Republican Senate nominee Deb Fischer doesn't give a damn about the federal deficit and our growing national debt. Of course, she'll talk a lot about both over the next six months, but it will be nothing but empty political rhetoric so long as she's pledged her vote to Grover Norquist rather than the people of Nebraska.
Fischer touts her signing Norquist's so-called "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" on her campaign website. This is nothing more than a pledge to protect corporate tax loopholes and unsustainable tax cuts for the rich. It is also a pledge to continued deficits and debt for any candidate who can't point to the $1.3 trillion in government spending that they want cut from the federal budget.
Sure enough, Fischer's website declares "Our first priority must be to cut federal spending." However, she doesn't offer a single example of what she'd actually like to cut. You might hope for those answers from the 5-point Plan To Reduce the Size and Scope of the Federal Government she released last month. But - there - Fischer only cites $30 billion in supposedly duplicative programs after promising to blow-up the federal deficit by repealing health care reform (Obamacare) and again endangering the U.S. economy by repealing Wall Street reform (Dodd-Frank).
It also appears that Fischer wants spending on national security protected while "everything else should be on the table." But, how exactly would Fischer propose we cut $1.3 trillion in federal spending without touching national security? Does that mean eliminating every dime of discretionary spending outside the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security? Oh wait, that would still leave us more than $700 billion short of $1.3 trillion. To follow through on her pledge to Norquist, that only leaves Fischer the option of breaking America's commitment to our senior citizens and families in need through draconian cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, and our social safety net. So, let's hear it, Deb. What do you propose?
If this weren't ridiculous enough for you, it gets worse. While staring at all this deficit and debt, Fischer continues to suggest more tax cuts - both on her website and in the Lincoln Journal-Star. The math just doesn't add up, speaking to the candidate's shameless pandering and outright deception.
Interestingly, 1st Distict Congressman Jeff Fortenberry made a key endorsement of Fischer in the week leading up to her primary victory. He also made headlines last year when he declared he no longer considered Norquist's pledge binding. A Lincoln Journal-Star editorial immediately defended Fortenberry. A few weeks later, an Omaha World-Herald editorial did the same, writing:
Difficult problems can require innovative solutions. Locking a candidate into an inflexible position takes healthy debate out of the democratic equation. It restricts an officeholder's ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Is negotiation even possible if both sides are pledged to support only one position?....
There is one pledge that matters. It's the one candidates make to the voters in their state, their district, their community. Not to a special-interest group.
Still, here we are less than a year later and Fischer's made the same pledge to a special-interest group at the expense of responsible leadership. And, she's done so with Fortenberry's support.
At this point, Deb Fischer has absolutely zero credibility on balancing the budget and reducing the national debt. Thankfully, Nebraska voters will have a more responsible and more honest choice on the November ballot.
In his primary victory speech, Democratic Senate nominee Bob Kerrey stated, "Everyone who looks at the facts knows that it's going to take budget cuts and it's going to take revenue increases to solve the problem." When reporter Joe Jordan subsequently pressed him on the political dangers of being open to raising taxes, Kerrey explained that his first focus would be on getting spending down and asking how much can we cut. But, he then continued:
"If you lock yourself in to no tax increases under no circumstances, you're not part of the solution. You're part of the problem."
Right now, Deb Fischer is more committed to Grover Norquist than to the people of Nebraska or our country's future. For any voter who cares about the federal deficit and the national debt, the choice in our Senate race is abundantly clear. Deb Fischer is the candidate of false promises signing irresponsible pledges and telling people only what they want to hear. Bob Kerrey is speaking hard truths and can stand by his record of bringing the federal deficit under control because he's done it before.
A whole lot more will be said in the coming months, but the fundamentals of this race aren't going to change. Deb Fischer is part of the problem. Bob Kerrey is part of the solution. I trust Nebraska voters will choose to be part of the solution as well.