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More Evidence Our Candidates Have The Wind At Their Backs

Today the Nebraska political world is buzzing with a brand new poll showing that Bob Kerrey reduced Deb Fischer's lead to a mere three points. The Omaha World Herald poll for October 28 provides strong verification the race has significantly tightened with Kerrey diminishing Fischer's lead down to 49% to 46%.

Ever since Kerrey's campaign has raised the matter of Fischer's junk lawsuit and abuse of power as State Senator, the Nebraska Republicans have been complaining about his aggressive tactics that have exposed the truth about Deb Fischer. These Republican complaints tell us a lot about the state of the race and led me to believe that the Senate race will come down to the wire. The GOP wouldn't be complaining if Kerrey's strategy wasn't working. It's obvious that the Nebraska GOP is concerned that Fischer could blow what they once thought was a sure thing.

What this all means is that we have a great opportunity to win some very important races next month.

Nebraskans can elect Bob Kerrey and John Ewing as well as carry CD-02 for President Obama. I would urge all of my Democratic friends to redouble our efforts. Man some phone banks, walk some precincts and make a contribution to the candidate of your choice if you can afford it. Our message is resonating with the voters and now we need to close the deal!

Read the full article about the poll at: World-Herald Poll: Bob Kerrey, Deb Fischer Senate race tightens


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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We Have The Momentum!

It's been a great week to be a Nebraska Democrat. Key developments in the U.S. Senate race and the U.S. House race in C.D. 2 prove that our message is catching on with the voters and that our candidates have the wind at their backs.

A brand new poll out on the House race in the Omaha dominated CD 2 indicates that this is a real horse race. This new poll released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee indicates that longtime incumbent Congressman Lee Terry only has a 48% to 44% lead over John Ewing - a result within the margin of error. In what is a good sign for Ewing, the voters polled who know both candidates favored Ewing by a 50% to 47% margin. This means that Ewing's message of standing up for senior citizens and the middle class is breaking through.

In another boost for the Ewing campaign, the Omaha World Herald endorsed him saying that after fourteen years: "it's time for a change." This is a remarkable development for the World Herald since it has endorsed Terry in all of his previous races and has a long time history of largely endorsing Republican candidates. The World Herald blasted Terry for two false and negative ads he had to pull and labeled it: "unseemly behavior for a veteran congressman."

The World Herald endorsement correctly pointed out Ewing's exemplary service as Douglas County Treasurer and lauded him for stepping forward and chairing the United Way of the Midlands committee that handled funds donated for victims and families after the 2007 Von Maur shootings. The World Herald stated that: "Ewing has a proven record of leadership and accomplishment in public service. He has stepped beyond political clichés, demonstrating thoughtful analysis and a depth of knowledge in discussing the many difficult issues facing the next Congress."

The news has been equally good for the Bob Kerrey campaign for U.S. Senate. An internal poll released by the Kerrey campaign indicated that he has whittled away at Fischer's former commanding lead and now Fischer only leads Kerrey by a 50% to 45% margin. This is a remarkable accomplishment because earlier polls showed Fischer leading by double digits; including polls Fischer herself touted showing her ahead by 25 points.

Interestingly enough, the poll was taken from October 13 through October 16. What that means is that this poll does not fully encompass the time period after an ad was launched by the Kerrey campaign showing how Deb Fischer filed a frivolous lawsuit in a failed attempt to seize land from her elderly neighbors. (Highly placed sources with close ties to the Kerrey campaign have told me that the new ad has made a powerful impression on the focus groups that have watched it.)

The Republicans were quick to challenge the poll and questioned the credibility of Kerrey's pollster. However, those charges ring hollow because out of state billionaire Joe Ricketts has purchased $220,000.00 in TV ads bashing Senator Kerrey. If this race was a blowout and a foregone conclusion, it is doubtful that Ricketts would be spending this kind of money. Obviously, Ricketts knows that the race has tightened.

What this all means is that we Nebraska Democrats have an incredible opportunity this fall. We're in a position to win races for the U.S. Senate and House next month. Those who know me understand that I'm a huge Husker football fan. In my opinion, Tom Osborne's speech at halftime of the 1995 Orange Bowl against Miami is appropriate: "The fourth quarter is ours, they won't be able to stay with us. We are in way better condition than them, we outworked them, you saw them breathing hard toward the end of the half. We are going to be able to move the ball in the fourth quarter. Let's get it done this time, no excuses, let's get it done!"

