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Ricketts’ Reign Of Error: Creeping Socialism Edition

The battle cry for the GOP in election 2020 is all about scary socialism. The radical right has been using the “socialism” talking point since the days of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s. In 1936, Alf Landon boldly predicted that Social Security would soon go broke and no American would ever see one red cent from this retirement security program. In the early 1960s, a washed up movie actor named Ronald Reagan prognosticated that passage of Medicare would mark the “end of freedom” in America. In 2013, Ben Sasse told us that the implementation of Obama Care would cause America to “cease to exist.”

As a loyal GOP party solider, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is already reciting this tired and outdated GOP talking point. In a recent fundraising letter, Ricketts argued that: “We need your help to fight back against the creep of socialism in Nebraska. Leftists are using the initiative process in our state to push their agenda on socialized health care, marijuana legislation, expanding gambling and other issues.”

Prominent Nebraska Democrats were quick to respond to the billionaire governor’s absurd statement. State Senator Adam Morfeld said it best: “Providing access to medical marijuana and casino gaming is the opposite of socialism, as both initiatives provide more individual liberty and less government interference into Nebraskans’ personal choices and lives.”

Ricketts’ silly fundraising appeal indicates that he is panicking because he knows that it is very likely that pending ballot initiatives on medical marijuana, casino gambling and limits on payday lenders are likely to be approved by the voters in 2020. The successful ballot initiatives — opposed by Ricketts and the radical right — raising the minimum wage and approving the Medicaid expansion have blazed the trail for next year’s ballot questions.

Ricketts’ condemnation of socialism is pretty ironic in light of the corporate subsidies paid by the Nebraska taxpayers to T.D. Ameritrade. This Ricketts family founded business grabbed $22 million in corporate welfare before it was bought out by Charles Schwab. Moreover, the T.D. Ameritade building in Omaha benefited from TIF funding that was spent on its property. T.D. Ameritrade was built on the backs of the Nebraska taxpayers.

Schwab’s acquisition of T.D. Ameritrade is a perfect example of what is wrong with America’s corrupt capitalist system. (In America, we currently have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for everybody else.) After the Ricketts family built this business with taxpayer money, they then sold their shares to an out of state company. It is conservatively estimated that the Ricketts family will reap $561 million from this transaction. At the same time, 2,300 employees in Omaha are in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

In order to soften the blow and provide political cover for Pete’s political career, Joe Ricketts insisted upon language in the deal allegedly aimed at protecting Omaha jobs. Schwab agreed to make a “good faith” effort to avoid any mass layoffs during the next two years. There is nothing legally binding about this provision and it creates a loophole large enough to drive a Mack truck through it.

This cleverly drafted, legalistic phrase was inserted into the deal to maintain Pete’s political viability. This tells me that the billionaire governor has future political aspirations. I doubt he will run for the U.S. Senate since Sasse is relatively young and running for re-election in 2020. Deb Fischer is already raising money for a 2024 re-election bid.

I believe that Pete Ricketts is seriously considering a run for president in 2024. Ricketts has been a regular at the far right NRA and CPAC conventions. Moreover, Ricketts is the chair of the Republican Governors Association. I know it sounds improbable but this is a party that nominated Donald Trump. Ricketts will have unlimited resources and he has carefully lived up to all of the radical rights’ litmus tests on issues like taxes and abortion.

The first step to thwarting Ricketts’ political aspirations is to elect more Democrats to the legislature in 2020. We must prevent Ricketts from enacting his radical and regressive agenda. I would recommend that you commit your time and/or money to good legislative candidates. Elections have consequences. Let’s take our state back from the money changers in the temple!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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