The Wheels Down Politics Show – Rep. Lee Terry

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Lee Terry 02Jerry Kratochvil interviews former Nebraska 2nd District Congressman Lee Terry.

Lee tells Jerry about his life since leaving Congress in 2014 after 16 years in office (not including serving on the Omaha City Council prior to that). He tells a bit about what issues he is involved in now and how he has kept up with the issues since then.

They then get into the discussion of Congressman Terry’s opposition from within his own party that began back in 2010, and eventually resulted in his loss in 2014. They talk about the influence of the “Tea Party” and the source of some of his opposition in his races, including the TARP bailout.

They then talk about some of the issues and dynamics of the 2014 General Election, including the now notorious, “Nice House” comment. Lee continues by talking about some of the more memorable issues during his term and the work that he did in Congress.

They then get into Lee’s thoughts on some of the current day’s politics, including how the 2nd District race is shaping up, his thoughts about General Don Bacon and the current politics and policy surrounding the Death Penalty in Nebraska.

They conclude with Lee’s thoughts on the Iran nuclear deal, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Boys Town Coin.

On the Web: Lee Terry at Kelley Drye
Twitter: @LeeTerryNE


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.


  1. TexasAnnie says:

    Good interview! It demonstrates just how out of touch Lee Terry STILL is.
    1. He blames the local Libertarians for his loss last year. And he thinks a national mood of “anti-incumbancy” had it’s effect too. Yet, he also believes that Congressional incumbents are “tough to dislodge.” Huh?
    2. He thinks his vote on TARP is the only issue upon which folks find legitimate criticism for his 16 years in Congress. He doesn’t realize that the TARP vote alone was/is enough to throw the bums out. Because we, the American people, will be paying-off Lee Terry’s mistaken vote for many, many years to come.
    3. He thinks it’s “bizarre” that so many “good conservatives” have been pushing for repeal of the death penalty in Nebraska. Lee Terry evidently believes that Nebraska “conservatives” are not pro-life!
    4. And when Street Sweeper complimented Lee Terry’s staff for getting Sweeper’s passport snag addressed immediately, he said “constituent services” and “helping people” was the nuts and bolts of politics. Does anybody believe that Lee Terry truly operated his office in that manner? Or do y’all believe as I do that Lee Terry only did what was good for Lee Terry. And those good tidings probably include his relationship with the Asarco/Back to the River environmental attorney. Let’s consider what Lee Terry did for those unable to do something for him: ____________________________.

  2. Pete says:

    I for one, do miss Lee Terry. He represented the majority of the citizens of the second district a great majority of the time. One does not spend 16 years in office, fighting for re-election every two years by accident. He was also a heck of a lot more interesting to speak with than our current congress critter, who is a lot like a soggy cracker.

    On top of being a good representative, his office always provided the highest level of constituent service and the people there genuinely cared about their work. That’s rare amongst government employees.

    Thanks Lee for your many years of service!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nice house. Cushy consultant/lobbyist job. Lee’s Living The Dream. Now its time – past time – to ignore the so-easily ignorable, utterly forgetably, entirely mediocre Mr. Terry.

    One wag once said the vice presidency of the United States wasn’t worth a bucket of warm piss. That’s also true for present and former House members.

  4. Scott Lautenbaugh says:

    To: TexasAnnie– Addressing some of your points. The three statements in number 1 all make sense– tacking a “huh” on the end doesn’t change that. It is normally tough to defeat an incumbent, but the other two factors took their toll, in Lee’s opinion. You may disagree somehow, but that doesn’t make it “Huh”-worthy. 2. I wish he hadn’t voted for TARP– fine. 3. I think it’s bizarre that so many people of some intellect can argue you can’t be pro-life & pro-death penalty. It’s like saying you can’t be pro-freedom if you favor locking up criminals. Or you can’t be pro-life but kill enemy combatant in war. It strikes me as fairly idiotic. A better question for “y’all” might be how you can be so put out by the death penalty, yet fine with killing babies (and auctioning off their body parts, apparently)? THAT warrants a “huh?” in my book. 4. Lee had good constituent services– and was a good Representative, for that matter (in my opinion, and for what it’s worth).

  5. TexasAnnie says:

    Did you listen to the interview Scott L? In my opinion, Lee Terry is expressing blame for his loss beyond himself. I simply tried to cite examples of his posturing. Perhaps you are a Republican in denial (-your party has come apart) as Lee Terry was last year. Folks are fed up with business as usual, and although they gave Lee Terry many more years than he promised he would take when he entered the Congress, he accomplished very little, nothing of significance, AND he voted for TARP. The Republican Party cannot reconcile that single vote with Americans who do pay their bills. Huh-worthiness depends upon one’s perspective. And I stand by my Huh.

