Three months in, Senator Warren is already more bipartisan and more effective than Scott Brown ever was

Scott Brown sure did talk a great game about being Mr. Bipartisan, didn’t he?  But if you stop to think about it, he was a remarkably ineffective Senator.  His widely-noticed penchant for waiting until the last possible second to make up his mind on anything deprived him of the ability to have much significant influence on important legislation.  Perhaps the exception to that is the Dodd-Frank bill, which he voted for only after weakening it for the benefit of some of the biggest financial institutions around.  Well, bravo.

And the piece of legislation that Brown seems to have been most proud of, the so-called STOCK Act, was feel-good legislation that allows Congress to pat itself on the back for preventing itself from behaving badly.  It wasn’t harmful, but it didn’t create a single job or help a single Massachusetts person in need.

Compare that to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s early track record.  Of course, she has already made national headlines for her aggressive questioning of bank regulators (including some within the Obama administration) and of folks opposed to raising the minimum wage (some videos of those hearings have become YouTube sensations garnering hundreds of thousands of views; one has almost hit a million).  But you know what else she’s done?  She did this (email, no link):

The U.S. Senate today passed a bipartisan amendment introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to help provide critical disaster relief funds for fishermen. The amendment was the first introduced and passed by Senator Warren since she took office in January.

Co-sponsors include Senators William “Mo” Cowan (D-MA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

Senator Warren and Senator Murkowski merged two separate amendments to reach a bipartisan agreement that allows appropriations in the FY14 budget to be allocated to provide disaster assistance for fishermen. The funding would help support a response to the commercial fisheries failures declared by the Secretary of Commerce in 2012.

Lead sponsors: one Democrat (Warren) and one Republican.  Co-sponsors: eight Democrats, four Republicans, one independent.  And that’s an amendment that will (should it pass the House) bring desperately-needed relief to fishermen right here in Massachusetts.  That’s exactly what our Senator should be doing.

Also, earlier this month, Warren joined forces with very conservative Senators Corker (R-TN) and Vitter (R-LA) (along with Mark Warner (D-VA)) to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Four Senators are crossing party lines to propose a GSE [government-sponsored enterprise] reform bill that would prevent the government from using guarantee-fee hikes at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cover other spending initiatives.

The proposed legislation also would prohibit the sale of GSE-preferred shares owned by the Treasury without congressional approval and the completion of GSE reform first…. The initiative shows two of the more vocal housing critics — Sens. Warren and Corker — finding consensus on GSE reform across the aisle and taking a major step in trying to curb ‘the status quo’ at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac….

“If Treasury were to decide to sell its preferred share investment without Congress having first reformed our housing sector, we would just be returning to a time where gains are for private shareholders and losses are for taxpayers,” said Corker.

“Neither of these is an acceptable outcome, so I’m very happy that Senators Warner, Vitter and Warren have joined me in this effort, and I hope Congress will take the necessary steps to ensure housing finance reform can happen as soon as possible,” Corker added.

Needless to say, fixing Fannie and Freddie and repairing the housing market is something that will actually help people throughout the country.

Good policy isn’t necessarily bipartisan, and bipartisan policy isn’t necessarily good.  People like Scott Brown who talk about bipartisanship as an end in itself (if I only had a nickel for every time Scott Brown repeated that study claiming that he was the second most bipartisan Senator) misunderstand this fact – and, to be fair to Brown, he is hardly alone in this, since bipartisanship for its own sake is very popular among prominent local and national members of the chattering class.

Last November, Massachusetts voters had a choice between electing someone who talked about bipartisanship for its own sake rather than being in the service of getting something useful done, and someone with a clear vision of what needed to get done and was willing to work with whoever would care to join her in helping make it happen.  They chose the latter, and it’s working out well so far.  Well done, Massachusetts.


8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. A worthy successor to Ted Kennedy

    Our late, great senator also was famous for working with Republicans to get positive things done for people. SO glad we got Senator Wanker out and put in someone who is carrying on that tradition.

