Friday, 27 August 2010 08:42 by Admin
Ken Buck's views and experience make him "the right man to take on the mess in Washington" as a senator from Colorado, argues John Andrews in the August round of Head On TV debates. And John says the outsider candidacy of Dan Maes for governor, already successful beyond all odds, "might surprise everyone" against John Hickenlooper. But Susan Barnes-Gelt predicts a 20-point blowout for Hickenlooper, along with a narrow win for incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over a trio of tax-cutting ballot issues and the Denver mayor’s animus toward autos. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are the four scripts for August:
1. BUCK OR BENNET FOR US SENATE?
Susan: Mid-term elections typically favor the out-of-power party – for 2010 that’s the R’s. However Colorado is fundamentally moderate, and independent voters will be turned off by Ken Buck’s flip flops and Tea Party sympathies and murky record of integrity. It’ll be close, but Bennet wins.
John: Appointed Senator Michael Bennet has voted in lockstep with Barack Obama and Harry Reid on one awful bill after another – taxes, spending, socialized medicine, and the list goes on. Bennet’s money saved him in the primary, but the revulsion of swing voters toward all things Democratic will doom him in November.
Susan: Michael Bennet is a lot of things: smart, thoughtful, disciplined and experienced. A quick look at his record confirms that he’s neither ultra-liberal – which is why the uber-progressives supported Romanoff – or a knee-jerk follower.
John: Bennet supported Obama on the huge wasteful stimulus. It failed. He supported Obama’s health care takeover. It’s become an embarrassment. Wrong man, wrong message, wrong moment. Ken Buck is tough, principled, sensible, and real. He’s exactly the right man to take on the mess in Washington.
2. THAT WILD GOVERNOR’S RACE
John: Bill Ritter and the Democrats have really failed Colorado. Bad show on the economy, the budget, energy. John Hickenlooper, Mr. Tax Increase, Mr. Sanctuary City, would be no better. Voters are fed up. Hence the Tea Party candidacy of Dan Maes and the maverick move by Tom Tancredo. This is wild.
Susan: Wild? It’s ridiculous. Tom-I’ll quit/you quit Tancredo v. Dan-stranger-to-the-truth Maes are a joke and the very public Hickenlooper endorsement by fiscal conservative Repub’s Mizel, Maffei and Hamilton, is just a drip of the coming deluge. I’m betting Hick wins by 20 points.
John: Colorado is a big diverse state. Coloradans politically tend to be in the center or to the right. A limousine liberal from downtown Denver is the wrong fit for governor. Hickenlooper is defined by tax increases and evasive about his hard-left past. Tancredo will fade. Maes might surprise everyone.
Susan: Operative word – might – Not a chance the guy with a record of failed business enterprises who can’t keep his campaign books straight, who borrows money to pay his mortgage is going to be Colorado’s next guv. Maes, mights, WON’T!
3. HICKENLOOPER VS. THE AUTOMOBILE?
John: The automobile is the greatest freedom machine ever invented. Mayor Hickenlooper’s wacky vision to replace our personal cars and trucks with government transit and bicycles is one more reason he shouldn’t be governor. Colorado doesn’t need fewer roads as the mayor believes. Nor do we need the fatally flawed Fastracks plan.
Susan: Please don’t tell me you agree with Repub candidate Dan Maes belief that Hick’s support of alternative transportation is part of a wacky international left-wing communist scheme. And when did the Mayor say the state needs fewer roads? It’s both and, not either or.
John: According to John Hickenlooper, the mo-ped mayor who wants to be our next green governor, the big question is, quote, “How do we wean ourselves off automobiles?” That’s the same Hickenlooper who already led the metro area into a fiscal sinkhole called Fastracks. I wonder if this guy can even spell “mobility.”
Susan: Hick – is he a limousine liberal, a moped-mayor, a fast-track fanatic or a bike-lane louie? Regardless, he is on the move. Republican candidate Dan Maes can’t get his foot out of his mouth or his campaign in first gear.
5. BALLOT ISSUES 60, 61 & 101
Susan: Colorado voters must vote NO on ballot issues 60, 61 and 101. Deceptive, job killing proposals, devastating to small business and guaranteeing increased K-12 class sizes by halving the amount of property tax allocated to schools. Bi-partisan economists estimate Prop 101 will cut state revenues by $2Billion.
John: Those three tax cut proposals look pretty good to me at a time when ordinary Coloradans could use some relief. 60, 61, and 101 simply restore the fiscal guardrails of TABOR that liberal judges and politicians have pulled down. State replacement is guaranteed for local education dollars. This helps small business.
