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Why The Gop Establishment Tolerates Trump's Racism

The political world has been rocked by Trump's racist comment that Judge Gonazlo Curiel's "Mexican heritage" constituted an "absolute conflict" for him to preside over the Trump University litigation.  The presumptive nominee doubled  down on those bigoted remarks when he expressed doubt that a Muslim judge could be neutral in a case involving him or one of his companies.  These remarks followed on the heels of several other racist remarks that the orange hued mogul had made earlier in the election cycle.  

Trump's remarks were followed by ritualistic condemnation from many prominent Republicans.  Ben Sasse tweeted that: “Public Service Announcement: Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of ‘racism.’ ”  House Speaker Paul Ryan - the highest elected Republican official - stated: “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”  Nevertheless, with certain rare exceptions (including Sasse), most elected Republicans said they would continue to support Trump's candidacy.  

Most elected Republicans have tolerated Trump's racism because the GOP has long stoked racial resentment and animus for political advantage.  This all began in the late 1960s with Richard Nixon's infamous "Southern Strategy."  Nixon made coded references to race with his calls for "law and order" during his 1968 Presidential campaign.  In 1980, Ronald Reagan called for "states' rights" in a speech in Tuscumbia, Alabama - which was located about seven miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi where civil rights workers were killed in 1964.

Other Republican nominees followed suit.  In 1988, George H.W. Bush was elected in part due to numerous references he and other Republicans made to the infamous Willie Horton case.  Moreover, references to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright by Sarah Palin in 2008 clearly played upon racial fears and resentment.  Subsequently, Donald Trump was one of the most prominent purveyors of the theory that President Obama was born in Kenya.  Moreover, in 2012, the Romney campaign falsely alleged that the Obama Administration had rescinded the work requirements in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. 

What makes Trump so outrageous and controversial is that he doesn't rely upon the usual code words and winks and nods.  He has taken off the mask and removed all of the usual artifice.  Trump's campaign is the most openly racist Presidential campaign since George Wallace's 1968 independent bid.  It is the openness of the bigotry that has so alarmed the GOP and outraged Trump's critics.  

The Republican establishment and donor class is also tolerating Trump's racism because he has sold out and adopted it's agenda.  As Paul Ryan said, he continues to support the presumptive nominee because he will enact the GOP's regressive and unpopular agenda.

It wasn't always this way.  Earlier in the election cycle, Trump posed as a different kind of candidate who rejected long time conservative orthodoxy on many key issues.  Trump said he wanted to increase taxes on the wealthy and even raise the minimum wage.  Moreover, Trump also came out in opposition to cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Recently, Trump has been singing a different tune on these issues.  He has moved to the right and morphed into your standard, garden variety right wing Republican.  This shift on the issues directly coincides with Trump breaking his pledge to self fund his campaign.  Now Trump needs to raise a lot of money very quickly from the GOP establishment and donor class.  That's why he put a long time Wall Street insider in charge of his fundraising operation.  

After posing as the scourge of the big banks, Trump is now making nice with Wall Street.  In a recent speech, Trump said he would gut nearly all of 2010 Dodd-Frank Act - which has successfully reined in Wall Street since the crash of 2008.  "I would say it'll be close to a dismantling of Dodd-Frank. Dodd-Frank is a very negative force, which has developed a very bad name," the former television reality show host said.  

The orange hued mogul has also changed his position on Social Security and Medicare  in an effort to please the GOP donor class.   Sam Clovis, one of Trump’s chief  policy aides, recently attended a meeting organized by the pro-austerity billionaire Pete Peterson.  Clovis told the assembled billionaires that a Trump Administration could support cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Trump has undergone a similar evolution on the tax issue. After flirting with the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy, a Trump spokesman confirmed that he won't be altering his tax plan.  According to two non-partisan think tanks, Trump's tax cut would add anywhere from $10 trillion to $12 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.  Moreover,  for the top 1 percent of earners, the average reduction in their tax load would be approximately $275,000, while the top 0.1 percent  would grab $1.3 million. 

Trump's recent shift to the right on the minimum wage would also be a windfall for the super wealthy and big business.  Earlier this year, Trump came out generally in favor of a higher minimum wage.  After blowback from the GOP donor class, Trump came out against the very concept of a federal minimum wage.  The orange hued mogul doesn't even want the federal government to set a floor for the minimum wage.  Instead, Trump would leave that up to the states.

Trump's new reactionary position on the minimum wage would hurt working families since many states still maintain the $7.25 per hour minimum wage that was enacted by the Congress in 2007.   Moreover, six red states have either no minimum wage at all or one as low as $5.15.  If there was no federal minimum wage guarantee, we would see a race to the bottom among many of the red states to either reduce or eliminate the minimum wage entirely.  

What we have here is a candidate who has evolved from being anti-GOP establishment to adopting their regressive economic agenda.  That's why the GOP donor class still supports Trump despite his open racism.  As GOP lobbyist Grover Norquist said in 2012: "We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States."

In the unlikely event Trump is elected President, the Republican members of Nebraska's Congressional delegation will vote for this regressive agenda.  As a matter of fact, Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry and Smith are already on record in support of the Ryan budget.  Ben Sasse may condemn Trump and not even vote for him this fall but if Trump wins the Presidency, Nebraska's junior Senator will loyally fall in line with the rest of his party and support Trump's legislative program.  

When I say that Trump is unlikely to win the election, I mean it.  Our nominee is well positioned to win this fall and our party should pick up seats in both Houses of Congress.  Nevertheless, we can take nothing for granted.  We must work  hard to insure a victory for Progressive ideals this fall.  We must also be united against the threat presented by Trump and his party.  United we are strong.  United we will win!

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Ricketts Wants To Bring Washington's Gridlock And Dysfunction to Nebraska

We here in Nebraska are lucky to have a non-partisan legislature. This unique system allows State Senators to work across party lines and ignore the parochial demands of partisan party bosses. Thanks to the vision and wisdom of George W. Norris, Nebraska enjoys a large budget surplus and a healthy economy. We have fared much better than many states that have become mired in partisan warfare.

Kansas is an object lesson in the dangers of a partisan legislature. During the 2012 election cycle, Sam Brownback and the Koch brothers campaigned to purge Democrats and moderate Republicans from the Kansas legislature. After the completion of this bitter purge, Brownback pushed through a series of large and irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy. As a result, the Sunflower State now suffers from a record budget deficit as well as subpar economic growth and job creation.

