Scott Brown willing to compromise

January 18, 2011

By Glen Johnson-Associated Press

BOSTON | Scott Brown ran for the Senate vowing to rein in government spending and cut the federal budget deficit. A year later, he is open to increasing the national debt limit so the government can both spend and borrow more.

The clash between his campaign rhetoric and voting record underscores the theme of the Republican’s first year replacing a liberal icon, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

To the frequent surprise of Democrats, and often the chagrin of conservatives and tea party activists, Mr. Brown has largely kept his pledge to be a bipartisan legislator. He has voted bills up or down on the merits, if not with one eye on his 2012 re-election campaign.

Last month, he voted for President Obama‘s tax compromise, even though its tax-cut extension and unemployment benefits will add nearly $1 trillion to the deficit. And he could vote soon to raise the debt ceiling from $14.3 trillion.

“Part of it is compromise,” Mr. Brown told the Associated Press last week as he sat in Mr. Kennedy‘s former district office, perched atop the John F. Kennedy Federal Building. “You need to make sure that you move the country forward.”

Such pragmatism has won Mr. Brown the largest segment of accolades since he, his barn jacket and his green pickup truck burst into the national consciousness in January last year.

Despite being the lowest-ranking member of the state Senate‘s minority party, he upset a veteran Democrat, Attorney GeneralMartha Coakley, in a historically Democratic state. The victory gave Republicans the 41st Senate vote they needed to block Democratic initiatives – including, at the time, Mr. Obama‘s health care overhaul.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a staunch Democrat, recently labeledMr. Brown unbeatable for re-election. Gov. Deval Patrick, the state’s most prominent Democrat, has already ruled out a 2012 challenge, as has Vicki Kennedy, the senator’s widow.

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