Posts Tagged ‘Ben Nelson’
March 7th, 2012 at 12:39 pm
Dems Can’t Seem to Find Salvation in Nebraska
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Last week, I posted about how the defection-masquerading-as-retirement of Maine’s liberal Republican Senator Olympia Snowe set back the GOP’s hopes for winning back the Senate by putting an open seat in a deep-blue state into play for this fall’s elections. The results of some new polling in another contest halfway across the nation, however, should tamp down some of Democrats’ more enthusiastic expectations for Election Day.

Ever since the Senate’s most conservative Democrat (a designation akin to being the MVP of a Pygmy basketball league), Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, announced just after Christmas that he would be retiring with the end of his term this year, the party has been distraught. Nelson’s situation is almost a mirror image of Snowe’s. Considered an ideological apostate, he is little loved by his party’s base. His personal popularity, however, has kept safe a seat that would otherwise fall easily into the opposition’s hands (Nebraska is just as safely Republican as Maine is Democratic).

Democrats thought they had cut the Gordian Knot by recruiting former Senator Bob Kerrey back from his new stomping grounds in New York City (after quite a bit of hemming and hawing) to contend for the open seat, with many analysts believing (quite plausibly, I might add) that Kerrey was the only Democrat with the potential to hold the seat.

According to some new polling from Rasmussen, however, the dream seems to have been premature. The results show Kerrey (who is a known commodity in Cornhusker State politics, having spent four years as Governor and 12 years as a U.S. Senator) trailing the Republican front-runner, Attorney General Jon Bruning, by 22 points. State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who has earned the endorsement of Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, is up 18 on Kerrey. Thus far, it looks like the Democrats’ hopes that a single transformative figure could lead them to the promised land were quixotic. If only there were an example from recent history that could have warned them of that possibility …

March 11th, 2010 at 12:43 pm
This Ain’t Lyndon Johnson Country No More, Toto
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One thing about Lyndon Johnson – as Senate Majority Leader and as President.  If he made a deal, he was more than likely to honor it.

Not this new crowd.  President Obama wasn’t in the Senate long enough to make any deals, and Harry Reid has made some of the worst, most odorous in recorded history.

Now, it seems, in his desperation to pass ObamaCare (which only passed the Senate based on the deals Reid made the first time through), President Obama wants to get rid of some of the smelliest, according to

Imagine that you are Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson or Florida Senator Bill Nelson. 

Old Ben cut the “Cornhuster Kickback” for his “yes” vote, only to pretty much guarantee the loss of his political future with Nebraska voters, who don’t like the bill and don’t like things done that way.  Will he switch to “no” in an effort to at least salvage his dignity?

Old Bill cut “Gator-aid,” which would protect some Florida seniors from having their Medicare Advantage ripped away.  That one never got the attention it should have, because it was wrapped in some complicated, deceptive language meant to hide the fact that it was only going to really apply in three heavily Democratic Florida counties that are the mainstay of Old Bill’s votes and fund raising.  What’s he going to do when those voters find that he can’t keep the deal?

Strangely, the mother of all the deals, Mary Landrieu’s upwards-of-$300 million “Lousiana Purchase” still seems safe, under the rubric that “it would apply to any state in which all the counties have been declared a disaster zone.”  Even the genius of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is unlikely to pry any loose change out of that bayou babe.

So what does Landrieu have that no one else does?

Someone should ask the President.  Someone should also ask him what new deals he’s going to cut to get through the next round of votes, because he doesn’t have the votes without them, and, as they say on the Hill, “the candy store is open.”

Somewhere up there, Lyndon is laughing at the amateurs.

January 15th, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Senator Nelson’s Cornhusker Dilemma
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Senator Ben Nelson’s home state kickbacks are notorious.  The “Cornhusker Kickback” is firmly entrenched in the American political lexicon and now Nelson is starting to hear it from his constituents.

According to this report from Politico, Nelson and his wife were eating at a local pizza joint when one patron recognized the longtime politician and yelled, “Get him the hell out of here!”  Other customers began to boo and Senator Nelson and his party disappeared into the Nebraska cold.

It appears that this local pressure is taking its toll on not only Nelson’s approval rating but also his conscience (if politicians have those).  Roll Call reports that Nelson has asked Harry Reid to drop the infamous Cornhusker Kickback.

As Andy Roth over at Club for Growth wrote, “Nebraskans will still be forced to swallow ObamaCare AND they’ll have to pay more for it.  Sorry, Senator Nelson, you can’t unring that bell.”

January 14th, 2010 at 6:34 pm
Blanche Lincoln and the Liberals’ Litmus Tests

Who says Democrats have a big tent?  According to reporting by Politico, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), is feeling the sting of Arkansas progressives dissatisfied with her stances and voting record.  Forget the fact that Lincoln is a reliable vote whenever the Democratic Party needs her.   In fact, seemingly angry that her uncompensated support wasn’t copied, she’s called for fellow Democratic Senator Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) “Cornhusker Kickback” to be stripped out of the final health care “reform” bill.