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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Does Nebraska Want A Bully To Be It's Next U.S. Senator?

The junk lawsuit that Deb Fischer filed against her neighbor has been getting a lot of new attention lately. The Kerrey campaign has launched an offensive to inform Nebraska voters about this sordid chapter in Fischer's life by unveiling a new TV advertisement and putting up www. fischerlandgrab.com.

The new ad and website repeat the already well known facts about how Fischer sued her neighbors in an attempt to steal their land.  The new facts that came out about the Fischer's junk lawsuit lawsuit paint an even darker picture about what happened in this fight that Fischer picked with her neighbors. As it turned out, Fischer's frivolous lawsuit cost Les and Betty Kime $40,000.00 in attorneys fees.  As we all know, after two years of protracted litigation, the judge ruled in favor of the Kimes.

What we also learned is that the dismissal of Fischer's lawsuit didn't end the dispute.  Fischer subsequently took her land grab attempt to a local fencing commission which once again ruled in favor of the Kimes. After this defeat, Fischer refused to pay the fees owed to the fencing commission until a lien was filed against her land and she decided to run for the Legislature.

Unfortunately, the decision of the fencing commission didn't mark the end of the dispute.  After Fischer was elected to the Unicameral, the Kimes attempted to sell the disputed (and beautiful property) to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission so that this special place could be enjoyed by all Nebraskans.  However, Fischer used her position as a State Senator to block the sale and deprive Nebraskans of the opportunity to enjoy this exceptional piece of land.

Fischer's response to these new revelations are almost as disturbing as her previous actions.  She tried to spin it by claiming this was a "routine" boundary dispute and claimed that she these kinds of lawsuits occur "everyday" in Nebraska.  There is nothing "routine" about a two year lawsuit that takes two years and costs the winning party $40,000.00.  Moreover,  this was not a typical boundary dispute. Instead, this was an was adverse possession action and only a handful are ever filed in Nebraska. If you consult any experienced attorney, they will tell you these suits are rare. Fischer attempted to seize the land in it's entirety and  just a handful of adverse possession suits have been filed in 21st century.

What all of this tells us is that Fischer is a bully. She is one of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens in Cherry County.  As a private citizen, she tried to exploit her wealth to seize some valuable land from a long time, good neighbor.  What is even more disturbing is that as a State Senator, she abused her power to settle an old grudge and deprived Nebraskans of the opportunity to visit this special property.

I can safely say that Nebraskans don't want a bully as their U.S. Senator.  As the GOP used to tell us during the 1990s, character counts.  Bob Kerrey is the candidate in this race who has the necessary character to represent us in the U.S. Senator.  He is a war hero, successful business owner, former Governor, former U.S. Senator and a member of the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission.  It is pretty obvious now who is most qualified to serve Nebraska in the U.S. Senate.

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America Needs A President Who Is Smart And Experienced Enough To Turn This Economy Around

The Omaha World Herald recently endorsed Mitt Romney for President contending that Romney could break the partisan gridlock, reduce the deficit, and improve the economy. The World Herald's endorsement shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody since that newspaper has always endorsed the GOP Presidential nominee - including George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Are the World Herald's claims about a potential Romney Presidency credible? Do they stand up to any scrutiny?

The World Herald began the editorial by cherry picking economic statistics in a deceptive way that leaves out the historical context.

Contrary to the World Herald's piece, history didn't start this month.

When President Obama took office, the economy was losing 700,000 jobs per month. Over the last 2.5 years, the economy has created 5.2 million new private sectors jobs. Since October 2011, the economy has created 150,000 new jobs per month.

Other economic measures have turned around. GDP shrank 8.9% in the last quarter of 2008. Over the last 2.5 years, GDP has grown around 1.5% to 2% per quarter. The World Herald also failed to mention the stock market. When President Obama took office, the Dow Jones was around 8,000. At the present time, the Dow is around 13,000 and nearing a five year high.

Yes, there is still more work to do and things need to get better.

