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Bob Kerrey Shines In Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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