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Tilting at Windmills

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January 15, 2010

WHO VOTES AGAINST HELP FOR 9/11 RECOVERY WORKERS?.... It's a little late in the game to introduce a game-changing issue into the Senate special election in Massachusetts -- the election is Tuesday, after all -- but this revelation nevertheless tells voters something pretty important about Republican Scott Brown.

One month after the September 11th attacks, Scott Brown was one of only three Massachusetts State Representatives to vote against a bill to provide financial assistance to Red Cross workers who had volunteered with 9/11 recovery efforts, we've learned.

The Brown campaign acknowledged the vote to us, claiming the measure would have taxed already-strained state finances. [...]

On October 17th, 2001, Brown voted against a bill that would authorize "leaves of absence for certain Red Cross employees participating in Red Cross emergencies." The bill gave 15 days of paid leave each year to state workers called up by the Red Cross to respond to disasters. At the time, state workers called for such emergencies were required to use sick and vacation days.

This suggests an almost-stunning callousness. It's all the more galling that Brown knew it was going to pass -- 148 to 3 -- but opposed it anyway, just to make a point.

I shudder to think what Republicans would say about a Democratic lawmaker who cast a vote like this just a month after the 9/11 attacks

The Brown campaign has said the vote was about fiscal responsibility -- Massachusetts couldn't afford assistance for Red Cross workers who had volunteered with 9/11 recovery efforts.

That's not a bad line, I suppose, but here's my follow-up question: why, then, does Scott Brown recommend tax cuts now that the nation can't afford? Why would tax cuts for the wealthy be more important than help for 9/11 recovery volunteers?

DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz told Greg Sargent, "On a day with Scott Brown bringing in Rudy Giuliani, he ought to give the people of Massachusetts an explanation as to why he voted against relief for 9/11 workers. We knew Scott Brown was a shill for Wall Street and corporate interests, but I cannot imagine what excuse he comes up with for this vote. He ought to be ashamed of himself and he ought to apologize to the Mayor of New York."

It also reinforces the fact that Brown, a favorite of the Tea Party crowd, isn't even close to being a moderate. He's pretty far to the right on everything from torture to taxes, health care to the economy, Wall Street accountability to global warming.

But this 9/11 vote may lead on-the-fence voters to wonder whether Brown represents "a new day," or the worst of yesterday.

Update: On a related note, if the media is making a big deal about a DSCC ad that inadvertently showed the World Trade Center (the ad was pulled), Brown's vote on 9/11 recovery volunteers is at least as important, if not more so.

Steve Benen 4:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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GOP 2001: Party Over Country !

GOP 2010: Party Over Country Again !

Posted by: mr. irony on January 15, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK
GOP 2001: Party Over Country !

GOP 2010: Party Over Country Again !

Media: Rethug talking points uber alles, forever and ever, amen.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on January 15, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"why, then, does Scott Brown recommend tax cuts now that the nation can't afford? Why would tax cuts for the wealthy be more important that help for 9/11 recovery volunteers?"

I'm sure that after his response was translated out of Republispeek into English it would read something like, "Tax cuts are magical. The ALWAYS result in MORE revenue for the government as well as being the BEST form of economic stimulus in the universe. Since the wealthiest people in the nation are, definitionally the most productive people, tax cuts to them are even better."

I expect that his response wouldn't sound quite so bald, but that it's substance would boil down to that.

Posted by: David Hunt on January 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans will vote for anyone with an "R" after their name because they truly believe that, deep down, Democrats hate America.

Tell me I'm wrong. Because I don't think I am.

Posted by: abc on January 15, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Bigger question: WTF hasn't the Coakley campaign been using this info in a massive ad campaign? Did they even know about it?

First Rule: Know thy enemy.

Posted by: bdop4 on January 15, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

The source for Coakley's internal polling seems to be Byron York of NRO. It's making its way rapidly through the right-wing echo chamber (from NRO to Hot Air and other loopy sites), all the way to Ambinder. I don't doubt that the race is very close, but it would be nice to know where this information originates and how much it can be trusted (in fact one of the sites has it that while the Suffolk poll showed her down by four, her internals have her down by five).

