Still wondering about Scott Brown and health reform

His opposition to the Senate plan was a big factor, possibly a turning point, in his win. Sunday’s NY Times Magazine profile of Sen.Scott Brown gives pretty much zero insight into what our new senator plans to do about health reform.  The story does suggest he didn’t explain his plans very clearly in the campaign.

….If he wasn’t particularly eloquent in explaining why he opposed federal health care legislation modeled largely on a Massachusetts measure he supported, he nonetheless made it through interviews and debates without any outsize flubs.  

Here’s Scott’s position on health reform from his web site. He supports “private market system with policies” that will cut costs and expand coverage. Details would be good since many argue that private solutions haven’t worked so far.  

I believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage, but I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare. I support strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance. In Massachusetts, I support the 2006 healthcare law that was successful in expanding coverage, but I also recognize that the state must now turn its attention to controlling cost.

So, despite his key role in blocking the Senate bill, Sen Brown did not get and invitation to the Health Summit. But Tufts grad student Timothy Ridout, writing in  The Christian Science Monitor, thinks Brown could engage in some elusive bipartisanship. 

Will he join Republicans in efforts to “break” Mr. Obama, or will he work to break gridlock in the Senate? This is not just about passing healthcare reform; it is about whether anything will get done in Congress. At a time when the country needs an effective legislature, Congress seems incapable of rising above partisan bickering, which explains why respected moderates such as Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana are leaving in frustration.

Brown can serve Massachusetts and the country by restoring the lost art of compromise. As a Republican representing a liberal state, he is uniquely positioned to foster bipartisanship by balancing the interests of his party with those of his constituents. If he chooses mere obstructionism, he will have a lot of explaining to do when he faces voters in 2012. 

Moreover, he is the successor to Sen. Ted Kennedy, a man beloved by his constituents. Brown may feel some pressure to pick up Kennedy’s fallen standard and say to the nation, “Let’s solve our problems.” Kennedy was a staunch liberal, but he was known for his willingness to work with his conservative colleagues to advance important legislation.

 The latest from Brown,  via his spokeman, it that he is again reconciliation. From the 2/23 Boston Herald: 

“If the Democrats try to ram their health-care bill through Congress using reconciliation, they are sending a dangerous signal to the American people that they will stop at nothing to raise our taxes, increase premiums and slash Medicare,” said Brown spokesman Colin Reed in a statement. “Using the nuclear option damages the concept of representative leadership and represents more of the politics-as-usual that voters have repeatedly rejected.”

So, we know what he’s against. It would be nice to know what he’s for.

Also,  note the post on WBUR’s Commonhealth on last week’s meeting of local universal care activists


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