Elizabeth Warren had what by all accounts was a solid debate performance last night, punctuated by a pivotal moment where Warren ripped aside the moderate mask Scott Brown has been trying to wear this whole campaign. He tried to come across as a staunch defender of women’s rights, but Warren would have none of it, highlighting Brown’s votes against equal pay and women’s health.
I have no doubt Sen Brown is a good husband and a good father to his daughters, but this is an issue that affects ALL of our daughters and our granddaughters. And what matters here is how Sen. Brown votes.
So he’s gone to Washington and he’s had some good votes. But he’s had exactly one chance to vote for equal pay for equal work, and he voted no. He had exactly one chance to vote for insurance coverage for birth control and other preventive services for women. He voted no. And he had exactly one chance to vote for a pro-choice woman — from Massachusetts — to the United States Supreme Court, and he voted no.
Those are BAD votes for women.
This was great, and I would guess that Warren’s solid lead in Massachusetts will only grow after that performance. But the real advantage Warren takes here is by lining up Brown’s rhetoric to the reality of his votes. I have seen most of all three debates, and the area where she does this most expertly comes when she pulls out a series of votes Brown made on a little bill called the American Jobs Act.
You may not remember the American Jobs Act, but it was the policy prescriptions to jump-start the economy that President Obama proposed in September 2011. He’s basically orphaned it; the purpose was to “get caught trying,” to promote a stimulative jobs bill that had no chance of passing a Republican House. But you can hardly get caught trying if you stop trying, and the AJA plays no role for Obama on the stump or in his last debate. This is despite the fact that the number one priority for Americans is jobs, and the AJA would plausibly create them, perhaps 1-2 million according to estimates.
In fact, Obama, along with the rest of the political class in Washington, plans to allow the only significant piece of the AJA that passed – the payroll tax cut – to expire, tightening fiscal policy amid high unemployment and in all likelihood reducing GDP by 1% next year.
But Warren has not allowed the AJA to vanish. In every debate, she has brought up the trio of votes the Senate held on elements of the AJA, noting that Scott Brown voted against those bills each time. Brown then mumbles something about taxes. But only one of the two is seen as fighting for jobs, with an actual plan in writing to create them.
It’s pointless for Obama to have generated the American Jobs Act in the first place if he never planned to use it in his re-election as a second term set of agenda items. Otherwise, his “jobs plan” is a warmed-over stew of long-term goals with little differentiation from what Mitt Romney has on offer. Obama borrowed from Elizabeth Warren once before, culminating in the “you didn’t build that” speech. Her borrowing from Obama has been much more politically successful. He should learn from it.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Warren released a statement today, on the anniversary of Scott Brown’s vote against the American Jobs Act.
“One year ago today, with nearly a quarter of a million people out of work here in the Commonwealth, Scott Brown voted in lockstep with his fellow Republicans against the American Jobs Act. This bill would have supported 22,000 jobs in Massachusetts, and would have prevented layoffs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.”
Just incredible that you don’t hear this anywhere else, certainly not in the Presidential campaign.