    I’ll come back and address your other issues, very thoughtfully. But right now I’ve got a daughter who needs me…

  6. TexasAnnie says:

    Here’s what IS bizarre from my “Huh” perspective:

    Within our system of jurisprudence we all possess a right of belief and action on that belief so long as we don’t harm others. Some believe abortion is a harmful act upon another while others consider it a remedy. Who am I to say whether another should be permitted an abortion? The laws permit it. And as with the death penalty, the laws permit changing the laws. Both you and Lee Terry understand this principle better than I. Is it “bizarre” that “good conservatives” (Lee Terry’s words) repealed the death penalty in Nebraska? Lee Terry IS saying that good conservatives support the death penalty, or, if they don’t, it’s bizarre. Right? There are probably liberals that support the death penalty. Are they bad?

    Now I don’t mean to get into a semantic brouhaha here, but being “pro-life” is generally understood to mean one respects life enough to sustain it whenever able. Yet Lee Terry, or you, state that you will not sustain life if it’s an enemy combatant, or death row inmate. You’ve put those limitations on your pro-life stance. Others believe abortion is okay and euthanasia is okay when remedying circumstances so detrimental to life, that the positive affect sustains life and thus IS “pro-life.” And you know, Scott L., I have a hard time reconciling how it could happen (while you served as a pro-life legislator) that the mostly pro-life unicameral did not override the pro-life governor’s veto of BSDC medical staffing just prior to those horrific deaths. But, y’all maintain your pro-life credentials! I don’t believe anybody is auctioning baby body parts. But I do believe that harvesting human body parts is a pro-life ideal…

    In my utopia, we all possesses a right to life and a right to die. And when any person harms another, justice must be served, even unto the death penalty. The single overarching principle of which I always adhere when voting, is the candidate’s stance on TAXES. Lee Terry and the Republican Party in general have been exposed as corporate shills. And those registering Independent and Libertarian are keeping tabs…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good to learn Lautenbaugh is still out there somewhere ready to defend the right of votes to be discarded if he doesn’t like the results of elections. But? When he loves you? Feel the joy.

  8. KHDS says:

    Terry is another example of the Professional Political Class.

    He might have earned some respect if he stuck with his original term limits promise.

  9. repentinglawyer says:

    Lee Terry is a bright, honest, and likable fellow. Not always fast on his feet because he is thoughtful. Never understood the hostility many Rs felt toward him. Think it is less about Lee and more about changes in views of R activists, but it may be he let himself be painted as lackluster, which he was not.

  10. Scott Lautenbaugh says:

    Repentinglawyer: I agree.

    Anon. Coward @ 11:30– I think I ran a lot of fair elections (that didn’t all turn out as I wanted, to say the least), and drew a lot of fair maps (that were only “offensive” to partisans who wanted their own maps). Maybe you should elaborate on whose votes I discarded?

  11. Dwight in Florida says:

    Just for the record, in the 2014 congressional elections, 96% were re-elected. Yet, national polls showed Congress with an 11% approval rating — go figure. The 2nd District of NE has always been a swing district over the last two decades and proved to be so in 2014.

  12. The Grundle King says:

    Off topic, but what the hey…the folks over the LJS are fawning (as per the norm) over a rather childish open letter from Ernie Chambers to Pete Ricketts over the recent no-hitter pitched against the Cubs.

    Of course, the seem to have no problem with the fact that Chambers misappropriated state resources by using Nebraska Legislature letterhead for his personal attack on the Governor. An egregious expense? No…but shouldn’t he be doing crap like this on his own dime?

  13. KHDS says:


    Considering how few pages are still printed in the LJS, why would they waste pages on such trivia?

    Answer: Liberal idiots.

  14. Anony. says:

    The Journal Star (and the Herald) publicizing Chambers’ nonsense is like running around tacking your kids’ art up on other peoples fridges, and expecting them to appreciate it. (It is exactly like that.)

  15. Sparkles says:


    Re TARP and your opinion “we, the American people, will be paying-off Lee Terry’s mistaken vote for many, many years to come.”

    You know, there ARE several current accountings for TARP.
    Accountings tracking every dollar and every recipient for both the $700B (roughly) TARP Program and the separate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout.
    The US Dept of Treasury confirms that (as of May 2015) 99.0% of all disbursements have been fully recovered.
    Many other accountings, as has been reported even in ‘conservative’ news publications (see NRO), show that TARP actually netted a profit of around $15B.
    In fairness, the $15B profit doesn’t account for inflation and some of the interest costs borne by the public.

    Nonetheless, TARP is -in fact- NOT an expense Americans will be paying off for years to come.

    By the way, Lee Terry voted against TARP before he voted for it.
    The one interesting story Terry shared in the interview was that a CEO for a large company in Omaha called him directly (immediately after the TARP voted failed) and told him something akin to – Hey, WTF! There’s no money to make payroll and the banks won’t take our call, either YOU Republicans grow a f’ing pair – RIGHT NOW – or we’re goin’ down and so are half the businesses in Omaha and across the nation!