Susan: And the replacement is . . .? Monopoly money? Are your son, the Denver policeman. These initiatives guarantee job losses, negative business growth, higher unemployment, dismantled higher ed and degraded roads, highways, state parks and public safety. Perhaps access to medical marijuana is too easy?
John: The world economy is gravely threatened by taxes, spending, and mountains of government debt. Colorado is right in the path of that. Those three tax relief measures, 60, 61, and 101, are strong medicine to fight an epidemic that could run our state bankrupt. The fiscal madness has to stop. I’m voting yes.
(Nantucket, Aug. 16) The two topics dominating summer cocktail chatter on this resort island thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts both have a nautical flavor. The first involves the return of the Great White Sharks. Ever since Peter Benchley made this area the thinly disguised setting for his blockbuster novel Jaws the Great whites have become a staple of local legend. A wrongheaded environmental Protection Agency ban on seal hunting has led to a population explosion among the furry little critters all along the Northern New England coast. Unimpressed by EPA logic Mother Nature sought to redress the balance by sending a bulletin to Atlantic based Great Whites (and smaller sharks) that liberals were sponsoring a “Free Lunch” in these waters. Soon shark sightings abounded leading to many beach closings and other attendant economic dislocations. The second involves island summer resident Massachusetts Senator John Kerry who got caught trying to evade taxes on the seven million dollar yacht he just had built in New Zealand (so much for Buy American). Johnny thought no one would notice if he quietly listed the boat’s berthing location in nearby Rhode Island which has no tax on these luxury items. By doing so he would deprive financially strapped Massachusetts of $420,000 sales tax revenue and Nantucket where the boat will usually be docked of $70,000 excise tax. Unfortunately for Johnny someone tipped off the Boston Herald, the Rupert Murdoch owned tabloid that delights in flaying the local liberals. For five straight days the Herald gave the entire front page to this story complete with pictures of Johnny in a digitally added pirate’s hat and juicy details about the boats wine cellar, his and her wet bars etc. The Senator- so unfairly harassed by national and local media- moved from a) “I don’t owe any taxes”, to b) “It’s my wife’s boat”, and finaly c) “We always intended to pay these taxes”- which he promptly did. All in all great fun with yet another democrat who wants to raise your taxes while dodging their own ( see Geithner, Sebelius, Rangel etc.) For Republicans a more ominous political symbol manifested itself last week with the appearance on the island of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick for a re-election fundraiser. Patrick who gave the disingenuous “Hope and Change” campaign theme its very successful trial run in 2006 is a very lucky man- and not just because bosom buddy Barack Obama has sent his own political guru David Plouffe to run Patrick’s 2010 re-election effort. Owing to the familiar democratic penchant for taxing and spending Patrick is the most unpopular Massachusetts governor in living memory. Nonetheless current poles make him a good bet to win re-election thanks to the third party candidacy of renegade democrat now Independent State Treasurer Tim Cahill who is ruining the once excellent prospects of republican Charles Baker. Patrick’s good fortune is very like that of Florida Governor Charlie Crist who went from Dead Man Walking in the Republican Senatorial primary to third party independent now topping the polls. And we have Colorado ex-congressman tom Tancredo whose impending third party candidacy will be the final blow to the once bright prospect of Republicans reclaiming the governor’s mansion in the wake of the inept taxing and spending regime of democrat Bill Ritter. Twentieth Century history gives prominent examples of third party candidacies that were ruinous for Republicans and by extension the whole country. The most consequential instance was the fierce quarrel between President William Howard Taft and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt over the “true meaning” and “soul” of the Republican party which led to TR’s third party or “Bull Moose” candidacy. Their fracturing of the Republican Party delivered the White House to Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson whose redistributive “New Freedom” became the model for FDR’s New Deal and the intellectual ancestor of the Obama approach to governance. Eighty years later the twangy voice of the egomaniacal third party Presidential candidate Ross Perot persuaded millions of voters that George H.W. Bush had “corrupted” the Republican Party and that America needed a “rebirth” and “purification” under his leadership. What America got instead was Bill Clinton. Enough said.