North Carolina is another state that has suffered from the evils of excessive partisanship. The Republican controlled legislature in the Tar Heel state recently passed a law that requires a transgender person to use a public bathroom that matches his or her gender at birth. Since the passage of that reactionary legislation, businesses have begun to boycott North Carolina and the NCAA passed a binding resolution that all sites that want to host a NCAA sporting event must "provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination."

Washington D.C. is also plagued by extreme Republican partisanship. Since President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, the Congressional Republicans have done everything they can to undermine his Presidency and make him fail. The GOP members of Congress have hurt the American people by blocking job creation legislation and even sabotaged the economy with a default threat in 2011 and a government shutdown in 2013. The biggest threat to the economy right now are the radical Republicans who control the Congress.

Governor Pete Ricketts would like to bring the kind of job killing partisanship and gridlock that currently plagues Washington, D.C., Kansas and North Carolina to Nebraska. In the recently completed primary cycle, Ricketts, the Nebraska Republican Party and dark money groups aligned with the Koch brothers spent large sums of money in an effort to oust five State Senators. Those five Senators apparently had the temerity to oppose the rookie governor on a gas tax increase, the death penalty and drivers licenses for young immigrants. Senators Sue Crawford and Rick Kolowski were targeted in addition to three moderate Republicans.

These five incumbent Senators were bombarded with negative and dishonest mailers, robo-calls and radio advertisements. In these targeted races, the secret spending by these groups pushing the Ricketts agenda were in the vicinity of $50,000.00 - which was estimated to be double or even triple the amount spent by the five incumbent State Senators. This secret money was in addition to the $50,000.00 donated to the Nebraska GOP by Ricketts himself. Moreover, a well informed source at the Unicameral told me on background that the Nebraska GOP invested another $300,000 into these races.

On the heels of this onslaught, Ricketts at the Nebraska Republican Convention called out by name several GOP State Senators who had voted their conscience by opposing Ricketts' radical and partisan agenda. In addition to the votes on the gas tax increase, driver’s licenses for the Dreamers, and death penalty, Ricketts cited votes on the Medicaid expansion and Nebraska's split electoral vote law. Ricketts demanded that Republican voters elect so-called “platform Republicans" - who would prioritize the interests of the GOP party bosses over their constituents.

The blow back to Ricketts' unprecedented and naked partisan appeal was significant. A bi-partisan group of thirteen State Senators (including one independent) signed a joint letter stating: "Governor Ricketts believes political party trumps principle...Our nonpartisan, unicameral legislature has lasted for 80 years, and, barring the will of the people for a new legislative experiment, we will not surrender our nonpartisan and constitutional duties... We support the Nebraska Constitution and not any particular political party.” Subsequent to signing this letter, Senator Laura Ebke quit the Republican Party and switched her registration to the Libertarian Party.

We Nebraska Democrats (and our fellow Nebraskans) face an unprecedented challenge from an immensely wealthy governor who has and will continue to spend huge sums of money to push his radical agenda. What we have here is one man (and one family) who are using their vast fortune to push the state in a direction that a majority of Nebraskans simply don't approve. If Ricketts and the Koch brothers get their way, Nebraska will go the way of Washington, D.C., Kansas and North Carolina. We will end up with a broken economy like Kansas and a poisonous political climate like the one in Washington.

More than any election cycle, this one calls for unity among our fellow Democrats. On the national level, the U.S. can't afford a President Trump. If Trump is elected, he will most likely have a Republican Congress. A President Trump and a GOP controlled Congress would destroy the economy and blow up the deficit with a $10 trillion tax cut for the wealthy. In addition, Trump has promised to send U.S. ground troops to both Iraq and Syria.

Closer to home, a Unicameral controlled by Ricketts and his supporters would squander Nebraska's rainy day fund on tax cuts for the wealthy. This would damage Nebraska's economy and cause large cuts in education, roads and health care. A legislature controlled by "Ricketts' crickets" would pass hateful and regressive social legislation that would cause Nebraska to lose NCAA sponsored events and Omaha to lose the College World Series.

We Nebraska Democrats must be unified and work hard this fall. We have the better agenda and message. Once Nebraska voters become better acquainted with our candidates and message, we will win big this fall. The stakes are high. We can't and won't fail. Now let's get to work!

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Ricketts' Extremism Threatens Nebraska's Economy

The right wing media routinely demonizes women, African-Americans, the LGBT community, Hispanics and anybody else who opposes the agenda of the radical right.  This kind of trash and nonsense is spewed out every day on a 24 hour basis.  That's why State Party chair Vince Powers calls AM radio: "Hate radio."  All of this daily paranoia, hate, misogyny and race baiting has had a profound impact on millions of Republican voters.

As I discussed here in a recent piece, the right wing media destroyed the Republican Party and created the Trump candidacy.  Like I said, Trump closely resembles the hosts that regularly appear on Fox News and AM radio.  Trump's campaign has been marked by all of the outrageous and simply awful things he has said about millions of American who happen to disagree with him. 

As part of the announcement of his candidacy, Trump falsely claimed that: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists."  The reality television show entertainer also called Mexicans "killers" and contended that Mexico was sending us their criminals.   

The presumptive GOP nominee's remarks about women have been equally offensive.  Trump has called women slobs, pigs and dogs.  Mr. Trump once told a female attorney who requested a recess from a deposition to pump breast milk: "You're disgusting."  After taking some tough questions from Fox News entertainer Megyn Kelly at a debate, Trump said: "You could see blood coming out of her wherever."  He even retweeted somebody who called Kelly a "bimbo."  

Some Republicans are sincerely repulsed by Trump's vulgar remarks and un-Presidential behavior.  That led some of the delegates at the recent Nebraska Republican Party convention to offer a resolution condemning "degrading remarks toward women, minorities and other people by Republican elected office holders or party officials, including candidates for president of the United States."  Amazingly enough, this resolution was defeated by a wide margin even though it didn't mention the orange hued mogul by name and merely stated that the Nebraska Republican Party opposed the remarks themselves. 

As State Party Chair Vince Powers said about the Nebraska GOP Convention: "It was the day that decency died in the Nebraska GOP - when they rejected a resolution that opposed degrading remarks towards women and minorities."  In contrast, the Lancaster County Democratic Convention passed a resolution (by acclamation): "strongly opposing all degrading remarks toward women, minorities and other individuals by Democrats elected to office or party officials, including candidates for president of the United States."

