June 28 just may have been Scott Brown’s lucky day.
For weeks, polls have shown Brown and his Democratic challenger, Harvard professor Liz Warren, running neck-and-neck.
Despite an onslaught of bad press for Warren — who, it is now clear, touted questionable Cherokee heritage to get herself noticed by law school hiring committees — the Massachusetts Senate race has remained stuck at “too close to call.”
But then, on Thursday, the unexpected happened: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare.
The ruling throws the issue back to Congress and to the voters — perhaps providing the very boost Brown needs to win.
Two years ago, Massachusetts shocked the political world by electing Brown to fill the seat left empty by the death of Ted Kennedy. In 2010, Brown campaigned on a promise to cast the decisive 41st vote against Obamacare. The media dubbed his victory “the Scott heard ’round the world” — a grass-roots repudiation of Obama’s overreach on health care at the expense of jobs.
In response, congressional Democrats manipulated procedural rules to deny the Senate the customary reconciliation vote on the legislation and thus prevent Brown from casting his vote against Obamacare.
Since then, Brown has continued to oppose the 2,700-page health care law and the labyrinth of federal regulations it has spawned.
Like many Massachusetts voters, Brown supports several of the law’s minor provisions, such as portability and closing the loopholes in prescription drug benefits for seniors.
“We’re all in favor of the catastrophic care coverage and coverage for children,” Brown said shortly after Congress passed the law. “But what about the backroom deals? What about all the bad things?”
As Brown understands, the “bad things” about Obamacare far outnumber the good.
Among other things, Obamacare:
• Raises costs for senior citizens and disabled people on Medicare in order to fund a vast expansion of Medicaid for the poor.
• Imposes large penalties on people employed by companies that offer top-notch policies.
• Decreases individual tax deductions for medical expenses.
• Creates onerous burdens on small businesses.
• Imposes a medical device tax, which, as Brown notes, will hurt the more than 200 medical device companies that provide good paying jobs here the Bay State.
Yes, under Obamacare more Americans will be insured. But at staggering cost of $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years, not to mention a reduction in benefits and an increased tax burden for many who are already insured.
Once the law takes full effect, the damage to our economy and to the delivery of medical services will be far reaching indeed.
It is a steep price to pay for Massachusetts residents who, as Brown notes, are already covered by health care.
“In Massachusetts, we had already dealt responsibly with the problem of our uninsured without raising taxes or cutting care to our seniors,” Brown said. “All (Massachusetts residents get) out of this massive new federal entitlement is higher taxes, cuts in Medicare and additional debt at a time when we can least afford it.”
Since Thursday, many have weighed in on the political ripple effect the decision will have on the presidential race. By throwing the law back onto the political field, the Supreme Court has focused voters’ attention on the details of a law that many people thought would never take full effect. In so doing, the court has made November’s presidential election, at least in part, a referendum on Obamacare.
And it has injected into the Massachusetts Senate race an important reminder as to why we first sent Scott Brown to Washington — and why we must do so again.