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Weekly Scott Brown-d Up, Week of 6/8/12

[Cross-posted on Blue Mass Group.]

Much to Republican Scott Brown's dismay, the last week focused significantly on Brown's votes and behind-the-scenes operating in the U.S. Senate, which means it was a bad week for Brown.  Even Brown's attempt to create a new distraction in the perennial "debate over the debates" blew up in his face.

The big issue of the week was Republican Scott Brown's vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill whose sole purpose is to provide more effective remedies to victims of gender-based pay discrimination in the workplace.  If Brown voting against equal pay for equal work wasn't insulting enough, he compounded his fault by labeling the measure a "burden" on business.  I can't imagine that most female voters would take kindly to Republican Scott Brown telling them that treating them equally is a "burden."  But, hey, you can't fault Brown when he "takes a stand," I suppose.  In advance of Brown's expect anti-woman vote on this issue, ProgressMass took a look back at Brown's anti-woman record and rhetoric.

In addition to Brown's voting the U.S. Senate, Brown's wheeling and dealing behind-the-scenes earned highly critical attention this week.  A series of e-mails between Brown's office and the U.S. Treasury Department came to light revealing that, not only did Brown work hard to water down Wall Street regulations in advance of the passage of the financial reform bill, but he continued to work to loosen regulations even after the bill became law!

E-mails between Brown's legislative director and US Treasury Department officials show that Brown advocated for a loose interpretation of the law so that banks could more easily engage in high-risk investments. [...]

At issue in Brown's e-mails is the Volcker rule, a particularly contentious provision of Dodd-Frank. The rule, championed by Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, prevents commercial banks from speculating heavily in higher risk investments. Banks are federally insured, which means that if they fail, taxpayers must reimburse many depositors.

Brown's role in helping to loosen the Volcker rule in advance of casting his vote on Dodd-Frank has been well-documented. Notably, he helped create a provision that allows banks to invest up to 3 percent of their money in riskier investments such as hedge funds and private equity funds, and to own up to 3 percent of an individual fund - additions that won him Wall Street support.

But e-mails obtained by the Globe show that Brown's work on behalf of the financial sector did not stop when the law was passed. In the second stage, as regulators began the less publicly scrutinized task of writing rules amid heavy pressure from the banking sector, Brown urged the regulators to interpret the 3 percent rule broadly and to offer banks some leeway to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds.

You may recall that Republican Scott Brown went so far as to tout his vote in favor of the financial reform bill in his most recent, highly misleading TV ad.  Of course, Brown fails to mention his ongoing effort to water down the Wall Street regulations contained in the bill.  In fact, the ad was so misleading that ProgressMass released a video play-by-play, debunking just about every claim Brown makes:

The last week also saw Republican Scott Brown attempt to score political points in the "debate over the debates," but that backfired on him.  Immediately after securing the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, Brown's political opponent, Elizabeth Warren, called for debates.  Brown responded the next day, not by having his campaign staff sit down with Warren's campaign staff to review debate invitations, but by accepting the invitation to perhaps the most Republican-friendly venue and then taunting his opponent that she hadn't yet accepted the invitation (while her staff was waiting to hear back from Brown's staff to review all of the debate invitations together).

So how did Brown's gambit backfire on him?  Not only did Warren call for more television debates than Brown seems willing to attend, but Brown hasn't yet committed to what promises to be the most broadly viewed potential debate:

Still, the concern is that, since Brown's campaign has said he favors three or four debates, the senator will use those lower-profile events to sidestep a higher-profile fall encounter or encounters sponsored by a consortium of Boston media outlets. (The consortium includes WCVB-TV, WGBH-TV, WHDH-TV, NECN, The Boston Globe, and WBUR and WGBH radio.)

So far, only Warren has accepted the Boston consortium's invitation to debate. Brown's camp responded by noting that the senator "has already accepted four debate offers, including two radio forums that Elizabeth Warren has refused to commit to. Everything else is under consideration."

A media consortium debate co-sponsored by all of those major local media outlets would no doubt be the most watched debate of the campaign - if the debate occurs.  Until Brown commits to this debate, any other posturing on his part is just political spin disguising cowardly debate ducking.  (Kudos to Mark Leccese of Boston.com's Gatekeeper blog for highlighting the Boston Herald's comically pro-Brown spin on the "debate over the debates.")

This week, Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh offered a thoughtful reflection on the impact of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, through the prism of Massachusetts' Senate race.  Recognizing that abuse of the filibuster by the Senate Republican minority has left the deliberative body in a state of perpetual gridlock, Lehigh asked "Who will bust the filibuster?"  The answer, of course, is "Not Scott Brown."  Lehigh's conclusions echo the findings in ProgressMass' study of Brown's voting record, a record that favors partisan obstruction over bipartisan problem-solving at a rate of over 3-to-1.  This sentiment was further shared this past week by Salem News columnist Joseph Doyle, as he listed numerous lowlights from Brown's Senate record.

Not only are Brown's ties to his right-wing Republican Senate colleagues weighing him down politically, but his ties to presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney are doing him no favors either, as the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune noted this week:

For Brown, only 11 percent who said they associate him very or somewhat closely to Romney said the connection would make them more likely to vote for Brown and 35 percent said it would make them less likely to support him.

As such, it's no surprise that the Brown-Romney ("Bromney") connection is taking center stage.  Massachusetts voters should know that a vote for Republican Scott Brown is a vote for the Mitt Romney agenda:

Other lowlights from Republican Scott Brown's week include meddling with the Pentagon's energy policy for political purposes and continuing to ignore the LGBT community.

For those seeking more clarity on the Massachusetts Senate race, Jen Sorensen from Daily Kos' political cartoon team offered this "animated" voter guide.

So what issues, votes, behind-the-scenes dealing, or off-color rhetoric will next trip up Republican Scott Brown?  Stay tuned for the next "Weekly Scott Brown-d Up" for the answer.

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