For generations Republicans and Conservatives have disemboweled themselves in a fruitless quest for “Purity” (e.g. Goldwater 1964). If conservatives in Colorado or elsewhere insist on “clarity, specificity, and agreement” on identity, issues etc., we are just forming up yet another circular firing squad. The ultimate temptation of course, is the suicidal Third Party impulse. If our country is to be saved, it is imperative that Democrats be decisively defeated in the next two elections. All else must be subordinated to that goal for if we fail the damage to our country will be catastrophic and irreversible. As I sit here in Nantucket watching the liberal species up close (MSNBC yakkers Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough within walking distance) I am reminded that Democrats never accurately define themselves or publicly admit of their real plans for “transformational change”. Such deception allows them to win elections every time Republicans screw up. The Progressive agenda like that of its union core is narrow, radical, and unchanging and it has advanced incrementally- by fits and starts- for nearly a century. Great election victories (1932, 1964, 1980) are won when people decisively reject the opposition (Hoover, Goldwater, Carter). The issues all conservatives can agree on are the Deficit, the Debt, runaway Spending, Metastasizing Government, and the Death of the American Dream for our own children and grandchildren. Let’s leave Purity and Perfection to the afterlife.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow. His columns have appeared in The Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Human Events and other publications. He lives in Colorado.
With the primaries over and nominations set in both parties, now it can be told. Political consultant and Fox News contributor Dick Morris arranged a sidebar meeting after the Western Conservative Summit with some of the GOP candidates for Colorado's 3rd, 4th, and 7th congressional districts -- all currently in Democratic hands but potentially in play as the anti-incumbent tide rises. Cory Gardner was then already the nominee in CD4; contenders Ryan Frazier and Scott Tipton have since won their respective races.
Let me note for the record that Centennial Institute does not support or oppose any political party, candidate, or ballot issue, and we did not host or attend the private interviews described in Morris's July 20 column, excerpted below. We do applaud Dick, however, for making good use of his quick eight-hour visit to the state on Sunday, July 11, as our summit wrapped up.
BY DICK MORRIS 7/20/10 I have spent the last ten days out on the campaign trail in Colorado, Virginia, and Arkansas. Under the aegis of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative voter education group, I have been preaching the gospel that we cannot tolerate big spending liberals in Congress and that we need to elect conservatives who will oppose higher taxes. The crowds and the enthusiasm have been simply amazing. One thousand in Denver. Four thousand in Arkansas. Fifteen hundred in Virginia. I have frequently worked in these states, but never have seen anything close to this level of commitment, interest and enthusiasm. But it is worthwhile to review the individual races in these states. They are crucial and, combined, could give the Republicans seven of the thirty-nine seats they need to take power in the House. In Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner, http://www.corygardner.com, has an excellent chance of defeating Democratic incumbent Betsy Markey.
Democrat John Salazar, the Interior Secretary's brother, faces the loss of his Congressional seat in the western part of the state to Republican Scott Tipton, http://votetipton.com/fix-america, a businessman who has built a huge and successful business selling Native American crafts and art throughout the world. Tipton employs hundreds of Native Americans and, at the same time, helps keep their culture alive and make it marketable.
In the Denver area, a young, articulate, charismatic, brilliant, black Republican Ryan Frazier, http://www.frazierforcolorado.com, faces Democratic Congressman Ed Pearlmutter. He has a good chance of winning and deserves our support. This guy could be our answer to Barack Obama!
Sunday, 8 August 2010 15:26 by Admin
Editor: After Vincent McGuire, CU political scientist and Centennial Institute Fellow, suggested Tom Tancredo's third-party run for Governor of Colorado might drive structural changes in the way conservatives organize themselves politically, Centennial fellows Paul Prentice, Alan Crippen, and Bill Moloney weighed in with complementary or contrasting views. Here is the resulting symposium.
MCGUIRE: I am very ambivalent about Tancredo. On the one hand, I believe there is a real conservative grassroots movement occurring, possibly for the first time. I do not think the Reagan revolution was of this grassroots level nor was Newt’s takeover of the House. We can disagree on that of course. Conservatives have a unique opportunity here to attract a large group of people based on ideas. If we look at polling data voters are unhappy with both parties. Therefore, I think it is in the best long-term interest of conservatives to have the establishment Republicanism hitch its wagon to the tea party movement.
On the same note, I do not think either of the Republican candidates are electable. This too we can disagree on. I believe that what voters in general are looking for, similar to 1976, are anti-political politicians. Plus, Tancredo has a better shot at beating ‘the looper’ for as well as advancing the conservative cause.
On the other hand I do not like extremism from either side. I am not saying the tea party movement or Tancredo is extreme. However in this Obama era there seems to be no consensus on what moderation is. What could happen is another realignment of the type we had in the elections of 1964 and 1972. In the election of 1964 Barry Goldwater, the most conservative major candidate ever, drove many of the liberal from the Republican Party making that party a conservative party. In the election of 1972 George McGovern, the most liberal candidate from a major party up until that time, drove many of the conservatives out of the Democratic party. The result has been a Congress as ideologically split as we've seen in 100 years.
