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KAYLA WOLF, Journal Star 

Norris's Rylie Brant (center) is double teamed by Waverly's Abigail Clarke (22) and Averie Lambrcht (back) during the fourth quarter of Monday's Class B-5 subdistrict tournament game at Waverly High School.

GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star file photo 

Gov. Pete Ricketts

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Lincoln tourism leaders unveil Abe, with shades, in hopes of luring younger visitors

The is not your great-great-great-great grandma's Abraham Lincoln.

The 5-foot-tall Abe Lincoln bobblehead statue that the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled Monday is more like a 21st century hipster Abe.

The Abe statue leaning on an ax has tight, black pants, a red-and-black checked shirt with a few buttons open and sleek, black sunglasses.

"This is our buff Abe Lincoln, let's put it that way," said Jeff Maul, the CVB's executive director.

Having a cool, hip Abe is by design.

"Kids are going to love it," Maul said Monday, the 16th president's 209th birthday.

The CVB chose Lincoln's birthday to unveil its newest attraction, and the hope is that it will play a prominent role in future birthday celebrations.

Maul also is hoping the statue, custom manufactured by Florida bobblehead maker HD Design Center, will help draw more visitors to Lincoln's visitor center at Seventh and P streets in Lincoln Station.

Younger visitors are "looking for something just a little bit different," he said, and the most successful visitors bureaus have attractions that are centered around some local landmark or well-known local attraction.

One of the most famous visitor center attractions is the wood chipper used in the movie "Fargo" to "dispose of" one of its main characters. The Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau in Fargo, North Dakota, has the machine, which people come from around the world to see.

Maul realizes bobblehead Abe probably won't rise to the same level, but he's hoping to create a social-media campaign that will help the attraction go viral and bring in visitors from outside the state.

The CVB is running a promotion encouraging people to get pictures taken with Abe and share them on social media for a chance to win a free one-night stay at the Graduate Lincoln, a $50 gift card to John J's Chow Hall and two tickets to see Kinky Boots at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Analysis: Trump's economic policy rooted in debt

WASHINGTON — One clear principle runs through President Donald Trump's emerging economic policy: Debt is good.

When defending a tax plan or laying out his budget, the man who once called himself "the king of debt" is trying to persuade Americans there's no price to pay for running trillion dollar-budget deficits over the next few years. Stronger economic growth will permanently follow the borrowing spree, officials argue, even as many economists and investors already warn about what could happen when the debt becomes due.

The White House budget plan released Monday is the latest example of the Trump principle. The budget proposal not only envisions soaring deficits through 2020, but it also outlines an infrastructure plan that would encourage state and local government to borrow heavily. The result, the plan suggests, would be exceptional growth that would then cause deficits to fall. The proposal assumes economic growth will climb above 3 percent and eventually settle into a solid 2.8 percent groove.

The plan amounts to a gamble that nothing can slow a high-flying U.S. economy and force a reckoning over the debt. Not higher interest rates. Not rising inflation. Not a foreign crisis. Not an aging U.S. population. Not even — based on the budget plan's own estimates — an increase in the unemployment rate. Should the economy stumble, the risk is that the gravitational pull of the debt would worsen as the government would likely borrow more to stop a downturn.

"They're assuming that the expansion lasts forever, basically," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. "You have to ask what will ultimately happen when we do go into a recession."

O'Sullivan expects that ratings agencies could downgrade the U.S. government's credit rating. He cites the $1.5 trillion higher debt after Trump signed tax cuts into law last year and the bipartisan deal reached last week to fund the government through 2019, which puts the U.S. on track to hit trillion-dollar deficits next year.

Trump's willingness to embrace debt is in direct contradiction to years of Republican rhetoric on the dangers of deficits and breaks his campaign promises. As a candidate, Trump vowed not just to balance the budget but pay down the entire national debt, which is currently $20.5 trillion.

But as a businessman, Trump was anything but debt-averse. Several of his companies filed for bankruptcy protection after being unable to service debt, leaving investors and contractors with losses. Trump portrayed this experience during the campaign as proof of his financial shrewdness.

"I'm the king of debt. I'm great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me," he told CBS News in 2016, adding if he was unable to fully honor any obligations that he would tell investors that "the economy just crashed" and renegotiate the terms. But Trump has cautioned that he likes debt for his companies but not the country, saying that the government was "sitting on a time bomb" with its yearly deficits.

For now, the Trump administration is saying that the U.S. economic landscape has been overhauled over the past year. With the passage of the tax cuts, the economy is now set for a long-term acceleration, rather than a quick gain followed by a slowdown.

