Ben Nelson's Health Reform Vote Makes Him Top Porker

Citizens Against Government Waste said the Nebraska Democrat disregards the interests of the taxpayers.

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If Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson thought that people would, as time passed, forget about the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” that enabled the passage of Obamacare through the U.S. Senate he was sorely mistaken.

On Monday Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse and mismanagement in the federal government named Nelson, a Democrat in his second term in the U.S. Senate, its “Porker of the Year” for 2010. [Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.]

The award is given, the group said, to “a lawmaker, government official, or political candidate who has shown the most blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers throughout the year.”

Nelson, it should be recalled, provided the key 60th vote for cloture on the healthcare bill, allowing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to move it forward toward final passage on the Senate floor. That vote came, the group said, only after he was able “to parlay his vote to secure, among other perks, a permanent exemption for Nebraska from the Medicaid expansion in the Reid bill, saving the state between $59 million and $281 million” in a deal the press later referred to as “the Cornhusker Kickback.” [ See editorial cartoons about healthcare reform.]

According to the group, the deal has been very costly to taxpayers:

This month, as state budgets dip further into the red, dozens of governors are petitioning President Obama for relief from the rigid rules governing how they run the Medicaid program. The governors are caught in a fiscal buzz saw; in order to be eligible for the $87 billion in stimulus money they used to offset exploding Medicaid costs, they were forced to maintain high enrollment levels and prohibited from tweaking eligibility rules. The Cornhusker Kickback extension  the rest of the country will only forestall the inevitable collapse of state finances that will be the ultimate result of Sen. Nelson caving in as the 60th vote on the healthcare bill.

“For his Cornhusker Kickback boondoggle, classless CYA behavior, and opening the door to a healthcare bill that will help push the states toward bankruptcy,” Citizens Against Government Waste said, “Sen. Ben Nelson wins the dubious title of CAGW’s 2010 Porker of the Year.”