Sen. Scott Brown Gets It Wrong On The Affordable Care Act

March 30, 2010 11:20 am ET

In a Boston Globe op-ed published on March 30, 2010, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) repeated false Republican talking points attempting to smear the newly-adopted Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Scott Brown's Op-Ed Repeats Debunked GOP Assertions

Sen. Scott Brown:

After my election, Washington politicians began an aggressive push to bend the rules and force their unpopular health care bill on an unwilling nation. They went into secret negotiations to make up their own rules, and eventually found a way to circumvent the will of the people by using the reconciliation process to ram through their health care bill. For the last year, the American people have been shaking their heads at the closed-door meetings, sweetheart deals, and special carve-outs. It has been a very ugly process, and caused many Americans to lose faith in their elected officials in Washington. [Sen. Scott Brown op-ed, Boston Globe, 3/30/10]

No Rules Were Bent

The Affordable Care Act passed through standard procedure.

Health Insurance Reform Passed The Senate With A 60 Vote Majority.  According to the Washington Post, "Senate Democrats approved landmark legislation just after sunrise Christmas Eve that would transform the nation's health-care system by requiring people without insurance to obtain coverage and protecting those who have it from the most unpopular private insurance practices. Vice President Biden presided over the 60 to 39 party-line vote, described as a historic milestone by senators on both sides of the aisle. Despite the early hour, Democrats sat alert at their desks, exhausted but exuberant, savoring a victory that had eluded so many of their predecessors. 'This is probably the most important vote that every sitting member of the Senate will cast in their tenure here,' said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), one of the authors of the bill." [Washington Post, 12/25/10]

The reconciliation bill tweaked relatively minor provisions in accordance with longstanding Senate rules.

Experts: "The Use Of Reconciliation Is This Case...Is Compatible With The Law, Senate Rules, And The Framers Intent." Thomas E. Mann and Raffaela Wakeman of the Brookings Institution and Norman J. Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote:

Reconciliation was intended to be a narrow procedure to bring revenues and spending into conformity with the levels set in the annual budget resolution. But it quickly became much more. The 22 reconciliation bills so far passed by Congress (three of which were vetoed by President Bill Clinton) have included all manner of budgetary and policy measures: deficit reductions and increases; social policy bills like welfare reform; major changes in Medicare and Medicaid; large tax cuts; and small adjustments in existing law. Neither party has been shy about using this process to avoid dilatory tactics in the Senate; Republicans have in fact been more willing to do so than Democrats.

The history is clear: While the use of reconciliation in this case - amending a bill that has already passed the Senate via cloture - is new, it is compatible with the law, Senate rules and the framers' intent. [New York Times, 3/7/10; emphasis added]

The Bill Was Not Forced On An "Unwilling Nation"

Gallup Poll: 49% To 40%, Americans Support Passage Of Health Care Reform.  According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, when asked whether they thought the House passage of health care reform was a "good thing" or a "bad thing," 49% of Americans said "good thing," 40% said "bad thing," and 11% had "no opinion."  [Gallup.com, 3/23/10]

CNN Poll: 52% Of Americans Support Health Care Reform Or Wish It Went Further.  According to a CNN poll, when asked about their opinion of the health care reform package: 39% of Americans supported it, 13% opposed it because it wasn't liberal enough, 43% opposed it because it was too liberal, and 5% had no opinion.  Therefore, 52% of Americans either support health care reform or wish it went even further.  [CNN.com, 3/22/10]

March Kaiser Poll: Americans Support The Current Health Care Reform Package.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: "The March Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds the public still divided on health reform legislation, with 46 percent of Americans backing the reform proposals on Capitol Hill, 42 percent opposing them and 12 percent saying they aren't sure. Six in 10 Americans say they have heard little or nothing about budget reconciliation. And many people continue to struggle with health costs, with nearly one in five saying cost increases have caused them or their employer to switch to a less comprehensive health plan." [Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2010]

Sen. Scott Brown Voted Against Removing The "Sweetheart Deals" He Criticized

Sen. Scott Brown Voted Against The Health Care And Education Reconciliation Act Of 2010. On March 25, 2010. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. [HR 4872, Vote #105, 3/25/10]

  • The Hill: "The 'Cornhusker Kickback' Would Be Removed With The Passage Of The Reconciliation Package." According to The Hill, "[Sen. Ben] Nelson, who supported the Senate healthcare bill in December, was criticized for a $100 million in Medicaid funding for Nebraska that was included in the bill to win his support. The 'Cornhusker Kickback' would be removed with the passage of the reconciliation package. Conservative critics attacked the Medicaid provision and it became a political football in the healthcare debate. House Democrats balked at passing the Senate healthcare bill because it included the provision." [The Hill, 3/22/10]
  • Palm Beach Post: "No More Gator-Aid." According to the Palm Beach Post: "No more Gator-aid. The health care bill that the U.S. Senate passed on Christmas Eve included a gift to 800,000 Florida seniors who have Medicare Advantage plans rather than traditional Medicare. It allowed their insurance providers to keep the higher payments put in place during the Bush years, protecting extras that many members enjoy, such as dental coverage and vision care. The House's reconciliation "fix" bill, slated for a vote Sunday, would remove that preferential treatment." [Palm Beach Post, 3/22/10]
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