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Can Senior Citizens Afford Lee Terrynomics?

Recently, Representative Lee Terry took a swipe at his challenger John Ewing - contending that we "can't afford Ewingnomics." In this instance, Lee Terry was taking issue with Ewing's position that the failed Bush tax cuts for the top 2% of income earners should be rolled back. (Ewing favors retaining the Bush tax cuts for 98% of income earners.) That was obviously a swing and a miss by Mr. Terry. But what about Terrynomics? Can senior citizens afford Terrynomics?

The answer to that question is clearly no because Terry supports the Paul Ryan Medicare privatization plan. Mr. Terry voted for the Ryan plan in both 2011 and 2012. The Terry-Ryan plan would end Medicare's guaranteed benefit, bring back pre-existing conditions clauses and cost the average senior citizen an additional $6,000 in annual out of pocket medical expenses. A recent study by the Center For American Progress found that the Terry-Ryan plan could increase costs by almost $60,000 for seniors reaching the age of 65 in 2023.

But wait. Aren't those over the age of 55 not affected by the Ryan plan? We've heard that from Mr. Terry when he tried to explain his two votes for this regressive legislation that ends Medicare as we know it. That talking point is false because the Terry-Ryan plan will abolish the health care reform law passed in 2010. That will have a direct impact on today's seniors because it brings back the "doughnut hole," which requires seniors to pay 100 percent of any prescription costs after the annual total reaches $2,840 and until it hits $4,550. This change would cost Nebraska seniors around $16 million in 2012 alone.

If Lee Terry were to get his way and the Terry-Ryan plan became law, Nebraska seniors would also lose access to a host of preventive-care benefits in the health care law, including free wellness visits to physicians, mammograms, colonoscopies, and programs to help smokers quit. So, the next time Lee Terry tells you that his Medicare privatization plan doesn't affect today's seniors, please tell him to do a little fact checking before he makes that claim again.

Terry's phony claim that Medicare wouldn't impact current seniors isn't the only bogus thing Mr. Terry has said about Medicare. Terry claimed that Ewing supported a $716 billion "raid" on Medicare that slashed payments to doctors and other providers to pay for the law.

These so-called "cuts" in Medicare that Terry described are largely cuts in the Medicare Advantage Program - which was a boondoggle for the private insurance industry. Mr. Terry also didn't tell us that those same Medicare "cuts" are contained in the Terry-Ryan plan.

What about John Ewing? Does he support senior citizens? The answer is yes. Ewing has promised us that he would oppose Medicare privatization and that he would keep our promises to senior citizens.

On August 27, Ewing introduced a three point plan that would save Medicare. Ewing said one part of his plan would allow the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan. That is not permitted under current law. The change, he said, could save up to $24 billion annually. The other parts of Ewing's plan would strengthen Medicare's fiances by ending overpayments to health insurance companies and cracking down on Medicare fraud.

I believe the answer is clear. Senior citizens can't afford Lee Terrynomics. Re-electing Mr. Terry to the U.S. House of Representatives could potentially cost seniors thousands of dollars.

John Ewing is the genuine friend of senior citizens since he is opposed to Medicare privatization and supports a plan that shores up Medicare's finances. I would submit that the senior citizens of the 2nd Congressional District can't afford not to elect John Ewing to Congress!

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

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Bob Kerrey Shines In Debate

The first U.S. Senate debate is in the books and we can safely say that former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey came across as the best informed candidate with genuine solutions to the problems we face. In contrast, State Senator Deb Fischer largely stuck to the tired GOP talking points that she has been repeating over the last several months and once again, didn't get specific about how she would solve many of our problems.

The approach of the candidates on the issues of fiscal responsibility and entitlement reform provided a good example of the differences between the two candidates. Kerrey talked about his specific plans to save Social Security and Medicare and reiterated his support for the Simpson Bowles budget plan.

In contrast, Fischer refused to identify one single, specific spending cut she would support to reach her goal of reducing federal spending to 18% of GDP. Instead, she talked about how we could allegedly reduce the deficit by increasing economic growth and creating more jobs. Fischer's rhetoric on deficit reduction is identical to the kinds of things of things we heard from other Republicans while the deficit exploded during the last three Republican Presidencies.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the debate was that Fischer came out against the Ryan Medicare privatization plan and budget. In my opinion, this promise isn't very credible in light of the fact that Fischer continues to run as a hard core, partisan Republican. For example, during the debate, Fischer disagreed with Kerrey's proposal to create a non-partisan Congress similar to the Nebraska Legislature.

