Politifact: Scott Brown Flip-Flopped On Ryan Plan Support

As I noted earlier today, Senator Scott Brown announced this morning that he would not be voting for the Ryan Plan when it comes to the Senate floor. Politifact says he flip-flopped:

According to the Newburyport Daily News — a newspaper in northeastern Massachusetts — Brown made reference to the Ryan plan during an annual luncheon of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry on May 13, 2011.

“The leaders will bring forward (Ryan’s) budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail,” Brown said. “Then the president will bring forward his budget, and it will fail. It will be great fodder for the commercials.”

Ten days later, Brown authored an op-ed in the political newspaper POLITICO that was headlined, “Why I don’t back Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.”

“While I applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan — and therefore will vote ‘no’ on his budget,” Brown wrote.

A “no” vote on the Ryan plan is considered safer for Brown. Massachusetts voters historically lean Democratic, and Republicans who win election are usually moderate.

So in his Newburyport speech, Brown said he’d vote for the Ryan plan, while in his op-ed 10 days later, he said he’d vote against it.

When we took these two comments to Brown’s press staff, spokesman Colin Reed said, “He was making the point in Newburyport that political games are being played in Washington, but was not commenting on the merits of the bill.”

We agree that in his Newburyport comment, Brown focuses on the gamesmanship of budget-writing in Washington rather than on the nitty-gritty of its policy details. Meanwhile, in the POLITICO column, Brown was careful to praise Ryan’s role in starting the “conversation” even as he declared opposition to his plan. These suggest a somewhat nuanced position.

Still, Brown did indicate pretty clearly in Newburyport that he would cast a loyal GOP vote for the plan, even if he expected that the vote would ultimately prove fruitless. Then 10 days later, in the POLITICO op-ed, he made clear that he wasn’t just disappointed by the Ryan plan but would definitely vote “no.”

Honestly, I don’t think this will hurt him in Massachusetts much, but it will be more fodder for conservatives who have been calling him a “RINO” for the better part of a year now.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tano says:

    Pet peeve.

    Taking position X, and then taking position anti-X at a later date, constitutes flipping – aka changing ones mind. Although people seem to crave consistency to an extent that is probably unhealthy, most people can accept that a politician changes his/her mind. New information and all that.

    The power of the flip-flopping charge comes from the flopping. Flip-flopping implies two movements at least, maybe more (think of a dying fish on the ground). The underlying charge here is that the politician changes whenever it is in their political interests to do so. X, anti-X, back to X, maybe Y and Z too sometimes.

    It seems ridiculous to bring out the flip-flopping charge simply because a politician changes their mind, so long as it is once, and they have some good reason for it.

  2. TG Chicago says:

    I agree with you Tano (well, your first and third paragraphs, at least), but I don’t think that’s what happened here. Correct me if I’m wrong (I didn’t read all the links), but it doesn’t appear as if Brown said “After further review, I have decided to change my position based on these factors…”. It’s more like he’s trying to pretend the previous position never existed.

    Also, this isn’t something that he said many years in the past — it was just 10 days ago.

    I think this one counts as a flip-flop.

  3. A voice from another precinct says:

    Or, it could be that he is the ultimate politician–matching his message to the audience or the need of the moment. In that case, when the vote comes, he’ll go to the ariport and look at the windsock.