The intolerance and extremism of the party of Pete Ricketts hasn't only manifested itself by it's refusal to pass a common sense resolution, the Nebraska GOP also supports the kind of bathroom law that was recently passed in North Carolina. The legislature in the Tar Heel state recently passed a law that requires a transgender person to use a public bathroom that matches his or her gender at birth. 

Since the passage of that discriminatory law, the NCAA passed a binding resolution that all sites that want to host a NCAA sporting event must "provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination." Cities hosting NCAA events must prove they can guarantee the "dignity of everyone involved in the event."

This may become a big problem for Nebraska since Omaha has hosted the NCAA College World Series since 1950. In addition, both Omaha and Lincoln have hosted NCAA tournament basketball and volleyball games in the past and hope to do so in the future. All of that is now at risk due to the extremism and sheer ineptitude of Pete Ricketts and his GOP followers in the Unicameral. 

Leading GOP State Senator Bill Kintner thumbed his nose at the NCAA and said: "There is no reason for Nebraska to consider the NCAA policy or the possibility of losing out on hosting events when legislating." Kintner went so far as to say: "The NCAA is a bunch of left-wing loonies."

Governor Pete Ricketts echoed Kinter's remarks - albeit in a much more diplomatic fashion. The rookie Governor recommended that local school boards reject the Obama Admnistration's guidelines about transgender bathroom use that were issued in response to the North Carolina legislation on that subject. Ricketts told the Omaha World Herald that the NCAA policy or the potential loss of NCAA events would not affect the positions he takes: "They need to make rules as they see fit, but it doesn't impact my thought processes on what we need to do here in Nebraska." 

What this means is that Ricketts and Kintner's radical policies could cost Omaha the College World Series after it has based been based in that city for 66 years.   (Ricketts' and Stothert's incompetence has already chased Conagra out of Omaha.)  Moreover, the passage of a North Carolina style bathroom law could cause both Omaha and Lincoln to be passed over for other NCAA sporting events - even after the taxpayers of those cities have invested in the facilities and infrastructure necessary to host these coveted events.  How can Ricketts be considered pro-business in light of this potential harm he may cause to Nebraska?   

The radicalism and incompetence of Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska GOP could badly hurt the Nebraska economy if they get their way in the next legislative session.  What's more, this kind of intolerance from the party of Ricketts is simply wrong.  The Nebraska Republican Party is denying decent and humane treatment to many Nebraskans.  

We here at the Nebraska Democratic Party are the party of inclusion and tolerance.  We are accepting converts and the Nebraska GOP is purging heretics.  If you are being demonized by the GOP, please join us.  We could use your help in stopping Ricketts from using his vast personal wealth to take over the legislature and turn Nebraska into North Carolina or Kansas.  

 

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Dr. Dan Wik: A Fiscal Conservative Physician With A Solution

Dr. Dan Wik of Norfolk is our candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressional District 1 and is challenging longtime incumbent Jeff Fortenberry for the seat.  Wik 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.  

As Dan Wik told me: "Jeff Fortenberry is a rubberstamp Washington, D.C. insider.  Fortenberry is doing nothing.  Doctors must come up with solutions to be successful." I had the opportunity to inteview Dr. Wik.  I have found him to be a very intelligent, energetic and bright gentleman.  He will make an excellent nominee in the race against Fortenberry.  

DPC: Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.

DW: I am a physician with a practice that covers six counties in Northeast Nebraska.  I'm a pain management expert for my patients to better their lives.  My wife Katie is a former Marine who was with the first group of women who served on an aircraft carrier.  Katie is a small business owner who runs a Big Apple Bagel restaurant that employs eight people.  

 

DPC: Why did you decide to run for Congress in CD01 against Fortenberry?

DW: Doctors have been advocates for people for a long time.  For the last fifteen years, I have lobbied for the A.M.A. for patient rights.  I want patients to get good care and access to that care.  Mr. Fortenberry is a rubber stamp, Washington D.C. insider.  In this election cycle, the voters are frustrated with representatives like Fortenberry because he is doing nothing.  I will take action because physicians must come up with solutions to be successful.  This will translate into advocacy for all residents of CD01.  

 

DPC: The economy has shown significant progress and improvement since President Obama took office in 2009.  We've gone from losing 800,000 jobs per month to creating over 200,000 job per month.  It's the best economic performance since Bill Clinton's second term.  What would you do to build on that progress?

DW: We must create a more business friendly environment for American companies to thrive in the U.S.  We must simplify and reform the tax code.  We should substitute the current 35% top corporate rate with a single rate of 18%.  We should also eliminate all of the many loopholes in the corporate tax code.  We should revise the individual code to create two rates of 18% and 11%.  This will cause the economy to skyrocket and allow business to create more jobs.  

We need to re-negotiate NAFTA and TPP and stop U.S. companies from shipping jobs overseas.  I would support closing the loopholes in these treaties that destroy American jobs. 

 

DPC: Obama Care has improved several significant aspects of our health care system.  The uninsured rate has been reduced from 18% to an all time low of 9% and insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people who are sick or injured.  What would you do to improve health care delivery in America?

DW: The problem with the health care system is that companies are for profit first and patients second.  I support a universal Medicare system with defined benefits and defined costs.  Everybody would pay into universal Medicare - both employees and employers.  At the same time, everybody would have the option to buy a supplemental policy from a private health insurance company.  I envision a health care system with a combination of universal Medicare and private insurance.  

 

DPC:  What is your path to victory?

DW: This is a strange election year where just about anything can happen.  The voters are clearly frustrated.  I believe that Democratic voters will turnout in record numbers to oppose Donald Trump.  At the same time, many of those same Trump voters will vote against a rubber stamp, Washington insider like Fortenberry.  These Trump voters will be invited to vote for a fiscal conservative rural Nebraska physician.  They will vote for the man and not the brand.  We need to win rural votes as well as urban votes.  Rural voters will support a physician who is a fiscal conservative who advocates for people.  

 

I believe that in these unsettled times, the voters of Congressional District 1 will be receptive to Wik's message and realize that it is time to turn out Mr.  Fortenberry.  The GOP led Congress is one of the worst Congresses in U.S. history and has failed the American people.  Unfortunately, Fortenberry is part of the problem. 

