BREAKING: Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren are both rich!

So today is MA-Sen tax return day, the hotly-awaited showdown when, after a good deal of hemming and hawing on both sides, both candidates will release several years of tax returns for inspection and fine-tooth-combing by the media.  Both camps are in spin overdrive, desperately attempting to paint the other as a rich, out-of-touch hypocrite, while reassuring voters that they, only they, stand for the common man/woman.

And what will both sets of returns show?  That Scott Brown is rich, and that Elizabeth Warren is rich.  Get over it.

Honestly, this whole thing is a ridiculous sideshow.  Unless there’s something really weird in any of these returns – some Romney-like mysterious Swiss bank account, for example – they’re not going to reveal much we didn’t already know.  Scott Brown earned close to a million bucks in 2010 because of his $700,000 book advance – but we knew that.  He owns six properties collectively worth over a million bucks – but we knew that too.  Elizabeth Warren gets paid something like $350,000 a year by Harvard Law School – but we knew that.  She got an interest-free loan to help with her kids’ college tuition – but we knew that too, and it’s not a big deal (despite Team Brown’s pathetic attempts to spin it otherwise).  They both own lots of stock in lots of companies – but we knew that.

There is one useful thing that might actually come out of this exercise: maybe the candidates will have to stop pretending, once and for all, that they are “just like you.”  Because they’re not.  Here’s a memo to the vast majority of Massachusetts residents: the candidates are both a lot richer than you are.  They have nothing like the financial worries that you have.  Neither Scott Brown nor Elizabeth Warren has had to worry about how to make ends meet for a very long time.

Yes, both of them came from humble beginnings when they did have those kinds of worries, and that is worth something.  But it’s not worth something because it’s inherently more virtuous to have come from that kind of background rather than some other kind; it’s worth something because, having become successful, one might hope that both candidates have some personal knowledge and understanding about what it takes, both personally and societally, to work your way up.  One might further hope that the candidates are able to draw on that knowledge and understanding, along with their other knowledge and experience, in order to formulate a sensible set of policy ideas.

So what should matter to Massachusetts voters is not who had the more hardscrabble upbringing.  What should matter is what the candidates propose to do in order to make things better for the people in this state who are in difficult circumstances, perhaps like the ones that both Brown and Warren faced many years ago, right now.  Please, once today’s tax return circus has left town, can we talk more about that?

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38 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. ...they're both success stories (but we knew that)

    The issue is that one candidate wants it to be easy for more success stories like hr own while the other candidate, well, he seems to want to make it harder.

    chrismatth   @   Fri 27 Apr 10:59 AM
    • Yes, I agree

      that that’s the right way to talk about this stuff.

      • For example,

        I think it’s entirely fair to criticize Brown for voting against exactly the same kind of jobs programs that benefited him when he was a kid in trouble.

        • heh, so you admit it's about getting loyal dem voters

          So these programs aren’t just about helping people, they are also about creating lifelong democrats who will never forget that they owe their success to the government and will always vote for programs that benefited them.

          Maybe sometimes people benefit from things that are not sustainable long term, and should not be continued on a permanent basis. Like, I benefited from DDT and racism, but I don’t think those should be continued.

          • So Scott Brown turned into a lifelong Democrat...

            …when he availed himself of that jobs program back in the day? Somehow, I keep seeing an (R) after his name, I had no idea he was a Democrat!

            • According to David, that's what should have happened

              My point is David admitted that part of the goal of government aid is making people into loyal Dems, and here he shows the public shaming mechanism at work when someone forgets where they came from and who they owe everything to.

              • As usual, you're willfully misconstruing David's point

                Nowhere did he say that Brown’s participation should have turned him into a Dem – he said Brown is being a hypocrite for voting against a program that he clearly knows was helpful to him in the past, denying it to present day young people who could surely use the help today. In effect, now that he’s made it upstairs, he’s pulling the ladder up after himself.

                The rest of your point is your usual blather – apparently you can’t see the difference between racism, DDT and a youth jobs program. Here’s a hint: one of those things is not like the others.

                • Not sure if misconstrue is the right word there

                  This is simply proof that liberals think people should feel indebted to government programs and remain loyal to the nice government that gave them benefits when they were younger. I think he IS saying that Brown’s participation should have turned him into a Dem, though of course saying it in such a blanket manner would be admitting the whole master-slave thing, which he doesn’t want to admit. So he focuses on one specific program at a time, so as not to expose the whole underlying dynamic.

