Conflicts of interest may discredit Colorado's newly formed health insurance exchange, worries Susan Barnes-Gelt in the July round of Head On TV debates. Look closer and you'll see the exchange concept itself is pure corporate statism, replies John Andrews, adding this is one more reason Obamacare must go. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the 2012 presidential outlook, the Stock Show's move to Aurora, Mayor Hancock's early moves, and the Denver Police Department. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for July:
1. HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE QUESTIONED
John: Obamacare requires every state to create a new bureaucratic monster called the health insurance exchange. Colorado House Republicans went along when they should have told the Feds to get lost. Now we learn the board of the exchange is big business in bed with big government, pure corporate statism. That helps no one.
Susan: Seems like policymakers all ‘round – the elected’s who appoint and the industry and business people appointed – need a tutorial on conflict of interest. Hickenlooper’s appointments to the Health Insurance Exchange Board are awful. The fox isn’t just guarding the hen house - he’s living in the master suite.
John: Susan, it’s worse than that. The health insurance exchange is a conflict of interest by definition. The board appointments by legislative leaders and the governor were all quite legal. But the exchange law itself rigs the marketplace and harms consumers. Massachusetts could warn us. Obamacare is fatally flawed. Out with it!
Susan: Massachusetts’s residents love their health care system – Mitt Romney got something right as governor. The current, unregulated system benefits health insurance companies – currently enjoying record profits. The current system works for insurance execs and shareholders. Hick needs to revisit his appointments.
2. PRESIDENTIAL RACE HEATS UP
Susan: The 2012 Presidential race is on. The R’s have a fundamental problem – finding a candidate who appeals to the drown-government-in-a-bathtub contingent, dominating the primary process and nominating someone who can appeal to moderates and independents in November. Despite the tough economy, I’m betting on Obama.
John: Your take on 2012 is backwards. The only drowning to we face is a rising tide of unemployment and foreclosures, with Uncle Sam awash in red ink and Barack Obama in over his head. Good luck on that reelection. Republican challengers Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty could all beat this president.
Susan: The majority of voters want solutions – not partisan bickering and negative attacks. Ronald Reagan beat incumbent Jimmy Carter because he had a positive message and uplifting vision. The current R frontrunners are negative, small minded dividers. Huntsman is the only viable option and he can’t win the nomination.
John: Obama has made the economy worse. He has made the deficit worse. His policies will worsen health care and worsen national security. He just can’t lead. Maybe one of his fellow Democrats will take him down next year. One of the strong Republicans, Gov. Romney, Gov. Perry, Gov. Pawlenty, Congressman Bachmann, definitely will.
3. STOCK SHOW MAY LEAVE DENVER
John: My first time at the National Western was 50 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. For a lot of us, the Stock Show is Denver. But money talks, and now Aurora is talking loudest. It’s a tough test for in a down economy for Michael Hancock as Denver’s new mayor.
Susan: The National Western is the only urban stock show in the country. It needs 3 times the acreage it has. The issue is not will they move, but who pays? Denver should not pay for the stock show to Aurora unless we retain the revenue.
John: The larger issue is how the people’s hard-earned tax dollars should be used and where the coercive power of government should be allowed to reach. Massive subsidies to private businesses are on the table here, driven by the Gaylord fat cats. Aurora’s election for mayor may become a referendum on the deal.
Susan: There are no winners when politics trumps policy. The issue ought to be what’s best for the region and the stock show. Balkanized local government pits city against city – to neither’s benefit. There’s a win-win is this challenge. But I’m not sure rational thinking will prevail.
4. HANCOCK’S EARLY MOVES
Susan: Denver’s new mayor – Michael Hancock - has his hands full. A tough budget, belligerent police leadership and the threatened stock show exit. The weak economy and bloated transition process has made identifying the right appointees challenging. Janice Sinden, his first-rate chief of staff is a good start.
John: I like it that Mayor Hancock is not a showboat. The guy seems sensible, steady, and real. I like it that he appointed Sinden, a business-minded Republican. I liked his gutsy, decent campaign style. He didn’t pander to unions or hide his religious faith. Now we’ll see how he governs.
Susan: The quality of his appointments will reveal a lot. He needs to bring in smart people with fresh perspectives, not the usual retreads and campaign payoffs. He’s got to replace tired leadership at the urban renewal authority and other policy commissions if he wants to be effective.
John: Lots of people watching this don’t live in Denver. But wherever you live in Colorado, you’d like to hope that Denver is a city on the rise, not on the decline. The keys to that are dynamic free enterprise, excellent schools, and a proud civic spirit. That should be the Hancock agenda.
5. POLICE DISCIPLINE QUESTIONED
Susan: The majority of Denver cops are great. But one out of 17 have discipline problems serious enough to question their veracity in court. Combined with the costly rash of excessive force cases – the DPD needs systemic overhaul. A chief – new to the department is a start.
John: The whole reason for government is to see that streets are safe, neighborhoods are peaceful, citizens are secure in their persons and property. Law enforcement is tough, thankless work. The men and women who do it deserve our gratitude and the benefit of the doubt. I hope the new mayor knows that.
Susan: Public safety is the centerpiece of government. The police department’s mission is to protect and serve – not abuse and lie. Lack of transparency and accountability destroys public trust and that’s where Denver is now. The department and the city will be better off if the bad seeds are removed.
John: Perfection never happens in this world. Policing is no exception. The outgoing chief, Gerry Whitman, is a man of honor and deserves our salute. The former chief, Jim Collier, was right when he warned against demoralizing the force. Don’t do it. The manager of safety, Charles Garcia, doesn’t understand policing. He should go.