 

The voters of Nebraska CD01 are ready for a fresh start in Washington.  It's time for the voters in CD01 to get behind Dan Wik in his effort to end the harmful gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C., which has been created by the radical Republicans like Fortenberry.  If you want different results out of Washington, you have to elect different people. Dan Wik can make Nebraska a better place.   

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The Empire Strikes Back - Primary Election Roundup

We have recounted Pete Ricketts' struggles with the legislature on this blog over the past seventeen months.  For the most part, Ricketts' agenda of large, budget busting tax cuts has been significantly pared down and the state has maintained a healthy rainy day fund.  At the same time, a coalition of Democratic and moderate Republican State Senators have overridden Ricketts' vetoes on a series of high profile bills including the repeal of the death penalty, a gas tax increase, as well as drivers and professional licenses for young immigrants.  

The Governor has responded to these embarrassing defeats by investing a significant sum of his own money into reversing the decisions of the legislature.  Ricketts and his billionaire father have spent $300,000 in an effort to restore the failed death penalty program.  Moreover, a well informed source at the Unicameral told me on background that Ricketts and the Nebraska GOP invested another $300,000 into five legislative primary races this spring in which they targeted two Democratic incumbents and three Republican incumbent Senators.  

What we have here is one very wealthy family trying to subvert the will of the duly elected Unicameral by attempting to replace it with a more pliable legislative branch.  This attempt by Ricketts and his wealthy family to buy a new set of Senators is disturbing on a number of levels.  No one person or family should have this kind of power in one state.  It is simply undemocratic and sets a disturbing precedent.  

In spite of Ricketts' attempt to influence the outcome of elections with lavish spending out of his own pocket,  Nebraska Democrats had a good showing on May 10.  For the first time since term limits were imposed - in each Legislative District in which a Democrat ran for the unicameral - a Democrat advanced to the general election on November 8.  Moreover, several Democrats had strong showings in districts in which Republicans have a significant edge in registered voters.  

In LD27, Anna Wishart finished first in a three way race with an impressive  62% of the vote.  Wishart's large margin of victory shows that hard work wins.  Moreover, Sara Howard, Mike McDonnell, and Kate Bolz dominated in their districts - as expected.  In Republican leaning Grand Island, Dan Quick finished first in a three man race. 

Sue Crawford, Ardel Bengston, Lynne Walz, Carol Blood, Jim Gordon, Larry Scherer and Bill Armbrust all had good showings in tough districts and are all within striking distance of winning the general election - especially with Trump on the top of the ticket. We can also expect a higher Democratic voter turnout in November.  

In two races, strong allies of Ricketts were eliminated or are on the brink of defeat.  Pat Borchers finished third in west Omaha's LD37.  In south Omaha's LD7, it appears as though Democrats Tony Vargas and John Synowiecki will advance to the general election.  Ricketts appointee Nicole Fox is most likely on the brink of elimination after finishing third by a mere fourteen votes.  The provisional ballots still have to be counted but those ballots should favor the Democratic candidates. 

Even though we made a good showing in the primary election cycle, we can take nothing for granted this fall.  I fully expect Ricketts and his billionaire allies to spend vast amounts of money in the general election to move the legislature to the right.  The Governor wants to break the Democratic-moderate Republican coalition that  has thwarted his ambitions.  

What Rickett is trying to do is reminiscent of Kansas Governor Brownback's intervention in the Kansas legislative elections in the 2012 election cycle.  Brownback and the Koch brothers poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into legislative races to replace Democrats and moderate Republicans with radical Tea Party Republicans who would enact his extreme agenda.

After Brownback's 2012 purge, the Kansas legislature enacted a series of huge tax cuts for the wealthy that blew up the Kansas budget and credit rating.  Earlier this month, Moody's downgraded Kansas' credit rating from "stable" to "negative."  Currently, the Sunflower State suffers from a $228 million budget deficit and the worst job growth in the region.

Ricketts wants to do to Nebraska what Brownback did to Kansas.  I have it on background from a prominent Republican that the Governor is a "true believer conservative."  What that means is that Ricketts actually believes in the long discredited notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves and create jobs.

Nebraska still has a positive economic outlook and $687 million in our rainy day fund.  However, there are some possible storm clouds on the horizon.  The agricultural economy is slowing and the Department of Revenue released a report that indicates that the state is $71 million behind what was projected for the current fiscal year.  Renee Fry of the OpenSky Policy Institute says that Nebraska's projected $234 million shortfall is likely to increase if tax receipts remain below what was expected.  

This would be the worst possible time to embark upon some radical and risky tax scheme like the one that ruined Kansas.  As Nebraska Democrats, we must have a successful election cycle.  We need to preserve the good life in our great state.  I'm confident that we will have a strong showing in November but we can't take anything for granted.  Now let's get it done! 

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How The Right Wing Media Destroyed The GOP And Created Donald Trump

When the GOP primary cycle began in 2015, the pundits told us that the Republican Party had a "deep bench" of contenders and it's strongest field of Presidential candidates since 1980.  What ensued was the most bizarre primary fight in the history of the U.S.  We witnessed leading GOP Presidential candidates talking about the size of their "hands" and calling each other names on a regular basis.  The GOP Presidential debates descended into screaming matches with almost no real discussion of the issues.  At the end of the process, billionaire entertainer Donald Trump emerged as the nominee of a fractured Republican Party.

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about what made Trump's nomination possible.  His rise was attributed to the difficult economic circumstances of many blue collar Americans, racial resentment and the gross ineptitude of his opponents and the GOP establishment.  What was seldom discussed was the role of the right wing media in Trump's march to the nomination.  

What was over looked by many in the media is that Trump's appeal to Republican voters is based upon the fact that he closely resembles the hosts that regularly appear on Fox News and AM radio.  These hosts - like Trump - are obnoxious, mean spirited, opinionated and constantly call names.  The mainstream media failed to recognize the source of Trump's appeal with GOP base voters because they simply don't pay much attention to the right wing media.  The Republican voters who support Trump have marinated in the paranoia, hate, misogyny and race baiting that has been a daily staple of the right wing media for over twenty years.  That's what created Trump.

