Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) faced off against former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a New Hampshire debate last night, and choosing the most amazing part is surprisingly difficult.
We could, for example, start with Brown’s odd boast that he’s pro-contraception – a position he says he’s held “since I was 18 years old” – despite the fact that he agrees with the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling. Or maybe we should kick things off with the fact that Brown has now changed his mind, once again, about whether he believes in climate change.
But for my money, the real treat was hearing Scott Brown talk about taxpayer subsidies to the oil industry.
Shaheen argued that the already shrinking deficit could be even smaller by closing some existing tax loopholes, including billions of dollars in tax breaks the extraordinarily profitable oil industry receives but doesn’t need. “There’s real money there, and if you add it up, you begin to see the impact it would have,” the Democrat said.
The Republican, running in a new state two years after being rejected by his previous state, didn’t quite see it that way.
Brown wasn’t buying it, however, saying that going after “fraud, waste and abuse” was a better idea. He also lumped all loopholes into one great big category, and suggested they should be left alone. […]“What’s a loophole? Well, the investment tax credit is a loophole. The R&D tax credit is a loophole, the child care tax credit, the homeowner interest deduction,” he said.
Wait, did Brown really equate the child care tax credit with oil-industry subsidies? Why, yes, actually he did.
I suppose at a certain level, this was a step in the right direction for the Republican. Two years ago, running in Massachusetts, the then-senator argued publicly, “Oil companies don’t get subsidies…. I’m positive.”
Regrettably, Brown had no idea what he was talking about. Not only do oil companies receive subsidies, but Brown voted to protect them.
Two years later, the former senator has apparently evolved a bit – he no longer denies the subsidies’ existence, but rather, thinks they’re effectively the same thing as child tax credits and the home-interest mortgage deduction. I imagine a New Hampshire family struggling to get by might be annoyed by the comparison – ExxonMobil doesn’t need the taxpayer subsidy, but the child tax credit will probably make a real difference in that household – but Brown doesn’t appear to care.
As for the Republican’s belief that the key to deficit reduction is tackling “fraud, waste, and abuse,” that’s probably the laziest cliche in American politics. Brown doesn’t want to raise taxes; he doesn’t want to close loopholes; and he can’t identify spending cuts.
Brown’s answer was the equivalent of a student asked to give a report on a book he hasn’t read.