Scott Brown’s phony concern for public servants

If it seems as if Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) frequently struggles with the basics, it’s because he does.

Brown also took on President Barack Obama for proposing tax hikes on families who earn more than $250,000 per year, saying that would hurt “teachers, firefighters, policemen, folks who work two jobs.”

Asked which public servants earn that much money, Brown said it is common for police officers to earn well over $100,000 annually when overtime is factored into their pay.

“You throw in a teacher who’s working, plus a summer job, it adds up pretty quickly,” he said. “There’s quite a few of them.”

This is just a mess. I’ll concede that there are probably some law-enforcement personnel who, with extensive overtime, can earn six-figure salaries, but (a) it’s a very small number; (b) thanks to marginal tax rates, a tax increase on income above $250,000 would hardly affect these folks at all; and (c) if they’re bringing in over a quarter-million a year, shielding these folks from modest tax increases to strengthen the country overall shouldn’t be politicians’ top priority.

Besides, as Benjy Sarlin noted, “It doesn’t sound like there’s an epidemic of high-income public servants based on the available data for the area. According to, which tracks average pay across various professions, 90% of Boston police patrol officers made a base salary below $75,307 last year and 90% of Lowell patrol officers made a base salary below $70,857. 90% of firefighters in Boston make under $68,793, and below $64,729 in Lowell. The average teacher in Lowell makes about $80,841 a year, according to the Massachusetts Department of Education, higher than the statewide average of $68,781.”

But even if we put all of that aside, what really rankles here is the notion that Scott Brown is eager to look out for teachers and first responders. Unfortunately for the Republican senator, some of us still remember October.

It was just three months ago when the White House and congressional Democrats presented a worthwhile plan: direct $35 billion to states in order to protect/create 400,000 jobs for school teachers, police officers, and firefighters. The whole thing would be paid for with a 0.5% surtax that would only affect millionaires and billionaires — and even that wouldn’t kick in until 2013.

A CNN poll released shortly before the Senate vote found that 75% of the public — and 63% of self-identified Republican voters — endorsed the plan and 76% agreed with the financing.

And what did Scott Brown say? He not only opposed the bill, he joined a filibuster to block the Senate from even voting on it at all.

In other words, in October, Brown won’t lift a finger to save jobs for teachers, police officers, and firefighters, but in January, Brown pretends to be an ally of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.

No one who’s paying any attention to the facts should take his rhetoric seriously.

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