Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

Massachusetts: Scott Brown Hits Elizabeth Warren on Medicare; Warren Hits Back

Massachusetts: Scott Brown Hits Elizabeth Warren on Medicare; Warren Hits Back

Sen. Scott Brown talks with senior citizens during a visit Friday to Fenno House in Qunicy, Mass. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

QUINCY, Mass. — Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) arrived last week here at Fenno House, an assisted and independent living facility, in his famous GMC truck with a package of sausage and a message about Medicare.

He handed the sausage, in a brown paper bag, to a member of Fenno House’s staff. “They’re frozen,” Brown said. “Give ‘em to the kitchen. I just got them down in Brockton, but I’m not going home.”

And then Brown went into the activity room of the facility. Fenno House serves people who are 62 or older, and Brown spoke to an audience of almost exclusively senior citizens about cuts to the beloved entitlement program.

“They’re going to cut $716 billion out of your Medicare to give it to pay for the Obamacare program,” he said, echoing a national Republican talking point. Brown noted that the cuts “affect three things in particular: doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.”

Brown, in a close race against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, encouraged the dozens of elderly people sitting before him to ask their providers how those cuts might affect their care.

“You would hear my opponent say, ‘Oh it’s not going to affect — we’re just fixing it, making it strong.’ With all due respect —” Brown said, stopping for a moment as he grabbed two of his bumper stickers. He held one in each hand and turned them so that the plain white backing faced the audience. An aide held two others.

“If you do away with three-quarters of a trillion dollars and it’s all gone —” the aide and Brown took away three of the bumper stickers so that just one was left. “That one-quarter, how is that going to pay for the same thing you’re getting now?”

“You didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday, folks. C’mon!” Brown said to laughter from the group.

The Medicare messaging on Friday, if a bit reductive, is part of a larger push from the Brown campaign on the issue. His opponent, a Harvard University professor and consumer advocate, supports the 2010 law.

The Brown campaign released an ad this week in which the narrator says: “Warren supports the policy of raiding $716 billion from Medicare to pay for other programs for other people. Elizabeth Warren would raid Medicare even though that money belonged to you.”

Asked by Roll Call about the Medicare messaging on Friday at an event in the small town of Lunenburg, Warren said she was surprised that Brown was taking that line of attack. Warren tied him to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is certain to lose Massachusetts on Nov. 6.

AARP describes Mitt Romney’s claim, which Scott Brown now echoes, that the president’s health care bill will weaken Medicare as, and this is a quote, ‘simply not true,’” Warren said. “‘Simply not true,’” she repeated for emphasis. “I am stunned that Mitt Romney would choose to base a central part of his campaign on something that has been proven false. And that Scott Brown would take a page out of that playbook and try to run it past the people of Massachusetts.”

Warren stuck out her tongue and made an emphatic thumbs-down gesture, conveying disgust.

“Oh, I think I’m not supposed to make faces,” said the first time candidate, as she broke into laughter. “I have to stop making faces.”

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