Ben Nelson needs to get out more

BEN NELSON NEEDS TO GET OUT MORE…. As part of the ongoing effort to approve Wall Street reform in the Senate, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), among others, has been pushing for restrictions on banks imposing ATM fees.

As Harkin sees it, when a customer uses an ATM, he/she shouldn’t be hit with $5 in fees just to take out $20. The senator has characterized the practice as “legal thievery.” Republicans, of course, oppose the effort on philosophical grounds. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said preventing government price controls is more important than helping consumers.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), however, isn’t sure what to think. It’s not that the policy is too confusing; it’s just that he’s never used an ATM. (via Nico Pitney)

The Nebraska Democrat pleaded ignorance when asked this week whether Congress should cap ATM fees. Nelson said that while he’s no fan of unnecessary fees, he’s unfamiliar with the charges.

“I’ve never used an ATM, so I don’t know what the fees are,” Nelson said, adding that he gets his cash from bank tellers, just not automatic ones. “It’s true, I don’t know how to use one.

“But I could learn how to do it just like I’ve . . . I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms.”

Apparently, Nelson’s reference to “holograms” was his way of describing bar-codes on products.

Nelson isn’t up for re-election until 2012, but at this point, the “out of touch” campaign ads seem to write themselves.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.