The right wing media has had a profound and negative effect upon many Republican voters.  Millions of Americans have been radicalized by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other right wing talk show hosts. Many conservatives have been convinced by the right wing media to believe that scapegoats like President Obama, Hispanics, labor unions and minorities have ruined the U.S.  Moreover, many Republicans are convinced that the Democratic Party is deliberately destroying the U.S. and that some kind of "Armageddon" is inevitable.    

This extreme paranoia on the right has caused many Republican voters to demand that their elected officials in Washington refuse to compromise with President Obama and the Democrats.  Republican members of Congress have absorbed that message and as a result, they have shutdown the government and threatened a default on the national debt.  Even now, the GOP led Congress is tied in knots by radical Republican members who absolutely refuse to compromise.  This is the source of the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington.  

The right wing media has also had a negative impact upon the last two GOP Presidential nominees.  In 2008, it was Rush Limbaugh and the right wing media who influenced John McCain to pick the singularly unqualfied Sarah Palin as his running mate.  Moreover, after the economy collapsed in September 2008, McCain and Palin wasted a lot of time talking about William Ayres.  Because Fox and AM radio thought Ayres was an important issue, that caused the 2008 GOP ticket to make a big issue out of Ayres even though most voters were focused on the deepest recession since the 1930s.  

The Romney campaign was similarly fooled by the right wing media into badly misjudging the electorate.  In the fall of 2012, polls from Fox and Rasmussen assumed that the Democratic base wouldn't turn out and boldly predicted a GOP victory.  The propaganda from the right wing media was so powerful that the Romney campaign's high priced pollsters and consultants made a similar assumption.  As a result, Romney and Ryan were visibly shocked when they lost to President Obama.  They even had to cancel an expensive fireworks display they had planned to celebrate their assumed victory!  

The right wing media has already had a huge impact on the GOP in the 2016 cycle.  Due to it's influence, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were the two finalists in the GOP primary process.  Cruz was the architect of the disastrous 2013 government shutdown and has said that: "I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise."  If Cruz was as obnoxious as Trump, he would've been an unstoppable candidate in the GOP nominating process.  

As it turned out, Trump's personality and demeanor was the perfect fit for today's radicalized GOP electorate.  Despite Trump's occasional deviations from conservative orthodoxy, many GOP voters simply preferred the billionaire entertainer because they liked his nasty attitude and outrageous behavior.  In addition to that, as Nate Silver said: "Trump’s main differentiator was to double-down on cultural grievance: grievances against immigrants, against Muslims, against political correctness, against the media, and sometimes against blacks and women. And the strategy worked."

The right wing media's motivation to stir up cultural grievances, outrage and paranoia on a daily basis is largely profit driven. A 2015 study from  Jackie Calmes, a correspondent for the New York Times, explored the rising influence of the right wing media on the agenda of the GOP.  Her study concluded that the conservative media doesn't "give a damn about governing."  

As it turns out, the business model for the right wing media is extremely lucrative.  According to a recent report on Salon.com: "Fox reportedly earns over $1 billion in profits annually, making it a golden goose in the overall Fox corporate empire.  Fox itself is one of the most valuable brands in the world with sales of over $13 billion. "

The leading personalities in the right wing media earn fantastic amounts of money. Salon.com reported that: "Rush Limbaugh raked in $80 million for himself in 2015 alone. Sean Hannity was paid $30 million. Glenn Beck is personally worth over $100 million. Bill O’Reilly’s television show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” generates over $100 million per year in advertising revenue." And the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, is worth $12 billion!

The reality is that the conservative media dominates the Republican Party and sets it's agenda.  As former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum said: "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering that we work for Fox."  As a result of this domination, the GOP is simply incapable of governing and has great difficulty winning Presidential elections.  Since the rise of the right wing media in the mid-1990s, the GOP has lost the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 Presidential elections.  

Having a major party in the U.S. dominated by right wing entertainers isn't good for the country.  The U.S. is the only nation among the first world industrialized world that has a radical party that among other things, believes in supply side economics and rejects the settled science on climate change.  Due to our unique system of checks and balances, the radicalized GOP has veto power over the decisions of the federal government.  Since 2011, that has made our country all but ungovernable.  

What needs to happen this year is for Donald Trump and the entire GOP ticket to be defeated - and be defeated badly. Perhaps only a huge loss will convince GOP voters to moderate and demand a more responsible party.  After big losses by extreme GOP Presidential candidates in 1936 and 1964, the GOP moved to the center and became more reasonable.

As Democrats we must unite behind our Presidential nominee and entire ticket this fall.  We are presented with a unique opportunity to punish an extreme opposition party and elect a Progressive majority in Washington.  I'm confident that we will have a good election cycle but we must take nothing for granted.  Let's leave it all on the field in 2016!

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Fortenberry and Smith's House of Horrors

During the 2014 election cycle, the GOP told the voters that if they were given control of both Houses of Congress, they would get things done for the American people.  For example, Deb Fischer told voters to vote Republican to "end the gridlock."  Shortly after the Republicans won the 2014 elections, Mitch McConnell said: "I don't want the American people to think that if they add a Republican president to a Republican Congress, that's going to be a scary outcome. I want the American people to be comfortable with the fact that the Republican House and Senate is a responsible, right-of-center, governing majority."

Anybody who was paying careful attention to the long time GOP dysfunction in the Congress would have found Fischer and McConnell's promises to be laughable.  As things have turned out, the dysfunction in the GOP led Congress - and especially in the House - has been worse than ever since the GOP gained control of the Senate in 2014.

The GOP led Congress got off to a very bad start in early 2015, when they nearly shutdown the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over a dispute regarding an unrelated immigration issue.  At the time, the GOP made this threat to hurt U.S. national security, terrorists were threatening to attack the Mall of America in Minneapolis.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and a shutdown was averted.  Unfortunately, all of the Republicans in the Nebraska delegation joined in this reckless shutdown threat.  

The only real "success" the GOP led Congress had in 2015 was passing a budget and raising the debt ceiling until after the 2016 elections.  In order to get this done,  John Boehner had to resign as House Speaker and get the support of Congressional Democrats to pass the budget.  If Boehner had tried to maintain his post as Speaker after passing the budget, he would have been ousted as Speaker by the so-called radical House "Freedom Caucus."

An interesting aspect of this 2015 budget was that it slightly raised the deficit after several years of declining budget deficits.  What that means then is that the only real "accomplishment" of this new GOP Congress increased the deficit.  It wasn't too long ago where every Republicans' hair was on fire over the deficit and spending.  Once again, this proves that the Republicans are deficit frauds. 

