Photo by George Lauby
Photo by Don Kurre
Photo by George Lauby
Critical of divisions in Washington, D. C., Bob Kerrey suggested Thursday that Congress should be nonpartisan, like the Nebraska Legislature.
Kerrey stopped in North Platte to have breakfast with supporters as he travels the state on his first campaign swing after the primary.
At the North Platte Regional Airport, he told some 50 people that party politics runs so deep that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to restructure Congress.
He pointed to debate Wednesday in the Senate on the federal budget as an example of party theatrics.
CNN said the Senate debate was “an effort by both parties to score political points and embarrass the other side -- another display of partisan maneuvering that polls show frustrates voters.”
Congress’s approval rating is about 15-percent, according to a compilation of recent surveys.
“Both sides are sitting inside their (party) caucuses,” Kerrey said. “They don’t have the motivation they need to do the right things.”
Kerrey hopes his opponent, State Sen. Deb Fischer, will also speak for the change, since she is familiar with the Legislature, where senators pass a balanced state budget every year, despite their disagreements.
“As Governor, we simply did it,” he said. “It’s never easy to say ‘no,' especially to friends, but it has to be done.”
Kerrey recalled George H.W. Bush (Bush I), who agreed to raise taxes even though he promised he wouldn’t in his campaign, but only after the Democrats agreed to reduce spending.
Kerrey is behind, according to a poll conducted one day after the primary election that shows him trailing Republican Deb Fischer by nearly 18 points, Fischer announced Thursday.
Kerrey said criticism that he is not a true Nebraskan anymore is over the top.
"Is she saying that she's more of a Nebraskan than I am?" he said. "It's offensive to Nebraskans. I've paid more taxes in Nebraska than she has, I'm sure of that."
Kerrey also called for reversal of the “Citizens United” decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that corporations have freedom of speech, paving the way for super-size political action committees to buy advertisements for candidates and bash opponents.
Kerrey said overturning Citizens United could also require a constitutional amendment.
He said the use of the Internet makes those kinds of political actions easier to accomplish.
When someone is in bad health, their world shuts down, Kerrey said as he continued to call for health care reform.
The government has had to step in, because insurance companies won't cover pre-existing medical conditions. And insurance puts lifetime caps on coverage and they won’t extend family policies to cover children in college, he said.
“If you think the free market is going to solve the health care problems – it’s not,” he said.
Kerrey said state insurance exchanges that are being established under “Obamacare” will help. On the exchanges, people can join other groups of individuals to buy the insurance they choose at group rates.
But, health care “costs still haven’t come down and we have to change that,” he said.
Kerrey spoke, answered questions and stayed until nearly 10 a.m., talking to individuals.
He told the Bulletin that the EPA “might be” overreaching in emission requirements at coal plants such as Gerald Gentleman near Sutherland.
Coal traffic on the UP rails is about 20 percent less than a year ago, due in part to EPA regulations, warm winter weather and cheaper natural gas.
Jobs are in jeapordy at Bailey Yard in North Platte.
“Those are really good jobs,” Kerrey said, calling for federal policies to strengthen the middle class.
(For more about the coal situation, see this week’s print edition of the North Platte Bulletin, on sale now through Lincoln County. –Editor.)