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Sen. Ben Nelson doesn't think it's funny.
A couple of wisenheimers in the Tennessee legislature--Republicans Bill Dunn and Dewayne Bunch--have introduced a bill
titled the "Ben Nelson Act to Ensure Political Integrity." It would make it a illegal--a Class A misdemeanor--for any public servant to trade votes for special budgetary exemptions or fiscal benefits for his or her district. That's a slap at Nelson's "Cornhusker Kickback," the deal he cut for Nebraska's Medicaid exemption in the health care reform bill.
"Senator Nelson, even though he realized this could ruin the finances of states, he went ahead and voted for it as long as he protected his state," Dunn says. "So he voted for what he knew was bad policy, just because he got favoritism."
There aren't enough jails to hold all the politicians who would break this law if it ever got onto the books, which it won't. As University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato points out, "Obviously it's ridiculous. You don't criminalize politics. That's why we have elections."
Nelson says he was planning to try to grant Medicaid relief to all states. He says he succeeded in blowing the whistle on the unfunded federal mandate in the health care bill: "Maybe they need to pass a whistle-blower's protection act," Nelson says of the Tennessee lawmakers. "We have one in Nebraska."
Update: A Politico columnist scolds Dunn and Bunch
, demanding that they accuse Nelson of taking a bribe or issue an immediate apology. Alrighty then