However, it is beyond dispute that we're all better off now than we were four years ago. But can Romney improve on this performance? Is there anything in his proposals and background that would give us any confidence he could break the gridlock and improve the economy?

Sadly, the answers to these questions are no. It is seldom mentioned that Romney is the least experienced major party nominee since Wendell Wilkie in 1940. Romney's only experience in government was his four years as Governor of Massachusetts. The New York Times recently reported that Romney neither mastered the art of reaching across the aisle nor achieved success as governor. Apparently, Romney's relations with Democrats in the Massachusetts Legislature were acrimonious at times. By the time Romney left office in Massachusetts that state ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation. Moreover, Romney's approval rating had sunk as low as 35%.

Romney's current economic proposals would be as ineffectual as his economic plans were in Massachusetts. The GOP nominee's economic plan largely consists of a 20% across the board tax cut that favors the wealthy and the deregulation of big business - including Wall Street. Romney has yet to tell us how he would pay for his tax cuts and projected defense spending increases. Independent economic analysts have indicated that Romney's plans would add an additional $500 billion to the deficit on an annual basis.

The former Massachusetts Governor's economic plans would also fail to reduce unemployment. According to Mark Hopkins, a senior adviser at Moody's Analytics, Romney's policies would "do more harm in the short term. If we implemented all of his policies, it would push us deeper into recession and make the recovery slower." Hopkins also said that "lowering corporate tax rates and the marginal tax rate on high income earners would have little impact on short term job growth. Cutting these taxes won't solve the problem of weak demand."

The World Herald editorial called for a President who is smart and experienced enough to turn this economy around. What they didn't mention is that President Barack Obama is that "smart and experienced President." As we've discussed here, President Obama has already turned around the economy and has plans to make it even better.

President Obama's American Jobs Act would create 2 million new jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to 7%. Unfortunately, the Republican controlled House won't allow an up or down vote on this promising plan. We Democrats need to end the job killing gridlock in Washington, D.C. by re-electing President Obama and sending our excellent slate of Congressional candidates to Washington, D.C.

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 - Lawsuit "Reform" For Thee But Not For Me

It has recently come to light in an article in the Omaha World Herald that Deb Fischer filed a lawsuit in 1995 against some elderly neighbors in an attempt to grab a piece of land from them. The background to this lawsuit was that Les Kime and Bill Fischer - Bruce Fischer's father - had a longstanding gentlemen's agreement that allowed the Fischers to run their cattle through the Kimes' large ranch and into the McKelvie National Forest, where the Fischers have permits to graze their cattle on the federal land. Apparently, that wasn't good enough for Fischer and she (and her husband) slapped Les and Betty Kime with a lawsuit that ultimately dragged on for two years.

In their lawsuit, Bruce and Deb Fischer argued they now owned the land because of adverse possession, a part of property law that allows someone to claim land they have cared for and maintained for a long period of time. Eventually, the judge assigned to the case ruled in favor of the Kimes and dismissed Fischer's lawsuit. After Fischer lost the lawsuit, she had the nerve to ask the Kimes if they could continue to drive their cattle over the Kimes' ground. Of course, the Kimes said no after being dragged through two years of expensive litigation.

What this lawsuit tells us is that Deb Fischer is a lawsuit "reform" hypocrite. In her campaign, Fischer has come out in favor of so-called tort "reform." Tort "reform" would limit the rights of injured persons to file medical malpractice lawsuits in the hopes those limits would reduce medical costs. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has told us that all costs associated with medical malpractice total around 1% to 2% of all medical costs. One could completely gut the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial and it would just be a rounding error when it comes to the costs of our health care system.

The frivolous lawsuit that Fischer filed against her elderly neighbors also tells us a lot about her character. (Remember back in the 1990s when the Republicans told us that character mattered?) Fischer's lawsuit is very telling because it reflects an attitude of greedy entitlement and a willingness to knowingly attempt to steal property from a friend and neighbor. The Kimes were very well respected old line Sand Hills ranchers. They didn't deserve to get hit with this lawsuit.

She has also taken a similar attitude when it comes to government spending. As we know, Fischer is the beneficiary of a taxpayer financed grazing subsidy worth around $125,000.00 per year. Fischer wants to keep her lucrative grazing subsidy but she believes that other people should have their own programs cut. For example, Fischer's budget plan would cause significant spending cuts in farm programs, Social Security and Medicare.

