Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) enraged many conservatives this week. He met privately with President Obama on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the Kerry/Lieberman climate change bill. Upon leaving the White House, the Massachusetts lawmaker said:
I basically told him that I’m not in favor nor could I support a national energy tax or a cap-and-trade proposal, but I am very excited about working with him in a bipartisan manner to come up with a comprehensive energy plan to address a whole host of issues: wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, conservation, incentivizing businesses, providing grants and loans to our businesses.
The cap and trade proposal is being advocated by Brown’s colleague John Kerry (D-MA), but the Republican continues to refer to it as cap and tax. At the end of their meeting, Obama redeemed the promise he made to Brown on election night.
The President invited the Senator and his daughter Ayla (a star on American Idol) to play basketball with him at the White House. Senator Brown’s victory in the special election last January to replace the late Ted Kennedy was a major triumph for the Republican Party. It was not only a GOP win in the Democrat’s Vatican City, but it brought the liberal super majority to an an end.
Prior to Brown, Democrats had 60 seats and they had no incentive to work with Republicans. The super majority allowed Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to run the Senate by a series of cloture votes. Reid filed cloture on every important issue. This brought debate immediately to an end because there were not enough GOP Senators to stop cloture.
The tactic ended with Brown’s election as the 41st Republican. His victory allowed the GOP to keep any filibuster alive and block Democrats from automatically enacting legislation.
Brown has not changed his campaign rhetoric from last winter. One of his major themes is that a trillion dollars in stimulus spending has still not created one new permanent job. Nevertheless, Brown will not be confused with hard core conservatives such as Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), and he did join Maine GOP Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in supporting the financial reform bill. Last January’s stunning triumph has now been forgotten by several conservative activists:
- Melissa Jenkins says “So far voting Brown has had ZERO benefit for the Republicans. He will vote with the Democrats, he is a fool and a tool! He is completely clueless and way in over his head.” She now regrets not voting for the libertarian candidate even though she realizes this would have resulted in a liberal Democratic victory.
- Kristen Hornbrook says “I smell bribery! This man stripped off his clothes for Playgirl magazine. To me that puts his ethics into question.”
- Morgan McComb of Irving, Texas says “I never trusted nor supported Scott Brown. What a looooooooser.”
What these conservatives fail to recognize is that Brown’s election has already resulted in significant change. The Democrats still have 59 votes for the rest of this year, but without their super majority they are unable to enact the most radical aspects of the liberal agenda. For example, if Brown had lost, the prospects for cap and trade and union card check would have improved significantly. Some of Brown’s conservative critics are now blaming him for the passage of the health care reform bill. The Senate passed the health care bill prior to Brown’s election. In fact, that is the major reason it was passed. They knew it would never be enacted if the Democrats did not have 60 votes, which is the number required to invoke cloture and end debate. Brown was not a member of the Senate at that time. After cloture the Democrats only needed 51 votes.
A Major Setback for the Radical Left
Brown’s victory really resulted in a four seat gain for the GOP. Unlike health care reform, Majority Leader Reid can no longer count on the backing of Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ben Nelson (D-NE). Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), 54, said the Brown win changed everything, and one month later he shocked the nation by announcing his retirement.
Both Arkansas and Indiana are expected to fall to the GOP this year, and while Nelson is not up until 2012, he is already trailing Gov. Dave Heineman (R-NE) by 30 points. The Brown triumph brought a halt to a wide range of liberal legislation, such as the attempt to spend $400 billion this year to create a promised 5 million new job. Labor unions wanted to pay for it by enacting a tax on stock, bond and currency trading.
Extravagant spending proposals such as those advocated by organized labor and Moveon.org are impossible without a super majority. Even the Obama administration has changed its rhetoric in the new political climate. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the $400 billion jobs program is a bad idea, and the Majority Leader told the Daily Kos he no longer has the votes.
God Bless The RINO’s: They Were There When We Needed Them
Many of the Brown critics are libertarians, but ironically it was the Libertarian Party which allowed the Obama agenda to be enacted in the first place. Third party Libertarian candidates gave Democrats their super majority. They defeated GOP Senators Norm Coleman (MN), Gordon Smith (OR) and Slade Gorton (WA). They also gave Democrats the Governor’s mansions in Washington state and Wisconsin, and they provided President Obama with his margin of victory in Indiana and North Carolina.
There were many liberal Republicans in the 1960s Senate, but that is not true today. The few moderates that remain almost always vote with the GOP when they are needed. That did not happen with the three defects on the stimulus, but 95% of the time, moderates stick with the GOP on close votes. That is especially true in this session of Congress.
The complaints about “RINO’s” (Republicans in Name Only) from some “constitutional conservatives” are also ironic. They castigate moderates for deviating from the GOP platform, while at the same time these isolationist conservatives oppose the U.S. role in Afghanistan and Iraq. The libertarians and the Pat Buchanan paleoconservatives are the real RINO’s.