Fischer's extreme partisanship sends the signal that she will simply do the bidding of her party leaders if she should get elected. The Republicans have said that the passage of the Ryan budget will be the first order of business if they should win the elections. It's hard to imagine that Fischer could stand up to the leaders of her party on the GOP's most important piece of domestic legislation.

Fischer not only misled on the Ryan plan, she also was less than honest on another aspect of the Medicare issue. During the debate, Fischer several times mouthed the misleading Republican talking point that Obama Care "robbed" Medicare of $716 billion. Several non-partisan fact checking sites have proven that allegation is false. These so-called "cuts" in Medicare that Fischer described are largely cuts in the Medicare Advantage Program - which was a boondoggle for the private insurance industry. Fischer also didn't tell us that those same Medicare "cuts" are contained in the Ryan plan.

Medicare wasn't the only issue in which Fischer was less than truthful with the voters. During the debate, Fischer denied that she led a filibuster on a bill that would've exempted $325 million in sales taxes for Omaha area residents. However, some of her colleagues in the Legislature and several media reports indicate Fischer did indeed lead a filibuster that raised taxes on Omaha area residents.

Quite simply, Kerrey out performed Fischer. He displayed a superior command of the issues and offered up bona fide solutions to the serious problems now facing the United States.

In contrast, Fischer just offered up a series of partisan talking points and tried to obfuscate her record in the Nebraska Legislature. In the final analysis, the voters can select a candidate who is willing to cross party lines to solve problems or choose a candidate who will perpetuate the partisan gridlock in Washington. In the end, I'm confident that Nebraska voters will send Bob Kerrey back to the U.S. Senate.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

 

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Returning Lee Terry To Washington To Cut Spending Would Be Like Bringing Back Pederson, Callahan and Cosgrove To Run The Nebraska Football Program

Representative Lee Terry has been running a new ad in which he claims that Washington "borrows and spends too much money" and that we should "cut spending now." In the tag line of the advertisement, Terry alleges that John Ewing would just "charge it" when it comes to new spending. Is Terry a credible advocate of fiscal responsibility?

Just what is Lee Terry's record on spending?

Unfortunately, Lee Terry's record on spending is abysmal. He is a member of one the most irresponsible Congressional majorities in history. I say let's start out by taking a little trip down memory lane in our effort to fact check Terry's ad.

In 2000, the U.S.A. had a record annual surplus of $236 billion and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected a surplus of $5.6 trillion over the next ten years. By the end of 2008, that same Congressional Budget Office was projecting a $1.3 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009. What went wrong? Why this huge turn around for the worse in our nation's finances?

The reason for the huge change of fortune for the worse was the irresponsibility between 2001 to 2009 of Lee Terry and his fellow Republicans. During this period of time, Terry voted for two tax cuts (that largely went to the wealthy), two wars, the Medicare Part D program and the Wall Street bailout. All of this deficit-exploding legislation was put on the national credit card. As Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated about those days: "It was standard practice not to pay for things." During that irresponsible spending and borrowing spree, Mr. Terry voted to add $10 trillion to the national debt!

As we can see, Mr. Terry is a spending and fiscal responsibility hypocrite. Apparently, spending and deficits only matter to Terry when we have a Democratic President in office. Returning Terry to Washington to cut spending would be like if Nebraska hired Steve Pederson, Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove to run the Nebraska football program. Terry has absolutely no credibility on spending and the deficit, and his ad should be called out for its blatant falsehoods.

We should contrast Terry's sorry record with John Ewing's tenure as the Douglas County Treasurer where policies he championed are now saving the taxpayers over a million dollars per year. It's not just enough to show up and cast votes, Nebraskans deserve someone who will actually take action - like John Ewing did.

It's also growing increasingly evident that the voters of Nebraska Congressional District Two are catching on to Terry's undistinguished record. A recent poll taken there indicates that Ewing has whittled Terry's lead down to only 46% to 40%. Whenever an incumbent polls at less than 50%, that means that incumbent is in trouble. What this means is that we have a very winnable race in Congressional District Two. It is time for us to redouble our efforts and work hard to elect a true fiscal conservative - John Ewing - to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

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Fischer's Silence On The Ryan Budget Plan Speaks Louder Than Words

It's now been over a year since State Senator Deb Fischer refused to comment on the Paul Ryan budget plan, saying she hadn't read the 50 page document and needed more time to study it. However, the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate sheds an entirely new light on this issue.

