Op-Ed | Downtown Scotty Brown: Why Tufts students should vote for their fellow Jumbo
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 00:10
Following the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s death in 2009, few Massachusetts Republicans wanted to run in the special election for a Senate seat that was predicted to undoubtedly remain in the hands of a Democrat. After all, the last time Massachusetts had elected a Republican Senator was in 1972. The only question among political pundits was whom the Democratic machine would select as heir to the Kennedy throne.
Tufts University gained a significant addition to its notable alumni list on January 19, 2010 when, against all odds, Scott Brown (A ’81) shocked the political world by winning that U.S. Senate race. Senator Brown refused to acknowledge that he was running for the “Kennedy Seat” and instead called it the “People’s Seat,” declaring that it belonged not to any one party, but the people of Massachusetts. During his acceptance speech in Boston that cold winter night, Senator Brown spotted a Tufts flag in the crowd and gave a shout out to his beloved alma mater. Though, more importantly, he promised that he would go to Washington to be an independent thinker, reach across party lines and solve our country’s problems.
Two and a half short years later, Senator Brown has kept those promises of independence and bipartisanship. Senator Brown has earned Washingtonian Magazine’s title of the Least Partisan Congressman, partially for his voting record of 54 percent Republican and 46 percent Democrat. To put these statistics into perspective, the average Senator votes with their party over 90 percent of the time. He is one of a dwindling few bipartisan Senators still reaching across the aisle to enact change. Now, Senator Brown finds himself running for reelection and the Tufts Republicans are devoting all available resources to keeping our Jumbo in the Senate.
Senator Brown, a moderate pro−choice Republican, has worked with Democrats to cast deciding votes on Wall Street reform, repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and continue funding for Planned Parenthood. Although he may be socially liberal, Senator Brown has remained a steadfast fiscal conservative. He believes that job growth comes from the small businessmen and businesswomen across this state, and that they should not be forced to pay higher taxes so that Washington can continue its wasteful spending spree. It is this point where Senator Brown differs drastically from his fervently liberal challenger, Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren.
The best method to understand Senator Brown and Professor Warren’s diametrically opposed theories of economics and governance is to analyze the issues that have been raised during this campaign. First of all, Professor Warren’s tax increase proposal of $3.4 trillion would kill over 700,000 jobs nationwide and 17,400 here in Massachusetts, according to the consulting firm Ernst & Young. In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has stated that “no other candidate in 2012 represents a greater threat to free enterprise than Professor Warren.” Senator Brown, conversely, has found himself having to admit “guilty as charged” whenever Professor Warren attacks his unwillingness to raise taxes on any individuals in Massachusetts. We’re still three years into the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, and raising taxes and regulations on small businesses in America will crush growth, stall employment and burden our recovering economy.
A great instance of a vote that wholly encompasses Senator Brown’s belief system ironically comes from one of Professor Warren’s favorite distortions of his record. As noted in the Oct. 9 op−ed, “Elizabeth Warren deserves the student vote,” by Taylor Barnard, Senator Brown did indeed vote against a student loan reform bill. In that piece of legislation was a proposal to maintain student loan interest rate levels at 3.4 percent by increasing $6 billion of tax revenue on small businesses. Professor Warren’s attack ad ends there, but the story does not. Immediately afterward, Senator Brown rolled up his sleeves, sat down with Democrats, and got to work. After tweaking a few broken federal programs and identifying misused funds throughout government, a bipartisan vote in Congress passed Senator Brown’s proposal, introduced first in the Subsidized Stafford Loan Reduced Interest Rate Extension Act of 2012 (S. 2834), which kept interest rates at 3.4 percent without raising taxes on the American people.
The dichotomy between these two candidates could not be clearer. Professor Warren believes that no one built their business without the help of the government. Therefore, she can justify increasing taxes any time the government needs money. Senator Brown, on the other hand, believes that levelheaded bipartisan cooperation is the key to resolving America’s problems.
It’s all politics. Yelling that Scott Brown voted against student loan reform makes for nice applause and a great YouTube clip, but it victimizes a good man who has spent his entire governmental career helping students. Did you know that the first political office Scott Brown ever ran for was Tufts Student Senate? As a student who was on financial aid himself, his platform included halting tuition increases, being more responsible about how student fees were spent and improving dormitory safety. The flyer he posted across our city on a hill read, “I won’t promise to change everything, but I will promise to be a sincere, active representative of the student body.” Out of the fifty−seven candidates on the ballot, Scott Brown won.
Since his time in Tufts Student Senate, Senator Brown’s trajectory to the U.S. Senate has centered on his desire to help students. His time in elected office continued in 1995 when he ran for Selectman of Wrentham in order to block school budget cuts at a time when his daughter Ayla was just starting in the local elementary school. Indeed, Senator Brown has never stopped fighting for students for one second. While in Washington, Senator Brown introduced a measure to require all nonprofit higher education institutions to post their tax returns on their website so that parents and students can see how schools are spending their tuition dollars (S. 2835). This will help hardworking parents better understand why some “rock star” professors — take Elizabeth Warren, for example — can be paid $350,000 to teach one course a semester while the price of education for students continues to skyrocket.