Senator Scott Brown downplayed his personal wealth while suggesting that police officers, firefighters, and nurses could be hurt by a proposal to increase taxes on those earning over $250,000, during an interview Friday with The Sun of Lowell.
The Massachusetts Republican also said he would be willing to release his tax returns if his likely Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, asks him.
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and Wall Street critic, drew criticism from Republicans recently after revealing she made $700,000 over two years.
“No one has ever really asked, but if they want to see what Gail and I pay, then whatever. I don’t care,’’ Brown told the newspaper, referring to his wife, former Boston television reporter Gail Huff. “I don’t make a heck of a lot,’’ he said, “so I’m paying what I should be paying. Trust me.’’
Rank-and-file members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually, with regular cost-of-living increases. Brown also received $700,000 as an advance on the memoir he published last year.
The Sun, which prides itself on a conservative editorial page and endorsed Brown during his special election campaign, asked him to square his comments against that backdrop.
“I mean, aside from the book deal that I got, which is really a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I get paid what every member of Congress is paid,’’ he told the paper.
During the same interview, Brown criticized President Obama for proposing to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 to soften program cuts as the country tries to close its budget deficit.
Brown opposes the tax increase, and said it would hurt “teachers, firefighters, policemen - folks who work two jobs.’’
The senator told the newspaper that police officers often are paid more than $100,000 when overtime is added to their salary.
“You throw in a teacher who’s working, plus a summer job, it adds up pretty quickly,’’ he said.
The state Democratic Party pounced on the comments.
“That’s something that only a millionaire Washington politician like Scott Brown would say,’’ said spokesman Kevin Franck. “If Scott Brown, who makes $174,000 a year and got a $700,000 advance to write his book, thinks he doesn’t make a heck of a lot, but teachers are just rolling in the dough, you really have to wonder if he understands anything at all about middle-class Massachusetts families.’’
The Brown campaign targeted Warren herself.
“Scott Brown doesn’t need a lecture from anyone about what it means to struggle economically,” said Brown spokesman Colin Reed. “As the self-proclaimed intellectual founder of the Occupy protests, Elizabeth Warren is going to look for any excuse she can to raise taxes on everyone. Scott Brown believes taxes are too high already - for firemen, for teachers, for two-income households, for anyone who is fortunate to have a job in this bad economy.”Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.