Recently McCook's favorite son, Ben Nelson, announced that he will again run for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 election cycle. Senator Ben (D-Neb) made his announcement at a meeting of the teacher's union in Grand Island.
I personally have known Senator Ben as a boy in my hometown and have cheered his rise as a successful attorney in the insurance industry, his election to the office of Governor and then in 2006 to the U.S. Senate. I take pride in his journey from a rather tough childhood to success in politics. I hold in high esteem the office of the U.S. Senate and think that Senator Ben has in general done a fairly good job in office. So, if I had his ear, I would be so bold as to offer a few suggestions so that the people of Nebraska would be inclined to send him back for another term in 2012.
First off Senator Ben needs to apologize for his affirmative vote for Obamacare. He embarrassed all of us Nebraskans when he sold his vote for what will forever be known as the "Cornhusker Kickback." He could have stopped the whole process by voting AGAINST cloture on debate of the health care reform bill. A good reason for his vote at the time would have been to ask for a delay so he could have at least read the bill before having to vote FOR it. In the mode of Monday morning quarterbacking he insists that "he voted for cloture because he was afraid if he didn't Senate Democrats would use the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform that included the public option." Remember the House had already passed the bill and the reconciliation process loomed as a way for the Obamacare power grab to be passed without an up or down vote by the Senate.
And that brings up another point. Senator Ben should guard against becoming beholden to special interests, in this case the insurance industry. "Single payer," another name for socialized medicine, would be devastating for the health insurance industry but coming from that background Senator Ben could have pushed for savings from competition by allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines. Tort reform, he is a lawyer, would have been most helpful in protecting doctors from predatory lawsuits designed to make lawyers rich and health care much more expensive.
Speaking of his insurance background, Senator Ben would have access to that industry's brightest minds, and could use their expertise to redesign the Social Security system to put it onto a sound fiscal basis. Over the years, since being created during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, Democrats have created legislation to let them spend, rather than invest the monies collected from each of us. Laws prohibit anyone in the insurance industry from spending, rather than investing the premiums collected and the U. S. Government should at the least follow those sound fiscal rules. Any changing of the Social Security system is a political mine field but doing the right thing, putting it onto a sound fiscal basis, would most likely be looked on favorably by Nebraska voters.
Another abuse that should be eliminated is unions contributing their members' dues to the campaigns of politicians running for public office. Those contributions, actually bribes, only make those elected to office beholden to those unions so that they in turn return the favor by voting for legislation favorable to the big unions and detrimental to U.S. business. Example: the current deplorable state of Detroit, formerly the Auto Capital of the world. Union extortion abided by legislation has allowed our auto industry to become second rate. Senator Ben could do this nation a great favor by submitting legislation to make union contributions to election campaigns illegal.
A move to eliminate earmarks will be among the first order of business when Congress reconvenes this week. By all means Senator Ben must vote for legislation to eliminate earmarks.
Senator Ben sits on the prestigious Senate Armed Services Committee and has announced his intent to vote for the change in law to allow gays to serve openly in the military. He should consider the havoc wrought in the church by gay members of the priesthood.
The military, prior military and in particular General James E. Amos Commandant of the Marine Corps is against changing that law and Senator Ben should listen to their counsel.
Senator Ben could improve his favorability among Nebraska voters by caucusing with the new conservative faction in the Senate. This would allow Senator Ben to escape the dictates of far left liberal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) who wouldn't have an ice cube's chance in heck of being elected in conservative Nebraska in the first place. To do so might require him to switch political parties assuming that the Republicans would accept him but that has been done before.
The voters of Nebraska sent Senator Ben to Washington to vote in the best interests of the United States, he is after all a U.S. Senator from Nebraska. His job is to make wise judgments for the good of the nation. Not in his charter is there any requirement to gather all the largess that he can for our state or to fill his reelection coffers. I have faith that he can make those changes and that the voters in Nebraska would look favorably on him if he would do so.
That is the way I see it.