Sen. Bob Kerrey penned this letter to Deb Fischer benefactor and former Nebraskan Joe Ricketts regarding his contributions to Fischer's campaign. Your recent decision to spend another $400,000 or so to elect Senate Deb Fischer to the United States Senate brings your total spending towards achieving your goal to over $1 million. I am impressed by your commitment to the causes on which you choose to spend your money.
For the record I take Sen. Fischer at her word that you and she have never met. Nor do I suspect there is any quid pro quo for her vote to cut your business taxes.
My purpose in writing this letter has nothing to do with either of these.
My purpose in writing is an attempt to discover what it is you are trying to accomplish. Are you attempting to persuade Americans that we should amend our Constitution requiring a balanced budget? If so, have you examined the consequences on Nebraska and our Nation that this amendment would cause? Have you considered that there might be a better way of getting this done?
I do suspect that you may be motivated by a desire to keep your personal income taxes from rising. I suspect you were angry about my vote in 1990 to support President George H.W. Bush’s budget that contained an increase in the top rate and my vote in 1993 to do the same. I suspect you have not done the math to determine whether you benefitted from my vote to cut the capital gains rate in 1997 as well as the run up in the stock market that occurred in part because we also cut spending and were paying down our debt when I left the Senate in 2001.
And I suspect you do not support the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an effort led by the CEO’s of many major U.S. companies to urge Congress to agree to a budget deal that puts us on a sustainable path to balance. Even though this could give Congress the boost it needs to cut significant spending, my guess is that you do not share the willingness of these CEO’s to support an agreement that would include higher taxes on themselves.
That is most unfortunate. If you did agree with these CEOs and became a part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, your concern about our budget deficit and the accumulation of debt that began shortly after I left the Senate in 2001 just might be converted in something very constructive for our Nation. Otherwise all your $1 million might give you is the satisfaction of electing a Senator from your former State whose promises at best will not enable her to participate in actually solving the problem. At worst her proposal will do significant damage to the economy and lives of Nebraskans.
Mr. Ricketts, I do respect and admire your success a great deal. I also respect, admire and appreciate your personal generosity. Most of all I respect your right to make free decisions about your choice in any election. I do not write out of disrespect. I write out of a genuine desire to learn what it is you are attempting to accomplish and to suggest an alternative course of action for you to consider.
I wish you good health and continued prosperity.
Bob Kerrey is a former governor and U.S. Senator of Nebraska. After a decade as the president of the New School University in New York City, he is again running for a Nebraska seat in the U.S. Senate. Joe Ricketts grew up in Nebraska. He is the founder, former CEO and former chairman of TD Ameritrade, one of the largest online discount brokerages in the world, based in Omaha. He currently owns the Chicago Cubs. Joe Rickett's son Pete ran for the Senate in 2006. He was soundly defeated by Ben Nelson.