Things in the Congress haven't improved in 2016 - in fact they have gotten worse.  Thus far, the GOP has blown it's April 15 statutory deadline to pass another budget.  It wasn't all that long ago when the right used to berate the then Democratic led Senate for not passing a budget.  This talking point was repeated ad nauseam by GOP elected officials and the right wing media. It's been crickets from the GOP over Paul Ryan's failure to pass a budget.  

The House Republicans haven't only failed to pass a budget, they have also neglected to act on a series of emergencies that are pending.  Ryan and his fellow Republicans have failed to deal with the Zika virus, the impending default of Puerto Rico, the Flint water crisis, and the heroin and opioid painkiller problem.  

Several prominent House Republicans have all but admitted that they are a failure.  As the Huffington Post recently reported: "If you ask Republicans what's the most significant piece of legislation they've passed this year, you're unlikely to get a quick, definitive response. "I'd have to give it some thought," Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said Friday. "I'd have to go back and look," Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said earlier this week. "We're changing America," Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said with a laugh, in response to a question about Congress filling its days by renaming post offices and designating the bison as the national mammal."

The source of the failure and dysfunction in the House are the 40 members of the so-called "Freedom Caucus."  Nothing is good enough for these radicals - they steadfastly refuse to compromise on any legislation.  Ryan has empowered these extremists because - unlike Boehner - he refuses to reach across the aisle to Democrats to pass necessary legislation to even keep the lights on.  Apparently, Ryan prioritizes keeping his job as Speaker over the good of the country.  

It isn't only Paul Ryan who tacitly supports these nihilistic radicals, they are also empowered by Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith.  These two Nebraska House Republicans supported Paul Ryan's election to the Speakership and are his steadfast allies.  Moreover, Fortenberry and Smith have never spoken out against the "Freedom Caucus" and the gridlock their extremism has caused.  

The only member of the Nebraska Congressional delegation who has worked to end the gridlock is Representative Brad Ashford.  The Second District Congressman has worked on a bi-partisan basis to try to change Washington.  Approximately 89% of Ashford's bills have bi-partisan support - including his legislation to build a new Omaha V.A. Center.  Congressional Quarterly has named Ashford the sixth most bi-partisan member of the House.  

The only solution to the failure of the GOP House majority is to re-elect Congressman Ashford and to support Dr. Dan Wik in his challenge to Jeff Fortenberry in CD01.  Like Ashford, Wik has promised to work on a bi-partisan basis to end the gridlock in Washington and get things done.  If you want different results out of Washington, you have to vote for different people.

We Democrats have the rare opportunity to elect a Democratic President and Congress this fall.  Both of our Presidential candidates hold a wide lead over Donald Trump.  Moreover, the Democrats are heavily favored to take back the Senate. Twenty four of the thirty four Senate seats up this fall are held by Republicans.  In addition, many of those Republicans are running for re-election in blue or purple states.

The Democrats may even have an outside change of regaining control of the House this year due to the damage inflicted on it's ticket by Trump.  Some of the leading political experts have said the House is in play this year.  In addition, a well connected insider told me that national polling indicates that if the election were today, the Democrats would pick up twenty seats.  

Progressive majorities in D.C. are rare in American history.  The last Progressive majority was during the first two years of President Obama's first term.  In 2009-10, Democratic majorities passed the Recovery Act, the Ledbetter bill, the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank.  We may have an opportunity for similar achievements in 2017-18.  Now let's get to work and make it happen!  I know we can do it! 

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Rookie Governor Ricketts Repeatedly Rolled By Legislature

When Ricketts was elected Governor in 2014, many Nebraskans were concerned that he would be able to ram a radical agenda through the legislature that would squander Nebraska's hard earned rainy day fund and turn our state into a Kansas type budget dystopia. Moreover, there were legitimate fears that Ricketts would destroy the unions like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin.  However, as early as January 2015, a prominent Democratic State Senator told me that many of the newly elected Republican Senators were more moderate than expected and that Ricketts' agenda might very well be thwarted.  

That prediction turned out to be correct in the 2015 session. A plucky band of Democratic State Senators and some moderate Republicans stood up to the rookie Governor and stopped his extreme agenda in it's tracks.  Ricketts' fiscally irresponsible property tax cut scheme didn't even make it out of committee.  Moreover, the Unicameral passed over Ricketts' veto a bill allowing the Dreamers to obtain drivers licenses and the repeal of the death penalty.  

Prominent Republican insiders speaking on background (justifiably) termed Ricketts' first legislative session an "embarrassing start."  Two long time Republican lobbyists who spoke to me on background were both highly critical of Ricketts' handling of his first legislative session.  One lobbyist said the Senators perceived Ricketts' approach as "heavy handed" and another told me that the Ricketts Administration only got engaged with the Unicameral very late in the session. 

The Governor's second legislative session - which has just been completed -  turned out to be another embarrassment for him.  Once again, Ricketts' scheme to cut taxes and reduce school funding met determined opposition and largely went nowhere.  Thanks to this opposition from fiscal conservatives in the Unicameral, a $124 million revenue shortfall was plugged and the State still has a $643 million rainy day fund.  It would have been foolish to blow the rainy day fund now since commodity prices are on the decline and the agricultural economy is slowing down.  

Ricketts' most stinging defeat this year was the passage of the professional licenses bill for young immigrants over his veto (LB947).  Before the passage of this vital legislation, the DACA children or Dreamers weren't allowed to obtain professional licenses.  Over one hundred professions as diverse as hair dressing, plumbing, law, medicine and nursing require a license from the state.  So what we had was a situation where a Dreamer could finish vocational or professional school in Nebraska but couldn't work in their home state in their chosen profession. 

Many of the Dreamers were brought to Nebraska by their parents when they were young children.  It wasn't their decision to come to Nebraska.  In addition, many of these young people have lived in Nebraska most of their lives, have gone to school here and would like to stay in Nebraska once they complete their studies.  It would be ridiculous to force the Dreamers to leave the state once they complete their education. 

The licenses for Dreamers bill enjoyed broad bi-partisan support.  It was backed by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Cattlemen's Association and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.  Only Ricketts and his extreme right wing allies in the Unicameral opposed this common sense bill.