Posted by: eb on January 15, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I am sorry, but Coakley is probably a day late. I hope she isn't a dollar short.

The fact that the Kennedy senate seat is in play at all tells us a lot about the incompetence of Democratic leadership.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 15, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I guess a la Rushbo, he felt taxes had already paid for their assistance.

Posted by: RSR on January 15, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, not surprising Coakley is making an issue of this "huge" gaffe: Democrats believe volunteers (and some voters) should always be paid, thereby completely redefining the whole concept of "volunteering."

Nobody should have to sacrifice for what they believe in. Nobody should have to work hard for anything. Nanny gov't will be there to make life perfect.

It's the same reasoning that leads the liberal Organizing for America to offer $14-20/hr jobs for its "volunteers" to campaign for healthcare reform while the Speaker of the House of the U.S. Congress hypocritically (and falsely) calls the Tea Party activists "Nazis" or "astroturf."

Dems are the fat cats now.

Repubs are the party of the people.

Deal with it.

And yes ... tax cuts do help stimulate the economy. That is if you believe letting people keep more of their own money (that they earned) is a good thing.

Posted by: Nicole on January 15, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Nicole - we appreciate you showing up to share the GOP's talking points on everything from tax cuts to the Tea Partiers. We are so grateful. Those are so impressive that they almost made me forget two decades' worth of evidence about the GOP to the contrary ... or the last eight years.

As for your claim that "Dems are the fat cats now" - sure. Whatever you say. So that's why the GOP is opposed to regulating the bankers, or instituting new consumer protections on the financial industry - because they are looking out for the little guy! Of course.

I am not going to argue with you further because I don't think it will get anywhere.

Posted by: Bokonon on January 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

I note the smell of Progressive angst in the air. It "smells like Victory."

Posted by: BillyBobSchranzburg on January 15, 2010 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, BillyBob, what you smell is Republican hot air blowing back in your face and the victory you smell on it won't be yours.

Posted by: Larry McD on January 15, 2010 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

bdop4 nails it- how bad is Coakley to not have been hitting Brown on this shit from day 1? It's inexcusable. Her campaign is fucking pathetic. If she doesn't pull this out, she out to be banished to running garbage collections in Provo, Utah.

Posted by: bucky on January 15, 2010 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Nicole for pointing out the obvious, and to you, also Bokonon, for your contentless, ad-hom 'rebuttal', reinforcing Nicole's position as right-on-the-money.

When you can come up with a real argument, Boko, let's hear it.

As Nicole said, Volunteerism is volunteerism, and stops being just that when it starts being paid for by the State. Then it will just become another State-funded gravy train, which will cost more and more and more as it bloats and becomes an ossified part of the system, fraught with cronyism, fraud and waste. I applaud the people who volunteered their time and efforts to the 9/11 recovery efforts, but to automatically make every voluntary effort of the people another program of the State is just the sort of thing the people are currently rebelling against.

Nice try at a smear against Brown though, keep up the good work, folks.

Posted by: West on January 16, 2010 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

GOP 2010: Any Suckers Left ?

Posted by: mr. irony on January 16, 2010 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

For Coakley to be behind she must be a terrible candidate or else Dems are showing what they think of "health care reform," which so far that convoluted bill doesn't seem to be about.

Posted by: Clem on January 16, 2010 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

Coakley is, in fact, a terrible candidate. That's why I voted for Capuano in the primary, even though I knew that Coakley would roll over everyone else based on simple name recognition alone (though the "women's" vote had some impact too). After walking away with the primary, Coakley continued to coast along as if Mass. was already in her pocket. She will probably make an adequate legislator, but she hasn't got the charisma or the intensity to run a real campaign. Nevertheless, we're gonna bust a hump to avoid having Brown steal this because we do what we gotta do.

Posted by: GP on January 16, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Having voted for Democrats, although a registered Republican, I find the assertion that Republicans will vote for anything beginning with an "R" absurd. What a narrow view of your fellow Ameicans!

