Scott Brown: a major embarrassment

It’s pathetic.  Massachusetts deserves much, much better. Brownie is a completely empty suit. He has done nothing, accomplished nothing, in almost three years.

Scott Brown keeps up his comedy routine on the Senate floor

david   |   Wed, May 9, 2012 3:38 PM EST

Honestly, it’s just getting embarrassing.  Yesterday, Scott Brown joined his fellow Republicans in filibustering a bill that would have prevented the interest rate on student loans from doubling.  The reason: because the bill adopted an entirely sensible means of paying for itself, namely, closing a tax loophole that allows wealthy taxpayers to pretend that they are corporations instead of people (paging Mitt Romney) and thereby pay themselves in dividends, which keeps them from having to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.  It’s a tax dodge, and it shouldn’t be allowed.

Anyway, Scott Brown thought he’d offer up a counterproposal that would prove that he really is a good guy who wants to help students.  His plan: pay for keeping the rate low by cutting down on … wait for it … waste, fraud, and abuse.  That’s right:

Brown’s legislation directs the Office of Management and Budget to identify which agencies account for most improper payments and would expand programs to audit and recover improper payments.

“Senator Brown believes that working together, we can find the $6 billion of improper payments and return the money to the Treasury to pay for the cost of the student loan rate increase,” said Marcie Kinzel, Brown’s director of communications. “He is open to working with anyone of good will to cut this wasteful spending and make sure that Congress gets the student loan fix done in a fiscally responsible way.”

The problem, of course, is that it won’t work.  According to the Globe,

While the CBO has yet to analyze Brown’s proposal, its analysis of similar legislation shows that reducing payment mistakes would recover only “several million dollars.”

During a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, the chamber’s top Democrat, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, called Brown’s proposal “all for show.” …

In October, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which Brown is a member, requested a CBO analysis of the “Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2011,” authored by Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware.

In its analysis, the CBO noted that “Not all improper payments involve fraud or result in a loss to the federal government.”

The CBO analysis said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services already have audit and recovery pilot programs in place to correct claims and recover incorrect payments.

One demonstration program cost about $200 million to operate and returned about $695 million to the Medicare trust funds, the CBO said. A similar program was launched between 2008-2011, netting $140 million in saved funds.

Government officials say the vast majority of improper payments are dispersed unintentionally, or are legitimate payments but were categorized as improper because proper paperwork was lacking.

Brown’s bill, in other words, is a joke – and a bad one at that.  This whole thing is classic Scott Brown: first vote in lockstep with your party, then complain about how everyone is Washington except him is such a bad ol’ partisan, then float a half-baked alternative proposal that won’t work on how to solve a problem that the adults in the room are actually trying to address, and then (look for this in the next day or two) whine about how nobody pays attention to him because he’s trying to be all bipartisan.



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