Tuesday September 11, 2012

Ever since President Obama took office, Republican leaders in Congress have said their No. 1 priority was to deny him a second term.

Political experts believe that Obama’s re-election depends on reducing the jobless rate before the 2012 election, so Republicans have been determined not to let this happen, even if it meant keeping millions of Americans out of work. They were stymied as long as Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, but Scott Brown’s election in January 2010 provided the critical 41st vote they needed to sustain a filibuster in the Senate. The resulting gridlock helped tea party Republicans take over the House later that year.

Scott Brown’s solid support is the main reason Republican leaders in the Senate have been able to stop any legislation that might improve the job situation in the U.S., turning a slow recovery into a double dip recession which the Repub licans now blame on Obama.

Brown portrays himself as a moderate who will defy his own party to foster bipartisan consensus. That is a sham. Brown votes with Democrats only when there is nothing at stake and his leadership gives him the OK to do so.

A good example is the Ryan budget: When it was introduced, Brown waxed rhapsodic about Paul Ryan and his plan, although there was never any chance it would pass in the Senate. By the time it came up for a vote, a Democrat had captured a "safe" Republican congressional district in New York by campaigning against the Ryan budget. So Brown cast a meaningless "No" vote to prevent the issue from being used against him in 2012. And after the Romney campaign recently charged that cost-saving changes proposed by the Obama administration would "gut" Medicare, Brown shamelessly claimed he had voted against the Ryan budget because it contained a similar sounding item.

The one thing that Scott Brown seems to really know is what Massachusetts voters like to hear him say, so he pretends to be a bipartisan moderate conciliator. Don’t be fooled. There can be no doubt that if he is re-elected, Republicans will see this as an endorsement, and Brown will do everything he can to advance the full Romney-Ryan platform.

If that’s your cup of tea, he’s your guy, but if you wish to see this country recover from the worst recession in 75 years, cast your vote for Elizabeth Warren.

JAN WERNER

Pittsfield