Fischer indicated her ardent support for Ryan by saying that the "Romney-Ryan ticket provides strong leadership." Kerrey campaign manager Paul Johnson followed up Fischer's remarks by saying that, "With Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, and with Fischer offering praise for the selection, we assume she supports the Ryan Plan." That is probably a fairly safe assumption since Fischer is running as a bitter partisan and has yet to identify a Democratic Senator she could work with in Washington.

Fischer's support of the Paul Ryan budget is game changer in the election because this budget plan is extreme and outside of the mainstream. As we've discussed here recently on this blog, the Ryan plan ends Medicare's guaranteed benefit, takes health care coverage from millions of Americans, brings back pre-existing conditions clauses and cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy. In other words, the Ryan plan cuts Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit seniors, the middle class and the poor to finance tax cuts for the wealthy. And yet, the Ryan plan doesn't balance the budget until 2040.

In coming out in favor of the Ryan budget plan, Fischer once again signaled that it is party over her constituents for the Valentine State Senator. Moreover, Fischer has decided to stand with the wealthy and corporations, and ignore the best interests of her fellow Nebraskans.

It's evident that Fischer has chosen to adopt Wall Street values rather than Nebraska values.


We now have one of the defining issues in the Nebraska Senate race.

The Republicans have said that if they win the elections this fall, their first order of business will be passing the Ryan plan. What this means then is that the very future of Medicare and our social safety net is at stake in this election. Bob Kerrey opposes the Ryan plan and has pledged to make reasonable reforms in our entitlement programs to bring our budget deficits under control. If we want to preserve Medicare and other safety net programs, we will need to get behind Senator Kerrey and work hard to elect him to the U.S. Senate.

 

 

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Happy Birthday Social Security

Romney has made his intentions clear with his VP pick, let's take this opportunity to show him how much we value our social protections.

 

Today marks the 77th birthday of Social Security - the most successful government program in U.S. history.  On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act.  Social Security pays benefits to retirees, widows, the children of the deceased and the disabled.  The Act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children. By signing this Act into law, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly.

Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in U.S. history.  At the time the Social Act passed, poverty among the elderly exceeded 50%.  At the present time, the poverty rate for Americans over age 65 has been reduced to 9%.

Despite Social Security's undeniable success, the right wing of the GOP has always been opposed to this program.  One of the biggest talking points from the radical right is that Social Security is going broke and that we can't afford it.  As early as 1936, GOP Presidential nominee Alf Landon said that: "If the present compulsory insurance plan remains in force, our old people are only too apt to find the cupboard bare."  George W. Bush predicted in 1978 that Social Security would go broke in 1988 unless Congress privatized the system. Moreover, present day Republicans regularly predict - as they have for over 75 years - that Social Security will go broke.

Obviously, all of these previous Republican predictions of doom and gloom about Social Security have proven to be wrong and are still wrong.  Social Security is in a position to pay out all of the promised benefits until 2033.  If the Congress does absolutely nothing, Social Security would still be able to pay out 78% of the promised benefits beginning in 2034. However, simply lifting the earnings cap on Social Security taxes would insure the financial viability of the program for the indefinite future.  Similarly, Senator Kerrey's Social Security plan - which consists of a combination of modest benefit cuts and tax increases - would also enable us to keep our promises to senior citizens.

Social Security is wildly popular because it has been so successful. However, that success is a danger to the agenda of the GOP and it's corporate allies.  The last thing the GOP wants is a program that proves the government can do things that benefit the American people. That's why the GOP has nominated a Presidential ticket determined to privatize Social Security.  If want to celebrate more birthdays for Social Security in the future, we Democrats need to remain engaged and work hard for our candidates who will defend this program that has helped millions of Americans  from the ongoing attacks from the radical right.

 

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Republicans Propose To Repeal Progressive Reforms Of The 20th Century

Mitt Rommey's selection of Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirms that the center piece of the Republican agenda is to repeal the Progressive reforms of the 20th century. The conservative wing of the GOP has opposed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid since the inception of these programs. Just who is Paul Ryan?  What exactly does he stand for?

