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Editorial: Five questions for Scott Brown

One of the discouraging things about U.S. politics here in the 21st century is how nationalized the campaigns for Congress have become. Candidates across the country end up talking about the same issues in the same way, their strategies formulated by consultants and party officials in Washington or beyond.

But local voters have local issues on their minds. So as former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown embarks on his New Hampshire “listening tour,” we’d ask him to think hard about some uniquely New Hampshire issues that the state’s next U.S. senator will no doubt need to wrestle with. Here are five to get him started.

∎ Medicaid. Brown, like Republican candidates in every nook and cranny across the country, is likely to make criticism of the Affordable Care Act the basis for his campaign. But part of Obamacare is the generous federal offer to finance an expansion of state Medicaid programs for poor, uninsured residents. In New Hampshire, the Republican-led Senate recently approved such a plan, and the Democratic House is likely to quickly follow suit. Are state lawmakers headed in the right direction? Does Brown believe the federal government should continue this program?

∎ The Northern Pass. New Hampshire political leaders from both parties have expressed extreme skepticism about plans by Public Service of New Hampshire and Hydro-Quebec to bring hydroelectric power from Canada into New England via tall transmission towers across some of the state’s most scenic areas. Does he support the project? If not, does he have other ideas for increasing the region’s energy supply? How high does the issue rank in his list of priorities?

∎ Tar sands oil. And on another energy topic: Is Brown as worried as some New Hampshire town meeting voters about the prospect of bringing tar sands oil from Canada to Portland, Maine, by reversing the flow of an existing pipeline across New Hampshire? Is the process safe? It’s up to the State Department to decide if a presidential permit and a full environmental assessment will be required. What’s Brown’s view?

∎ LIHEAP. It’s an ugly acronym, but one that’s of particular concern to politicians in northern states. The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, administered locally by Community Action Programs, helps poor people pay their home heating bills. Federal support for the program is notoriously fickle – which means the number of people and amount of support provided varies from season to season. Just this month President Obama included a 20 percent reduction in LIHEAP money in his 2015 budget proposal. The New Hampshire congressional delegation has traditionally made advocating for LIHEAP part of its mission. Is this a program Brown supports? If so, is there a better way to assure continuity of federal support?

∎ The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Regardless of their party, regardless of the year, regardless of the state of the federal debt and deficit, federal legislators from New Hampshire and Maine have long worked together to shield the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from shutdown. Is this the right position? Is the shipyard critical to national defense? How much should its contribution to the local economy factor into lawmakers’ thinking?

New Hampshire voters will be trying to figure out how much Brown knows and cares about the issues that matter most to them. Now that he’s made his interest in the U.S. Senate race clear, he’s no doubt got some homework to do.

Legacy Comments13

The one question I would like to see an answer to is ; Mr. Brown, do you plan on representing the NH voters or the GOP social agenda. Since they are not one and the same. The rest is moot.

I think Mr. Brown is planning to run for president. He is only 54 and needs more than a 2 year run as senator from MA A two year stint as gov wasn't enough gravitas for Palin either.

Well since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, I'd say he's not planning on representing the GOP social agenda.

I started reading this article with the thought I was going to gain some insight on Scott Brown's opinion of these issues but I guess that is not the case. We cannot form an opinion based on how someone else thinks they may respond. Did I miss he refusing to talk with CM to answer these questions directly?

Hello! anybody in there! " generous federal offer to finance an expansion" more like your taxes being used to fund a program that promotes lassitude. Keep on thinking this is high finance...and you will see an even great decrease in jobs and production. I think the home work needs to be done by the editorial board.

Medicaid does not promote "lassitude". Keep singing that hymn about po' folk bein' jes' lazy, while America spends more on Big Oil subsidies than the amount lost to waste and fraud in programs like Food Stamps. Poor people avoid going to a doctor they cannot pay for, and that costs us more when their illness or injury becomes so acute that it requires exponentially more treatment. Taxpayers save over the long run. A LOT of money. And brother, that IS high finance. And that is what "Obamacare" is designed to address, though "conservatives" will never admit it.

QUOTE: " brother, that IS high finance." Currently, the federal government administers roughly 80 means-tested poverty-assistance and welfare programs, on which it spends $750 billion a year — that’s a larger cost than defense, Medicare, or Social Security. U.S. has spent $3.7 trillion on welfare in the past five years, with virtually nothing to show for it. democrats desire that over jobs - How is that hopey changey focus like a laser on jobs thingy going for ya?

Why doesn't the CM ask if it is massively hypocritical for Shaheen to go to a fundraiser in the SF home of a Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager that pledges to spend $ 100 Million this election when she has asked Brown to forsake outside money?

But, according to those who think like you, this is free speech. You support the Citizens United ruling, right? So if you do, you shouldn't really be getting on Shaheen's case or any politician who simply takes advantage of a right you agree with. Who here is having their cake and eating it too?

Why not? He did it with Elizabeth Warren.

Did you know that Millionaire Liawatha Warren's brother lives on food stamps. Then again Obama's brother lives in a hut on $1 a year

No, it can't be. These folks redistributing our paychecks don't support their own family members. No, it can't be. That would make them hypocrites. No, it can't be.

How does that make them hypocrites? Are they saying something different from what they are doing?

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