iOS app Android app More

Ben Nelson Explains ATM Issue, Says He Does Know The Difference Between 'A Hologram And A Barcode'

First Posted: 05/20/10 05:15 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:30 PM ET

Nelson

Why can't Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) get a vote on his amendment to limit what he calls the "legal thievery" of ATM fees? Is it because members of the Senate, who are in the midst of reforming the entire financial system, have no idea what an ATM machine is?

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told the Omaha World-Herald on Wednesday that he's unfamiliar with ATM fees because he's never used an ATM.

"I've never used an ATM, so I don't know what the fees are," Nelson told reporter Joe Morton. "It's true, I don't know how to use one." Nelson added: "But I could learn how to do it just like I've... I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms."

Nebraska Republican Mike Johanns said he had little experience with ATMs, as did Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley.

Cue the commentariat pile-on: The geezers in the Senate are out of touch with modern society. "Ye olde Senate," quipped Washington Post whippersnapper Ezra Klein. "Only in the U.S. Senate," wrote the Atlantic. "Ben Nelson is old school," said the Hill. And the Sunlight Foundation pointed out that Nelson has taken a fortune in campaign contributions from the very industry propagating the fees.

HuffPost caught up with Nelson on Thursday. Really, no ATM? "I haven't used an ATM but that's because I have not had a need to use it. Other people have used it because they apparently feel they have a need to," he said.

"One thing I want to correct in that World-Herald story is the suggestion that I didn't know the difference between a hologram and a barcode."

HuffPost is launching an effort to gauge the ATM usage of members of the Senate. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), for one, said he does withdraw cash from time to time.

"I use an ATM," he said.

How recently?

"I don't use it much now because everybody takes credit cards, but I'm sure in the last month and a half," he said. "Just go to get cash."

This story will be updated

FOLLOW HUFFPOST POLITICS
Subscribe to the HuffPost Hill newsletter!