An Unintentional Legacy

When Sen. Ted Kennedy advocated the 2004 Massachusetts succession law revision, he had no idea what the consequences would ultimately be. In 2004 he said, “I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their senator.” A principled statement, even if the motive behind it wasn’t.

He wanted to prevent a Republican governor from appointing a Republican to the Senate to take John Kerry’s seat were he to prevail in the 2004 presidential election.

In 2009, sensing his impending mortality, he advocated changing the law back to appointment since the current governor is a Democrat. That change never occurred.

Now the end of a filibuster-proof Senate majority might be enough to stop the health care bill in its tracks. The election law tinkering that Kennedy supported – and put Scott Brown in office – might have saved the Democratic party from itself. It will also help to preserve what little economic freedom is left in the health care sector.

Other members of the Kennedy dynasty left their own positive legacies. President John F. Kennedy proposed a tax reform which included income tax cuts, passed by Congress in 1964, after his death. Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General fought tirelessly against union corruption and the Teamsters.

Now that the health care bill no longer seems likely to pass, the late Ted Kennedy’s election reforms may have unintentionally solidified his own place in history with regards to health care policy.