Paul Ryan has represented a suburban district of Milwaukee since 1998. Interestingly enough, Ryan has never held a job in the private sector - his entire career has been in Congress either as an aide or a member of the House of Representatives.  In 2005, Ryan said that the radical fiction author Ayn Rand was the reason he entered politics and he requires all staff and interns to read her books. A recent analysis of Ryan's voting record by Nate Silver of the New York times indicates that he is roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann, the controversial congresswoman from Minnesota.

Ryan's radical background is certainly reflected by the extreme agenda that he supports and that has been adopted by the Republican Party. Ryan's "claim to fame" so to speak is his plan that would convert Medicare into a voucher program and would require senior citizens to purchase private health insurance. This plan would also bring back pre-existing conditions clauses.  The vouchers wouldn't keep up with medical costs and the average senior citizen would incur an additional $6,000 to $8,000 in annual out of pocket medical expenses. Thus far, none of the Ryan plan's supporters have explained how seniors will be able to buy affordable, comprehensive health insurance from the private insurance industry after pre-existing condition clauses are back.

This regressive plan would impose huge cuts in domestic spending. Approximately 62% of the spending cuts in the Ryan budget would come from government programs that help those with low incomes.  Moreover, the Ryan plan would repeal Obama Care and that would strip health insurance coverage from millions of Americans.  Passage of the Ryan plan would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times.

And it gets even worse. The Ryan plan would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans by $1 trillion by reducing the top marginal tax rate and top corporate rate from 35% to 25%.  This plan would also establish a territorial tax system that would allow corporations to shift their profits overseas and avoid U.S. taxes altogether.

The Republicans tout the Ryan plan as a deficit reduction and balance budget plan.  However, the Ryan plan wouldn't balance the budget until 2040.  Instead, the Ryan plan is more of a blueprint for the implementation of the Republican party's radical and regressive agenda of slashing the safety net and redistributing money upwards.

The Ryan plan is so extreme that when a Democratic Super PAC informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan - while also advocating tax  cuts for the wealthiest Americans - the respondentssimply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing. Moreover, the Ryan plan was described as "radical" by none other than Former House  Speaker Newt Gingrich. (Newt Gingrich calling the Ryan plan "radical"  is like Charlie Sheen saying, "That party is too wild for me.")

Ryan's plan to transform  Social Security is as extreme as his plan to privatize Medicare.  Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan support George W. Bush's ill fated scheme to partially privatize Social Security.  This plan would divert trillions of dollars in Social Security taxes that are financing benefits for senior citizens and give them to Wall Street to invest in the stock market.  As recently as 2011, Ryan described Social Security as a "Ponzi Scheme."

This debate over the future of our social safety net will play out here in Nebraska this fall.  Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith have all voted two times in favor of the Ryan plan in the House of Representatives.  (Mr. Terry also supports the Bush Social Security privatization scheme.) Thus far, State Senator Deb Fischer hasn't taken a position on the Ryan plan.  (No surprise there.) However, I fully expect Ms. Fischer to vote in favor of the Ryan plan if she is elected since she is running as a hard core GOP partisan.

Romney's selection of Ryan has raised the stakes in this fall's elections.  The very existence of the Progressive Reforms of the 20th century that saved the middle class are on the line this fall.  What  this means is that we Nebraska Democrats have to warn our moderate friends about the GOP's truly radical and frightening agenda.  It also  means that we have to work extra hard to elect our slate of Democratic candidates.  We can count on President Obama, Senator Kerrey, Korey Reiman, John Ewing and Mark Sullivan to protect our senior citizens and the middle class from the agenda of the radical right.

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INSPIRING WOMEN: A TRIBUTE TO MAYOR HELEN BOOSALIS

Don't miss this fantastic annual event!

INSPIRING WOMEN: A TRIBUTE TO MAYOR HELEN BOOSALIS

When: Friday, August 24, 2012,
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Where: The Country Club of Lincoln, 3200 S. 24th St, Lincoln

Please join the Nebraska Democratic Women's Caucus for the 4th Annual Inspiring Women Luncheon, a tribute to former Mayor Helen Boosalis and her legacy to women in Nebraska.

Speaking to us on the importance of community involvement and civic duty will be:

  • Julie Stauch, National Political Strategist and Activist
  • Paige Hutchison and Kate Fitzgerald, two previous Boosalis scholarship winners.

The program will conclude with the NDWC Inspiring Women Boosalis Scholarship Award being presented to our three 2012 scholarship winners .

