Remember when Washington worked? Or at least worked better? Remember when the federal government had a balanced budget and the economy was roaring?
It was not that long ago. That’s the sort of shape the country was in when Bob Kerrey stepped down from his U.S. Senate seat representing Nebraska in 2000. The Journal Star editorial board believes that voters should send him back so that he can work to get Washington back on track.
If the United States is ever going to put itself back on a sustainable financial footing, entitlement reform is essential.
It’s been a key element in Kerrey’s campaign since he entered the race in February.
Kerrey is exceptionally suited for the job. He was pushing for entitlement reform long before it became popular. He knows the issue as well as anyone in the country.
For more than 50 years Social Security was known as the third rail of politics. Touch it with talk of reform, and you die. That was the perception.
Kerrey dared. In 1994 he chaired a national commission on entitlement reform. Unfortunately there were too few members of Congress who shared his commitment and courage. Solving the problem would have been easier then. The need to solve the problem is impossible to ignore now.
The country is going deeper into debt at an incredible rate. The national debt topped $16 trillion last month. That’s $50,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.
But how can Congress and the president get the job done?
In an era of gridlock, the Journal Star editorial board thinks that it’s going to take members of Congress willing to cross party lines.
Kerrey has done it in the past and there should be no doubt that he will do it again. And he’s willing to challenge the leaders in his own party to improve the legislative packages they put together. News accounts at the time had reports of Bill Clinton shouting angrily at Kerrey over the phone for Kerrey’s refusal to go along with Clinton’s financial package unless it contained more spending cuts.
That’s a far cry from the way business is conducted in Congress now, with members marching unquestioningly to the orders of their party bosses, and measuring success in how well the party does rather than the country.
Deb Fischer, Kerrey’s opponent, has defined herself well as a solid conservative voice. She has been effective as a state senator.
But when it comes to qualifications, expertise and a proven ability to get things done in Washington, Kerrey is the better candidate. He wins the Journal Star’s endorsement for U.S. Senate.