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US Senate Debate: Warren Attacks Brown's Record, Brown Touts Bipartisanship

The two candidates for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts faced off in their first live debate on Thursday night.

Stark differences came out early and often between U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown in their first debate, with disagreements on everything from tax policy, to job creation to women's rights. 

Over and over during the Thursday debate, Warren chose to bring up Sen. Brown's voting record, and Brown chose to point out that Warren's plan would raise taxes on everyone and stifle job creation. 

"He has said he will defend the top 2 percent and the top 3 percent...and will hold the other 98 percent of families hostage," Warren said, referencing Brown's position against extending the Bush-era tax cuts unless they also contained cuts for the country's top earners. 

Brown countered by noting that Warren's policies would raise taxes on everyone, in fact, saying it's the "first thing she looks to do."

"And the criticism is that I don't want to raise taxes," he said. "Guilty as charged. I'm not going to raise taxes. I'm going to protect taxpayers' pocketbooks and wallets."

On the issue of jobs, Warren noted that Brown voted against three separate jobs bills during his tenure. But Brown fired back that she was "misrepresenting his record."

"That bill would have raised your taxes $450 billion, and it was a bipartisan rejection," he said. "They were rejected by both Democrats and Republicans for taking money out of hardworking businesses and giving it to the federal government."

Brown went on the offensive several times, referencing himself as the "second-most bi-partisan member of the senate."

"The only way we're going to get this done is to work together in a bipartisan manner," he said. "And only one of us in this room is going to get there."

But Warren said his voting record showed he aligned himself with the big corporations to protect loopholes for the wealthy.

"This is how Senator Brown has already voted," she said. "Senator Brown voted that tax payers would continue to subsidize them to the tune of billions of dollars a year, and I just think that's wrong. Billionaires are paying tax rates lower than their secretaries, and and he protects every one of those loopholes and would let taxes go up for our families."

The candidates also touched on other issues during the course of the debate, including women's health rights, the cost of higher education, Warren's heritage, authorization for military activity overseas and climate change.

You can watch the full debate online here

Who do you think won the debate? Which issues hit home the most? Which issues do you wish they addressed? Tell us in the comments. 