Thus, the task of the conservative movement should be not merely to drive Democrats from office but to change the discussion; educate, in the best sense of the word, the American people and the values of conservatism. I am not sure that the establishment Republican Party, especially at the national level, is capable of doing this.
This is a unique political time, much like 1994. That year elections turned on the state of the nation. I believe the next two elections will be very similar. I think that if we can center the discussion around the core values of progressivism and conservatism, even in local elections, we will have a double victory – un-electing Democrats and creating an ideological base of conservatives.
PRENTICE: Unless and until the Republican Party realigns around America's founding principles of limited government, free markets, and private property, there is no purpose to it. Conservative Americans will no longer accept Democrat-lite as the lesser of two evils. Let us not forget that the out-of-control spending and debasement of the currency began with GW Bush and continued with a Republican House and Senate. Republicans institutued the first "stimulus" and "bail out". Obama simnply ramped it up. The Republican Party has lost claim to any moral high ground: "We had to go against free market principles in order to save the free market." -- President GW Bush
The problem, to me, is not the "Party" as represented by the voters. It is the elitist politicians and operatives who neither understand nor appreciate these principles, but rather are in it for their own power and agrandizement. That is the core of the current mess in Colorado. Judge Andrew Napolitano says we don't have a two-party system, we have only one party: The Party of Big Government. There is a Democrat wing of that party and a Republican WIng of that party. I agree wholeheartedly. Here in Colorado, it was the Republicans under Bill Owens and Jane Norton that began the dismantling of TABOR with their support for Ref. C. During the health-care debate, I got the sense that fiscal conservatives would be all for socialized medicine, if only it was budget-neutral. They argued on policy, not principle (likely because they don't have any). Social conservatives would be all for socialized medicine, if only it didn't fund abortion. They argued on policy, not principle (likely because they don't have any). We have to clearly restate the meaning and purpose of government, and clearly articulate the proper relationship between the governing and the governed: "To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." -- Thomas Jefferson
Instead, we have a philosophy that government exists not to secure these rights, but rather to give us stuff (for which it must first take from others). This is a Marxist, not a Jeffersonian, vision of government. It is supported and implemented by both parties. In a recent poll, people were asked which they think is better: A free-enterprise economic system or a government-controlled economic system? Free enterprise won 70%, to 30% for government control. Given that, the fact that the Republican Party cannot secure a permanent governing majority speaks to their own philosophic bankruptcy. (Paul Prentice on on the Board of Directors for El Paso County TEA Party)
CRIPPEN: It would seem to me that the current political moment cries out for leadership to define conservatism as something other than kinder, gentler libertarianism. Libertarianism (aka John Stuart Mill) is the failed political philosophy that birthed the progressivism (Republican and Democratic) of the early 20th Century. That "TR" Rooseveltian and Wilsonian Progressivisms have morphed into today's social democracy is manifest to varying degrees in both major parties. In reaction to this, I think the Tea Party movement is dangerously close to pursuing libertarian impulses.
Certainly, Tancredo's temptation to a third party is not the answer. It strikes me as too reminiscent of the failed strategy of Ross Perot and the Reform Party of the early 1990s -- a spoiler movement to real conservatism.
Reformation of the Republican Party is what we need. We need candidates with a political philosophy and vision that offer something more compelling than minimalist government and less taxes. Rather, we need a cohesive, comprehensive and compelling vision for maximizing civil society and the non-governmental institutions that have real promise of providing a moral, social, and economic bulwark against the omni-competent nanny state.
MOLONEY: In McGuire's speculations about realignment, there is a downside that cannot be ignored- a huge one! For generations Republicans and Conservatives have disemboweled themselves in a fruitless quest for “Purity” (e.g. Goldwater 1964). If conservatives insist on “clarity, specificity, and agreement” on identity, issues etc., we are just forming up yet another circular firing squad. The ultimate temptation of course, is the suicidal Third Party impulse (e.g. Perot 1992).
If our country is to be saved, it is imperative that Democrats be decisively defeated in the next two elections. All else must be subordinated to that goal for if we fail the damage to our country will be catastrophic and irreversible. As I sit here in Nantucket watching the liberal species up close (John Kerry and Chris Matthews within walking distance) I am reminded that Democrats never accurately define themselves or publicly admit of their real plans for “transformational change”. Such deception allows them to win elections every time Republicans screw up.
