Republican Senate candidate Pete Ricketts was front-and-center in the NYTimes piece for taking these shots at Nelson, though his fellow Generic Republicans Don Stenberg and David Kramer were quoted making their own attacks...to which Nelson responded:
Mr. Nelson objected to his opponent's choice of the word "pork" and defended his efforts. He characterized such spending as allowing elected state leaders to decide what their regions need, rather than letting "some nameless, faceless" Washington bureaucrat make such decisions. And he talked of money needed in Nebraska for farm programs, medical research and rural hospitals, saying none of these initiatives were anything to apologize for.
Again, Hagel explained last week:
"Earmarks aren’t necessarily additional spending...Earmarks are almost in all cases……focused on prioritizing....The debate about earmarks is really one that has gotten off track....Should Congressmen and Senators not have anything to say about where money goes for projects?...Should bureaucrats at the Dept. of Transportation make that decision?"
Sounds like Nelson and Hagel are on the same page here. Since neither Ricketts, Stenberg, or Kramer have any legislative experience, their railing against earmarking as if every cent of it was for pork barrel spending demonstrates a lack of both understanding and integrity.
What's funniest about this pathetic line of attack is that Porkbusters - a government watchdog dedicated to eliminating wasteful federal spending - lists Nebraska as one of the five states receiving the least amount.
So, basically, I don't understand what all the squealing is about. Yes, the Republican Congress has totally lost control of the federal budget, but blaming Ben Nelson for that failure is out-of-line and isn't going to fool Nebraska voters this November.