not altogether clear why Brown is running in the Granite State, but his strategy has nevertheless taken shape: the Republican intends to hit the campaign trail complaining about the Affordable Care Act. It worked in one state in 2010, Brown figures, so maybe it’ll work in a different state in 2014.

With this in mind, Brown visited with state Rep. Herb Richardson (R-N.H.) and his wife over the weekend at the lawmaker’s home, where the Senate candidate called the ACA a “monstrosity.” Sam Stein flagged an account of the meeting from the local newspaper (pdf):

Richardson was injured on the job and was forced to live on his workers’ comp payments for an extended period of time, which ultimately cost the couple their house on Williams Street. The couple had to pay $1,100 a month if they wanted to maintain their health insurance coverage under the federal COBRA law.

Richardson said he only received some $2,000 a month in workers’ comp. payments, however, leaving little for them to live on. “Thank God for Obamacare!” his wife exclaimed.

Now, thanks to the subsidy for which they qualify, the Richardsons only pay $136 a month for health insurance that covers them both.

The state lawmaker added that the health care law, which Brown claims to abhor, has been a “financial lifesaver” for his family.

According to the local reporter, the former senator listened to the Richardsons’ perspective and then changed the subject.

Running against an abstraction is easy; running against a law that’s currently benefiting millions of families nationwide is a little trickier. That may slowly be dawning on Brown right about now.

Speaking of New Hampshire, Stein also had this report out of the Granite State the other day.

The former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party will save $1,000 a month in premiums for his family’s health care package after signing up for a new policy through the Obamacare exchange.

But Fergus Cullen said the savings aren’t enough to turn him into a supporter of the new health care law.

Apparently, Cullen’s catastrophic-coverage plan was phased out under ACA guidelines, which forced the former state GOP chair to transition to a new plan – with no annual or lifetime caps, and which can’t be taken away if Cullen gets stick – that will save the Republican and his family $12,000 a year in premiums.

For his part, Cullen, concerned about out-of-pocket costs, says he still prefers his old plan and wrote about his experience in the Union Leader, acknowledging the trade-offs.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 20, 2014

March 21, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Scott Brown | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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