The Progressive agenda like that of its union core is narrow, radical, and unchanging and it has advanced incrementally- by fits and starts- for nearly a century. Great election victories (1932, 1964, 1980) are when people decisively reject the opposition (Hoover, Goldwater, Carter). The issues all conservatives can agree on are the Deficit, the Debt, runaway Spending, Metastasizing Government, and the Death of the American Dream for our own children and grandchildren. Let’s leave Purity, and Perfection to the afterlife.
(Denver Post, Aug. 1) The other day in Starbucks I overheard Reagana, a personal trainer and Tea Party mom, debating with McDole, her CPA and a moderate Republican. “You can still support McInnis after everything we know about him? With Colorado on the brink, you’re telling me he’s the governor we need?”
Doggedly but without enthusiasm, McDole pointed out the GOP veteran’s experience as a legislator and congressman, his litany of endorsements, his feisty campaign style and fundraising prowess. As for plagiarism, heck, Joe Biden did it, Dr. King did it, and look where they are. Passing off that judge’s writing as his own – no big deal.
But Reagana said it came down to trust. Scott McInnis took $300,000 from a Muslim foundation for this glorified term paper. It looked to her like sharia sympathizers buying influence with a politician. Poor judgment for starters, and now with the stolen intellectual property, weak integrity as well. “He’s lost my vote.”
The CPA shrugged. His ballot was in the mail already, marked for McInnis. He figured if polling found Scott too damaged by press attacks, the Republican power-brokers would maneuver him off the ticket after the primary and put in Ken Buck or Jane Norton, whichever lost the Senate race. Besides, scoffed McDole, we can’t nominate Dan Maes – no one ever heard of him.
No one but a majority of GOP delegates, the trainer jabbed. Maes defeated Mac at the state assembly after a year of campaigning. How arrogant for the media and party insiders to talk as if no private citizen dares aspire to statewide office. Tell it to the late Gov. John Love. Bayh of Indiana and Blunt of Missouri, legacy boys barely 30, won governor with no credentials but daddy’s name. Businessman Maes has the tools and the ideas, argued Reagana, and anyway Colorado NEEDS an outsider.
McDole fretted about a letter from some Longmont woman in the July 18 Denver Post. “Maes wants to protect TABOR, buck the unions, thin the state payroll, encourage oil and gas exploration, and pass an Arizona-style immigration law. She has it all on tape.”
Reagana clapped with delight. Saw the letter, loved the letter, what’s not to like? Even if Scott could beat Hickenlooper, which he can’t (but neither will he quit the ticket), do you think for a minute he would do all those things, as wired into the cautious establishment as he is?
Our state needs a new broom to sweep clean, she said, because we really are at the brink. California may soon be in for the kind of bailout Greece got, and other states will follow. We’re not on the short list, but we’re not healthy either – huge annual deficits despite the Referendum C tax hike, and a time bomb in the state pension fund. Protecting TABOR is a must. So is cutting taxes.
The CPA jumped to his feet in exasperation. Was there going to be a scene? I looked away and pretended not to listen. “Don’t tell me you’re for those three awful ballot issues, 60, 61, and 101? Wiping out jobs, paralyzing services – please!”
Yes, said the trainer, because with so many governments headed for a fiscal coronary, this is heart-attack medicine we better swallow. One reaffirms the ban on state debt, part of Colorado’s constitution since 1876. Another rolls back Ritter’s illegal property tax increase. The third takes about 2 percent off government’s annual growth rate. Foolhardy NOT to pass them.
“Maes and the medicine – that’s where you come down?” McDole was incredulous. He had forgotten my long-ago campaign for governor, asking voters to support Andrews and the amendments. Roy Romer won easily, but the passage of term limits in 1990 and TABOR in 1992 has benefited our state ever since. As for 2010, who can say?
My most unusual email of this Independence Day weekend came from Colorado National Guardsman Hal Jennings, who wrote to commend the Centennial Institute for sponsoring such events as the John Guandolo briefing on jihad and sharia (June 15) and the upcoming Western Conservative Summit in Lone Tree (July 9-11). His is also the most conclusive can't-come explanation we're likely to receive. As for you, never mind the explanation, just come. WesternConservativeSummit.com has all the details and an easy reservation link. We'll hope to see you there. Jennings' email, and a photo of him in Kabul, are below.
Keep up the good work, John. Looks like a great summit and would love to make it but I'm activated again with Colorado Guard and won't be back from Afghanistan in time. I've spent this tour at US Headquarters and worked quite a bit with our NATO partners. It's already the 4th of July here [he wrote late on July 3, Denver time] and I started it off by flying an American flag of mine over the compound. What a way to start the Holiday. Catch you at a future summit. Hal Jennings / Parker
The Colorado Senate President, a Democrat, writes in the Denver Post today that he prefers "shades of gray" to my "rigid ideology" as expressed in a 6/20 column(previous post) framing this year's election around whether Americans are fit to be free.
