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

By Sydney Yalshevec

Senate Candidate Ben Sasse fights for limited government


Midland University’s President, Ben Sasse, is known as the Anti-Obamacare Candidate for Nebraska Senate. He has never held an elected office, however, he has strong opinions about what is happening here in Nebraska, as well as in Washington.

Obamacare is a 2,300 page document filled with legal terminology that many do not understand. Sasse, though, has a background as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Bush administration, and has read every page of the Obamacare document. He is heavily opposed to it and is very vocal about why. Sasse offers up an explanation of why there are so many uninsured and what kind of solution might work for the country.

“The main reason that we have a growing number of uninsured people is because of a change in the economy. We’ve solved problems like this before in pensions, for instance, twenty-five years ago people had this bad choice between needing to stay at the same firm for the rest of their life to keep their pension, or if they wanted to go to a new job or start up a company they would probably have to abandon their pension. We fixed that by fixing the bias in the tax code and creating 401Ks. We can create something similar in health insurance that allows people to have portability, you don’t have to go from a world where you have either the employer owns your insurance policy or the only solution is a big government solution, which is what Obamacare tries to do. There are ways to create portability that empowers patients,” Sasse said.

Sasse is concerned that not enough people who should have read Obamacare have actually read it, and that it is difficult to understand.

“I’ve read Obamacare. When they passed it then speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said they had to pass it to figure out what was in it, because she was basically being cornered by reporters and admitted that most of the members of Congress who were advocating for it and those advocating against it hadn’t even read the thing. I don’t think a 2,300 page piece of legislation makes much sense. The Homestead Act which defined so much of a place like Nebraska, is basically a page long. There was a time when the government understood, that the federal government understood that it did a very limited number of things and they had to be understandable by the people. And anytime you’re writing a 2,300 page piece of legislation not only do the people not understand it, but the people voting on it, in the legislature, don’t understand it.” Sasse said.

Sasse has never held an elected office and yet he feels confident in his choice to run because of how he has made a career of being a “turn-around guy.”

“Most of my business career, for the last nineteen years has just been helping organizations in times of crisis. And what you do is you go in and you try to find win-win solutions where you say, what are the things that this organization exists to do, what are the things that we’re trying to do that we’re not succeeding at, and how do we shrink the number of commitments that we’re trying to make, but do the number of limited things we need to do well. But how do you treat people with dignity in the midst of that conversation?” Sasse said.

He turned around Midland University by putting students first. Now his school, that was going bankrupt, is one of the fastest growing in seven states in the surrounding area.

Another reason Sasse feels confident in his decision to run is because he does not believe in “career politicians.”

“I think that what Washington needs is a lot more serious people who don’t care about being politicians for a lifetime but view it as a limited calling for a time to get back to what the founders wanted which is a very defined and limited government. Don’t just scream at people all day but actually try to figure out how do you prioritize and how do you get to a budget that is honest and defensible,” Sasse said.

Sasse has other ideas and concerns. He is a fifth generation Nebraskan and has a real respect for the state. Therefore, he has ideas concerning how government should treat its people.

“I think we have to do massive regulatory reform. When you read the Constitution there are only three branches of government, a legislative, executive, and a judicial and the legislative branch is supposed to pass the laws and the executive branch, execute them. The executive branch doesn’t get to create these permanent bureaucracies that write big pieces of legislation that we didn’t ever discuss as a people,” Sasse said.

In his tour of western Nebraska he came to realize that people really care about the work ethic.

“The most commonly talked about subject isn’t really a political issue, it’s the work ethic. People realize that the greatness of America is about our identity as a people prior to government,” Sasse said.

He makes a point concerning the need to create jobs in America that will also lead to America’s freedom from dependency on foreign oil.

“The shale oil revolution that we sit on the front cusp of could create genuine energy independence for North America. It could reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It could create, with different estimates, about 3 million jobs, and be done in an environmentally safe way, but we aren’t even having discussions about how to do it in an environmentally safe way because the EPA on their own just gets to try to shut off access to certain parts of shale. I think those are the kinds of discussions that the people of Nebraska want to have,” Sasse said.

He continues to travel around Nebraska with his wife, two daughters, and small son, learning about what the people want.


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