Senator Fischer's blatant double standard on lawsuits and federal spending is deeply disturbing and should raise a red flag for voters. Apparently, Fischer has an entitlement mentality that is present in all too many politicians that leads her to believe that she can play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Do we really want to send yet another politician to Washington with this sense of entitlement?

I believe that character counts and that we should send Bob Kerrey back to the U.S. Senate. Kerrey is a proven leader who has already sacrificed for his country and is willing to do it again. Senator Kerrey will put the country - not himself - first if he is elected 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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Mark Sullivan: Adrian Smith Should Be Fired For Representing The Washington Bosses And Not The Nebraska People

Earlier this year, Mark Sullivan filed for the 3rd Congressional District seat and began his challenge to Representative Adrian Smith. Sullivan is from rural Hamilton County and is a fourth generation Nebraska farmer. Sullivan's grandfather and father farmed near Doniphan, where Sullivan now runs a 950 head feedlot and farms about 500 acres. He and his wife of 41 years, Karen, have four adult sons with their own families who also live and work in central Nebraska.

Sullivan says he felt compelled to run for Congress because of the gridlock in Washington. Sullivan says he and the voters share a frustration over partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill that he says has stymied the political process and contributed to the downgrading of the country's credit rating last year. Sullivan has correctly pointed out that Smith has only contributed to the problem. "When did compromise become a dirty word?" Sullivan asked. "Adrian Smith ought to be fired for representing the Washington bosses and not the Nebraska people."

Adrian Smith is certainly part of the problem in D.C. and his background certainly forecast that. In 2006, Smith was elected with the help of then President George W. Bush and the Wall Street-based Club For Growth. Back in October 2006, Smith was locked in a tight race with Scott Kleeb and only a last minute campaign visit from Bush saved the 3rd C.D. seat for the Republicans. Smith's 2006 campaign was also assisted by hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising from the Club For Growth, which supports the end of all farm subsidies.

Smith's performance in the House of Representatives this year has been especially harmful to the 3rd C.D. The Senate recently passed the farm bill with a large bi-partisan majority. Over in the House, the farm bill was reported out by the Agriculture Committee and enjoys bi-partisan support. However, House Speaker John Boehner refuses to allow an up or down vote on the farm bill because it is opposed by the radical Tea Party faction. Adrian Smith has supported Boehner's efforts to bottle up the farm bill.

The radical House Republicans' failure to pass a farm bill will kill jobs in the 3rd C.D. (and the rest of the country). During one of the worst drought in modern history, it is time for Adrian Smith to stop appeasing the Tea Party faction and help pass the farm bill. Even Jeff Fortenberry and Deb Fischer have called for swift passage of the farm bill. This demonstrates just how extreme and out of touch Smith is with his constituents.

The voters in the 3rd C.D. now face an important choice. They can either support Adrian Smith and perpetuate the job killing gridlock in Washington, D.C., or the voters can elect Mark Sullivan who has promised to compromise and work across party lines to get things accomplished for the 3rd C.D. and the country. I predict that the voters of the 3rd C.D. will tire of Smith's hyper-partisanship and send Mark Sullivan - a true man of the people - 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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Korey Reiman Would Be A Fighter For Senior Citizens, Veterans And Women

Lincoln Attorney Korey Reiman is our candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressional District 1 and is challenging longtime incumbent Jeff Fortenberry for the seat. Unlike Fortenberry (who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Reiman is a lifelong Nebraskan who grew up on a farm in Pawnee County. Reiman earned his undergraduate degree at Peru State College and graduated from the Nebraska College of Law in 1999. Since Reiman graduated from law school, his law practice has focused on veterans' benefits and criminal defense.

Reiman entered the race because Fortenberry isn't the moderate he pretends to be and has cast many votes that are harmful to senior citizens, veterans and women. Even though Fortenberry tries to lead people to believe he is a mainstream conservative who reflects Nebraska values, his record shows that he frequently votes with the most extreme members of his party.

