At the risk of creating a pen-pal relationship with Dick Trail, I cannot let his most recent diatribe go by without making numerous corrections because as usual Dick is very short on facts.
As I've said before, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not entitled to their own set of facts.
First point: His assertion that I decided against seeking a third term because polls show I would lose is absolutely wrong and may be based on an unscientific robo call poll by a partisan political group. The facts are that a scientific poll shows I would have won had I chosen to run. Here is the story as reported by Politico which, as a "columnist" he should have been aware of.
Internal poll shows Ben Nelson leading in Nebraska
By JAMES HOHMANN | 11/29/11 7:39 AM
EDT (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @jameshohmann)
NEBRASKA SENATE - NELSON INTERNAL POLL SHOWS HE CAN WIN: A survey of 1,300 likely Nebraska voters conducted for Ben Nelson puts him ahead of all three Republicans running against him. The vulnerable Democrat, trying to decide whether to run for another term, has a 54% favorable rating, up from 47% in a February survey conducted by the firm Hickman Analytics. He leads Jon Bruning 47%-45%, Don Stenberg 49%-43% and Deb Fischer 50%-37%. "For those who might argue that our survey was conducted after weeks of paid media by the Democratic Party: that is correct," Nelson campaign manager Paul Johnson wrote us in an email. "But let it also be noted that this survey was conducted after months of negative advertising by Mr. Rove, Americans for Prosperity and other like-minded groups." Here's a two-page memo from pollster Harrison Hickman: http://politi.co/vrEUkA.
Second point: There was no so called Cornhusker Kickback, and that has been documented by legitimate media. When the health care reform bill contained an unfunded mandate that would have increased state Medicaid funding, at the request of Governor Heineman, I asked to have the federal government fund that mandate for all 50 states, not just Nebraska. The term took on a life of its own by my political opponents and continues to be used by partisan "columnists" to this day, but, in fact, all states benefitted from my efforts, not just Nebraska. Even the Staff Director of the Senate Finance Committee has explained the issue
[A related Lincoln Journal-Star story is available here.]
Third point: The "columnist" reads straight out of partisan talking point memos when he says Congress has not passed a budget. I'm not going to defend the Washington budget process but the fact is a budget was passed in December to carry the government through fiscal year 2012.
Fourth point: The writer should have heard by now that earmarks are a thing of the past but he continues to complain about them regardless of the facts. I did use them initially to jump start some very worthwhile projects such as the Keystone Hotel renovation in McCook, and a new headquarters for STRATCOM, which is 50 years old and is in bad need of a new facility. You can't fight cyber warfare with drop cords. They were also used to help get a new Veterans Administration Medical Center built in Nebraska. As an Air Force veteran, I would presume Dick supports those projects, unless he thinks we're spending too much money on veterans and defense, not to mention the city of McCook.
Which brings me to a fifth point: Dick Trail takes on the role of spokesman for "all" veterans when he says, "we veterans resent his vote" to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. In case he didn't notice, that policy ended with passage of HR 2965 on a bipartisan vote of 65 to 31 in the Senate after passing the House 250 to 175. The repeal was supported by many veterans including Defense secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen. They felt as most Nebraskans do that it was wrong to require members of the military to lie. The military encourages honesty and integrity. That policy encouraged deceit and undermined honesty and integrity.
My purpose in writing is to set the record straight with some inconvenient facts that Dick Trail and the Gazette's readers should know.
Sen. Ben Nelson