Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pete Ricketts: So Rich That Reality Doesn't Affect Him

by Kyle Michaelis
The Nelson campaign and the Nebraska Democratic Party have done everything they can to shine a light on Republican Senate candidate Pete Ricketts' comments expressing support for a national sales tax - or consumption tax - as an alternative to our current progressive income tax. Considering it's estimated that 95% of Americans would pay more in taxes under such a system, this is a pretty darn radical notion that clearly puts Ricketts at odds with the majority of Nebraska voters.

Still, after weeks of hammering away at Ricketts in press releases and blog posts, it wasn't until a press conference on Monday that the Nebraska media really gave the story the time of day. Today's Omaha World-Herald reports:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson stood outside an Omaha gas station Monday and accused his opponent, Republican Pete Ricketts, of supporting a tax plan that would increase gas prices by 30 percent.

Ricketts fired back that Nelson was "misleading" voters and that he was not showing leadership on tax reform.

The latest exchange between the two revolves around comments Ricketts made about a national sales tax. He has said a consumption tax should be considered as part of an effort to streamline the federal tax code....

Nelson, speaking outside Ted's Sinclair gas station near 45th and Center Streets, repeatedly has taken Ricketts to task for "supporting" a national sales tax, saying it would benefit the state's wealthiest citizens at the expense of middle- and low-income Nebraskans....

Ricketts said Nelson was "distorting" his record.

He said he only has suggested that a national sales tax be one of many options, including a flat tax, considered to lower overall taxes.

"I'm not advocating for a consumption tax. I'm advocating for tax reform," Ricketts said.

He charged that Nelson's refusal to even consider a consumption tax or flat tax shows a lack of leadership.

Hmmm, if Pete Ricketts isn't advocating a consumption tax, I have to wonder why he didn't request a correction from the Fremont Tribune when they reported:
Ricketts also called for tax reformation via a consumption tax. “It’s fair because everybody pays,” he said. “All you have to do to avoid paying it is not buy anything.”

Fremont Tribune, 4/5/06

You said it, Pete. I don't see how you can deny saying it when it's right there in writing - unless of course the Fremont Tribune and its reporters are part of a vast centrist conspiracy publishing lies on behalf of Nelson. Other than that, the record is what the record is.

Then again, as evidenced by his latest campaign ad, Ricketts isn't very concerned with getting the facts straight. Having shown so little regard for Nelson's actual record or what the Nebraska press has actually written, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Ricketts would now play dumb about the things that have come out of his own mouth.

Taking a page from President Bush, Ricketts seems to believe he can make his own reality by simply disregarding the facts and sticking to his script. Wow, it must be nice to be so rich and to live in such a bubble that you don't even need to concern yourself with inconvenient truths.

By the way, I have to give Ricketts' special credit for the ridiculous notion of "leadership" that he espouses above. In Ricketts World, it seems you're not a good leader unless you keep an open mind about cockamamie schemes that will hurt the vast majority of citizens and voters.

Yeah, nothing screams leadership like sacrificing the good of the many for the benefit of a few. That's how they do it in Ricketts World.

Heaven help us - this race is getting stupider by the minute. Can we please just fast forward to November? Because I really don't know if I can put up with four more months of this Ricketts fellow and his absolutely shameless campaign. The bottom of the barrel has already been scraped (several times), but you just know that with all that money and all that desperation we ain't seen nothing yet.


Blogger Kelly said...

He is such a douchebag. It seems to me that his defense of the consumption task shows that it would hurt the economy (avoid spending, that's smart). Not the kind of thing that you want from a "businessman" that's proud that he's "not" a politician. He's an embarrassment to the Republican party, which is a pretty tough thing to be these days.

Blogger Pete Forsyth said...

Is there somebody in Nebraska who can help us Oregonians wrap our heads around what a nonpartisan legislature would look like? My state Senator just defected from the Democratic party, to become an Independent and promote the idea of a nonpartisan legislature.

There's a blog entry at BlueOregon.com. I'd love to see some comments there about how Nebraska's system works (or doesn't.)

Blogger Dave said...

Just when you think Ricketts can't possibly get any worse, right? His primary win in May assured us six months more of his nonsense. Let's make sure we don't have to suffer through six more years of it.

Blogger Kelly said...

Nebraska's unicameral isn't necessarily non-partisan, although it's probably less partisan than most other major legislative bodies. It's just a unicameral, which means that we don't have two houses. It seems to work. Historically, we have been pretty progressive in Nebraska on certain issues (no-fault divorce comes to mind), so I don't think there's anything wrong with a unicameral system.

As to nonpartisanship, I'm conflicted. On the one hand, blind adherence to the views of a political party is just stupid. But on the other hand, a multitude of parties could lead to minority rule, rather than majority rule. At my undergrad university we had a speaker from India come, and he told us that because of their many, many political parties, the people who get elected only have about 20-30% of the vote, and that sounds scary to me.

Perhaps a different kind of primary system is in order, in which everyone is free to vote and run, regardless of political affiliation, and only the top 2 vote-getters would be in the running for any particular position. This wouldn't do away with political parties altogether (enforcing something like that would violate the 1st Amendment) but it would be a big step toward eliminating the importance of the big 2, both of which have been extremely disappointing of late.

Blogger Pete Forsyth said...

Kelly, thanks for the response.

Can you describe how your primaries work? Do candidate names have parties listed next to them? Are D's, R's, and others all listed on the primary ballot, and the top two advance to the general?

If so, that's similar to the One Ballot system, being proposed on a ballot initiative here in Oregon.

I'm not sure exactly what my state senator means by a "non-partisan legislature" but I think this kind of primary system is a key ingredient. Very interested in how it works in practice.

Another question I have - do legislative candidates usually canvass households without regard to residents' party affiliation? I guess that's the thing I'd most like to see here. Interested in any structural reform that might encourage that.

Sorry for being off-topic, but I don't know any better place to go with these questions! Definitely feel free to post at Blue Oregon.

Blogger Ralph Ekwall said...

Pete Ricketts keeps saying that he is in favor of a balanced budget.

Someone should ask him if he opposes the fiscal policies of George Bush who has increased the National Debt every year and has not even come close to a balanced budget in his six years in office.

Ralph Ekwall


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