Two takes on Tucson

The assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is proof we need more gun control, says Susan Barnes–Gelt in the January round of Head On TV debates. Wrong, says John Andrews: gun rights enhance public safety, and the liberties of all shouldn’t be curtailed to deter a few lunatics. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Speaker John Boehner, repeal of Obamacare, the Hickenlooper agenda, and dysfunctional mass transit. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Below are all five scripts for January:

1. TWO TAKES ON TUCSON

Susan: With the killing of six people, the shooting spree that felled Tucson Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a community meeting is igniting another cry for sane gun control. The shooter, 22–year–old Jared Loughner, has a well–documented history of anti–social, illegal behavior. The system failed. He was able to purchase a semi–automatic weapon.

John: Better security at townhalls is needed. More gun laws are not. We can’t curtail the liberties of all because of an irresponsible few. And shame on the liberal ambulance–chasers who used this madman’s assassination attempt to demonize Republicans and chill free speech. Loughner followed Hitler, Stalin, and Satan. That’s not the Tea Party.

Susan: When a person unstable and known to authorities, can purchase ammunition at a WalMart, hours before killing or wounding 19 people with a semi–automatic handgun, change is needed. It’s time for laws prohibiting the sale of guns holding multiple rounds of ammunition and limiting the caliber of weapons.

John: The shock we all feel after these horrific murders, our sadness for Rep. Giffords and the others who were shot, isn’t necessarily a formula for wise legislation. 2nd Amendment supporters, including Giffords herself, know for a fact that reasonable gun rights enhance public safety. Thank God the congresswoman pulled through.

2. ADVICE FOR SPEAKER BOEHNER

John: Obama and the Democrats lost Congress because voters were alarmed about too much spending, too much debt, too much government. Speaker John Boehner is the doctor who has to put the president in rehab and sober him up before the country goes broke. A similar intervention helped Bill Clinton get reelected.

Susan: Speaker Boehner will have a tough time managing the tea party extremes with the more seasoned members of his party. Reading the Constitution was a great idea. To be successful, the Republican Congress will need to solve problems. Jobs—not healthcare—ought to be the priority.

John: Boehner scored his first big win on jobs even before he became Speaker—forcing Obama to back down on tax increases. The president’s new top staffer, grownups who understand capitalism, represent another win for Boehner. And I love Paul Ryan chairing the budget committee while Darrell Issa investigates the administration.

Susan: The garage door of opportunity slammed shut on the Speaker and his posse when they refused to offer an alternative to healthcare, hold hearings or allow the D’s to offer input. As for the Iceman’s hearings—DC insider stuff—ignoring the real issues facing the country: job, job, jobs.

3. REPEAL OBAMACARE?

John: Barack Obama’s takeover of health care, one–sixth of the economy, is collapsing before its first birthday. Costs are up, participation is down, lawsuits are mounting, and voter approval is falling. When a centrist like David Brooks says so, you know it’s bad. Repeal by Congress will take time, but it will happen.

Susan; The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warns repealing the Health Care Act will add $230 Billion to the deficit and leave 32 million uninsured, causing most Americans to pay more for health insurance. Congress gets a low–cost public option, subsiized by taxpayers. Voters deserve the same.

John: Susan, cut the comedy. If you believe a huge new entitlement will reduce the deficit, I have some swampland to sell you. Your so–called public option is a code word for socialized medicine, rationed care and mediocrity, Canadian–style. Pelosi abandoned that a year ago. Obamacare must be repealed and replaced.

Susan:: The country is divided on the healthcare law and with a record low number receiving employer–sponsored coverage, the tide is moving against the Republican repeal. Americans rate access to quality care a top issue. Rather than saying no, why doesn’t your party offer an alternative.

4. ADVICE FOR GOV. HICKENLOOPER

John: John Hickenlooper’s office move to the Capitol was a quarter–mile geographically, but light–years politically. His cutesy style as mayor won’t work as governor of a recession–hammered state. Hick needs to unleash his inner businessman, cool it on unions and taxes, and aggressively sharpen Colorado’s economic competitiveness.

Susan: In these particularly polarized and mean–spirited times, Hickenlooper’s non–partisan, let’s solve problems style will be very good for Colorado. He’s no ideologue and would rather be liked than feared or dismissed. That’s a good thing for the state when job creation is on everyone’s mind.

John: A governor who wants to be liked is the last thing we need right now. Ritter neglected the budget and the economy and Colorado is behind the eight–ball. Never mind winning the congeniality contest, Hick needs to be Chris Christie on the budget, Bobby Jindal on energy, and Rick Perry on jobs.

Susan: Hick could be Scrooge himself on the budget and it wouldn’t matter. The leg and the JBC have what little discretion there is. Hick’s can–do optimism and entrepreneurial drive will focus the state on economic development, innovation and sensible regulation. He owns the bully pulpit—the most important show in town.

5. FASTRACKS TO SEEK TAX HIKE

Susan: FasTracks the $4.7–billion comprehensive transportation system, approved by metro voters in 2004, is off–track. Thanks to the soft economy, rising prices and questionable management by RTD. The completed system is key to this regions economic and environmental vitality. Here’s hoping civic and political leadership will step up.

John: Light rail is a heavy mistake. In city after city, these tax–eating transit boondoggles have underperformed on ridership, overrun their budgets, and done little to relieve traffic congestion. The definition of leadership on FasTracks is to cut back the plan, live with existing revenues, and shift money into roads.

Susan: John, you are smart enough to know mobility isn’t a zero sum equation. It’s the appropriate balance of roads, mass transit, bike paths and pedestrian routes. However—until we have civic and political leadership to articulate a vision and build consensus around funding, it’s gridlock for all Coloradans.

John: For ordinary people at work, at play, in families, in the moment, the automobile is the ultimate freedom machine. That’s why Americans love their cars. That’s why liberals, including Hickenlooper, want us out of our cars. Let RTD run buses, not trains. Don’t raise taxes. Build highways, highways, highways.

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