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Keller @ Large: Sen. Brown To Break Party Lines?

BOSTON (CBS) - Sen. Scott Brown is breaking with his party and making headlines.

Brown said he'll vote no on a controversial Medicare reform plan.

WBZ's Jon Keller is at large:

Just a week ago, the senator seemed to support the Republican plan.

See: Keller @ Large Blog

Brown understands the politics of survival in a staunchly democratic state, and with challengers like Newton Mayor Setti Warren already chasing him, his statement to the website Politico on Monday should come as no surprise, even though he has praised the GOP for seeking reforms.

"I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support -- and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays," Brown said.

Brown is rejecting Republican Paul Ryan's plan, which could expose him to backlash from the same folks who have been trashing presidential candidate Newt Gingrich for his since-recanted dismissal of Ryan's reforms.

"I don't think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering," said Gingrich, in a recent interview.

On the Medicare issue, Brown has bigger worries than angry conservatives.

"I'm pleased that Sen. Brown has backed away from supporting the privatizing of Medicare," said Setti Warren, his Democratic opponent in the 2012 Senate election.

Mayor Warren agrees with Brown in that there may be alternatives for reining in medicare costs, including cracking down on fraud and making it harder to sue doctors.

Mayor Warren, though, is sounding a theme you will hear a lot from Brown's critics: representing the people of Massachusetts and the Republican party is too often a conflict of interest.

Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote on the medicare budget as early as Wednesday.

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