Conservatives have their work cut out for them

Thursday, November 6, 2014

There's no time to horse around for fiscal conservatives who have been champing at the bit to "rein in government spending."

Republicans have control of the legislative branch of government, and some would say they control another, the Supreme Court, as well. President Obama has vowed to work with the new congress, but that hasn't happened since Obamacare was passed, and it's hard to see how putting Republicans in charge of the Senate will make him more receptive to the idea.

Sen. George Norris' dream of a nonpartisan Unicameral in Lincoln is a reality in name only, with 35 Republicans, 13 Democrats and independent Ernie Chambers holding seats in the Legislature.

Party discipline is weak in the one-house body, and most of the turnover, 17 seats, was driven by term limits rather than some sort of sea change. Many contests, including our own District 44 race, involved one Republican running against another.

Only time will tell whether fiscal conservatives can put their views into action. Governor-elect Pete Ricketts rode the anti-big government wave, propelled by buckets of money, into the statehouse, and should have some help in the Legislature once he gets there.

Some of that help will come from Mike Groene of North Platte, who defeated favorite Roric Paulman of Sutherland to represent that district in Lincoln.

Groene is the founder of the Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association, a prominent member of Nebraska's tea party, and served on the board of the Platte Institute, a conservative Omaha think tank founded by Pete Ricketts.

Groene spent about 20 percent of the money his opponent did, burning shoe leather instead of cash, preaching a message of spending cuts and pointing to his opposition to Medicaid expansion, while, conversely, calling for more state spending -- for schools in his district.

Ricketts, Groene and all the other fiscal conservatives now in power have their work cut out for them, putting their ideas into action while proving they can govern convincingly enough to being thrown out of power at the next election.

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