But Shaffer offers no answer to that question, focusing instead on an 8th-grader's advice that we "not be judgmental" -- even as he judges me guilty of "dirty character assassinations" (no evidence provided).
Meanwhile, evidence abounds that Brandon Shaffer's party, in complete control of Washington DC as well as Colorado, does not believe you and I can be trusted with freedom as the Founders intended. Health care, energy, the list goes on. The 2010 election is about exactly this, as I wrote on Sunday.
(Centennial Fellow) Four years ago, Colorado voters decided to trust Democrats with complete control of state government - the governor's mansion and large majorities in the legislature.
As voters consider their choices for 2010, they might be surprised by how little governing Democrats have trusted voters in those four years.
Since 2007, Gov. Bill Ritter and the Democrat legislature have increased property taxes by more than $160 million a year, raised vehicle license "fees" by $250 million, instituted new hospital patient "fees" that will cost $600 million, and imposed some $180 million in new sales and use taxes.
All told, Ritter and the legislature have managed to increase the cost of taxes and fees by $1.19 billion and, miraculously, not once triggered Colorado's constitutional requirement that taxes can be raised only by a vote of the people.
In 2007, Democrats changed the school finance act to force most school districts to collect more property tax revenues, thereby reducing what the state spends on K-12 education. Previously, even many Democrats acknowledged that such a change must be presented to the voters.
This time, however, Democrats commandeered the political will to pass such a law and constructed a legal argument which, although rejected by a lower court, ultimately prevailed in the Colorado Supreme Court. As a result, Coloradans will pay an extra $160 million for property taxes this year alone - and more than $1 billion over six years.
Thus emboldened, the 2009 legislature smashed another of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights' (TABOR) prohibitions by eliminating the general fund spending limit without a public vote. Although Colorado Revised Statutes specifically referred to this provision as a "limitation" on the general fund, Democrats and their attorneys argued that it was instead an "allocation strategy" and, therefore, not subject to TABOR's prohibition against weakening spending limits without a public vote.
In its ruling on the 2007 property tax hike, the supreme court also signaled lawmakers that other taxes could be raised, under the guise of eliminating tax exemptions, so long as they didn't exceed TABOR revenue limit.To Democrats, suddenly everything that wasn't already taxed was merely "exempted" and a target to be taxed. So in the middle of a recession, they raised taxes on Colorado families and businesses by $180 million over two years.
However, the greatest deception is the onslaught of taxes masquerading as fees. Generally, taxes - which, according to the constitution, can't be raised without voter approval - are collected broadly and can be spent for any purpose. Fees, however, were generally understood to cover the cost of a regulatory function or of administration (e.g., licensing or registration) for which the fee is assessed.
Democrats made no pretense that the largest of their fee increases merely cover administrative expenses. Ritter suggested that the primary criterion necessary for a tax to be considered a fee is a "direct relationship" between the payer of the fee and a government activity funded by the fee.
Under this construction, it seems obvious that a new "fee" on gasoline could be imposed without a public vote so long as revenues are dedicated exclusively to highway construction or repair.
The most egregious fee - a $600 million tax on hospital services - is assessed on "outpatient and inpatient services" and ultimately paid by patients or their insurers, who receive no direct benefit in return. Ironically, Democrats dubbed this legislation, the "Health Care Affordability Act."
Together these two fees when fully implemented are projected to raise a combined $850 million a year. With fees of this magnitude, voters may never again be asked to approve a genuine tax.
Democrat candidate for governor John Hickenlooper recently said, "I think if you put issues before the public, they'll decide if it's a worthwhile investment."
That's not the way Democrats have governed for the past four years. So why should Colorado voters trust Democrats when Democrats clearly don't trust voters?