Despite all this, the 15% of Arkansans that call themselves progressives are pining for the state’s more liberal Lt. Governor, Bill Halter, to primary Lincoln.  Her sins?  Apparently, backing off support for “card-check” legislation, not complying with an NAACP created quota for federal judicial nominees, and resisting a public option in health care “reform.”  On that last point, at least, Lincoln can claim to be representing the majority of Arkansas’ voters.  No matter.  For today’s Democratic “base” promoting a majority opinion is enough to get you drummed out of the Party.  Just ask Joe Lieberman.

January 6th, 2010 at 6:02 pm
Governor Schwarzenegger Wants ObamaCare Terminated

It wasn’t long ago when the Obama White House was singing the praises of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  After all, Schwarzenegger was one of very few Republicans in the country to throw his support behind ObamaCare.  

Now, however, the Governator isn’t mincing words in withdrawing that support

In his State of the State Address before a joint session of the California Legislature earlier today, Schwarzenegger accurately called the health care bill “a trough of bribes, deals and loopholes.”  Below are some highlights from the speech:

Congress is about to pile billions more onto California with the new health care bill.

“While I enthusiastically support health care reform, it is not reform to push more costs onto states that are already struggling while other states get sweetheart deals.

“Health care reform, which started as noble and needed legislation, has become a trough of bribes, deals and loopholes.

“You’ve heard of the bridge to nowhere.  This is health care to nowhere.

“California’s congressional delegation should either vote against this bill that is a disaster for California or get in there and fight for the same sweetheart deal Senator Nelson of Nebraska got for the Cornhusker State. He got the corn; we got the husk.”

Is Governor Schwarzenegger’s about face on health care reform a prelude to what’s to come in the final stretch of this debate. For the sake of the nation, we can only hope.

January 5th, 2010 at 3:47 pm
The Constitutionality of the “Cornhusker Kickback”

Much has been made about the secret sweetheart deal Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) struck with Senate leaders in exchange for his “Yea” vote on ObamaCare. 

The deal, known as the “Cornhusker Kickback,” permanently exempts Nebraska – and only Nebraska – from paying for expanded Medicaid mandates called for in the Senate-passed “reform” bill.  In other words, taxpayers in all other states will be stuck paying the tab for Nebraska’s expanded Medicaid rolls if that provision survives final passage.

But is the “Cornhusker Kickback” constitutional?

On December 30, thirteen state attorneys general sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling the provision “constitutionally flawed” and threatening legal action unless the provision is dropped from the health care bill. 

The attorneys general wrote:

The undersigned state attorneys general, in response to numerous inquiries, write to express our grave concern with the Senate version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘H.R. 3590’). The current iteration of the bill contains a provision that affords special treatment to the state of Nebraska under the federal Medicaid program. We believe this provision is constitutionally flawed. As chief legal officers of our states we are contemplating a legal challenge to this provision and we ask you to take action to render this challenge unnecessary by striking that provision.

It has been reported that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s vote, for H.R. 3590, was secured only after striking a deal that the federal government would bear the cost of newly eligible Nebraska Medicaid enrollees. In marked contrast all other states would not be similarly treated, and instead would be required to allocate substantial sums, potentially totaling billions of dollars, to accommodate H.R. 3590’s new Medicaid mandates. In addition to violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just, we also believe this provision of H.R. 3590 is inconsistent with protections afforded by the United States Constitution against arbitrary legislation. …

According to a lengthy report by, “The Dec. 30 letter was drafted by South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and gained the signatures of 12 other Republicans. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is the only Democrat, so far, to express support for the possible litigation.”

Read the letter is its entirety here (.pdf).

December 23rd, 2009 at 7:07 pm
Pass Health Care “Reform,” Kill Medicaid?

While options for defeating health care “reform” are dwindling for congressional Republicans, there may be another, better collection of politicians to derail the federal government’s looming takeover: state governments.  It bears remembering that for all the talk of health care being a human right, the vehicle through which it will be delivered is a voluntary agreement exchanging state sovereignty for federal dollars.  Say no to the federal dollars by opting out of Medicaid, and states are free to provide health care at a price their taxpayers can afford.

That’s the gist of the argument made by two analysts at The Heritage Foundation and discussed today in an article posted on Human Events.  Granted, it may seem like a health care bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president is immediately binding on the states.  But only if states refuse to opt out of Medicaid.  Like all state-federal “partnerships”, state governments take federal tax dollars because it’s popular to spend money, and besides, a state might as well get back some of what it pays to Washington, right?

