Despite the fall-out from the Cornhusker Kickback in the health care reform debate, Sen. Ben Nelson is, at best, creating the perception that he is seeking another parochial deal or, at worst, acting on behalf of the richest man in the United States to help protect his bottom line. News reports detail that Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett–richest man in America–lobbied Nelson to include an exemption for previously written derivatives contracts from the derivatives regulation legislation crafted in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The committee did not include the provision despite Nelson’s support for it.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Nelson has received in campaign contributions from Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and Berkshire employees. Nelson also owns between $500,000 and $1,000,001 in Berkshire Hathaway stock, according to his most recently filed personal financial disclosure. The provision sought by Buffett would have saved Berkshire Hathaway between $6 and $8 billion.
One would think that, after the embarrassment of the Cornhusker Kickback, Nelson would consider that bartering his vote, or appearing to barter his vote, for parochial interests, especially when said interest is the richest man in America, not only will not work, but makes the senator appear rather petty.