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Brown said he wants to ax multiple federal departments, promised spending cuts will ‘be painful’ (opinion)

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by Hugh Jackson, Nevada Current

Two years ago, when Republican Sam Brown was running for a U.S. Senate seat for the first time, he was debating Adam Laxalt and the topic turned to federal spending.

“One of the things that I’ve been proposing,” Brown said in that debate, “is that anywhere you have a duplication of a department or agency at the federal level that also has a state counterpart, that we don’t need that duplication.”

Brown, who this year is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, identified the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy, and federal “environmental departments and agencies” as parts of the federal government “we don’t need.”

Immediately after Brown made those comments, one of the debate moderators asked if there is “anything you want to do with Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid?” 

“We can start with what I just described,” Brown said.

What Brown had just described was cutting federal funding by eliminating entire federal departments, and leaving states to fill the void. Nevadans may want to know how he thinks that approach would apply to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. How would that work?

Brown’s answer: Pay no attention to that 2022 version of Sam Brown.

“I will not cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid,” Brown said Thursday in a statement provided by his campaign.

The statement did not address the question sent to him – what he meant when, in that 2022 debate, he responded to a question about the fate of those programs by referencing his “just described” yearning to take a meat cleaver to the federal government,

Brown’s statement Thursday also failed to even acknowledge a question asking whether Brown still wants to eliminate several entire federal departments and agencies, as he indicated in his 2022 remarks. Brown instead resorted to boilerplate Republican grumbling about “exorbitant spending” and “bloated bureaucracy.”

And scurrying back from boldly naming federal departments “we don’t need,” Brown Thursday merely called for “trimming the excessive waste within federal departments.”

The charitable view is that when Brown was musing about axing federal government departments and suggesting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should be addressed in some similar if vaguely articulated manner, he was just riffing – idly filling the air with words during a campaign he had entered perhaps not to win, but to burnish his brand for future political opportunities (like his candidacy for another U.S. Senate seat this year). 

Now Brown, confronted with his own words, is pretending he never said them.

That’s an established pattern with Brown this campaign season, as illustrated when he recently refused to confirm or refute his declaration in 2022 that dumping tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste in Nevada would be a “great source of revenue” for the state.

In a similar example of evasion early this month, Brown did not answer questions posed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal about whether he believed the 2020 election won by Joe Biden was stolen.

Given Brown’s phobia of clarity, the most concrete statement there is regarding his position on eliminating federal departments remains his 2022 declaration that “we don’t need” the U.S. departments of Energy, Education, Transportation, and federal “environmental departments and agencies.” 

He’ll have one job

Brown’s call for gutting “duplication” federal departments or agencies if Nevada has one with the same name is likely a bit alarming to Nevadans who may have noticed over the years that adequately funding public programs, functions, and services has never been Nevada’s forte.

In his defense, Brown may not be one of those Nevadans. 

He has only been in the state since 2018, and spent almost all of that time laser-focused on launching a career in the U.S. Senate. It would be understandable if the barriers and hardships posed to Nevadans by threadbare public services and programs have escaped his attention.

Then again, perhaps Brown just doesn’t care.

In a radio interview in 2022, Brown acknowledged his vision vision of federal spending cuts will “take money out of programs that people like,” and promised it would “be painful.”

Let’s assume – only for the sake of discussion, hopefully – that Brown’s Washington dreams come true, and not only is he elected to the Senate, but Trump is returned to the White House. In that carnival of the macabre, individual initiatives and proposals and ideas put forth by Brown will be irrelevant. 

Brown will be just another interchangeable Republican cog in the Trump machine, his one job being to do whatever Trump says. 

The real risk Brown poses if elected to the Senate isn’t in the form of his juvenile calls for eliminating federal departments or any other fly-by-night ideas or positions that might flutter through his noggin and manifest as spoken word, only for him to later act like he never said it.

The real risk posed by Brown in the Senate is that he will be a rock solid lock to go along with whatever Trump decides he wants to do on any given day, from eliminating abortion rights nationally, to dumping nuclear waste in Nevada, to the binders full of authoritarian and unconstitutional measures and actions Trump and his minions are threatening to use to attack people who have displeased him and everyone his adoring fans love to hate.

Brown ran for a U.S. House seat in Texas and lost in the primary. Then he moved to Nevada and ran for a U.S. Senate seat and lost in the primary. Now he’s running for another Senate seat, and this time is expected to finally win a primary.

It’s obvious he hasn’t seriously thought through the ramifications of his facile talk-radio-ready pronouncements.

He does however seem laser-focused on how to become a career politician, even if the prerequisite is condoning Trump’s lawlessness and venality, and doing whatever Trump says. 

Meanwhile, there already exists a sprawling Trump administration-in-waiting plotting to concentrate power in an authoritarian White House, defund federal agencies, and brush aside the roles bestowed on those agencies by Congress and the courts.

As a U.S. senator, Brown’s role in that endeavor would be confined to cheering it on, something he sounds ready and willing to do.

Submitted opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of This Is Reno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article or letter to the editor here.

Nevada Current
Nevada Currenthttps://www.nevadacurrent.com
Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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