It is clear that the stakes in the Massachusetts Senate race are much higher than Scott Brown might be willing to admit. With incumbent Democratic Senators locked in tough-reelection battles around the country, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the winner of the Massachusetts Senate race determines which party will control the Senate.
Since Tea Party Republicans took over the House of Representatives, the Democratic Senate has been a solid firewall against the spread of the Tea Party agenda. The Democratic Senate that stopped Republican Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as we know it and the Tea Party’s Social Security-destroying “cut, cap and balance” scheme is at risk and the Senate race in the Commonwealth will have national implications.
The choice for Massachusetts is stark: Elect a senator who will be a voice for the middle-class or send Mitch McConnell the 51st vote he needs to give Tea Party Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.
A Tea Party-controlled Senate would double-down on the failed economic policies of the past, continuing tax breaks for Big Oil companies, CEOs and hedge fund managers while insisting that the full burden of getting our nation’s fiscal house in order be placed squarely on the shoulders of the middle class.
Massachusetts is overwhelmingly opposed to the national Republican agenda. A recent Public Policy Polling poll found that 56% of likely voters in Massachusetts – including a majority of independents and even 18% of registered Republicans – think the national Republican Party is too conservative.
Another poll last month from MassInc found that a majority of likely Massachusetts voters think Congress should prioritize Democratic policy initiatives like narrowing the gap between the rich and poor and making sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. In contrast, the same poll found that less than half of those surveyed thought Congress should place a high priority on cutting the size of the federal government and less than one-third said cutting taxes should be a high priority.
While Scott Brown is likely to highlight the few times he has broken from Tea Party Republican orthodoxy to vote with Democrats, it’s worth pointing out that those measures would hardly have had a chance to advance in a Republican Senate. Brown voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell after it was clear it would pass, but a Republican Senate would have never held a vote on the anti-gay policy. Nor would Republicans have pushed through the Wall Street reform bill that Brown voted for after making sure that the banking industry would not be on the hook for the cost of implementing new reforms.
In fact, a Republican U.S. Senate would no doubt move to repeal Wall Street reform and the Affordable Care Act. The new protections put in place to prevent another economic crisis and end abusive practices by the financial industry would vanish. President Obama’s Massachusetts-inspired health care reform law that has already provided access to health care for many Americans who didn’t’ have it before would vanish. Some Republicans started clamoring to reinstate the ban on gays and lesbians in the military just as soon as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ended.
In 2012, voters in the Commonwealth could very well decide which party will control the U.S. Senate. A Tea Party Republican Senate would roll back the progress we’ve made under President Obama and pursue a radical ideological agenda that will hurt middle-class families. That’s what is at stake in the Massachusetts Senate race.