Did the Dems secret deals on health care elect Brown? 

During this morning's press conference, newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown discussed what he had heard from voters driving while driving around Massachusetts. He said that voters were tired of "business as usual," and he specifically cited anger over Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson's shady "cornhusker kickback" in the health care legislation as an example of why Massachusetts voters produced a stunning upset by voting for him the previous evening.

Brown isn't the only one who thinks that the populist backlash against these secret deals on health care reform is major reason why Democrats are in big trouble right now.  In a memo yesterday that losing Democrat Martha Coakley gave to the press, her campaign blamed Washington Democrats for losing. The memo observed that Coakley declined steadily in the polls immediately following the Christmas eve passage of the health care bill. Further, the Coakley campaign's internal polls showed Brown's argument that the health care legislation and cap-and-trade were effectively tax increases were the most effective arguments with voters.

"We Democrats had to explain to Massachusetts voters and other Americans why non-Nebraskans and nonunion members have to pay more taxes, while Nebraskans and union members get to pay less.  Those two deals seem to have alienated most people across the political spectrum. That’s not easy," wrote former Clinton Special Counsel Lanny Davis in the Wall Street Journal this morning.

And yesterday, The New York Times quoted one Massachusetts voter saying, "I'm just devastated by what Obama’s doing. I don’t think he cares enough about anything other than his own personal agenda or this foolish health care bill." The same voter also specifically cited the unfairness of the union tax exemption the health care bill as unfairly punishing her daughter and her husband who worked at a non-unionized business. It's also worth noting that Massachusetts has the highest average health care premiums in the country at almost $14,000 annually per family -- as such, the "cadillac" tax that unions received their exemption from would unduly hit Massachusetts residents. The unfairness of the union deal was likely not lost on them.

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Mark Hemingway

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