Nebraskans are lucky to have two extremely qualified candidates running for the open U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the retiring Ben Nelson. Until now State Senator Deb Fischer and former Senator Bob Kerrey have been campaigning solo across our state. That ended when the two faced off in a debate staged at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island.
If you took the time to go to, listen to, or watch this first debate, it wouldn’t take long to see these two candidates are focused squarely on the issues, and for a political junkie, it was a refreshing to finally see two candidates discuss America instead of each other.
They openly spoke with passion about Nebraska and their love of this great country. The issues of experience, public service, rural versus urban, or Kerry’s stint away from Nebraska, are no longer in question. They agree on little politically, but there is no question they are on the same page when it comes to their desires to help our nation through difficult times and to lay down a path for a prosperous future. Their paths though, travel very different routes.
Fischer is a self-admitted smaller government candidate, focusing on the core fundamentals of government. Kerry, on the other hand is one quick to turn to federal programs on a wide range of issues. Fischer wants lower taxes, while Kerry wants higher taxes. Both want to reform entitlements albeit it in different ways. Both say they will work across party lines, but then all candidates say that… few actually do it.
Kerry is smart. Fischer is tough. Kerry seems stuck in the nineties, referencing the past many times during the debate, while Fischer seems firmly positioned in the present. Neither gave a clear vision of the future during the debate.
I listened to every word. They seemed to disagree about TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, but when pressured a bit, both are in favor. Kerry is more of a wind energy guy, Fischer a drill baby drill position, although both believe in alternate forms of energy production, especially ethanol.
They have major differences on immigration. Kerrey more along the traditional liberal lines of pathways to citizenship and Fischer stressing border security and employment enforcement.
But as I listened to everything from their opening to their closing remarks I couldn’t help but focus on a statement Bob Kerrey made in both his opening and closing. He said he promised to “narrow the gap between rich and poor”. What exactly does he propose? It is eerily similar to the “redistribute the wealth” talk we hear about President Obama. But it was important enough to Kerrey to mention it in his first and his last comments.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it claim government’s responsibility is to “narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.” It is not a fundamental role of government to control the amount of wealth one may or may not accumulate in their lifetime. Although there are many things one can find to agree with regarding Kerrey’s positions on issues, this reoccurring comment about narrowing the gap is very revealing. He must expand on this promise.
We know he favors Obamacare. We know he favors the federal department of education. We know he favors more government than we can afford. We know he wants to raise taxes. And now we know that he wants to use the senate to help him reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. What we don’t know is how and at what cost to the taxpayers.
As the next few months unfold, beware of campaign promises. As these two candidates come to your town, seek them out, ask questions, make them be specific about not only how they can make campaign promises a reality but how much will it cost, and more importantly, ask them if we can afford it.
At one point in the debate, Kerrey said it would take only a high school chemistry class to figure out we are undergoing man-made climate change. I would remind Kerrey that a Nebraska grade school student could figure out with their lunch money that borrowing $4 billion a day to fund a government we cannot afford is a more immediate threat and a larger government is not the answer.
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