(Denver Post, May 30) An Alaska mayor shocks the governor in a primary, then humbles an ex-governor in the general election, then electrifies the nation as John McCain’s running mate. A legislator from the laughing-stock Massachusetts Republicans upsets the attorney general to capture a perennially Democratic Senate seat. A lowly Pennsylvania congressman ignores the president’s support for a party-switching senator and retires him in a primary, Obama endorsement and all.You know their names. In ousting Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak (corrupt job offer notwithstanding) followed a pattern set by Scott Brown and Sarah Palin. Voters in both parties are turning to conviction candidates and giving resume’ candidates the boot. Palin’s rollicking speech at DU last weekend, hours after the state Republican convention, got me wondering whether the same pattern fits Colorado.Laughing that it was fun to do politics at an ice rink, the Wasilla hockey mom skated in to forecheck the Messiah himself. Her deft indictment of Mr. Obama’s policies delighted the crowd of several thousand, about half of them Tea Partiers by a show of hands. With her peroration on Reagan as a model of the “lifeguard leadership” America needs, you could hear Sarah asking herself: “Should I run in 2012?”Time will tell. Right now there is 2010 to deal with, and on a Saturday that had seen conventional wisdom toppled among both Democrats and Republicans, something else you could hear was our state’s previously favored hopefuls for senator and governor frantically recalculating their chances.Jane Norton and Ken Buck, Senate rivals in the August GOP primary, both attended the Palin event. Once the underdog, he was riding a 77% delegate majority and positive media buzz. She was coming off several days of rough press and party grumbling over her decision to bypass the convention and file petitions. Listening in on their thoughts that night would have been fascinating. Though still formidable in likability, endorsements, and funding, the former lieutenant governor now clearly has a race on her hands. For all that Norton was recently lauded by Gov. Palin as a “pink elephant,” a conservative woman to watch, the pit bull of the hour seems to be Buck.The same dramatic reversal of fortune, like something out of the movies, has befallen Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff, Senate rivals on the Democratic side. Romanoff, feisty and buoyant, radiates conviction. Bennet has the resume’, but he plods. The incumbent’s war chest and White House backing may prove no more decisive for him than they were for poor Arlen Specter.It was in the race for governor, though, that May 22 invited the craziest speculation on who might become Colorado’s Sarah Palin. Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, authentic and fearless but politically unknown, announced in early 2009 against Gov. Bill Ritter. Fat chance. Like most Republicans, I shrugged and awaited the serious contenders. First came former congressman Scott McInnis, then state Sen. Josh Penry, then (very briefly) former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. But suddenly last November, Penry and Tancredo were out. This January, Ritter too was out. And now as June begins, McInnis sits SECOND on the ballot behind, of all people, Dan Maes.Is it another case of conviction trumping resume’? If latecomer Joe Gschwendtner gains traction, does a three-way primary (like Palin’s in 2006) help Maes? Could Dauntless Dan, if nominated by the GOP, beat the media’s darling, John Hickenlooper? There is precedent. Back in 1962, the untried John Love took out Democrat Gov. Steve McNichols. Things are at a boil, and as Samuel Adams of Boston Tea Party fame observed, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.” Americans and Coloradans, fired up about over-government, have made this a year of surprises already. My hunch is we haven’t seen anything yet.
('76 Contributor) Four members of the Colorado General Assembly, two from each party and each house, reflected on the recently completed 2010 session before a crowded room at this month's Issue Monday forum, hosted by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. Democrat State Senator Betty Boyd, first to speak, announced that she was pleased with the legislative session’s results. The legislature fulfilled its one requirement, balancing Colorado’s budget by cutting spending in K-12 education and closing holes in tax revenue. Colorado’s government also created jobs by increasing the renewable energy standard to 30% by 2020, passing a clean jobs bill, and giving more flexibility, though cash, to institutions of higher education. The Medicaid efficiencies act fought Medicaid fraud, a healthcare transparency act allowed individuals to learn more about healthcare, and the government increased general equity by instituting gender fairness in insurance rates and campaign finance reform.After this positive general picture, Democrat Representative Mark Ferrandino promised a more specific discussion. He praised bipartisan criminal justice sentencing reform, and mentioned the fact that Colorado’s prison population is decreasing. He discussed two bills that he sponsored, the 21st century SMART government act, an attempt to maximize the performance of tax dollars, and the cap on pay-day lenders. He explained that Colorado’s budget breaks down to three major sections. Colorado spends 53% of its budget on education, 35% of it on Healthcare, and 15% on Criminal Justice. Last year, the budget fell short by 200 billion dollars, while many cuts to K-12 education, Medicaid provider rates, senior property tax exemptions, operating expenses and the number of state employees promise better returns for next year.Republican State Senator Josh Penry (pictured below) continued the positive note by praising his fellows as good legislators, but he brought a sobering perspective on the state session. Mentioning that these times present great changes and challenges, he explained the reforms to PERA(the Public Employees Retirement Association). Currently, the association operates on a 30 billion dollar unfunded liability. The association lacks resources, and the reform proposal did not gain unanimous support. Nevertheless, this session of the Colorado Congress cut benefits to existing retirees, cutting the unfunded liability in half, but failing to eliminate it. Penry also lamented the session’s lack of leadership on the budget, explaining how the Democrat majority raised taxes, repealing many exemptions, most notably the sales tax exemption on energy. Even businesses that supported tax increases in the past opposed this unprecedented increase. Penry ended on a negative note, explaining that many “cuts” merely shifted the finances of the government, and the general fund increased by 6 %.
