• 66°

Brown: First year filled with victories, defeats

AVON — His first year in the nation’s capital has been a mixed bag of success and failure says veteran politician Sen. Sherrod Brown.

In a conference call Thursday with Ohio print and broadcast journalists, Brown offered a recap of the past year.

“We have made major progress, but have a lot to do,” he said.

He cited increasing the minimum wage, raising fuel economy standards and

increasing Pell grants on the plus side of the political ledger.

“We fell short because of the president’s veto on stem cell research and the children’s health insurance,” he said. “We ran up against repeated Republican filibusters … more than 60 … Our biggest disappointment was the children’s health insurance bill. There was hardly anyone I met in the state who didn’t think we shouldn’t have it. The president dug in and he made a choice. It broke my heart.”

Brown declined to specify many programs for targeted areas in the state, saying he was at home in Avon and didn’t have the particulars, referring questions to his office.

But he was not reticent in his attacks on Republicans, Bush and the war in Iraq.

“The president has had success in the Senate because they can choose to use that filibuster. That is outrageous when people want to move forward on stem cell, alternative energy and a whole host of issues.

“There is no end in sight to extricate us from that civil war. As long as the Iraqis know we don’t have a plan, they are not going to do what they need to do. They are not building up their own security because they think Uncle Sam is going to be there for many, many years.”

He predicts in the New Year the Democrats will expand their majority in the Senate with one of the goals to be shifting spending to support programs to help low-income elderly with heating bills, the children’s health insurance, aid to those hit by the possible foreclosures and more medical research.

Brown said he intends to continue the neighborhood roundtables he held throughout the state.

“We meet with a cross-section of the community and listen to what they have to tell us,” he said.

Bush came under attack again when Brown talked about the recent recall of contaminated imports, including toys and dog food.

“We want more trade, but want it under different rule. We should not be surprised with these toxic toys,” he said. “When we go into a country to buy goods from China, there are no environmental standards … Importers take no responsibility for their products. The Bush Administration has weakened standards and cut the number of inspectors.”

As to the upcoming presidential election, Brown refused to

make any predictions or endorsements right now other than to say nominees will be decided by March or April.