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The Congressman and His Pledge(s).

By   /   August 19, 2010  /   News  /   10 Comments

When it comes to protecting Social Security, the so-called “third rail” of American politics, Congressman Lee Terry (NE-R) wants voters to take him at his word.

Despite supporting various moves over the last 10 years to privatize parts of Social Security, Terry now says he’s against the idea.

On Saturday, in the middle of a tough re-election campaign against Democrat Tom White, Terry went so far as to sign a pledge which states he will “oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.”

According to the Omaha World- Herald, Terry said “The people spoke on (privatization), and it was soundly rejected.”

Terry isn’t new to pledges and has broken at least one since taking office in Washington.

In 1998, when he was in another tough race (the Republican primary for Congress), Terry signed the US Term Limits pledge, promising to serve no more than three terms (six years) in the House of Representatives.

But in the spring of 1999, after winning the primary and then the general election, Terry tossed the pledge aside and is now in his 12th year in the House. 

When Terry decided to switch positions he told this reporter he had signed the pledge, “because term limits is an important issue and that was the way I wanted to signify my dedication to the issue.”

Following that comment the World-Herald wrote in an editorial, “So the pledge wasn’t a promise: it was-a press release?”

Asked by Nebraska Watchdog why voters should believe Terry will keep his pledge on Social Security when he didn’t keep his pledge on term limits, Terry’s campaign issued an 81 word statement (see full transcript below) that never mentions term limits or Terry’s decision to break that pledge.  

Instead Terry’s campaign manager David Boomer tells Nebraska Watchdog that Terry is fighting the fall-out from the Obama administration’s federal healthcare legislation. Boomer says Terry is focused on “strengthening Medicare and fighting $500 billion in cuts…which (White) has supported.”

White’s campaign manager says the healthcare bill cuts spending on prescription drug benefits and adds White “wasn’t in Congress to help shape” the bill but is willing to help “fix any problems.”

White has also signed the pledge to protect Social Security.

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Editor’s note: to read more on the “Third Rail” click here.

Reported by Joe Jordan, [email protected]

Statement from Terry’s campaign:

“Lee’s focus has been on strengthening Medicare and fighting the $500 billion in cuts to the program that are contained in the federal healthcare legislation passed earlier this year. Those cuts–which Lee’s opponent has supported–could bring chaos to the program and cause long delays in seniors seeing a doctor. Moreover, $113 billion of the cuts are occurring to Medicare Advantage programs–some companies are passing the reductions through by cutting such benefits like free eye exams or gym memberships.” 


Joe formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • JayArr

    If you “borrow” something and don’t intend to return it, you are a thief. This is, of course, what Lee Terry and other Congress members have done with social security contributions. But hey, he’ll try to keep your “free” eye exams and gym memberships covered by the not-paid-for Medicare program. Are Nebraska voters so stupid as to be unable to see what he really intends to do with their money? That is a rhetorical question as I can assure you they are.

  • TexasAnnie

    “Free eye exams or gym memberships?” I don’t think the public needs to be providing these benefits as a form of public health care anyway!

    If both the Democrat and the Republican candidates are pledging to protect Social Security, and the Republican candidate is pledging to protect inordinate Medicare Advantage costs, what good is the Republican candidate?

    I read last week that the Libertarian Party there has struggled, once again, to gain ballot access. Those Democrats and Republicans have made it damn hard for third party candidates to get on the ballot, so a big shout out to the Libertarians there! Maybe the Libertarians will field a 2nd Congressional District challenger to the White-Terry non-choice.

  • There is a clear choice between Terry and White. White is far more liberal than Terry. If he were conservative, he’d be a Republican. We thought Sen. Nelson was a moderate until the chips are down. Then he votes with Obama. White won’t be able to resist pressure from his party to support bigger government. and higher spending.

  • GeosUser

    This is just more of typical Joe Jordan “journalism”. “in the middle of a tough re-election campaign against Democrat Tom White,” is complete and utter BS opinion by Joe Jordan. What Tom White campaign??? The DCCC has abandoned White and he hasn’t gained any traction elsewhere but Joe Jordan is trying to assist because he doesn’t like Lee Terry…never has.

  • John

    Who’s side are you on Joe? Aren’t you supposed to be neutral in this? It sounds as if White has bought you completely.

    Anyway, White has said he supports the Obama agenda 100%. If that is what you want, another lackey to fall in line with Pelosi, Ried, and the rest, go right ahead and give him your vote. Don’t blame me when your wallet starts screaming.

    By the way, over 65% of the people of this country were against the heath care bill. Nebraska was far higher than that in opposition to it. Nelson voted for it anyway. He didn’t care about the Nebraska citizen. Do we have any assurance that White, who claims to be an Obama lackey will either?

    Wake up people, we are looking at a doubling of the deficit in the last two years. Businesses are afraid to hire because of impending tax hikes, investors are holding onto their cash. Where’s the recovery?

    Terry had to do what he had to do. Sometimes you have to run the ship aground to keep it from sinking. Don’t go down with Obama.

  • Dan

    John, that is the attitude that keeps giving the conservatives of Nebraska a Congressman like “No Leadership Lee”. Did Lee have to vote with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for the first bailout (Tarp), did he have to vote with Nancy and Harry for higher cafe standards?

    I for one am tired of seeing Lee Terry do NOTHING. He is the senior Congressman from this state. What leadership has he shown. Even the two Junior Congressman knew enough to have the backbone to stand firmly to conservative values and vote NO on the first bailout. Not “No Leadership Lee” he stood with Nancy and Harry.

    12 years in Washington what leadership has Lee offered? What landmark legislation has Lee had passed? He tries to sell himself as an expert on energy policy. Since Lee has been in Washington gas has more than doubled and we are now importing more oil than ever. We are no closer to energy independence than we were in the past.

    Now he signs a pledge to leave Social Security as is. Are you kidding me? How has the government done investing that money over the years? How has that return on investment been? The system is broke if you don’t let some of the younger generation start to privatize part of their investment there will be nothing for them as they reach retirement age.

    Tom White would be a terrible choice to send to Washington unfortunately so is “No Leadership Lee”

  • PBL

    I’m having a hard time with Lee and White for the reasons stated above but am leaning towards White. White at least may do something!

    Lee said the people spoke and he listened to the voters. What has he done about the illegals??

  • Dan

    PBL you are right on target. “No Leadership Lee” has done nothing in 12 years. Unfortunately we in District 2 have two very poor choices to send to Washington.

    I suppose the case could and will be made by the “No Leadership Lee” Campaign that Tom White is the rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Lee Terry won’t vote with the Liberals as much as Tom White will.

    Either way you cut it neither Tom White or “No Leadership Lee” should be sent to Washington.

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  • Jesse

    Has anyone ever called out Lee Terry and gotten an answer about the US Term Limits Pledge he signed during the 1998 primary to not serve more than 3 terms in the US House of Representatives?