Ben Nelson

Gloomy Future For Bi Partisanship In Congress

The best Congresses of the past were those that promoted bi partisan reforms and change, but that has become a casualty of recent times, and there is no sign that it will be returning anytime soon.

With the Citizens United Case of the Supreme Court two years ago encouraging SuperPacs that award those on the extreme left and extreme right with unlimited campaign funds, any mainstream moderate is likely to decide to quit Congress (as for instance Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson), or to face a challenge for re-election as not extreme enough (as for instance Orrin Hatch and Richard Lugar).

The latest possible casualty is Senator Lugar of Indiana, a mainstream conservative, but not extreme enough for Tea Party types. Lugar has served longer than any sitting Senator, and is now 80, and there is an argument that it is time to retire, but Lugar, with his expertise and wisdom on foreign policy, could be argued to be a national treasure who should stay on in the Senate for another term.

Lugar’s experience and knowledge would be valued in any other profession, no matter what his age, and yet the argument is that it is time for a change. It will, of course, be up to Indiana Republicans next week as to whether Lugar stays on, with Lugar having the endorsement of Governor Mitch Daniels and Arizona Senator John McCain.

The irony for the Republicans is that if they defeat Lugar, the likelihood of a Democrat winning the Senate seat vastly improves, so in many respects, they are committing suicide if they defeat a man regarded as one of the very best they have had in office in the past four decades.

But then, statesmanship is not in vogue these days, sadly!

Retention Of Democratic Controlled Senate Likely, With News Of Bob Kerrey Running And Olympia Snowe NOT Running

The news that former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey has decided to run for Ben Nelson’s Senate seat in Nebraska, and that Olympia Snowe has decided to retire from her Maine Senate seat are two good omens for the Democrats keeping control of the US Senate.

Kerrey was the only Democrat who would have been able to retain the Senate seat given up by conservative Democrat Ben Nelson.

With Snowe, a moderate Republican, retiring due to the exasperation at the lack of compromise in the Senate, it is nearly impossible for any Republican to take the seat from her, as Maine is a clearly blue state which accepted two moderate Republican Senators (Snowe and Susan Collins), but will not accept a Tea Party type similar to Governor Paul LePage for the Senate seat, and there seem to be no other types except Tea Party available to run for the GOP in Maine.

So the odds of a Democratic Senate in 2013 have been much improved by these events!

Obscene Vote In US Senate On Jobs For Teachers And First Responders: How Can This Be Justified?

In an attempt by Senate Democrats to pass part of President Obama’s jobs plan, a proposal for $35 billion in spending on hiring or retaining 400,00 teachers and first responders was brought up in that chamber last night, resulting in a 50-50 tie, with all 47 Republicans and Democrats Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut joining them in opposition!

The jobs bill had been touted by Vice President Joe Biden as essential to help promote education and safety and security in local communities, and it would have been financed by a half penny tax on millionaires on incomes over one million dollars, meaning if one had two million in income, he would pay $5,000 in extra taxes, a small amount of contribution when compared to income and the public need!

It is shocking that Joe Lieberman would vote against this, and that Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine would vote against this as well!

At a time of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, the Senate minority and even a few Democrats seem tone deaf to the reality of what is going on in America!

These 50 Senators are to be condemned for playing politics and being short sighted in a time of need!

Do Senate Democrats Really Have 53 Votes? Don’t Be So Sure! :(

It is often pointed out that the Senate has 53 Democrats, and that there is no chance that the Republican House can get the majority of the Senate to go along with massive budget cuts or repeal of the Health Care legislation.

But when one examines closely the situation that truly exists with the upcoming Senate races of 2012, one wonders!

There are at least four Democrats, who are not retiring, as four have already announced (Joe Lieberman, Kent Conrad, Jim Webb, and now Jeff Bingaman), but are likely to be willing to work with Republicans more than one would imagine.

These would be newly elected Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia who must run again in 2012, along with two Senators elected in 2006 and facing tough fights in 2012–Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana–and veteran Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who also faces election in 2012.

If all four worked together with the GOP, there goes the Democratic edge, so the next two years will be interesting as a reality check of what it means to have a Senate majority, and yet maybe NOT have a Senate majority! ๐Ÿ™

The US Senate: Facing Possible Major Turnover In 2012

The US Senate saw a major turnover in 2010, with sixteen new Senators being added to the body, 13 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Also, four incumbents lost their seats.

Now as 2012 comes on, 22 Democrats and only 11 Republicans face the challenge of running for re-election, and already three members have decided to retire–Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Jim Webb of Virginia, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, all Democrats, and Republican Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jon Kyl of Arizona, John Ensign of Nevada, and Richard Lugar of Indiana all face major challenges from the opposition party, as well as the Tea Party purists who seem to be out to defeat several Republican Senators, including Hatch, Lugar, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

The Senate may be seen as a glorious and prestigious body that no one would want to leave by choice, but the struggle to win elections and hold on to seats is becoming more and more taxing, emotionally and financially, as the country becomes more divided by vitriolic opposition, so it would not be surprising if more than the three who have announced they are retiring end up leaving the hallowed body, considered the greatest legislative body and debating society in the world!

Sad Ending On DREAM Act: “The American Dream” Denied To Young Illegal Immigrants Who Wish To Contribute To The Only Nation They Know! :(

A very sad development yesterday in the US Senate was the denial of an opportunity for young illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as babies or very young children, and never have done anything illegal, but are being denied the right to move toward citizenship by pursuing college or entering the military.