                  • It's not a conspiracy...

                    … to think that if Brown found a program useful to himself, it’s could by hypocritical to criticize it’s use for others. I say ‘could be’ because as you say, there could be very good and rational reasons that a particular program or benefit should be cut back or changed – but since he’s received the benefit, he should really explain why others shouldn’t after he’s already cashed in.

                  • A nice synopsis of what David

                    would think if he were you.

                    I’m not sure Brown is a hypocrite–I doubt he put much thought into any government programs that benefited him as a kid–but if he were asked if those programs helped, said yes, and couldn’t explain why he doesn’t believe kids of today should enjoy those same benefits, he better have a good answer.

                    It has nothing to do with owing government. That’s Cutie talking. It has to do with equal opportunity. That’s how Dems would see it.

                    • Some people want so badly for the notion...

                      … that government can’t do anything to be culturally axiomatic that they can accomplish mind-blowing feats of obliviousness on how government has helped them. I’d call it cognitive dissonance, but as you say I doubt the other side of that coin was ever considered with any kind of seriousness, never mind with due diligence.

                  • This is perhaps

                    the most hilariously stupid hypothesis that DGC has ever spawned – though the bar is admittedly high. :D

                    • I dare you to compile a top ten list

                      How many times have you used this same ad hominem? I’d love to see the list.

                    • Not ad hominem

                      Ad hominem would be calling this particular idea ridiculous because you’re ridiculous. What David is doing here is calling your idea ridiculous like many other of your ideas. There’s a difference – one is invalid logic, the other is merely to mention something noteworthy.

                    • You use those words, ad hominem...

                      I don’t think it means what you think it means.

                      Latin lesson: ad hominem means “against the man”. David did not say that you are ridiculous, he said your ideas are ridiculous – and they are! You can take offense to that all you want, but it is not an ad hominem attack.

                  • confession ...

                    I was a Republican, until one day I was driving my car enjoying my freedom when all of a sudden I saw a government paid and imposed stop sign. I didn’t think, I just reacted and stopped my vehicle unwittingly giving away my liberty.

                    Just then, another car driving on the intersecting road flew by as they did not have a stop sign. I realized that the stop sign might have saved my life. From that day on I became a Democrat.

                    DGC thank you for exposing this long and sordid history of the Democratic Party.

                  • You're right, misconstrue is not the right word.

                    You’re not misconstruing anything – you’re lying through your teeth.

              • Where did...

                … he ‘admit’ this? Please use an exact quote, and then explain how it is you derive the meaning your perceiving from the comment. On its face I don’t see what you’re seeing (but why should today be any different).

                • He says it is "the right way to talk about this stuff"

                  For example, I think it’s entirely fair to criticize Brown for voting against exactly the same kind of jobs programs that benefited him when he was a kid in trouble.

                  He is talking about a general strategy. It is clear that he is endorsing publicly shaming people as being hypocrites, as well as (and this is the really sick part) using on the stigma of welfare to shut them up if they dare to criticize it.

                  • Of course its a strategy...

                    … the question is, is it fair? Using a government benefit and then signifying to others ‘for me, but not for thee’ is a legitimate question. If your point to David was ‘Admit it! It’s a strategy’ this would be a non-issue.

                    You’re real point was that the benefits themselves are there to create Democrats (presumably not because of their actual value to society but to take advantage of the cynicism and greed of individual voters – a giveaway for greed’s sake as opposed to sound policy sake).

                    Of course this is a non-answer to this question of ‘Where does David admit this’.

                    • He admitted it already

                      Conservatives have long been saying that Dems like government programs because they make people into loyal Dems, afraid of being called hypocrites if they ever oppose government programs after benefiting from one earlier in their life. Dems used to scoff at such a notion. But in this thread David lends major credence to that charge, by instructing everyone to criticize and shame Brown as a hypocrite for not supporting a benefit he received once. He lays it out on display. He says it is “entirely fair” when in fact it isn’t fair at all, it is entirely wrong and designed to shut people up and consolidate power.

                    • Still don't see...

                      … where he admitted what you say he admitted.

                  • Like I said,

                    hilariously stupid. I rest my case.

          • "loyal dems"? As if...

            CETA the program that helped Brown, and by his own admission saved him from ‘juvenile delinquency’, was a law signed by Richard Nixon.

            Once upon a time a jobs act was seen as helping people and about creating loyal Americans. Some of us still think that way.

          • So what?