While he has been a member of the House of Representatives, Fortenberry has voted twice in favor of the Paul Ryan Medicare privatization plan. The Ryan/Fortenberry plan would convert the Medicare guarantee into a voucher, bring back pre-existing condition clauses, and cost the average senior $60,000.00 in additional out of pocket medical expenses over the course of their retirement.

Last year, Fortenberry continued to posture as a moderate when he claimed he was no longer beholden to corporate lobbyist Grover Norquist's no new taxes pledge. It's true that Fortenberry has (partially) bucked the Norquist line on the tax issue but Fortenberry's votes on taxes indicate that he doesn't share Nebraska's values. Fortenberry voted for taxes cuts for the wealthy when he supported the Ryan plan since this regressive budget plan reduces taxes for the wealthy and corporations. On the other hand, though, Fortenberry voted against the payroll tax cut aimed at the middle class that has put an additional $1,000.00 in the average workers' pocket this year.

Fortenberry has also demonstrated his extremism by his vote in favor of the Blunt Amendment. The Fortenberry/Blunt amendment would allow institutions, small businesses and others to refuse to provide medical services that violate their beliefs. What this means is that Fortenberry's legislation would make it so that employers would be free to decide whether to cover contraception for their employees.

Apparently, Fortenberry's idea of freedom of choice doesn't extend to all Americans, just to those who do the hiring. Reiman believes that women's (and others) health care coverage is their business and not that of their employers. In other words, Reiman believes that employees should have the freedom to seek whatever health care services they deem necessary and that the boss doesn't have the power to make those choices for them.

The Democratic challenger (correctly) believes that Fortenberry has become overly influenced by the well-heeled special interests that finance his campaigns and has lost touch with the concerns of the citizens of his district. It's evident that Fortenberry talks the talk about being a moderate but he doesn't walk the walk. Fortenberry consistently votes with the radical elements of the GOP.

Korey Reiman has pledged to maintain and improve Obama Care. He also has come out in opposition to the Ryan/Fortenberry Medicare plan. The repeal of Obama Care and the enactment of the Ryan plan would badly harm the interests of senior citizens. This is because the enactment of Fortenberry's extreme agenda would bring back pre-existing condition clauses and cost senior citizens an additional $6,000.00 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The return of pre-existing condition clauses would simply make health insurance unaffordable - if not unavailable - to veterans because many of them have come back from combat zones with medical conditions they contracted while defending our country. Reiman strongly rejects Fortenberry's belief that our veterans should finance the enactment of yet more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations by paying more for their own necessary health care.

The voters of Congressional District 1 appear to be catching on to Fortenberry's extremism and have become receptive to Reiman's message.

It's time for Nebraskans to get behind Korey Reiman in his effort to end the job killing gridlock in Washington, D.C., which has been created by the radical Republicans like Fortenberry. Korey Reiman can restore Nebraska

 

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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Support State Senator Ken Haar - He's One Of Us

 

The election in Legislative District 21 pitting State Senator Ken Haar against Republican challenger Mike Hilgers is probably the marquee legislative race in this election cycle.  Since the race began last year, both candidates have raised lots of money and have knocked on a lot of doors.  What are Senator Haar's accomplishments?  Just who is Mike Hilgers?  Why is this race so important?

Senator Haar has been a resident of the Lincoln, Lancaster County area for over forty years.  During this period of time, Ken has been very active in the community having served eight years on the Lincoln City Council and on numerous boards including the Lancaster County Board of Health, the  Lincoln Mediation Center, and the Nebraska Sierra Club. During the last four years, Senator Haar has served Legislative District 21 with distinction.

Senator Haar's greatest accomplishment is the pipeline special session of the Legislature last year.  Haar was the first public official who called for a special session regarding Trans Canada's plan to build an oil pipeline across the environmentally fragile Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer.  While Deb Fischer steadfastly represented the interests of a foreign oil company and Dave Heineman held his finger up to the wind, Senator Haar showed real leadership in convincing his fellow State Senators to respond to the groundswell of opposition to Trans Canada's plans to build the pipeline.

Thanks to the hard work of Senator Haar (and other Senators), the results of the special session in November 2011 were a  success. Trans Canada agreed to route the pipeline around the  Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, and the Legislature gave the state  authority to regulate future pipelines that may be built in Nebraska.   Due to the leadership of Senator Haar, what started out as a long shot became a historic victory that rerouted the pipeline away from our groundwater.

