By Lee Harrison
You may have missed it, but a few days ago Lowell boxer Micky Ward dropped Scott Brown. The blow came very fast, like a hard right to the jaw. And just as quickly it’s becoming a watershed moment in this year’s U.S. Senate campaign.
You may remember Micky Ward, who was famously played by former Bostonian Mark Wahlberg in the 2010 movie “The Fighter.” But you probably don’t know this tough, no nonsense guy is also a Teamster – and that was part of Brown’s problem.
While Brown was preparing to fly to Lowell from the Tea Party Republican convention to accept Ward’s endorsement, Micky Ward was learning the truth about Scott Brown. When he did, he shifted his stance and TKO’d Brown.
“I can’t support Scott Brown. I just can’t do it,” Ward said. “I found out Scott is anti-union and I’m a Teamster guy. I found out he’s also against gay marriage, and I say if you love someone you should have the same rights no matter who you are.”
Clearly, Ward can distinguish between a contender and a pretender. He looked past Scott Brown’s slick TV campaign and saw that the Tea Party Republican is not fighting for working people. In fact, Scott Brown is fighting against us.
Indeed, Brown has a history of voting against us on a host of economic and jobs issues. He voted twice against extending Bush’s tax cuts for the Middle Class and ending them for people making more than a $250,000 a year. He even voted against ending tax cuts for millionaires!
So, Scott Brown’s warnings about “taxmageddon” ring as hollow as former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn’s claims that Brown is “independent.” Of course, Flynn does say Brown “is a guy you can do business with,” which is true if you happen to run a major oil company: Brown voted against a bill to reduce the federal deficit by closing special tax loopholes benefitting the world’s five biggest oil companies.
Then there’s financial regulation. After the 2008 financial disaster, only a fool or a hedge-fund manager would object to reining in the casino-like behavior of America’s major financial institutions. Brown claims he voted for financial regulation, which he did, but only after using the leverage of his 41st vote to gut enforcement mechanisms in the bill, essentially moving costs from those who created the financial mess to people like us. Then he had the brass to brag that he had been the deciding vote to pass it.
But that’s not all. According to The Boston Globe, since passage of that weakened bill, Brown has worked tirelessly to block its full implementation. His reward: $2 million in campaign donations from Wall St. and an offer from NYC Mayor Bloomberg to help him raise even more money in the Big Apple. Some fighter for the middle class.
Brown’s record of fighting against us doesn’t end there. He voted eight times against extending unemployment aid – which led to the loss of benefits for 30,000 Massachusetts residents, including teachers – and he voted to cut Pell Grants for 135,000 Bay State students. Speaking of teachers, in 2010, Brown voted against a bill that would have saved nearly 3,000 teaching positions in Massachusetts. A year later, he voted to filibuster the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, which would have supported up to 6,300 education jobs, a bill paid for with a 0.5% surtax on incomes over $1 million. He also voted against bills that would have created thousands of Massachusetts jobs by upgrading our transportation and school infrastructure. One bill, a national infrastructure bank, was supported by both the national Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO.
In stark contrast, Elizabeth Warren not only wants to invest in our future by rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, sewer and water systems, and expanding broadband internet service but she’s also committed to strengthening workers’ and women’s rights. And, remember, she’s already created a government agency dedicated to protecting the middle class from predatory banks and credit card companies.
So, if you’re wondering who’s really fighting for Massachusetts, think about Micky Ward. Micky liked Brown’s “truck and barn coat” regular-guy image, but once he looked a little harder at how Brown votes, Micky changed his mind – and he’s not alone: The more voters learn about Brown’s position on issues, the more they are moving into Elizabeth Warren’s corner.
Lee Harrison is a member of the Mass. Democratic State Committee and former Berkshire Brigades Chairman