"It's not a sugar high," White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told Fox News on Sunday. "We have fundamentally changed the structure of the American economy to where we think we can change the long-term trends of our growth possibilities."

But investors are unconvinced. They're already starting to charge the government higher interest rates in anticipation of rising deficits. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury climbed as high as 2.89 percent Monday, up from a recent low of 2.06 percent in September.

Many forecasters assume that any economic upswing is temporary, but the Trump budget sees no end in sight.

Trump's budget overlaps with the mass retirement of baby boomers, whose use of programs such as Medicare and Social Security will likely cause government expenditures and the debt to keep increasing. Indeed, the government is borrowing more at a moment when unemployment is already at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, a time when many economists say it should be repairing its balance sheet by borrowing less.

Even before the tax cuts and two-year spending deal, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that publicly-held debt would equal more than 90 percent of the U.S. economy in 2027. The Trump budget assumes savings that would put the debt at less than 75 percent of the economy.

Trump achieves some of his debt savings by slashing Medicare by $554 billion over the next decade among other substantial cuts to programs at the Labor Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and elsewhere. But he also assumes that the entire economy will be $3.1 trillion bigger than previously forecast because of his policies.

Some of that growth would potentially come from new roadways and upgraded airports. But states appear to be increasingly hesitant to borrow more than they otherwise would for infrastructure projects, despite the financial incentives being introduced by Trump.

State budgets are already being squeezed as costs for education and programs such as Medicaid are rising faster than tax revenues, said Gabriel Petek, a managing director at Standard & Poor's Global Ratings.

"The plan doesn't appear to fundamentally alter existing incentives at the state level," Petek said. "The states we have been talking to are not eager to take on more debt."

JeffKorbelik / AP file photo 

Jackson Browne will do a Pinewood Bowl show June 22.

ERIC GREGORY, Journal Star file photo 

NU President Hank Bounds.

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Krist drops independent bid, will challenge Ricketts as a Democrat

State Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha has set the stage for a formal announcement Tuesday that he has decided to seek the governorship as a Democratic challenger to Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Krist changed his voter registration in Douglas County to Democratic on Monday morning and made plans to file as a Democratic candidate with the secretary of state's office.

Krist will be joined by Mayor Chris Beutler at a news conference in Lincoln on Tuesday. 

A number of current and former state senators will also be on hand at the noon-hour event at FUSE Coworking in the Haymarket.

Beutler, a Democrat, is a former state senator who is serving his third term as Lincoln's nonpartisan mayor. He was a Democratic candidate for governor in 1986 and his presence is designed to help welcome Krist into the party.

Krist, formerly a Republican, has encountered statutory barriers in his bid to mount an independent challenge to Ricketts without attempting to confront an incumbent governor in his own party's primary election.

His preferred route had been to gain access to the November ballot as a nonpartisan and essentially independent candidate, but that avenue would require him to gather an estimated 121,000 signatures on petitions circulated statewide.  

Krist has gone to federal court to challenge the 2017 law that sharply increased the number of signatures required from about 4,000, a far-more-manageable number. 

With that avenue effectively blocked by the expensive and time-consuming barrier of attempting to gather a huge number of signatures statewide, Krist had changed his voter registration from Republican to nonpartisan and was focused on the alternative route of forming a new political party and attempting to build a new political base.

"I want to find the best pathway to challenge Gov. Ricketts," Krist said during a news conference at the Capitol announcing the court challenge 11 days ago.

"Don't count me out," he said. "I'm going to find a pathway to success."

Moving to the Democratic Party will place his name on the May 15 primary ballot and instantly mark him as the best-known Democratic gubernatorial candidate thus far in the race.

Vanessa Ward, a North Omaha community activist, and Tyler Davis, a small-business entrepreneur and instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, have filed as Democratic candidates.

Krist's decision attracted immediate fire from the Nebraska Republican Party, which said the Democratic Party is "the best fit for him."

"When Bob Krist is willing to say and do anything to advance his own career, how could voters ever trust him?" Republican National Committeeman J.L. Spray said.

The GOP said Krist has "one of the most liberal voting records in the Nebraska Legislature," and pointed to votes to increase Nebraska's gas tax and repeal the death penalty.

"Krist has consistently supported giving taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants," the party stated. 

Krist was appointed to a seat in the nonpartisan Legislature by former Gov. Dave Heineman in 2009 and since has been elected to two four-year terms. He will be term-limited out of the Legislature at the end of the year. 

ERIC GREGORY, Journal Star file photo 

Omaha state Sen. Bob Krist talks about his independent candidacy for governor as his wife Peggy looks on at a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda on Sept. 13.