Senator Haar's successes in the Legislature have been noticed by out of state, corporate special interests who resent the re-routing of the pipeline. Haar's opponent - Mike Hilgers - is a peripatetic and ambitious young man who would very much like to use a seat in the Legislature as a stepping stone to higher office.  Mr. Hilgers only moved to Legislative District 21 in 2010 after spending all of his previous years in Omaha, Chicago and Texas.  Apparently, Hilgers has ties in Texas to forces aligned with Karl Rove and Rick Perry.  My educated guess is that Hilgers would like to parlay a term in the Legislature into yet another new address - this time in Washington, D.C.

The election in Legislative District 21 is important because it represents a battle between a native Nebraskan with grass roots support and a callow candidate with extensive ties to out of state, special interest money.  I'm confident in the end the voters in Legislative District 21 will recognize that Haar is one of us and turn back the challenge from a carpet bagger who is heavily financed by money from outside of Nebraska.

This showdown between Senator Haar and Hilgers is just part of a larger battle for control of the Legislature.  The Republicans recently held a high dollar fundraiser aimed at electing more Senators to the Unicameral who will be beholden to Heineman.  The Republican Governor would like to reverse his setbacks in the most recent session of the Legislature and advance a regressive agenda which consists of the rejection of Obama Care's Medicaid expansion, and shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to everybody else by abolishing the state income tax and replacing the lost revenue by repealing sales tax exemptions.

The Nebraska Democratic Party has risen to Heineman's challenge by launching a fundraising appeal aimed at raising $7,500.00 for Democratic legislative candidates. "Governor Heineman's goal is to have a legislature that he can command, a legislature in which there is no compromise," Democratic finance chairman Andy Holland wrote, "We must protect the independence of the Legislature We must stop him."

I would urge my fellow Democrats to consider contributing to this fund and/or doing volunteer work for your local Democratic legislative candidate. Due to term limits, there are an unusually large number of open seats that are being vacated by Republican State Senators.  We must take advantage of this rare opportunity and elect more Democrats to the Legislature to do the people's work.  We have enough Senators in the Unicameral who are largely devoted to advancing the agenda of the well heeled special interests.  Let's chase the money changers out of the State Capitol Building and take back our great State for the people!

 

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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End The Job Killing Gridlock - Vote Democratic

It appears increasingly likely that President Obama will be re-elected. However, the composition of the next Congress is equally important. As we all know, the Republicans in the Congress over the last four years have resorted to unprecedented levels of obstruction to block President Obama's agenda and deny him legislative victories - even if those victories would help the country. Just what has been the Republican Congressional record over the last four years? And what have been the consequences of that record?

What we have seen over the last four years is an unprecedented level of obstruction from the Congressional Republicans and an abuse of the filibuster rules. The use of the filibuster in the Senate has increased since the 1970s. Both parties have been guilty. However, the number of filibusters by Republicans has escalated, and they have been far more willing to use the tactic than their opponents. Since 2007, the Senate Historical Office has shown, Democrats have had to end Republican filibusters more than 360 times, a historic record.

The origins of the Republican efforts to obstruct President Obama's agenda - even at the expense of the American people - began very early in his Presidency. Back in early 2009, Republican leader Rush Limbaugh said that he hoped that President Obama would "fail" and that the 2009 stimulus bill would "prolong the recession."

The Republicans followed Limbaugh's instructions and hatched their scheme to destroy President Obama's Presidency in the Senate even before the President was inaugurated. Vice President Joe Biden has said that during the transition, a number of Republican Senators privately confided to him that Mitch McConnell had given them the directive that there was to be no cooperation with the new administration because he had decided that "we can't let you succeed." Several Republican Senators told Biden that, "For the next two years, we can't let you succeed in anything. That's our ticket to coming back."

Over on the House side, the Republicans began to plot to destroy President Obama's Presidency on the day the President was sworn into office. On January 20, 2009, the House Republican leadership held a private meeting in which they plotted to bring Congress to a standstill regardless how much it would hurt the American economy by pledging to obstruct and block President Obama on all legislation.