            The country would be much better off with more — not fewer — life long Democrats. Republicans want to destroy our credit rating, the climate, and our international reputation. There are way too many of them.

  2. Why 4 years for Warren v. 6 years for Brown?

    A mistake on her part I think – whatever happened in 2006 and 2007 will be perceived in worst possible light. Why not just release 6 years as requested by the Globe?

    • Oh, SCANDAL!!

      I think the campaign’s theory was that they would release her returns starting from when she entered public service of some kind, which apparently was 4 years ago. Team Brown is already trying to make a big deal out of the 06 and 07 returns. But it’s not going anywhere.

      • Still seems a mistake

        Not sure is a scandal, but it was after all the Globe was the entity requesting current plus prior 5 (Globe Political Intelligence). By releasing 4 years instead of 6 it does give the appearance of trying to hide something in years 5 and 6.

        • hmm, maybe it's reverse psychology

          They know there is nothing bad in there, and they’ll make Brown look bad for making a stink and not finding anything. But the Globe ought to be making a stink for all six years.

  3. Let's get out of the weeds

    Now now we know this information and each of their backgrounds are not determinants of which lever should be pulled for US Senate. Hey maybe we can start seeing what are each candidate’s positions and what outlook they have of their fellow citizens. For this site we know who should get our vote and why. Now we must get out on the streets and bring others to our banner. Unless there is instances of law breaking or extremely unethical behavior, it is time to make the political case and leave the world of back and forth ad hominems.

  4. the... ahem... money quote.

    Yes, both of them came from humble beginnings when they did have those kinds of worries, and that is worth something. But it’s not worth something because it’s inherently more virtuous to have come from that kind of background rather than some other kind; it’s worth something because, having become successful, one might hope that both candidates have some personal knowledge and understanding about what it takes, both personally and societally, to work your way up. One might further hope that the candidates are able to draw on that knowledge and understanding, along with their other knowledge and experience, in order to formulate a sensible set of policy ideas.

    When I grow up, I wanna be just like David.

  5. Conduct along with content.

    What one learns from this episode is not just the content of the tax returns, but how the campaigns and candidates comported themselves in revealing and releasing information. To that end, this item from the Boston Herald’s report is telling:

    Brown, who urged Warren to be more transparent, refused to allow copies of the tax information to leave the office and instead required reporters to review his tax returns at his headquarters and take notes. The campaign did not allow tax attorneys to come in and view the returns.

    Brown wants to claim to be supremely transparent in this exercise, but he will only allow information to be viewed in the most controlled environment. The returns are not truly “publicly available” (calls to mind Brown’s lack of public Town Hall forums). Further, only reporters (who may not be tax return experts) may view them; and, tax attorneys are explicitly forbidden from reviewing the returns, lest a tax expert find an inappropriate deduction or some other noteworthy item in the tax returns.

    I would imagine that, if the reporters were only allowed to take notes, they were not allowed to photograph the content of the returns, meaning that this may be the only proverbial bite of the apple that the media (and, through the media, the public) gets to access Brown’s returns. Again, not really transparent – just the bare minimum to claim the veneer of transparency. Poor form, Team Brown.

  6. Why...

    does a Junior US Senator with two million need to game the system to land himself a bigger pension from the Maryland National Guard?
    And why does a Lt. Colonel in the Judge Advocates Division rate a bigger pension than a veteran of WW2 with a 95% disability incurred from Nazi shell fire?
    Why am I living in a nation that rewards the lawyers better than the national heroes?

    Elias

  7. From a purely political standpoint this is a Brown win

    Most voters already have an impression in their mind about Brown. He made $75K in the State Senate, had a law practice and his wife Gail Huff was on TV. Making $300K for a family income in this state is not a big deal. He hasn’t said anything about the poor or the rich. If you only got your news from BMG, you would think he’s for the rich anyway.

    Now switch to the Warren/Mann income situation. Most people know less about her than Brown. She talks about rich and poor all the time. They make $900K, which IS a lot of money even to people with money.

    • I think it's a wash

      myself. The echo chamber will resound that they’re both rich. Unless some related (non-)issues pop up, this issue is neutralized far before the undecided make up their minds. This kind of crap only matters when there’s nothing substantive at stake in an election–like back when people were saying there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

  8. Now I can't vote for either of them*

    *according to the Official Guide to Progressives According to Conservatives

  9. OK, they both have gobs of money

    She knows where hers came from
    He thinks he did it all himself

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