WASHINGTON -- Senator Scott Brown says he will vote against a House GOP budget that proposes overhauling Medicare, saying the current system should be improved instead.
"While I applaud [House Budget Committee Chairman Paul] Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan and therefore will vote no on his budget," Brown said in an op-ed published this morning on Politico. Read more here.
The announcement came a week after the Massachusetts Republican touched off criticism in his home state with a comment to a business group that many took to mean he planned to vote for the Ryan budget.
Brown, appearing before the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry, discussed budget issues in Washington. He told the meeting that the GOP plan would have his vote, even though he expected it to be rejected by lawmakers.
"The leaders will bring forward [the GOP] budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail," he said in his speech, which was reported in the Newburyport Daily News. "Then the president will bring forward his budget, and it will fail."
His aides later explained that he was simply describing the politicized nature of the budget process, and was not signaling how he intended to vote on the measure.
Today's announcement puts to rest any doubt as to how he will vote on the budget, or the provisions it contains. The House has already passed it; Senate aides say it could come up for a vote midweek in the Senate, where it is expected to fail in the Democrat-controlled body.
Brown gave several reasons why he will vote against it. The first is because he fears that seniors won't be able to afford the rising cost of private plans under a voucher system.
Another reason, he wrote, is that seniors should not be disproportionately burdened with paying for Medicare.
But even if the Ryan plan isn't the solution, Congress still needs to act swiftly, he wrote.
"The sooner Congress addresses this, the less painful it is likely to be but more difficult adjustments will be required if we delay," he wrote. "We should start by making improvements to the traditional Medicare plan."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.