Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson

Senate Candidate Shane Osborn desires transparency


Daniel Thompson

Shane Osborn stopped in Kimball to talk to local residents about issues that they want addressed in the U.S. Senate.

Republican senate candidate Shane Osborn promises to help bring transparency to the federal government if elected in 2014.

Osborn, who served as Nebraska State Treasurer from 2007 to 2011, believes that transparency is a way to hold the government accountable to its people by letting them see where their money is coming from and where it is going.

"If the government's going to take our money, the least they can do is give us a receipt," Osborn said.

This form of transparency is not foreign to Osborn who, while treasurer, created the website Nebraskaspending.gov which allowed taxpayers to view the entire state budget along with historical spending data and a searchable database of state contractors.

"If you want to find out where the problems are, find the money trail and see where the money's going. That's going to give you the answers you need. For under $40,000 we took nine different documents and combined them all and put them online at Nebraskaspending.gov. It shows you where your money's being sent. It's straightforward data. But it also has all the vendors and who's doing business with the state. That's what we need in Washington," Osborn said.

As a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, Osborn also believes that government has become too big and needs to be scaled down in order to better serve its people, something that Osborn states he achieved during his time as treasurer.

"Over a four year period, I reduced my budget nearly 12 percent, actually cut it. I've actually shrunk government. Everybody says that they're fiscal conservatives. Well, I've actually done it. We reduced the staff. We eliminated over 20 percent of the staff, but we made the office better. We made it more efficient so much so that we won a national award called the Treasury Marquee Award for the top treasurer's office in the country, public or private," Osborn said.

Osborn also states that the bills and laws in order to bring transparency to the federal government are already in place. However, he believes that very few elected officials truly want transparency believing that it will only bring them more problems and headaches in the future.

"If you can't justify the money you're spending then don't spend it. It's not your money. It's the people's money. The best way to hold elected officials accountable is through transparency. It's something I'll work hard at. It had never been done here in Nebraska, and we did it. It will be more difficult in D.C. no doubt, but we'll get it done," Osborn said.

According to Osborn, the biggest threat that the country is facing right now is the $17 trillion debt.

"When treasuries get back to historic levels and the interest rates go back to 3, 4 or 5 percent, we won't even be able to pay off the debt. We've got to get it under control," Osborn said.

He believes that in order to combat the debt, the government must be forced through a balanced budget amendment such as the one here in Nebraska.

"The first way we do that is we force it through a balanced budget amendment that even could be tied to a percentage of GDP. That will make the government live within its means. We can't just keep charging up the credit card and giving the bill to our children. We're at great risk of being the first generation in U.S. history to hand our children and grandchildren a country that's worse off than we received it in. That's something that we have to stop," Osborn said.

Another way that Osborn believes the national debt could be helped is by changing the regulatory environment in Washington and scaling back what he believes to be an over reach on the federal government's part.

"It's just killing jobs. Small businesses are being decimated. Whether it's the complex tax code that picks winners and losers and the regulatory environment, whether it's EPA and the effect they're having on agriculture and energy development or the IRS overstepping its bounds, what we need to do is realize that, yes, we need regulations, but at the same time, the over reach is stunning," Osborn said.

Osborn also states that the government could increase job growth along with alleviating part of the debt through North American energy independence.

"We've got a diversified energy portfolio of bio fuels, fossil fuels, and alternatives to nuclear power that are right here, and we could do it in five years. That would create a lot of good paying jobs. The more good jobs we can create, the more people are in the job market and able to pay taxes. The revenue to the country would be helpful to the deficits we're running," Osborn said.

He believes that this would also help certain defense issues that the country is currently facing.

"We rely on a lot of countries for our energy that don't particularly care for us, and we send our best and brightest to go over and fight what's now become a 12 year war, and I think that would be in our best national defense interest to have North American energy independence," Osborn said.