    It’s remarkable that so many can so easily forget the shocking stock market collapse on the day the first vote on TARP failed in the House. It was Sept 29, 2008, the one day in my life I thought, ‘those damn Prepper’s were right!’.
    Google the date, it was the biggest EVER single day crash, and it was a direct reaction to the Republicans in the House (including Lee Terry) failing to pass TARP.
    America was in the midst of a full blown financial crisis not experienced since the Great Depression. A crisis certain to metastasize into a global meltdown.
    The CEO that called Terry was exactly right. had the government not stepped in with TARP, hundreds of millions of Americans would have been homeless and in soup lines.

    Yet the ONE vote that Terry cast, in a 16 year career, that truly made a difference in the lives of not only Nebraskans by EVERY American, is the ONE vote that most angers his ill-informed constituents.

  16. TexasAnnie says:

    Nope Sparkles. Those of us who actually pay our bills have not been made whole. We didn’t get the terms of our mortgages rewritten, we didn’t get to trade in a clunker for a new ride, and we didn’t even get new cell phones! (I’m trying to remember all the remedies proposed but in a hurry here.) Did the government get it’s money back? Maybe. But the government didn’t reimburse those of us who actually have to pay taxes!!!

    Do you believe, Sparkles, that it’s okay for the government to punish those of us who are prudent in order to rescue those who won’t or can’t pay their bills? And how many times should such rescues occur?

  17. Anonymous says:

    To no one ever says,
    They sure as h e double tooth picks will be when they start to feel the power of incumbency around November!
    David Bywater

  18. TexasAnnie says:

    And what has changed about Wall Street, Sparkles? Couldn’t this all happen again? No. We lost more than unjustified government loans since 2008. We lost our very “capitalism.”

  19. Anonymous says:

    To still thin skinned Lautenbaugh: When you took 12 duly elected board members of OPS and masterminded then ramrodded new legislation to reduce the board size on a trumped up (sorry Donald) “swearing in” glitch? You threw out votes. As for calling me “coward”? Takes one to know one.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Rules matter, especially when you’re an elected official. The old board didn’t follow the rules. They got thrown out on their asses. Simple as that.

  21. Scott Lautenbaugh says:

    Oh– you’re one of the “old OPS board” bitter clingers. I thought you were challenging the elections I ran– a pretty serious charge.

    But you are challenging LB 125 from 2013– a fairly unserious charge. It is true that I believed a smaller board would be more effective at managing– that seems to be the model everywhere else. But, also, the county attorney was ready to file suit on what you called the “trumped up” swearing in glitch (where the old board failed to follow the law, and invalidated their own elections). This would have removed the whole board (and really underlined my concerns about the basic competence of those in charge). If it was trumped up, then I’m not sure why the county attorney didn’t see through it.

    And my bill passed with 44 votes– I couldn’t do it alone– so that means it was a bi-partisan conspiracy to “throw out votes”, and create a better, smaller board based upon trumped up charges. It seems like a lot of people don’t share your view of what transpired, or were “in on it”.

    And, no, I don’t think anonymous snarky postings are “brave”, but that’s just me. I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Odd, but I understood that in years past the same swearing in glitch occurred. Oh no, you didn’t do it alone, you had lots of help to spin the yarn from start to finish. But? It remains, voters voted and had their votes counted and certified whereas in your world that doesn’t count. Silly voters. They cast their vote and you spearheaded the bill to throw the votes out. What would have happened if a huge snow storm happened on the very night of the swearing in and the city was shut down? According to law, that board had to be removed by your standards. As for my choice to remain “anonymous?” I really don’t give a fig what you regard as brave. As for any feelings being hurt would suggest you mean something to me and in the immortal words of Rhett Butler: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a fig” or something to that effect. Good thing you weren’t born a fish with being so easily baited you’d be dinner.

  23. TexasAnnie says:

    Scott L.:
    I don’t know whether the 12 member OPS Board was too big or not. While I lived in Omaha with a child at JPL, I knew the board members and my child was being served well enough. But other children at the school, state wards, were not being served well, mostly because of statewide policy not district policy, and that condition has always been the source of my complaints about SPED in Nebraska. I won’t ever “get over” the knowledge that the governor and legislature there colluded to CHEAT DISABLED CHILDREN of their public education. Until I actually witnessed those events, I did not believe it could happen, –anywhere in America!

    Sooo, I do what to alert you to the fact that “bitter clingers” don’t just “get over” those conditions that caused the bitterness. As I tried to illustrate during the aborted conversation with Sparkles above, TARP has not been forgiven and forgotten. And when the next economic downturn comes, the Republican Party will be further “blamed” for what both the R’s and D’s caused to happen, together!

    If you (and Lee Terry) think the Tea Party, Libertarians and Independents were tough in 2012, just wait until 2016!!!

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