Posted by: John on January 16, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

If volunteers shouldn't be paid, because it somehow takes away from the concept of sacrificing one's time for a noble cause, maybe the IRS should no longer make donations a tax-deductable item.

Why should the government award people whose only sacrifice for a cause was writing a check, versus those who actually take time away from their lives and families towards a cause?

And if tax cuts do stimulate the economy, why did the economy go into the crapper, even though you had three years of tax cuts under the Bush administration?

Even Reagan realized that tax cuts weren't all they were cracked up to be, which is why, following the tax cuts of 1981, he signed into law six years of tax increases:
1. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982;
2. The Highway Revenue Act of 1982;
3. The Social Security Act of 1983;
4. The Deficit Reduction Act of 1984;
5. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985;
6. The Tax Reform Act of 1986; and
7. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987.

Posted by: 2Manchu on January 16, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

2Manchu: why did the economy go into the crapper, even though you had three years of tax cuts under the Bush administration?

and consider the bush tax cuts were more than double the stimulus package..

and bush spent over 600-billion on iraq alone...

and what did we get for that?

A lost decade for U.S. economy, workers - Wash. Post 1/2/10

The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999.

heckofajob huh..

so much for trickle down...

Posted by: mr. irony on January 16, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

West ... I am glad that you think Nicole's talking points and ideological statements have the ring of gospel. But that's the whole problem - with the both of you.

You cannot conceive of the government doing ANYTHING positive without imagining that it will inevitably lead to waste, corruption, socialism, sin, and people running around waving Chairman Mao's little red book in the air.

So the two of you are in agreement - government cannot be allowed to do anything - even spending money to reimburse Red Cross volunteers after 9/11 - because anything the government undertakes will fail and distort society, and will by definition erode freedom, and will ultimately spiral out of control. Because representative democracies cannot function or govern themselves or something.

And following your logic, any money government spends - even if it is on a good cause in the short term - will ultimately be destructive.

That is a truly extreme and crabbed ideology. In fact, reading between the lines, it seems that you believe that popular democracy is a failed form of government.

And talking about Brown's voting record is not a "smear" - it is just darned inconvenient. Sort of like talking about the massive amounts of money that Brown is taking from the financial industry (while pledging to obstruct any new regulation of the banks that put us into this crisis). Or Brown's open relationship with the Teabaggers (which - man of integrity - he is trying to evade).

Nice candidate you got there.

Now, go have the vapors, off in the corner, since some mean person talked smack back at you about your ideology and that two-faced swine of a candidate you are backing.

Posted by: Bokonon on January 16, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Not all things that are good or desirable are legitimate functions of the state. I salute those who help out; I try to be one of them; but I don't want the Leviathan state choosing which causes to bestow its largess upon. On the left, you seem to have forgeotten that the government can only spend the people's money, which it can only obtain by coercive force. The government powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take away everything you have. Whatever your politics, I hope you all contributed money and time to the 9-11 recovery effort, as I hope you will all help with the current crisis in Haiti.
But to turn the volunteer into a paid employee is to rob them of their essense. If you want to pay volunteers, you are of course free to contribute what you deem appropriate to this or any other cause. But you should not be empowered, by virtue of your current electoral majority, to make those charitable decisions in a dictatorial manner for others, just because you have temporary control of the awesome power of the state. For those on the left who decry Senator Brown's vote here, be careful the power you give to the government, since the day will come when the wheel will turn and the big government people on the right will demand you fund their causes. It seems easier to have the state act for you in many areas, but if you endeavor to be a citizen and not a subject of the government, it takes action and effort on your part. I'm sorry, but there's no short cuts. And your insistence that anyone who disagrees with you could not possibly do so on a principled basis, but must be either ignorant or evil, is juvenile and not condusive to a society which must by definition govern by concensus and compromise. You won't always get your way, but the social compact asks us to accept the result and opinions of others like grownups.

Posted by: JACK on January 17, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Who votes against help for 9/11 recovery workers?"

Yet another example seems rather obvious, the kind of people like the 30 Republicans who voted FOR gang-rape last year.

Posted by: Jill on February 10, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK



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