When Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson cut his “Cornhusker Kickback” deal and cast the deciding vote on ObamaCare, his political career was finished. While he initially made a pretense of possibly running for reelection, he eventually bowed to reality and announced his retirement. Which put Democrats in something of a bind. They don’t exactly have a deep bench in the state. So, they did what you’d expect of a party bereft of new ideas, they recruited former Sen. Bob Kerrey to run for his old Senate seat.
Kerrey faces on uphill battle, despite his long and successful political career in the state. He served one-term as Governor and two as Senator. But, he left office over ten years ago and has resided in New York City ever since. And, Nebraska has become increasingly hostile to the Democrat party. His only hope is to distance himself from the national party. Which he is quickly trying to do:
Democratic Senate candidate Bob Kerrey said Thursday that he hates the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act and that his own businesses might drop employee insurance and pay the federal fine for doing so if the mandate goes into effect in 2014.
Kerrey said wealthy Americans pay their fair share in taxes. And he said President Barack Obama made a big mistake by not following the recommendations of his own bipartisan budget deficit commission.
He went beyond just a general opposition to ObamaCare, however. He was very specific, and knowledgable, about one of the law’s chief failings:
“I hate the employer mandate,” Kerrey said. “I think it’s going to have a counterproductive impact. We don’t have any (insured employee) that costs us less than $7,000 (a year), and the fine’s $2,000. We’ll dump ’em off. We won’t call it dumping, we’ll say … ‘Go get it from the exchange.'”
He said the employer mandate “will accelerate an already breaking-down employer-based system.” That portion of the law should be repealed, he said.
Of course, this is a feature, not a bug of ObamaCare. Getting more employees out of the private health insurance market and into highly-regulated government-run health insurance exchanges is an important step towards a single payer health care system.
That Kerrey has to distance himself so far away from the Democrats’ signature achievement is further evidence that the Democrat party is no longer a national party. It is increasingly a regional party, clustered on the coasts, and big urban areas.
There was a time Democrats could compete just about everywhere across the country. In many places that is becoming more rare and usually requires a flawed GOP candidate or a Dem campaign that tacts far away from the party.
This process has been accelerated since Obama and the progressive-left took over the party. While the media fixates on the occasional Republican moderate who feels out of touch with the GOP, the list of Democrats alienated by their national party is far longer. Bob Kerrey is just the latest Democrat to be left behind by his party.