Maybe not.  Instead, governors and state legislators would do well to seriously consider saying “no thanks” to Uncle Sam and looking for ways to deliver the same or similar benefits using state-only dollars.  According to the same Heritage Foundation study:

If all states withdraw from Medicaid, their collective savings would be $725 billion over the 2013-2019 period, but they would exceed $1 trillion over 10 years. This assumes that states will continue to spend at least 90 percent of what they spend now on Medicaid long-term care services with state-only dollars. On a state-by-state basis, every state except North Dakota would come out ahead financially by leaving Medicaid but continuing long-term care spending with state-only dollars. Of course, if North Dakota reduced its long-term care spending, it too would come out ahead.

With Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) challenging their governors to take their Medicaid carve outs or pay the full price of “reform”, now is the time for states to start thinking how to regain their status as “50 laboratories” and let all that federal tax money go to some other cause.  Deficit reduction, anyone?

December 21st, 2009 at 3:32 pm
“The Price is Right”
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Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) on Harry Reid’s (D-NV) health care compromise with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson:

You’ve got to compliment Ben Nelson for playing, ‘The Price Is Right.’  He negotiated a Medicaid agreement for Nebraska that puts the federal government on the hook forever.  This isn’t the Louisiana Purchase, it’s the Nebraska windfall … this isn’t how this process is supposed to work.

Sadly, the “Louisiana Purchase” already took place during Senate negotiations.  Now, taxpayers are “on the hook” for Louisiana and Nebraska.  This is not because Nebraska and Louisiana are especially important for health care reform, but because two politicians from those states were able to game the system better than their colleagues.

This is why our national debt is over $12 trillion.

December 21st, 2009 at 12:09 pm
A Vote that Would Make Rod Blagojevich Blush
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This morning, the Senate invoked cloture on its scheme for government-run health care.  Under Senate rules, there will now be 30 hours of debate divided equally between the two parties, and then there is a strong possibility that the Senate will pass the legislation.

For Majority Leader Harry Reid, getting to this point was no easy task.  The typical horse trading that takes place on Capitol Hill was on overdrive lately as Leader Reid had to beg, borrow and deal to buy off each cynical Senator.

As much as the media and politicians on the Hill excoriated Governor Rod Blagojevich for selling President Obama’s old Senate seat, buying votes is a common occurrence in the nation’s capital.

As this piece from Politico demonstrates, what happens in Senate chambers typically borders on bribery.

For example:

  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), who was once emphatic in his opposition to ObamaCare, got $45 million in federal funds for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.   Other states were not fortunate enough to have an undecided Senator provide their state with the perks of federal largesse.
  • Independent/Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), who was previously opposed to the legislation, was awarded $10 billion in new funding for community health centers.
  • Senator Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) garnered an excise tax carve-out for their states; all other states will be forced to pay the tax.
  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) received perhaps the most persuasive legislative nugget, a $300 million federal gift to Louisiana for Medicaid expansion.

In an attempt to rationalize this border-line legislative bribery, Senator Reid opined, “You’ll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states.  That’s what legislating is all about.  It’s compromise.”

Buying off votes = compromise?  Selling a Senate seat = felony?

December 19th, 2009 at 1:01 pm
Sen. Nelson to Support Health Care Bill

Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) just announced that he will support the Senate health care bill, seemingly handing Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation by Christmas.

According to The Washington Post:

Asked if he had secured the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) told reporters, ‘It seems that way.’

The Senate is expected to work its way through a series of procedural motions over the next few days, with a vote on the legislation scheduled the evening of Dec. 24th. A conference with the House to produce a final bill would likely extend into January, Senate aides said.

December 18th, 2009 at 4:10 pm
Senator Ben Nelson’s Health Care Stance
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November 20th, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Bad News on Health Care
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Senator Ben Nelson, a key conservative Democrat, has announced that he will vote “yea” on the motion to proceed tomorrow.

Part of his statement:

This weekend, I will vote for the motion to proceed to bring that debate onto the Senate floor. The Senate should start trying to fix a health care system that costs too much and delivers too little for Nebraskans.

Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct. That’s what the vote on the motion to proceed is all about.

According to Politico, this means that the health care bill will likely make it through its first procedural hurdle.  Senator Nelson cited the ability to amend the bill as a reason for his “yea” vote tomorrow, but unless he removes the tax increases, the mandates, the government-run public option, and the thousands of new federal regulations, then any attempt to “amend” the bill will be pointless.

Given his public statement, it’s unlikely that Senator Nelson’s position will change in the next 24 hours, but if you live in Nebraska you can still give him a call and urge him to oppose the Senate’s health care bill.

D.C. Office: 202-224-6551
Kearney Office: 308-293-5918
Lincoln Office: 402-441-4600
Omaha Office: 402-391-3411

You can also call Congress at 202-224-3121 and tell them to vote “No” on tomorrow night’s cloture motion.