CharlesHaughey September 21, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Well, let's clarify what a 'Sub S Corporation' is since Scott Brown voted not to increase their taxes....... Sub S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns. Now if you listen to Brown's party leader Romney he seems to take issue with those not paying Federal Income taxes. Yet Brown voted against this. Hmm, I'm confused.
FF September 21, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Sen. Brown kept referring to our energy independence on foreign oil multiple times during the debate. Citing we must use " all the above" resources we have. The United States has NEVER had an energy policy. Remember the lines at the pump in the 70's? That should of been a wake up call. The fact of the matter is the petroleum industry dictates the prices..not supply and demand as it should be. There is very little difference between a Democrat and Republican. Both parties are guilty. Simply put, politicians are nothing less than whores for big oil. always have been always will.
Danielle Lizotte September 21, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I think calling her "professor" constantly and putting her down for achieving a highly paid position at the top university in our country did make him look a little defensive in the areas of intellect and achievement too. This made me feel a bit uncomfortable as a woman. I liked his nice guy image who appreciates smart, strong women better. I also thought he was a bit superficial in his attacks on Warren and in defense of his votes, speaking mostly in soundbites, often repeating them rather than adding depth to his arguments.
Ben Jackson September 21, 2012 at 01:40 PM
First, show me where she lied? Second, do you think Scott Brown has not lied? He claims to be pro-choice, but co-sponsored the Blunt Amendment. So, if you'r enot voting for liars, you're not voting for Brown.
Ben Jackson September 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Agreed. Harry Reid nailed it.
Ben Jackson September 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Wait. So now you're ATTACKING someone for their high pay. Hypocrisy of the right wing right here. ROmney's hihg pay is just ducky 0 in fact, *because* he makes so much money, he should't have to pay proportional taxes. But because future Senator Warren makes a *fraction* of what former Governor Romney makes, she should redistribute her wealth? I dare you to make less sense.
Kent Summers September 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Among other things, the American Jobs Act of 2011 required an increase in the Target and Trigger on Deficit Reduction. This is an admission that there is just not enough money to pay for all the good things in the bill, which, if viable from a budgetary standpoint, Sen. Brown (or any other American) would certainly support. Brown voted against the bill because we can't afford it, and he refuses to pull out our country's credit card (yet again). Yeah for Brown holding the line on more irresponsible spending. Obama and his liberal bretheren are spending money like a drunken sailor. It's actually worse... at least a drunken sailor has the courtesy to spend his own money.
CharlesHaughey September 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
He drove a truck during his first campaign run and lives in Wrentham but, don't be fooled. He choose not to send his kids to 'his towns' public schools and instead opted for Beaver Country Day in Chestnut Hill... Enough said!
Chris L. September 21, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Romney never asked anyone wealthy to pay more taxes. I think Warren's definition of "wealthy" is distorted by what she makes. She claims the wealthy should pay a little more. Last I checked, a household income of $700K is wealthy, by almost any standard. Why aren't her and her husband "paying their fair share"? I dare you to unspin the spin your party has put on her status. Yes, she IS a highly paid professional near the top of her field. Her field also happens to be one she hypocritically rallies against in her commercials. Hmmm...I bet a college education would be more affordable if she gave a little more of her income back to "the little guy". And I won't even touch on her other hypocrisies. Trading in her 7-series BMW for a Ford Escape Hybrid less than a month before pulling papers for her campaign. Or her heritage. If you think she HASN'T benefited from "checking the box", you are very very naive. Why do MA Dems hate Mitt Romney so much for being a disingenuous carpetbagger, but embrace Warren for it?
Bob Levine September 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
How lame, got anything better?
Annie Libbey September 21, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Yes I agree an income of $700k is wealthy although not in Romney's eyes as he thinks middle income families are earning between $200-250K. The facts don't support that. Median household incomes across the country and even here in Mass (one of the wealthier states) are nowhere near. Consider median household income here in Westborough is approx $90K. The people that Democrats would like to see pay their fair share are those for whom $700K is a fraction of their annual income. And yes, Warren didn't choose to pay extra state income tax which is why you can't make taxes OPTIONAL. Brown's criticism of her income didn't stick since his own income last year was quite comparable to hers.