Tickets:

  • $35 - Individual
  • $15 - Students


Please reserve by Monday, August 20, 2012
Register at: https://secure.actblue.com/page/ndwc

OR Mail reservations and payment to:

NDWC, c/o Mary Herres, NDWC Chair, 2840 S. 33rd, Lincoln, NE 68506, Email: maryherres@aol.com

 

http://www.nebraskademocrats.org/sites/default/files/Boosalis 2012 LuncheonInvite.pdf

 

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Keep the Country Safe - Vote Democratic

Looking for a proven track-record on National Security? You'll find that on the Democratic side of the ticket this year with Obama and Kerrey.

 

National security is an important issue even though most voters are (justifiably) largely focused on the economy.  We still live in a dangerous world and it just as important as ever to have experienced leaders in Washington who can keep the country safe. 

Recent history teaches us that the Democratic party is superior to the GOP when it comes to keeping country safe.  The difference between the Bush and Obama Administrations on handling  Osama Bin Laden provides an excellent example of the difference  between the two parties on national security.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Bush publicly boasted that he wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive."  Unfortunately, the next seven and half years demonstrated that there was a huge gap between Bush's cowboy like bluster and his Administration's actual performance.

The Bush Administration got off on the wrong foot when its incompetence allowed OBL to escape from Tora Bora in December 2001. After that blunder, Bush no longer made the killing or capture of OBL a high priority.  Instead, on March 13, 2002, George W. Bush said of bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him." Subsequently, in July 2006, the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden. In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes of Fox News that an "emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism."

In contrast, shortly after he took office in 2009, President Obama directed the CIA to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority.  It was, in other words, a major shift from the previous administration. Thanks to that change in priorities, Obama did in two and a half years what George W. Bush, despite all of his "dead or alive" big talk and swagger, couldn't do in over seven years.

This fall in the Presidential election, the voters face the choice between President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Unfortunately, Romney is the least experienced major party nominee since the GOP chose Wendell Wilkie in 1940.  Romney's only experience in government was his lone four year term as Governor of Massachusetts and Romney doesn't even like to talk about that term.  If you listen to Romney, one would think he was in a federal witness protection program between 2002 and 2006!

Here in Nebraska in the U.S. Senate race, we have a similar choice between an experienced and proven leader and somebody who completely lacks any national security experience whatsoever.  The voters shouldn't have any problem determining that there is a vast stature gap between former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey and State Senator Deb Fischer on the issue of keeping the country safe.

During Bob Kerrey's tenure in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2001, he served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  After that, he served as a member of the prestigious and bi-partisan 9/11 Commission. One of the many important findings by the 9/11 Commission was that on August 6, 2001, then National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice gave Bush a security briefing entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S."

In sharp contrast, Fischer as a State Senator has no national security experience at all.  As a matter of fact, her entire national security platform on her website contains around 160 words and entirely consists of the usual tired right wing talking points that typify her vacuous campaign.

What this all means is that the choice this fall for the voters on national security is very clear.  We can back  President Obama and Senator Kerrey - who both have extensive and successful records on national security.  Or the voters could select the two amateurs that the Republican Party has offered up.  I'm confident that the voters will recognize on Election Day that only our fine slate of Democratic candidates can be trusted to keep the U.S.A. safe.

 

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Medicaid Expansion Saves Both Lives And Money

One of the most important features of Health Care Reform is that it will expand States' Medicaid programs. Under the law, the U.S. government will cover 100% of the cost for states to expand their Medicaid programs, scaling that back to 90% by 2020. (Currently, the U.S. government pays an average of 57% of the cost of the Medicaid health program.) However, the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Health Care Reform case gives States the right to opt out of that law's Medicaid expansion.

Unfortunately, Governor Dave Heineman seems inclined to opt out of Health Care Reform's Medicaid expansion - even though he hasn't made a final decision on the issue. Heineman has contended that Nebraska "can't afford an unfunded Medicaid expansion" and he said the expansion would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Once again, Heineman pitted one group of Nebraskans against another by claiming that Medicaid expansion would cause cuts in education funding.

As usual, as on most issues, Heineman is wrong. A recent analysis from Arkansas indicates that Medicaid expansion would save that state $372 million in the first six years. The savings would come from additional federal money, more compensation to health care providers for indigent care, and potential new state revenues from the financial boost that hundreds of millions of dollars in federal fund would inject into Arkansas' economy. In my opinion, there is no reason not to expect a similar result here in Nebraska.