Both the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World supported LB947.  The Lincoln Journal Star termed Ricketts' opposition to the bill as "mean spirited" and "anti-business."  The World Herald editorial asked the obvious question: "(W)hy educate these ambitious young people only to send them out of Nebraska. 

The Governors' irrational opposition to this bill only makes sense if you understand the bizarre world of right wing politics.  A prominent lobbyist told me on background that Ricketts was very impressed by Heineman's upset victory over Tom Osborne in the 2006 Nebraska gubernatorial primary.  In that campaign, Heineman attacked Coach Osborne for supporting in-state college tuition rates for the Dreamers.  The so-called "lesson" that Ricketts learned from his immediate predecessor is that it pays politically to be "tough" on the poor and immigrants. 

During the debate regarding the override of the young immigrants license bill, Senator Heath Mello - who sponsored LB 947 - blasted Ricketts. Mello stated that he was: "utterly disappointed with the governor" for his use of "misinformation, demagoguery and political rhetoric" to attack the bill, including a suggestion that granting work licenses to lawful residents somehow represented "amnesty." "It's sad to see what he has chosen to do," Mello said. "We're talking about people who are part of the future of our state."

Fortunately at the end of the day, reason and justice prevailed.  Rickett's veto of LB947 was overridden by an overwhelming bi-partisan 31-13 margin.  After the vote, NDP Chair Vince Powers released the following statement: “Pete Ricketts remains out of touch with Nebraskans and out of touch with the Nebraska Legislature. All fair-minded Nebraskans thank the Legislature for overriding the Governor’s petty, mean-spirited veto intended to crush the dreams of aspiring citizens to live and work in our great state."

Even though the 2015-2016 legislative sessions turned out to be better than expected, our work isn't done.  We have a very important election cycle in 2016 since eleven State Senators - including some real Democratic stalwarts such as Heath Mello and Ken Haar - are termed out.  We must do everything we can to elect more Democrats to the Unicameral. 

In an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, Ricketts said he would continue to pursue his right wing agenda and would seek re-election in 2018.  What that means is that is extremely important that we have a good cycle this year.  We must continue to keep Ricketts in check and prevent him from hurting working families.   

I believe that we are facing a historic opportunity this year.  The Republican Party has become very extreme and is in disarray.  Donald Trump will most likely be the GOP Presidential nominee.  The New York billionaire and entertainer will be the most unpopular major party nominee in history.  Many Republicans are fearing a rout up and down their ticket this fall.  We Democrats must take advantage of this rare opportunity and elect as many Democrats as possible to the Unicameral this year.  Let's get to work! 

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The Nebraska GOP's Effort To Make Nebraska Irrelevant Was Thwarted

One of the more interesting and significant developments in this year's legislative session was the failure of the Nebraska GOP to ram through a bill returning Nebraska's electoral vote law to the previous winner take all system.  That previous law made Nebraska completely irrelevant in the Presidential general election.  A Democratic led filibuster stopped the party bosses of the Nebraska GOP and preserved Nebraska CD02 as a battleground in this year's general election.

Nebraska's nearly unique electoral vote law originated in 1991.  The law change that allowed Nebraska to split it's electoral vote was passed in 1991 and signed into law by then Governor Ben Nelson.  It passed the Unicameral by a narrow 25-23 vote margin.  At that time there were twenty one Democratic Senators and thus the bill had the support of three Republicans and one independent.  (One of the Republicans who voted for the split electoral vote law was current Democratic U.S. House Representative Brad Ashford.)

The Nebraska GOP was so infuriated by this change that one of their Senators would introduce a bill every session to restore the winner take all system and return Nebraska to the status of fly over country.  At the present time, the GOP has tried (and failed) 15 times to change the 1991 law.  The GOP continued to persist in these partisan efforts despite the fact the GOP nominee swept all of five of Nebraska's electoral votes in four consecutive cycles between 1992 and 2004.  

In 2008, after building a successful organization in Nebraska for the caucuses, the Obama campaign targeted the electoral vote in Nebraska CD02 during the general election.  David Plouffe - Obama's 2008 campaign manager - said that the Omaha centric district was “my personal favorite target.” In Plouffe's excellent book, "The Audacity To Win," he mentioned that one "national scenario envisioned an electoral-college tie, and the single vote from Nebraska could have made a difference. Plouffe wrote that he had “mused to Obama” about the possibility. “Plouffe, that’s interesting daydreaming,” Obama said with a laugh. “Let’s try not to have it all come down to Nebraska 2.”

The Obama campaign's decision to compete in Nebraska CD02 made our state relevant in the general election for the first time since 1964.  Hillary Clinton came to Omaha to campaign for then Senator Obama.  The GOP followed up Clinton's visit with a campaign stop by Sarah Palin.  As it turned out, Obama  carried CD02 by the narrow margin of 3,325 votes.  It was the first time a Democratic nominee had picked up an electoral vote in Nebraska since LBJ carried Nebraska in his 1964 landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.  

President Obama's re-election campaign didn't compete in Nebraska CD02 in 2012 because it was a tougher cycle than 2008.  Due to the five GOP appointees' decision in Citizens United, the GOP had much more money to spend during the 2012 cycle than it did in 2008.  This forced the Obama campaign to focus on traditional battle ground states like Ohio, Virginia and Colorado.

Because the GOP will put up a crippled and deeply unpopular nominee this fall, it is expected that the eventual Democratic nominee will compete in Nebraska CD02 this year.  This will also have the impact of helping Democrats like Brad Ashford in down ballot races.  That is one the reasons why the Nebraska GOP was so insistent upon returning to the winner take all system.  

The Nebraska GOP has correctly perceived that Trump or Cruz probably can't carry CD02  Moreover, the Nebraska GOP has also figured out that Brad Ashford is most likely to be re-elected this fall.  It was that lack of confidence in their candidates that led them to make this 15th attempt to change our electoral vote law.  