Chris L. September 21, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Correct. My fiancee and I aren't even over a combined 200K, but we're close. And while we are better off than some, we aren't exactly "wealthy" either. Our bills are paid, and we don't live above our means. But, our taxes aren't optional, which is especially disheartening, when you compare our services received to what others get. We don't have children, so the schools are a non-issue to us. Trash in Northborough is Pay As You Throw anyway. We receive the standard Fire, Police, Highway benefits. Water and Sewer are billed. So in our case, no...there won't be any "optional tax" box checked. In Warren's case, and I think this is what you missed when you spun it to point to Romney...ALL political candidates seem disillusioned about where the cutoff line is for middle class vs. wealthy. Again, 700K IS wealthy. She needs to stop picking on multi-millionaires, and bring her "pay your fair share" talk down to her income level. A household of 2, making $700K/year is absolutely in the wheelhouse of who she should be after. But she continues to insist she's "one of us" and "feels our pain". I'm not buying it.
Annie Libbey September 21, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Well Charles if he could afford to send his kids to private school (and he could) then I won't criticize his choice or right to do so. But your point is well-taken. Brown seemed to sweep voters off their feet with his "I'm from Wrentham, wear a barn coat and drive a truck with 200,000 miles" ads. And it's not that he was being fake. He really did need the barn coat and the truck for hauling his daughters horse to equestrian events, and driving his daughters from Wrentham to Boston for private school everyday. Brown does seem like a nice enough guy but not quite the "outsider" in Boston's elite circles that he depicted!
Kristen Lloyd September 21, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I'm not really sure what your point is here. S-corporations are taxed like partnerships, at the individual level as opposed to the entity level. Therefore, you wouldn't be "increasing" taxes, you would be completely eliminating the purpose of being an s-corp. Also, these businesses must meet certain requirements that make them more likely to be small, family-owned operations than big corporations. So I'm not sure why you think these people should be facing double taxation on their income. It's not like they're evading taxes; they're still paid, just at the individual level. And I believe Romney's issue is with individuals not paying federal income taxes, not s-corps.
Annie Libbey September 21, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Chris, Like you I'm fortunate to fall into Romney's definition of middle income. Do I feel wealthy? No and certainly not living in Massachusetts. However, there are lots of hard working people making significantly less (take those who work in the fields of early childhood care or elder care, as examples). Yes I'm willing to pay more in federal taxes than households with those median incomes! As you say there seems to be difficulty defining middle income so then why not take it out of the grey area. Can't those with an annual income over $1 million pay more? And I'm not defining millionaires by assets but rather if your annual income exceeds more than one million pay more taxes. I do think that a money manager at Fidelity who makes $5 million a year should pay at a higher rate. And believe me there are plenty in this state who have annual incomes that make ours look like chump change!
Chris L. September 21, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I'm willing to pay more, but only in the way that 15% of what I make is obviously more than 15% of someone making half my salary. I brought up a point on another Patch thread yesterday though that fits here: what about property tax and purchases? The wealthy are kicking in more than my share based on that. I don't live in a million dollar house or drive a $70K vehicle, so my tax hit there is much less than a "wealthy" person's. Of course, some politicians don't want to hear that, they want more income tax....but only for millionaires. Not for households making "only" $700K. Maybe she thinks she's middle class because she's trying to live on $700K in Cambridge? Either way, I don't think her long career in Academia has prepared her for life in the real world.
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Marlene - all of your points are twisted to your point of view, as we know because they have all been discussed. For example, the 3 "jobs" bills would have been created with govt spending. Among other bad things about that, it is govt creating jobs, not the private sector. The Obama administration and Dems had their chance to create jobs their way with the Stimulus spending, and that failed to stimulate the economy. Time to return to what works - private sector creating jobs. Danielle - I thought calling Warren "professor" was being respectful of the highest job that she has attained. What should Brown have called her - Mrs, Miss, Ms. What would be acceptable to you that he call her? I'm sure whatever you say, if he called her that you would have complained that he didn't call her "professor".
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
votere - Brown's face "twitched" because he wears contacts, which I'm sure were drying out under the lights. You want to criticize him for that?
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Jim and Ben - You really believe that bs from Harry Reid? I know you are both smarter than that, so you must just be showing your partisanship with these responses.
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Charles - Your previous posts would suggest that you are very left leaning, so I appaud your listening to the debate with an open mind. I have to disagree with your analysis, though. Brown did not seem agitated to me (although Warren seemed, as you claim, calm and on-point for what she wanted to convey). But that is not what would make me vote for someone, especially since she checked the box that she was Indian on her application(s), and you don't do that unless you expect something from it (so, credibility is more important to me than being calm, cool, and collected). I would also vote more on someone's ability to build bi-partisan solutions, which Brown is much better equipped to do (and has been doing), rather than the intellectual elite, I-know-better-what's-good-for-you-and-all-off-society that Warren would work for. And I was under the impression that Brown was not running on the entire Republican platform, but he is running as an independent thinker, and gave examples of where he disagrees with the R-platform.
