Scott Brown On The Budget

Brown Said He Would Support Ryan Budget That Would End Medicare As We Know It And Double Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Seniors. In a speech, Brown said “The leaders will bring forward (Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s) budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail.” The GOP budget included proposals to convert the federal share of Medicaid to a block grant to states. It also called for converting Medicare for persons currently younger than 55 into a “premium support system” through which the government would pay private insurance companies directly for each enrollee. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported, “The Ryan budget plan would cut federal spending on Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor, and begin distributing money by block grant to states. The plan would do away with Medicare’s direct payment for health care for seniors, replacing it with a voucher system in which recipients choose private insurers. The Congressional Budget Office found that part of the plan, which would take effect in 2022, could nearly double out-of-pocket costs for seniors.” In an April 7th, 2011 editorial, the Newark Star-Ledger warned that Paul Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know it.” [Newburyport News, 5/14/11; Ft Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 4/16/2011; Newark Star-Ledger Editorial, 4/7/2011]

Politifact Concluded Brown Had Committed “Full Flop” on Ryan Budget. “Still, Brown did indicate pretty clearly in Newburyport that he would cast a loyal GOP vote for the plan, even if he expected that the vote would ultimately prove fruitless. Then 10 days later, in the POLITICO op-ed, he made clear that he wasn’t just disappointed by the Ryan plan but would definitely vote ‘no.’ Anyone reading his comments in the Newburyport Daily News would be under the impression Brown was voting for the Ryan budget, but he’s not. So we give Brown a Full Flop.” [Politifact, 5/23/11]

Associated Press Reported That Brown Has Had “Three Positions” on Ryan Budget. In an article headlined “SPIN METER: Switching positions is in fashion,” the Associated Press used Brown as an example of politicians switching their position on an issue. “Brown, the first Republican to hold a Senate seat from Massachusetts in a generation, has held three positions on Ryan’s budget and its prescription for Medicare. On May 13, he said he would vote in its favor. Then came a statement that said he supported the overall direction of Ryan’s budget but declined to say he would vote for it. On Monday, he completed the turnaround, unambiguously so…Democrats strongly suggested politics was at work, pointing to polls showing strong public opposition to the plan.” [Associated Press, 5/23/11]

Brown Voted to Advance GOP House’s “Cut, Cap and Balance” Plan. Brown voted against tabling the Republican House passed budget plan. The plan, nicknamed “Cut, Cap and Balance” would “cut current spending, cap future spending, and require a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.” “A balanced budget requirement is something we have in Massachusetts, and I think it would be good for the entire country at a time when we are $14.3 trillion dollars in debt and it is rising every day,” Brown said in a statement after the vote. [Boston Globe, 7/22/11]

Scripps Howard News Service Editorial: “Proposal Is Both Simplistic and Economically Destructive.” Now a coalition of tea party movement and other far-right interests is trying to browbeat Republicans into signing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” pledge. As the price of agreeing to lift the ceiling on the federal debt, it demands deep cuts in current spending, caps on future spending and a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. The proposal is both simplistic and economically destructive. But more immediately, Republicans charged with reaching an agreement on the ceiling say that it ties their hands in negotiations and sets up the GOP for taking all the blame if the increase fails and negative consequences ensue.”[Scripps Howard News Service Editorial, 7/5/11]

Brown Voted for “Cap, Cut and Balance” While Claiming Opposition to Medical School Funding Cuts Likely to Be Included. “Members of the state’s congressional delegation are warning that state teaching hospitals such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester stand to lose up to $320 million in annual federal funding under proposed cuts tied to some proposals to raise the debt ceiling…U.S. Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who last week voted in support of Senate consideration of the House’s so-called ‘Cap, Cut and Balance’ proposal on raising the debt ceiling, joined Massachusetts Democrats in signing a letter opposing medical school funding cuts… Mr. Brown called his vote in support of the so-called cap, cut and balance bill that passed the House last week ‘a symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment.’ He also called for a bipartisan settlement of the debt ceiling crisis saying, ‘Let’s stop the negative politics and partisan bickering and get down to work. Time is running short.’” [Worcester Telegram, 7/26/11]

Cut, Cap and Balance Will Cost Americans 700,000 More Jobs, Cause Deep Depression. The Cut, Cap and Balance plan would allow the government to raise the debt ceiling, but only after big and immediate spending cuts in 2012, a fixed cap on future spending and the adoption of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “these cuts would equal 0.7 percent of the projected Gross Domestic Product in fiscal year 2012 and would thus cause the loss of roughly 700,000 jobs in the current weak economy, relative to what the number of jobs otherwise would be.” Furthermore, Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, called the [constitutional] amendment “the most irresponsible action imaginable” because the amendment “would virtually ensure that an economic downturn would end up as a deep depression, by erasing any real ability of the government to pursue countercyclical fiscal policies and in fact demanding the opposite, at the worst possible time.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/16/11; CNN Money, 3/29/11]

“Cut, Cap and Kill Medicare” Will Force Deep Cuts to Social Security and Medicare. While the plan does not directly cut Social Security or Medicare in 2012, former CBO Director Rudolph Penner has noted that by 2035, spending on Medicare, Social Security and interest in likely to account for 14 percent of gross domestic product. Under the 18 percent spending cap required by Cut, Cap and Balance, that would leave 4 percent to pay for everything else. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “it is inconceivable that policymakers would meet the bill’s severe annual spending caps through automatic across-the board cuts year after year; if they did, key government functions would be crippled. Policymakers would have little alternative but to institute deep cuts in specific programs. […] Reaching and maintaining a balanced budget in the decade ahead while barring any tax increases would necessitate deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” [CNN Money, 7/19/11; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,7/16/11]

“Cut, Cap, & Kill Medicare” Would End the Medicare Guarantee While Giving a Tax Break for the Wealthy. According to the Democratic House Committee on the Budget, “the balanced budget constitutional amendment […] is a masquerade designed to foster the policy choices of the Republican budget: to end the Medicare guarantee for seniors and slash vital services while providing tax breaks for the wealthy. This balanced budget amendment would have dire consequences on the economy, on Medicare and other government guarantees to our citizens, and on Congress’s ability to respond to changing needs.” Furthermore, Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo noted that the amendment Republicans are pushing is a “formula for slashing spending at an epic clip, and, invariably, for devastating key safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It just doesn’t say so explicitly.” [Democratic House Committee on the Budget, 6/27/11; Talking Points Memo, 7/18/11]

Cut, Cap, & Balance Would Require More Extreme Cuts Than Ryan Budget Plan; Any Budget Passed Under Reagan Would Violate GOP Spending Caps. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “the plan would lock in cuts over the next ten years at least as severe as those in the Ryan budget plan the House passed in April, by writing spending caps into law at the year-by-year levels of spending (as a share of GDP) the Ryan budget contains.” Additionally, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, on Fox News Sunday said that the plan essentially “mirrors” the Ryan budget. According to a Washington Post editorial, “The 18 percent cap on spending is so severe that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s economic plan would violate its strictures. So would any budget passed under President Ronald Reagan.” [Politico, 7/17/11; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/16/11; Washington Post, 7/14/11]