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A Scott Brown win will spare NH massive unfunded federal health care mandates
01.15.10

By Penny Wise

 
Is Massachusetts on the cusp of re-launching its famous “shot heard round the world?” A Scott Brown victory on Tuesday would deliver as much – and more.
 
The health care reform debate in Washington has shown us just how fractious the Senate Democrat caucus is. As negotiations intensified last month, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) found out how difficult it is to keep together a 60-vote filibuster-proof bloc. Even more alarming to party bosses was the reality that each Democrat effectively held a veto over the entire package.
 
If Brown stages an upset win on Tuesday, the Bay State will lose a Democrat Senator. Consequently, Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill will no longer be able to ram legislation through the chamber using their 60-vote super majority. Given that reality, this election provides a rare opportunity to literally change the direction our country is headed. That’s good news for Massachusetts and states across the nation – including New Hampshire – that face the potential for massive unfunded federal mandates in pending health care reform legislation.
 
Dissatisfaction with Barack Obama’s health care plan specifically, and Congressional Democrats in general, is helping to fuel Brown’s rise.
 
According to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, likely voters in next Tuesday’s election oppose the health care reform deal moving through Congress by a margin of 47% to 41%. And in famously liberal Massachusetts, which has long had an all-Democrat Congressional delegation, 55% of respondents expressed an unfavorable view of Capitol Hill Democrats.
 
Radio host and columnist Howie Carr was pointed in his assessment that, “The race to replace Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate has come down to one issue, and it’s not Sen. Ted Kennedy’s ‘legacy.’ It’s the misshapen health-care bills that have scared the bejesus out of an ever-growing majority of American voters, even in this bluest of states.”
 
On health care specifically, Scott Brown is highlighting the fact that his election would throw up a major roadblock to the Democrats’ designs.  At a debate in Boston this week, “Brown cast himself as the potential 41st vote in the Senate to kill the bill and ‘send it back to the drawing board.’”
 
Coakley, by contrast, jetted down to Washington for a Tuesday night fundraiser on Capitol Hill held by entrenched health care lobbyists. The Washington Examiner reported that an invitation for the event, “…names 24 ‘sponsors,’ who raised at least $10,000 for Coakley's campaign. One sponsor is the political action committee for Boston Scientific Corporation, a leading medical device and medical technology company. Another 17 of Coakley's sponsors are registered lobbyists in Washington, 15 of whom have health care clients.” Their goal: to ensure Coakley delivers the critical 60th vote to advance the health care reform bill.

It goes without saying that this race shouldn’t even be close. By a margin of three to one, there are vastly more registered Democrats in Massachusetts than Republicans (independents outnumber both). The state hasn’t sent a Republican to the United States Senate since 1972. And this is, after all, an election to fill the seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy, a liberal icon who represented the Bay State for 48 years.
But Massachusetts voters’ frustrations with the massive health care reform bill reflect national discontent with how Democrats are managing the issue. A CBS News poll released this week revealed that 36% of Americans approve of President Obama’s handling of health care – down from 42% in December and 47% in October. When asked their opinion of how Congressional Democrats have managed health care reform, 57% of Americans disapproved.
 
As it becomes increasingly clear that defeating Coakley means stopping the health care bill, Brown’s star has risen. Republicans from across the country, including here in New Hampshire, are pouring into Massachusetts to campaign for the ascendant Brown.
 
A Republican victory in this special election will doom the President’s health care bill. Not only will that save New Hampshire from about $1 billion in unfunded federal Medicaid mandates, it will also deliver a shot in the arm to Republicans in the Granite State and nationwide as we head into a critical election year.

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