Annie Libbey September 21, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Well I see what you're saying but not sure that property and sales taxes help the discussion here. Isn't the real debate here federal taxes? the role of our federal government and how we fund it? Property taxes are a local issue which only fund local town services. I think sales taxes go to state government only?
FindBalance September 21, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Great explanation, Kristen!
Chris L. September 21, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Yes, you are correct on both. Maybe its time this country looks at flat tax rates. The tax code has too many loopholes as it is. If you were "wealthy", I would not fault you for taking advantage of the loopholes. If you came out and told us rich people should pay more, all while you are avoiding paying more...that's a little different.
Deb Spence September 22, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Senator Brown has never Ben recognized by any women's group for great support why is that? Is he walking a tightrope of republican values? Brown did not offer alternativesr for oil other than to say we need to include all areas of energy, however the only thing the Senator did do was vote to continue subsidizing big oil. So it's correct he favors oil às it is the only energy he has taken action on.
Deb Spence September 22, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Senator brown states he voted to subsidize big oil to protect drivers and keep prices at pump lower. Isn't it sad that oil companies who make billions in profits still require gov't assistance. Why don't they cut their profits before increasing price at the pumps
Danielle Lizotte September 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM
FindBalance, thank you so much for manspaining to me that Scott Brown was actually using professor as a term of respect and not as a descriptor of an ivy tower liberal who is out of touch with the common person. I mistakely assumed he was trying to turn her strengths and achievements into a liability as Weld had done to Silber in 1990. Doh! I guess I'm just not as capable of critical thinking and being fair and balanced as you are...
Proud Resident of Northborough September 22, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Couple of points: 1) Addressing Warren as “professor” is proper. She is a professor. If you find being a professor offensive, then support someone else. 2) Mentioning Warren’s salary of $340K and the fact that she only teaches ONE class for that money is fair game. Particularly when she decries the cost of higher education. 3) Warren claims to be for the little guy. She made much of her money by flipping foreclosed houses, and another chunk by litigating against asbestos victims. Hypocritical? 4) Lastly, no one is attacking her heritage. They are attacking the fact that everything to date points to her LYING about her heritage. If she didn’t game the system it would be extremely easy for her to release her job applications and put this to rest. The fact that she refuses, speaks volumes. 5) There is a reason her handlers no longer let her speak on her ads. She is a fake and it comes across every time she opens her mouth.
Scum Of The Earth November 04, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I am voting for Elizabeth Warren. I am a big time Three Stooges fan, and anyone who is rocking the Shemp Howard hairdo is ok in my book...
Linda Worthy November 04, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Continuing to whine about Warren's salary simply reveals that one has no understanding of what professors at top universities do for those universities. Complaining about Warren's success seems to suggest that climbing to the top of one chosen field is somehow un-American. Complaining about flipping houses? Adding value to a foreclosed home put some tradesmen to work, purchased materials and appliances and, when sold, added to the local tax rolls. And it did that thing Romney loves so much -- turned a profit for the risk takers. Whining about someone making $350k in higher ed but giving a pass to someone who won't release as many tax returns as his father is pretty limited thinking. Warren claimed her heritage out of pride, just like almost everyone else in the world. The posts some people make simply reveal that they get all their information from attack ads. By Wednesday, Brown will be a lame duck. By January, he'll be fetchin' coffee for Wall Streeters. I hope Kerry turns down any offer to become Secretary of State. My biggest fear that that we'll end up with four more years of Romney running for President. Hillary will bury him.
Linda Worthy November 04, 2012 at 03:22 PM
In 2010, Mitch McConnell said the Republican goal was to make Obama a one term president. He used filibusters to prevent legislation for coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote. In more than 50 cases, Brown voted with the Republicans to prevent legislation from being voted on. If Brown really was was independent, he would have voted to bring those bills up for a vote. It doesn't matter if his votes would have made the difference or not; his vote to allow those bills to move forward would have proven his supposed independent status. There was no 'people before party' on Brown's 50+ votes to prevent the business of the American people from moving forward. If Brown has so many problems with the national Republican platform, maybe he should leave the party.

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