Editorial: Elizabeth Warren for Senate

Last modified: Monday, December 24, 2012

On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters will decide who should win the U.S. Senate seat held for 47 years by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a man known as the “lion of the Senate.” Incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican former state senator seeking election to a full six-year term, and Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic law professor and former member of the Obama administration are battling it out.

We believe the best choice at this crucial time in our country is Elizabeth Warren.

By now, everybody knows that Brown, elected in 2010 to fill the remaining years of Kennedy’s term, is a nice, likeable, family man. But likeability should not decide this contest for one of our two precious Senate seats.

We wholeheartedly endorse Warren for the strengths, experience, intelligence and political acumen she brings to the table.

We believe Brown has failed to live up to his promise, when he campaigned in late 2009 and 2010, to be an independent and moderate voice.

While Brown styles himself as a buffer between Republican and Democratic acrimony, he has generally shown bipartisanship on small matters but stood squarely with conservative elements of his party on big questions. To his credit, he supported the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill, a key reform to prevent another economic meltdown. We applauded that vote, but have been disappointed since.

When he campaigned in 2009, Brown vowed to be the 41st — filibuster proof — vote against the health care reform that became known as Obamacare. Ultimately, that vote was taken before he was elected to office. He remains staunchly opposed to Obamacare.

In June, Brown joined other Republican senators in defeating the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required employers to provide rationales for pay gaps when asked and prohibit retaliation against employees who discuss pay. Previously, Brown voted against an identical bill. American women make about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, so this is a matter of great importance.

Brown also co-sponsored the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny insurance coverage for medical services — such as contraception — if they harbor religious or moral objections. The measure was ultimately defeated in a 51-48 vote. Brown explains his position on the Blunt Amendment as support of religious liberty. He maintains he is pro-choice.

Just because he says it doesn’t make it so. This position ignores a bedrock principle of this great nation: separation of church and state.

Brown pledges to never raise taxes, which seems a foolhardy and short-sighted promise when government-sponsored jobs bills are crucial to the continuing, but fragile, recovery of an economy whose near-collapse Obama inherited.

Brown has backed himself into a corner with his Grover Norquist no-tax pledge. Warren is an unapologetic advocate of using tax dollars for the common good, including federal dollars for medical research — an issue key to this state’s economy.

Although she doesn’t have experience as an elected representative, we believe the public policy credentials Warren carries will serve her well as a senator.

After the 2008 financial crisis, Warren was named chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, and in 2010 she developed the new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In these key roles she showed impressive leadership as she fought against predatory lending practices in a bipartisan way.

A key difference between Brown and Warren lies in their analysis of the role of government.

Warren believes the federal government must help improve the quality of life for its citizens. At last month’s debate in Springfield, she posed this question: As a nation of individuals, do we accept the notion, “I’ve got mine, and the rest of you are on your own?” or are we a country that believes we must invest so that we can thrive and future generations can do better?

That political philosophy earned Ted Kennedy re-election seven times and made him the fourth longest-serving senator.

Over his tenure from 1962 until his death in 2009, Kennedy was known as a fighter who could forge compromises when necessary to get the job done.

We believe Elizabeth Warren would follow in those large footsteps.


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