  2. Great news

    Brown may have pretended he was a friend of the fisherman, he even cut an ad about it. But he voted against the emergency welfare that Sen. Warren crossed the aisle to get for our fisherman. I also know members of her staff met with Gloucester officials to make sure the right kind of aid got approved. A hard worker and someone able to use their celebrity to highlight important issues.

  3. Proudest vote I ever cast in my life was for Elizabeth Warren

    And I’m pretty sure it always will be.

    She’s off to a great start and it feels so wonderful to see the rest of the country look to her and Massachusetts for leadership on so many critical issues.

    She’s the very best.

    • Couldn't have said it better

      Proudest vote I ever cast in my life was for Elizabeth Warren

      And couldn’t agree with you more!

    • Proudest vote ever? Really?

      While I applaud Senator Warren’s votes on fishery relief and Fannie/Freddie “reform,” her comments on the minimum wage are an embarrassment to Commonwealth. The only explanation for her raw display of economic ignorance is that the only people worse with numbers than lawyers are law professors.

      And please, I’m begging you, UMass, please don’t grant tenure to Arindrajit Dube, assistant professor in the economics department. He is either an idiot unworthy of teaching young minds or a progressive trained seal desperate for cable news face time and shilling for Granny.

      The only thing missing from their Burns and Allen vaudeville routine was a little soft shoe.

      Because wages are mostly set by market forces of supply and demand – “mostly” because of political interference from government-set minimum wage floors and antiquated Davis-Bacon requirements—labor productivity measures don’t apply linearly for all labor classifications. This is especially true for low-skill, minimum wage jobs where increases in productivity reduce the demand for such labor.

      Examples of this are backhoes, invented in the 1950’s, and supermarket scanners, introduced widely in the early 1980’s. These inventions, respectively, reduced, even eliminated, demand for ditch diggers and grocery store clerks. Simultaneously, they increasing minimum wage productivity.

      I fell out of my chair laughing when Warren wondered aloud “What happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn’t go to the worker.” Of course it did, just not to ditch diggers and grocery clerks. It went to the people that assemble, sell, install, and service the backhoes and the laser scanners, and to petroleum engineers, computer programmers, and spreadsheet users.

      I’d like to give Senator Warren the benefit of the doubt and say she was only grandstanding to her base of liberal redistributionists because it’s beyond imagination that she would suggest increasing the minimum wage to $22, a policy which would eviscerate the retail and restaurant industries, and likely bankrupt Starbucks.

      Unless progressives are okay with $15 lattes and $11 blueberry scones.

      • Hmmm

        Seems like the Starbucks CEO doesn’t mind raising the minimum wage

        The Costco CEO is paying a true living wage, pretty close to what Liz said was needed

        And it may help him and Trader Joes make more money.

        So yeah the whole ‘if we lowered the minimum wage we’d increase productivity’ meme is quite old, and if we look at China it has not drastically raised living standards or quality of life. Worker rights and democracy go hand in hand, worker advancement and a meritocracy go hand in hand, and putting money into workers pockets leads to economic expansions not contractions. I think most Americans would take Clinton’s America or Eisenhower’s America over the status quo. The real question is why wouldn’t you?

        • Who's advocating a reduction in wages?

          Not me. I’m advocating letting the market set wage rates. I’m against setting price floors for ANYTHING. Or price ceilings, for that matter (like rent control.)

          Starbuck’s and Costco’s business models, sales volume, and labor efficiency support higher wage rates, wage rates set according to the marketplace for the type of labor the need. That’s good!

          But those wage rates may not work for Stop & Shop and McDonalds. Or the seasonal locally-run coffee shop in Falmouth I like.

          The real reason is why would you deny that college co-ed a summer job? She might not have one at $9.00 an hour.

  4. Bi-partisanship

    just another word for date rape
    – Grover Nordquist

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