The Nebraska GOP party bosses don't only lack confidence in their candidates, they are also embarrassed by Trump and Cruz - and don't want them in Nebraska.  As Nebraska Democratic Party chair Vince Powers said: “Nebraska Republicans  recognized that they do not have a qualified Presidential candidate who could win the 2d CD this November so they tried once again to change the rules.  True Nebraskans love our unique state with its  Unicameral and the electoral college split. The Nebraska GOP party bosses are desperate to keep Trump or Cruz from campaigning in Nebraska this fall.  These are sad days for a once-proud political party as it descends into the chaos created by FOX News and hate radio’s constant angry badmouthing of America.  This fall a Democrat will win the 2d CD as a result of a positive, enthusiastic campaign which will champion  the greatness of America. "

This lack of confidence and sheer embarrassment weren't the only reasons for the Nebraska GOP's attempt to change the rules in the middle of the game.  The Nebraska GOP is also motivated by arrogance and the raw partisanship that generates.   The Nebraska GOP is still mad that President Obama carried CD02's electoral vote in 2008.  This deep seated hatred of the President of the United States motivated 32 GOP Nebraska State Senators to attempt to give Nebraskans no say in the 2016 general election.  

We Nebraska Democrats need to thank the Democratic State Senators who stood up to the Nebraska GOP's party bosses and allowed the actual voters to decide the outcome of the Presidential election in Nebraska CD02.  I'm very confident that our nominee will carry CD02 this November and pull many of our Democratic candidates across the finish line.  We are positioned to have an excellent cycle this year.  Let's get it done!  I know we can do it! 

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The Search For The Moderate Republican

The press - both national and local - is forever in search of the ever elusive moderate Republican.  Many reporters are baby boomers (or older) and have fond memories of the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.  Many in the press are still hopeful that a new version of one of these moderate heroes can emerge from today's dysfunctional and radicalized Republican Party.  

The great hope for the national press in the comical GOP Presidential cycle is Ohio Governor John Kasich.  Unlike Pete Ricketts, Kasich actually relied upon empirical evidence - rather than blind ideology - and signed into law the Obama Care Medicaid expansion.  

Not only did Kasich approve expanded health care for the poor, he is the only Republican who has taken responsibility for the disastrous Bush Presidency.  As the Ohio Governor once said: "A Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president blew" in 2001 what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office at the time had projected as a $5.6 trillion surplus between 2002 and 2011. "Look, I've been saying for a long time - and not just here - when I saw $5 trillion being blown, I never thought it was possible."

Alas, notwithstanding his isolated acts of heresy discussed here, Kasich is no moderate.  As Governor of Ohio, he signed into law a tax cut for the rich that was financed by a regressive sales tax increase and big cuts in school funding.  As a Presidential candidate, Kasich - like all Republican Presidential hopefuls - supports a large, deficit financed tax cut that largely favors the wealthy.  

Kasich is a standard, party line right wing Republican on issues in addition to taxes.  During his tenure as Ohio Governor, Kasich signed into law a bill that took away the rights of many working people to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.  (This anti-middle class law was subsequently repealed in a voter referendum.)  

The alleged moderate Governor of Ohio took another shot at working families when he signed a bill that radically reduced early voting, decreased the availability of absentee ballots, and cut back on the minimum number of voting machines counties must have available - potentially causing the longer lines we saw at polling places that we saw in Arizona earlier this year.  This voter suppression law is very similar to the one in Wisconsin that a former GOP staffer in the Badger State said was going to help Republicans win elections.

One of the reasons why the press has termed Kasich a "moderate" is because he simply much better behaved than Trump and Cruz.  Unlike his rivals, Kasich isn't angry and he campaigns with a sunny disposition.  That is unusual in Republican circles these days since many of them are - like Ben Sasse - expecting America to "cease to exist."  However, one must judge Kasich by his actual policies rather than his personality.  

Another Republican who has at times successfully passed himself as moderate due to a normal personality is current House Speaker Paul Ryan.  Like Kasich, Ryan is well behaved and doesn't scream into microphones or hurl deeply personal insults at President Obama, other prominent Democrats,  Hispanics and women.  This calm and reassuring demeanor has fooled many in the national press to believe that Ryan is some kind of responsible leader who is serious about the governance of the U.S.  

Like Kasich, Ryan must be judged by the content of the policies he has pursued as House Budget Committee Chairman and Speaker.  Ryan's signature policy since 2011 has been his extreme and regressive budget proposal that has become the centerpiece of GOP economic policies.  

The Ryan budget would end the Medicare guarantee to senior citizens and convert it into a voucher program. It would bring back pre-existing condition clauses and require senior citizens to purchase private health insurance policies. Needless to say, this would significantly increase the amount of out of pocket medical expenses paid by senior citizens. The Republicans in Congress have  yet to explain to senior citizens how they could afford comprehensive health insurance with the return of pre-existing condition clauses.

This regressive budget plan would completely repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it. Total repeal of the ACA would cancel approximately 20 million insurance policies and double the uninsured rate in America.  

Approximately 69% of the budget cuts in the Ryan budget come from programs for the poor. These cuts come in the following categories: Medicaid; health care; food assistance; college grants; school lunches, and the EITC;. At the same time this budget reduces the top income tax rate for individuals from 39.6% to 25% and also reduces the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.

One of Paul Ryan's most loyal supporters is Representative Jeff Fortenberry - who is widely (and falsely) considered to be a moderate Republican.  Mr. Fortenberry has voted for the Ryan budget approximately five times, supported the 2013 government shutdown and voted to shutdown the Department of Homeland Security last year when terrorists were threatening to attack the Mall of America in Minneapolis.  

Despite this extreme voting record, Fortenberry is considered by some to be a moderate because he is a nice guy and on rare occasions does buck the GOP Party line. (Fortenberry still votes with the GOP 90% of the time.)  Shortly before the 2013 government shutdown that cost the economy $24 billion and 100,000 jobs, the Lincoln Journal Star editorial page made the mistake of terming Fortenberry  a "compassionate conservative" and found his alleged independence from the more extreme elements of the GOP to be "inspiring."  

Republicans like Kasich, Ryan and Fortenberry must be judged by their actual policy proposals - not their personalities.  The press must cease to act as theater critics and actually dig deep into their plans.  I realize this is hard work but the American people deserve the truth.  As prominent political scientist Norm Ornstein wrote: "The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

As Democrats we must get the message out that we are the moderate and responsible party that can be trusted to responsibly govern the country.  This is because the stakes in 2016 couldn't be much higher.  If we can elect a Democratic President, the country will continue to prosper and have a responsible national security policy.  On the other hand, if the GOP were to win the election, the deficits would explode, the economy would crash and we would back to war in the Middle East. Failure is not an option.  We must win and we will win!  

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