These children are not lawbreakers, even if their parents are, and they have no memory of their former homeland. They have been discriminated against, and just wished to pursue the “American dream” that we hear so much about, but the Republicans in the Senate, except for three courageous souls, refused to allow such an opportunity.

The only three Republicans who voted in favor of cloture to end the filibuster by their party on the proposed DREAM Act were Richard Lugar of Indiana, Robert Bennett of Utah, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

However, since the vote, with four Senators not present, was 55-41, we must also look at the five Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act–Kay Hagen of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana. These five Senators did not show reasonable justification for their votes, and should rightfully be condemned for their vote.

With this defeat, and with the reality of GOP control of the House of Representatives for the next two years, and fewer Democrats in the Senate as well, it is unlikely that the DREAM Act or anything similar to it will have any fortune in the next few years.

But the battle for immigration reform, including giving opportunities to children who have done no wrong except being born to the “wrong” parents, will continue, and with the growing Latino population in this country, eventually human rights and civil rights will come to these deserving children of illegal immigrants!

Senator Ben Nelson Personally Responsible For Defeat Of Extension Of Unemployment Compensation! :(

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska is clearly the most conservative of all Democratic Senators!

He tends to vote with Republicans a good deal of the time, since he represents a state which is more conservative than most!

It is understandable that Nelson is often on the fence on party issues, but it is unconscionable that he would block the extension of unemployment compensation to millions of people who are desperate, many of them out of work for nearly two years in the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression! ๐Ÿ™

These people will lose their homes or apartments; many will go hungry; their children will experience the horrors of total poverty; and the health of these unfortunates will deteriorate under the stress! ๐Ÿ™ The Great Recession is still raging! ๐Ÿ™

And yet Nelson, and the entire Republican party in the Senate, with the exception of the two Maine woman senators–Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins–seem unconcerned about the human suffering they are causing! ๐Ÿ™

The longer people in the millions are out of work, the longer the deep recession will last, as if one does not work or have disposable income, then it brings down the economy for other Americans! This hardheartedness on the part of Nelson and the GOP is incomprehensible! ๐Ÿ™

And ironically, as Robert Bryd left the Senate chamber for the last time after being in a casket in the legislative body he loved, the Senate Republicans and Ben Nelson dishonored their colleague, as had he been alive and able to vote on unemployment compensation extension, it would have passed in time for the July 4 holiday! ๐Ÿ™

Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to struggle to find a 60th vote to overcome a filibuster, and that cannot be done until the Senate returns on July 12 after the holiday break! ๐Ÿ™

How can Ben Nelson and his GOP colleagues enjoy their break on the backs of the unemployed and needy? ๐Ÿ™

This whole situation is absolutely a disgrace! ๐Ÿ™

The Democratic Party Deterioration: The Obama Crisis of 2010 And Beyond

Now it is not only Independent Joe Lieberman who has made it clear he will not vote for the health care reform bill if the public option or Medicare extension remains in the bill.

Also, the much more admirable Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has said he probably will not vote for the legislation, if it does not INCLUDE the public option or Medicare extension, or even better, a single payer system.

Plus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska has stated that if the bill does not disallow abortion coverage, then he will not vote for the bill.

It looks more and more as if this health care legislation is in deep trouble, and even an attempt to recruit the two Maine women senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, seems unlikely to work because they have their own special problems with the legislation.

If the legislation does not pass in a reasonable form to bring real reform, the American people will be the losers, and the health insurance industry will have a big victory.

And, unfortunately, it could be the end of the dream of a real reform period under President Barack Obama. A defeat now would be hard to recover from, and particularly so with the unrest within the party over the “surge” of troops in Afghanistan ordered by President Obama. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear she will not lobby her colleagues to back the Afghan appropriations bill and is tired of backing funding for wars she does not believe in.

The possibility of major Democratic losses next year, with the decision of four House veterans to retire, is alarming, and it is highly unlikely that the Obama Administration will have any better an opportunity than right now to promote real reform initiatives.

It sadly seems as if the old gridlock and stalemate so common in recent administrations is occurring again, a highly regrettable situation, to say the least! ๐Ÿ™

The Democrats Who Stand In The Way Of Health Care Reform

As things now stand, the health care legislation being debated in the Senate has four Democrats preventing a real reform package, and we could call them the “N and Three L’s”–Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and Blanche Lincoln of Nebraska.

Without these four votes for the “public option”, the only way conceivable that the Democrats can overcome a filibuster is to utilize “reconciliation”, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would prefer to avoid, but can use if necessary, just as it was under the GOP control of the Senate during the Bush Administration.

This means 51 votes, or even 50 plus the Vice President, would be enough to accomplish health care reform. This has been broached before by myself and others, and certainly is not preferable, but we have reached a point where we cannot allow a few rebellious Democrats to block necessary reform that has never reached this stage legislatively.

To allow health care reform to fail at this point would be a tragedy on the level of the Afghan War escalation about to begin! ๐Ÿ™

The Senate Health Care Debate Begins!

With the courageous decision of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln to support the beginning of debate on health care, the Democrats have succeeded in keeping their party caucus united, including independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders.

Now a long period of weeks of debate begins, and there are many torturous steps to go before a final vote, including the debate over abortion and over the “public option”. Votes in the Democratic caucus will be lost on these issues, including Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Landrieu and Lincoln among others.

So the question is whether it will be possible to pass a substantial health care bill without causing a filibuster. Since that seems unlikely, the concept of “reconciliation”, requiring only 51 votes to pass legislation, may have to be put into play.

While it would be preferable to avoid “reconciliation”, the likelihood is that it will have to be utilized in order to bring about the most significant legislation since 1965 when Medicare passed into law.