The consequences of the Republicans blocking of President Obama's legislative program has had disastrous effects for the country.

As I've discussed here before, the Republicans in the Congress won't allow an up or down vote on President Obama's jobs bill that would create 2 million new jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to 7%. Just yesterday, the Senate Republicans blocked a veterans jobs training bill that would facilitate job training and job opportunities for veterans and has broad bipartisan support.

Senator Bob Kerrey blasted the Senate Republicans saying that: "The blocking of this bill is an outrage. This is a bipartisan bill and the truth is that certain Senators sabotaged it because they do not want to give the President a victory leading into an election. Several Republicans did support this bill but there weren't enough who were willing to prioritize employment programs for our nation's veterans over blatant partisanship. In the U.S. Senate I will put my country ahead of my party every time, on every vote. And I will work with Republicans and Democrats to get the job done."

Senator Johanns was one of the Senators who voted to block the veterans' jobs bill. As a matter of fact, Johanns has been part of the implacable wall of Senate obstruction that has slowed down our economic recovery since it began in early 2010. It's obvious that Senator Johanns would prefer to see people suffer so that his party can regain power.

Over the House side, Fortenberry, Terry and Smith have all been participants in their party's scheme to deny President Obama political victories and slow down our nation's economic recovery. Not once have these Nebraska House Republicans spoken out against these efforts to hurt our economy. It has been party over country for Nebraska's House Republicans over the last four years.

What this all means is that we Democrats need to continue to work hard for President Obama, Senator Kerrey, Korey Reiman, John Ewing and Mark Sullivan. Electing Deb Fischer and the Nebraska House Republicans would simply perpetuate the job killing gridlock in Washington, D.C.

Nate Silver of the New York Times recently wrote that the Democrats are likely to retain control of the Senate and that control of the House may be up for grabs this fall. This is not a time for complacency - the Republicans know they are wounded but they will continue to fight hard. We now need to redouble our efforts to send Democrats to Washington so we can make the greatest country in the history of the world even better.

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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Freedom isn't Free

Yesterday, Mike Johanns killed a bill that would have helped Veterans across the U.S.

What would this legislation have done? The United States has one million unemployed Veterans. Women and men who our nation asked to go to war. Soldiers who served our country. And Veterans who returned to find that jobs do not await them. Congress stepped up to solve a problem and help Americans. According to the Washington Post, the Bipartisan Veterans Jobs Corp Bill would have put "veterans back to work tending to the country's federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments."

This bill was paid for and was bipartisan. Yet through the work of Mike Johanns, Senate Republicans ended legislation that would have put our Veterans back to work.

Why did Mike Johanns collaborate with a handful of his Republican Senators to filibuster the Bipartisan Veterans Jobs Corp Bill and kill it?

2012 is an election year and the election is less than 50 days away so the Senate Republicans were anxious to decimate President Obama's legislative agenda. Senate Republicans like Mike Johanns took a swift kick at President Obama with a procedural tactic to stop the bill. Unfortunately, they were willing to hit anyone who got in their way - like unemployed Veterans. There is no take-back to this maneuver. Congress cannot try again to pass a similar bill until next year.

The lingering question is - what happens in the future?

In July 2012, Deb Fischer told the Fremont Tribune that, "Sen. Johanns and I will work together," Fischer said. "I would hope we would have a seat on Armed Services. I understand how important Offutt (Air Force Base) and StratCom are to the metro area and to the state."

Yes, Johanns understands how important the military is in Nebraska - so important that he willingly hurt Nebraska's Veterans by killing the Bipartisan Veterans Jobs Corp Bill. The election on November 6 presents a critical moment for Veterans with the possible election of Deb Fischer to the U.S. Senate.

Does Nebraska truly need more Republicans like Deb Fischer in the Senate?

Nebraska's Veterans will only lose by electing someone like Deb Fischer who will work together with Mike Johanns to keep them unemployed and set the nation back.

Think Deb Fischer is on Nebraska's side? Think again. Deb Fischer will work with Mike Johanns to further the agenda of the Republican Party. Too bad if that agenda hurts Veterans.

Washington Post: Republican objections to spending in veterans jobs bill blocks election-year legislation

Fremont Tribune: Fischer says voters see huge differences with Kerrey

 

 

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