Scott Brown was elected to the Senate last year as a darling of the Tea Party. Since then, they haven’t been that pleased with him because he turned out to be far moderate than they expected ( a moderate Republican from Massachusetts? Who would have thought?)
He’s certainly not going to get love from the Tea Party for his latest act: blasting the GOP leadership and by extension, the Tea Party for “irresponsible cuts” that will hurt the poor. Here’s some of what he said in a letter and also on the Senate floor:
Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, the House and Senate have been seeking common ground to finish the appropriations work for FY 2011. Sadly, rather than reaching a workable, bi-partisan solution to responsibly address our staggering deficit, we are repeatedly given a false choice between CR proposals that either don’t go far enough to reduce federal spending and proposals that set the wrong priorities that would disproportionately affect low-income families and seniors, while doing little to address critical, long-term issues…
Our collective work begins by having a clear understanding of the seriousness of our budget crisis and what is at stake if we fail to address it. We can all agree that we simply cannot continue on this reckless, unsustainable course. Reducing and eliminating needless spending and programs are appropriate, but a wholesale reduction in spending, without considering economic, cultural, and social impacts is simply irresponsible. We must also be mindful that many of the proposed spending reductions would disproportionately affect the neediest among us, including housing and heating assistance. Likewise, some of the proposed cuts would be economically counterproductive, negatively impacting our ability to innovate and invest in research and development.
Deficit reduction is a necessary goal for our country. But deficit reduction should not be achieved in isolation of our priorities as a government and a society. I believe that responsible and meaningful bi-partisan support must be found and forged if we are to achieve long-term fiscal stability. I intend to be a part of the discussions and the solutions for how to move our country forward, without eliminating programs that are successful, cost-effective, or critical to the livelihood of the neediest among us.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky responded by paying homage to the Tea Party and their “fiscal bravery:”
“[T]hanks to ordinary Americans like these speaking their minds and advocating for common sense reforms, I’m increasingly confident we’ll get our fiscal house in order,” McConnell said of the tea party movement. “Republicans are determined to do our part.”
But none of what the Tea Party or the GOP leadership is advocating is common sense, not by a long shot. Instead of tackling the big movers of the deficit: defense and entitlement programs, conservatives have made a big deal of cutting discretionary programs, which make up only 12 percent of the budget. That’s not bravery, it’s cowardice and cynicism.
Brown is correct that the cuts offered hurt the neediest in our society more than anyone else. This isn’t even about balancing the budget on the backs of the poor as the Left claims, it’s just cutting something just for the hell of it.
If Republicans want to tackle the deficit then they need to go after programs that the middle class enjoy (hello mortgage interest deduction). We need to tackle Medicare and Social Security. But of course, dealing with those would be bring the wrath of the middle classes, especially those Tea Partiers who want to cut programs for the poor, but doesn’t want Washington to touch their Medicare.
Brown will no doubt catch hell for his stand, but he continues to get my praise and support.