Digging deeper into the candidates’ debate statements
Brown: “The federal bill, which my opponent supports and I don’t... cuts, and I hope the seniors are listening, three quarters of the trillion dollars from our seniors’ Medicare, and that’s something I can’t support.”
Warren: “That’s the same playbook that Mitt Romney used a week ago tonight. It was wrong then, it’s wrong tonight.”
Brown: “To think that you can cut that amount of money and not have it affect your care and coverage is just wrong.”
Analysis: President Obama’s health care law includes changes aimed at lowering projected growth in Medicare costs, directed mostly at hospitals and insurers, not at beneficiaries. The Congressional Budget Office estimates Medicare spending can be reduced by $716 billion between 2013 and 2022 by making health care more efficient. Similar cost reductions were included in Representative Paul Ryan’s 2011 budget proposal.
Warren: “Senator Brown voted to let student interest rates double. Why? Because [the bill] would have forced — to pay for it -- closing a loophole used by millionaires. In fact it’s called the Newt Gingrich loophole, maybe used recently by Mitt Romney … What are your priorities? Is it protecting loopholes for millionaires or helping college kids pay for an education?”
Brown: “I voted against it, because I didn’t want to see our small business owners pay $6 billion to pay for low interest rates. I voted against it, we stopped it, and then we worked and rolled up our sleeves and actually did it without taxing people and without using any additional federal funds...We did it. We did it together. We tweaked some federal programs, we found the money, and it was through me and my leadership, working with both sides, that we got that done.”
Analysis: Brown twice voted with Republicans against a plan to stop student loan interest rates from doubling, but he ultimately did support a compromise plan that froze those rates without raising taxes.
He and other Republicans had opposed Democrats’ initial plan to pay for the program by eliminating what proponents of the bill called payroll tax loopholes. Republicans wanted to pay for the subsidies by tapping a prevention and public health fund created by the president’s health care law. Brown had proposed an alternative -- finding money being improperly spent by government and channeling it into student loan subsidies. But the Congressional Budget Office said it would fall far short of covering the nearly $6 billion cost of the student loan subsidies.
Brown ultimately supported the compromise reached by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to pay the cost not by raising taxes but through changes to pensions and student loan limits.
Warren: “He has 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.”
Brown: “We’re both pro-choice and care very deeply about what happens to women. To refer to the votes that you’re talking about, I’m not going to be pitting Catholics against their church and their faith...I didn’t vote for your boss, and I hope she proves me wrong. She didn’t have judicial courtroom experience, as I think is a pre-requisite, number one.”
Analysis: In June, Brown voted with Republicans to block consideration of a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act that would have required employers to provide a reason for pay gaps when asked, and would have barred companies from retaliating against employees who discuss pay. Republicans said it would have curtailed an employer’s ability to pay for performance, provide bonuses for hazardous work, or alter pay based on regional markets. They also argued it would subject employers to needless lawsuits. Brown said it was the right goal, but the wrong bill.
On health care, Brown earlier this year cosponsored the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed health plans and employers to decline to pay for abortions, contraception, or other services based on religious or moral objections. He said it was a matter of religious freedom for churches.
Brown also voted in 2010 against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, a former dean of Harvard Law and solicitor general, citing her lack of prior bench experience. Warren also teaches at Harvard Law School.
NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE
Brown: “When I served in Afghanistan, I saw what the 26th brigade and our soldiers were doing. And when duty calls, they are there. And I’m very proud of that.”
Analysis: Brown is a member of the Army National Guard. Last year, Brown requested to serve his yearly two-week duty in Afghanistan. He did not see combat.