Gallup reported last week that Americans’ confidence in Congress as an institution has fallen to just 10 percent — an all-time low. After watching last night’s debate between Ed Markey and Gabriel Gomez, I don’t think the next US senator from Massachusetts is likely to reverse the public’s low opinion.
Markey repeatedly charged his opponent with advocating the “oldest, stalest Republican ideas.” Time and again he ran through the litany, determined to taint Gomez with positions held by the most conservative Republicans — on gun control, abortion, taxes, financial regulation, Social Security. Yet is it really the “oldest, stalest” idea that Supreme Court nominees should be confirmed — as Gomez believes — not on the basis of a single ideological litmus test about Roe v. Wade, but on the strength of their scholarship and character? Is it truly old and stale to suggest, as Gomez does, that any comprehensive reform of the tax code will have to mean putting even sacred cows like the mortgage-interest deduction up for discussion? Or is the real reactionary the candidate who flatly insists, as Markey did last night: “For me, that is off the table”?