Oh boy! Another broadcast, another chance to see Senator Ben Nelson attempt to reason his way back to credibility. In case you are just joining us, Nelson is part of a coterie of hack Senators who have zeroed in on some of the most effective parts of the stimulus package, only to gut them, and then walk around in front of cameras pretending that these decisions make "centrism" look credible. And, if you remember yesterday's conversation with Norah O'Donnell, Nelson justified his actions by informing her that Nebraskans were terrified of large numbers.
Anyway, Nelson took his jive nonsense on the "Rachel Maddow" show last night, and, surprise, it didn't go well. Asked by Maddow why he pushed to cut "$15 billion of school construction" monies out of the bill -- monies that would create jobs, and improve schools, which are engines for job growth -- Nelson said that the reason he pushed for the cut was because Republicans have "an aversion to money going to that sort of a program." One would imagine this line being deployed as a criticism of Republicans, but Nelson here uses it as a rationale for caving. There's no discussion of how losing the money makes the bill better, or worse. To Nelson, empty-headed compromises make the bill prettier, so it's better.
And, once again, Nelson lays the matter off on the states, which are struggling to make ends meet, a condition the stimulus package more ably alleviated before Nelson and his colleagues stripped that targeted allotment of $25 billion.
From there, Nelson just goes off the rails, raising the specter of unfunded mandates for special education and No Child Left Behind, none of which have anything at all to do with money for SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION. This is something Maddow pointed out gently and professionally, which is why she has a show and the JASON LINKINS THROWING LIVE TIGERS AT THAT IDIOT BEN NELSON HOUR hasn't been greenlit.
Nelson's incoherent response: "Well, I'm concerned that once they get involved, it may not be about education, but then they tell you what you have to do with No Child Left Behind or with special education."
Does Nelson not get it? This is about school construction! I, too, would be concerned if a bunch of construction workers showed up and started drafting education policy briefs!
Maddow endured all this with grimacing and blinking, probably wishing deep down she had a live tiger catapult. Nelson continued to confuse, saying that "nobody's cutting anybody here" after he had assisted in the cutting itself. "It's a myth that education is not getting money," Nelson says. Actually, it's a myth that these funds were cut on the basis of any sort of policy evaluation. Nelson doesn't have any idea if his cuts improve the bill's efficacy at all, because that wasn't among his paramount concerns.
What is his paramount concern? Getting to sixty votes. "You can do the math," he admonishes. Yeah, well, last time I checked, it takes fifty-one votes to pass a bill out of the Senate. SO: None of this would be happening if Harry Reid ran his caucus with the discipline that typically gets applied to the Tuesday Night Free Wings And Karaoke fests that occur throughout your hometown, but there you go.
Anyway, Nebraska! Your Senator does not know what "line items" are, or how to read a bill, and so he compares apples to aircraft carriers, thinks that SOME STIMULUS = ALL STIMULUS, and probably could stand to be educated by construction workers, or tigers.