Entitlement reform is another issue that Osborn believes needs to be addressed by the federal government.

"Obviously, we're going to have to look at entitlement reform. There will be no way we'll get our debt and spending under control without having an open mind and realizing that we have to, for the future of our country, come together and figure out some entitlement reform. That's the big 800 pound gorilla when it comes to federal government spending," Osborn said.

Though the primary focus of Osborn's campaign seemingly lies with fixing the debt and bringing transparency to the government, he also desires to be a voice for veterans in the senate, having served in the U.S. Navy for nine years as a Naval Aviator and instructor pilot.

"We need to keep our promises to our veterans. We've sent these men and women to multiple deployments, and they have a lot of issues," Osborn said.

During his time in the navy, Osborn served as mission commander on an EP-3 plane in April of 2001 when he was involved in a mid-air collision which flipped his aircraft and tore part of the nose and the wing off, leaving Osborn and his crew to crash land on Chinese soil.

"We were taken off at gunpoint. The Chinese interrogated me for about seven straight days sitting in a stool, threatening me, calling me a master spy and telling me they were going to get rid of my crew one at a time if I didn't start answering questions. You learn a lot about your faith and what's important to you," Osborn said.

After being released, Osborn was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for courage and airmanship, and the Meritorious Service Medal for leadership during the ordeal.

Since his time serving as treasurer, Osborn has spent his time developing a company which finds ways to help military veterans with employment.

"I started a financial services business What we focus on is hiring post 9/11 veterans coming back from the War on Terror that are getting out. We hire post 9/11 veterans, and not just give them a job but a career in the securities business. We've grown that to over 40 employees," Osborn said.

Reflecting on his own hardships in the service, Osborn also formed the Nebraska Soldiers Foundation and wants to continue to fight to ensure that soldiers returning home from overseas are given proper treatment and care, especially concerning mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Our men and women are returning with visible scars and invisible scars, and PTSD is tearing apart families all across this country. I had a crew mate from the China incident take his own life. PTSD is something that's very near and dear to me," Osborn said.

Osborn's concern over mental health issues also carry over into gun control debates which he believe focus on the wrong aspects of the issue.

"We need to have a system that relays if somebody is under care and shouldn't own a weapon. Right now, that information is not going to get caught by the system in place or anything that is being proposed. We have a great system in place. We just need to make sure that the data is there so when people are running background checks that some of this is getting flagged. If you look at recent tragedies, it's mental health that is the issue there," Osborn said.

Osborn also believes that the country needs to fight against social stigmas that hinder conversations about mental health issues.

"Mental health affects every single family in this country. We'll talk about somebody having cancer, but we don't want to talk about somebody having mental health issues. That's something that needs to be at the forefront of this discussion. That's the problem that we need to face and deal with in America," Osborn said.

If elected, Osborn, who grew up in Woodland Park outside of Norfolk, Nebraska, plans to keep his focus not only on the bigger cities throughout the state but to also stay in tune with the issues facing people in the panhandle.

"I grew up in small town Nebraska, and I understand what small town Nebraska is all about. It's a focus of mine. I announced my candidacy not at the capital, not in Omaha, but in Grand Island at the Veterans Park. My focus is to represent all Nebraskans, not just Omaha and Lincoln," Osborn said.

Osborn believes that what sets him apart from the other candidates are his achievements both while serving as the Nebraska State Treasurer and in the United States Navy, and the leadership that he showed in both roles.

"There are a lot of good candidates in this race, but I think leadership matters and experience matters. I think we need to have people elected that will put the country first. I proved that when I served in the United States Navy," Osborn said.

"Past performance is indicative of future performance. When people look at my experience, that hopefully will convince them that I'm the right man for the job. I'm a proven leader that keeps his promises."

Osborn currently resides in Waterloo, Nebraska with his wife Stacie and their four children.

Residents interested in finding more information about Osborn can do so by visiting his website at shaneosborn.com.


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