Medicaid expansion would not only save money - it would also save lives. According to a new study from the New England Journal of Medicine and Harvard University indicates that Medicaid expansion may end up saving thousands of lives. This study found a 6 percent drop in the adult death rate in Arizona, Maine and New York, three states that have recently expanded coverage for low-income residents along the general lines of the federal health care law. This study also found that for every 176 adults covered under expanded Medicaid, one death per year would be prevented. "Policymakers should be should be aware that major changes in Medicaid - either expansions or reductions in coverage - may have significant effects on the health of vulnerable populations," wrote the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

What this means then is that the Medicaid expansion in Health Care Reform is a win-win proposition for Nebraska. It is obvious that Heineman is ignorant of the policy ramification of Health Care Reform's Medicaid expansion and that he is playing politics - again. Heineman has a history of pandering to the worst instincts of the base of his party and seems to be uninterested in actual governing and policy making. The Governor is all about partisanship and rarely exercises any real leadership. He might as well be back in his old job of executive director of the Nebraska GOP.

What this means for us Democrats is that we need to elect more State Senators this fall who share our values - Nebraska values. There are a lot of open seat Legislative races in districts that have been held by the Republicans. If we elect more Democratic State Senators we can muster up the necessary 30 votes to override Heineman's inevitable veto of a Medicaid expansion bill. This is a very realistic goal since Heineman is now a lame duck and the Legislature voted to restore taxpayer funding for prenatal health-care benefits for undocumented immigrants over Heineman's veto earlier this year. Now let's get to work!

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

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Deb Fischer Is No Friend Of The Middle Class

In a recent interview on KFAB radio, State Senator Deb Fischer said that: "I don't believe we should be raising taxes at all. As you know, I've been against raising taxes." These remarks came up in the context of her criticism of Senator Bob Kerrey's Social Security rescue plan which includes some modest tax increases on people who earn six figure incomes. Just what is Fischer's record on taxes? Has she always been against raising taxes?

Fischer would only like you to know that she has signed off on corporate lobbyist Grover Norquist's no new taxes pledge. By signing this pledge, Fischer has taken the position that she will not vote for a tax increase (or otherwise compromise) in an effort to find a solution to our nation's deficit and spending problems. That is an irresponsible position to take in light of our country's serious financial problems. Is that no new taxes pledge the only thing we know about Fischer's attitude towards tax increases?

Many people would be surprised to find out that Fischer has supported numerous middle class tax increases during her eight years in the Nebraska Legislature and has even voted to give herself a big property tax cut. Fischer's tax record contains a record of supporting a long list of middle class tax increases:

  • In 2008, Fischer voted against a bill that would've exempted $325 million in sales taxes for Omaha area residents.
  • Fischer has voted to increase gas taxes 12 times.
  • Fischer produced a report which contained no fewer than 31 tax increases on the middle class, including tax increases on food and soda pop.

Fischer's record regarding property taxes is especially appalling. In 2007, Fischer voted for a bill that gave property tax credits to landowners as opposed to a credit that would benefit homeowners. The biggest beneficiary of this property tax plan was Ted Turner - the ex-husband of "Hanoi" Jane Fonda, a billionaire, and one of the state's largest landowners - who receives a yearly tax cut of nearly $100,000.

Fischer herself has made out very nicely thanks to this legislation.

Because she and her husband own over $3 million in property, they have saved $2,400.00 per year on their property taxes. In contrast, the average home owner in Fischer's home county receives a property tax credit of $70.26 per year.

If you were only to listen to Fischer and the Republicans you would think that Bob Kerrey's record on taxes is as bad as Fischer's. Once again, Fischer isn't telling you the entire story. It's true that Senator Kerrey voted for the 1993 budget which balanced the budget and created an economic boom. What they're not telling you is that Senator Kerrey voted for the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. This law enlarged the child tax credit, cut capital gains taxes, reduced taxes on the sale of one's personal residence and cut estate taxes. This tax cut contributed to the greatest peacetime boom in U.S. history.

The record is clear that Deb Fischer is no friend of the middle class tax payer. She has repeatedly voted for regressive taxes that burden the middle class. What she told KFAB radio earlier this week was simply false.

In contrast, Senator Kerrey has made the tough choices on the budget in the past and is telling us the truth about the tough choice ahead if we're to balance the budget and save Social Security. The choice for the voters this fall is clear. They can either vote for Bob Kerrey - who is part of the solution. Or Deb Fischer - who is part of the problem.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

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