Prominent Republicans have a long history of making overly optimistic predictions that prove to be wildly off the mark. Back in 2002, the Bush Administration told us that Iraq had a massive arsenal of fearsome weapons of mass destruction, we would be greeted as liberators and that Iraqi oil would finance the reconstruction of that country. More recently, the Trump Administration promised us that the 2017 deficit funded tax cuts for the wealthy would create an economic boom and deliver a $4,000.00 pay raise for the middle class. Unfortunately, we are now suffering through the worst economy since the Great Depression.
On May 5, 2020, Pete Ricketts and four other GOP governors wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled in part: “Here’s Why Our Approach Worked” and essentially declared “mission accomplished” regarding the corona virus pandemic. In that piece, Ricketts contended: “Our collective experience ensures that our contribution toward reopening our nation’s economy is stable, safe and durable.... Our approach has created a model for success that can be applied throughout the country…The Plains states have managed this emergency exceptionally well by many measures.”
What has happened in Nebraska since Pete Ricketts took that premature victory lap over three months ago? It’s important that progressives revisit these absurd predictions and hold Republicans to their own promises and standards. We certainly can’t count on the media to do it for us. Republican propaganda depends heavily upon amnesia from the press and the voters. It is our duty to refresh hazy memories.
Ricketts handled the pandemic competently for a short period of time after it broke out earlier this year. Last spring, Ricketts followed the advice of the University of Nebraska Medical Center ((UNMC) and instituted a lock down in Nebraska even though there was never a formal stay at home order. In any event, Ricketts’ early measures were the functional equivalent of a stay at home order.
However, Ricketts ceased following the advice of UNMC in May and began to prioritize the agenda of his political donors and Donald Trump. Perhaps Ricketts’ most risky decisions were to fully re-open the bars on June 22 and to deny funds to local governments that required the wearing of a mask. Moreover, Ricketts bullied Douglas County into dropping a mask mandate.
The results of Ricketts’ reckless policies now have Nebraska teetering on the verge of disaster. We learned last week from Dr. Deborah Birx of the Trump White House that Nebraska and Omaha are now corona virus hot spots. According to the Omaha World Herald, Birx said: “We are concerned that both Baltimore and Atlanta remain at a very high level — (also) Kansas City, Portland, Omaha (and) of course what we talked about in the Central Valley (of California)…Birx also said on the private call that California and Nebraska had recently recorded a high percentage of coronavirus cases or positive tests.”
We also received similar alarming news from Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Nebraska is now a state that we consider a red zone. Nebraska and California are both now “Red Zone” states with positivity rates COVID-19 tests above 10%.”
The negative impact of Ricketts’ rash policies is already hurting Nebraska’s most populous metropolitan area. On Friday, Omaha Public Schools ((OPS) announced that classes are going to full remote learning for the fall quarter. In addition, OPS canceled all fall sports. This will work a severe hardship on virtually all Omaha families.
State Senate candidate John Cavanaugh said it best on his Facebook page: “It didn’t have to be this way. Gov. Ricketts squandered crucial months to slow the spread of the virus by ignoring the advice of public health experts right here in Nebraska. While our schools were trying to figure out how to reopen safely, Gov. Ricketts traveled to Washington to take a victory lap with Donald Trump on Nebraska’s response to the coronavirus. He threatened to withhold federal dollars from any city or county that required masks in public buildings. And now he prevents Omaha from requiring a mask mandate anywhere. Our schools, our teachers, parents, and students, have been placed in an impossible position due to the negligent response of the Governor and the President to a public health emergency.”
The billionaire bully’s fealty to Trump and his donors also has the potential to devastate Lincoln’s economy. At the present time, the college football season is hanging by a thread. The cancellation of the college football season would push numerous Lincoln hotels, bar and restaurants into bankruptcy. Already, I’ve seen numerous empty store fronts in the downtown area.
This isn’t complicated. If Trump and Ricketts had followed the science from the beginning, we wouldn’t be having to cancel in person learning and high school sports in Omaha. It is clear that Nebraska is facing a rendezvous with disaster due to bad decisions made by Ricketts and Trump. The billionaire governor is a well behaved version of Trump with future presidential aspirations in mind. That’s why Ricketts has been a regular at right wing meetings like the NRA, Red State, the Federalist Society and CPAC.
I would recommend that you commit your time and/or money to good legislative candidates. We need a check and balance on Ricketts and his crickets in the unicameral. Elections have consequences. Let’s chase the money changers out of the State Capitol in 2020! Together, we can whip the corona virus and take our state back!