Last, but certainly not least, Republican State Representative Amy Stephens (pictured below) continued this negative litany, to the delight of the crowd. According to Rep. Stephens, businesses described this session as the most hostile to business in Colorado history. Businesses have been “paying their fair share,” in the tax increases for the past four years. Nevertheless this session of Congress produced some successes, notably legislation against medical marijuana, cuts to PERA, flexibility in higher education, and accountability in the evaluation of teachers. Even so, she agreed with Senator Penry that the number of state employees increased to over 2,000. Many ridiculous bills that should not have been entertained passed. Stephens noted that jobs are the key to fixing the economy, and that pressure on industry will only increase unemployment. She attacked the session’s energy policy, which gave the green economy breaks, while attacking oil and gas. Raising energy quotas, she warned, will put people out of work. Socialism, for all its good intentions, only makes things worse, Rep. Stephens concluded.
Betty Boyd responded to this negative view noting that the session effected only 12 of 100 existing tax credits, and that oil and gas, in addition to green energy, gained a boost from the session. Only coal lost. She also praised Colorado’s Medicaid program as the leanest in the country, noting that 70% of its clientele are children, while 70% of its funds support the elderly. Candidates opened the question and answer session with the education reform bill. While Rep. Ferrandino stressed the importance of evaluating teachers and principals, Sen. Boyd argued that students need to have some “skin” in the CSAP game, an incentive to do well. Senator Penry brought up the question of tenure, stating that the government should be able to boot an underperforming teacher at will, but admitting that this bill, which involves a time limit of 1000 days, is a sizeable achievement. Centennial Institute moderator John Andrews noted that two bills passed by dividing the opposing party. The Republicans backed the teacher tenure bill, and the democrats supported the coal bill. Penry noted the large amount of shale finds flooding the gas market, and Rep. Stephens declared that this bill did not represent Obama’s mandates, but a compromise that supported states’ rights. Amy Stephens voiced her concern for one bill in particular, which would provide transparency on the origins of gifts, grants and donations which fund the state government. She noted that, if early childhood education was founded by Focus on the Family, many complaints would arise, and that citizens should be concerned about the businesses that fund the government.Mike Fallon, candidate for U.S. Representative of Colorado’s First District, voiced his concern that cutting the reimbursement to Medicaid drives people from primary care into the hospital. As a doctor, he noted that, as costs for private insurance increase, thanks to Medicaid cuts, citizens opt out of insurance, visiting the Emergency Room for basic care. This shift decreases the cost that the government has to pay for healthcare, while increasing its cost to the consumer and the market. Mark Ferrandino responded by stating that we need higher reimbursement cuts, rather than rate cuts. In short, the government should not fully reimburse doctors for caring for Medicaid patients. This did not address Fallon’s complaint, and voiced the very practice that Fallon complained against.Finally, John Andrews called on each of the statesmen to explain why their party should be in charge in 2010. Amy Stephens argued that the budget crisis calls for true leadership, and that Republicans serve business, which will boost the economy. Mark Ferrandino mentioned that the last six years of democratic control saw investment in transportation and infrastructure, that Colorado’s unemployment rate of 8 % falls short of the national 10%, and that the economy has turned around, with more people entering the market. Josh Penry argued that every democrat is running on past tax increases which hurt the energy market, making Colorado, which once possessed the best oil and gas environment, the worst environment for such energy sources. In contrast, Betty Boyd argued that the democrats created jobs, and that the economy is turning around. She explains that, when a party is in power, it has to govern, which is more difficult than complaining about the mistakes of the other party.Although these four legislators participated in the same session of the Colorado General Assembly, all have taken a different view of the events that occurred. Some disagree on basic facts, such as whether or not the budget had been balanced. Other disagreements, while agreeing on the facts, such as which bills passed or failed to pass, arise from contrasting ideas on what helps the economy. The Democrats Betty Boyd and Mark Ferrandino pointed to government jobs and praised the session for producing more employment opportunities. The Republicans Amy Stephens and Josh Penry noted the displeasure of businesses that will have to pay higher taxes in the future to cover up for government irresponsibility. The continuing economic crisis seems to indicate which side is in the right.