Activist courts are at it again, this time siding with the right to strike down Obamacare, says Susan Barnes-Gelt in the February round of Head On TV debates. No, says John Andrews, Judge Vinson ruled as the founding fathers would have, and the Supreme Court may well agree with him. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Egypt's revolution, Denver's lackluster mayoral contenders, Colorado's new governor, and a populist fantasy of state officials working at real jobs. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Since 2009 it has been presented by the Centennial Institute . Here are all five scripts for February:
1. COURT RULINGS DIFFER ON OBAMACARE
Susan: A Florida judge ruled the Obama health care initiative unconstitutional – proving that activist courts – long the subject of conservative whining – cut both ways. Federal judges are split – three others are split – two in favor, one opposed. The issue will go to the Supremes. Too much fuzzy law and opinion.
John: If Congress can force you to buy a particular product, they can force you to do anything. Limited constitutional government is replaced by unlimited bureaucratic tyranny, and this is no longer the land of the free. Judge Vinson has the founding fathers on his side. The Supreme Court may toss Obamacare.
Susan: How ‘bout the Republican’s in Congress grant the American public the same cushy healthcare the taxpayer gives them? Now that their work week is down to 20 weeks a year – they ought to do something to respond to hard working Americans.
John: Hard-working Americans deserve a government that spends less, taxes less, borrows less, and regulates less – a government that gets out of the way so free enterprise can benefit everyone. The courts and the Congress can start by relieving families and businesses of the unworkable, unconstitutional Obamacare law.
2. HICKENLOOPER GETS STARTED
John: Hickenlooper has begun quietly but purposefully. No dramatic hundred days for him. McNulty the fiscal hawk and Gessler the moonlighter have dominated the headlines, but Hick understands that economic recovery is paramount. His cabinet is a mix of left and right, including a Republican as budget director.
Susan: Hick’s picks are terrific. It’s going to take bi-partisan thinking at the Capitol to address Colorado’s budget woes – failing dams, roads and bridges; underfunded higher ed and unmet social service needs. Let’s hope the Kumbaya is shared by the Legislature.
John: There’s nothing terrific about Ellen Golombek, a labor union militant, joining the cabinet just when we need a lean public-sector workforce and a welcoming private-sector job climate. The governor booted that one. But he did well in making peace with the oil and gas industry. That’s a winner for economic growth.
Susan: Hick is a pleaser and will figure out how to be all things to most people. His ability to accomplish that is enhanced by his aw shucks, extroverted personality. He will work hard to balance every interest, without taking a strong stand. That affect has worked for him - so far.
3. REVOLUTION IN EGYPT
Susan: Recent events in Egypt are significant. First – the power of social media – for good or ill – has marginalized the political establishment; forced foreign policymakers to respond immediately – without the necessary information. People power upends the status quo – sometimes for the best.
John: Egyptian strongman Mubarak may be gone by the time you see this. Too bad Obama failed to keep pressuring him much sooner for peaceful change, as Bush had begun to do. The danger now is that Muslim Brotherhood jihadists, sworn to destroy Israel and America, may fill the power vacuum in Cairo.
Susan: This is not a blame it on Obama moment. For decades, American presidents have backed stability over local democracy. Since WW 2 – if not before – we have backed despots and dictators. It’s been backfiring but the power structure’s covered up – based on fear. Those days are over.
John: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and other undemocratic Arab regimes face overthrow as popular unrest spreads. There are no easy options for US policy. Thankfully Obama’s dangerous arrogance is no more. But the Muslim Brotherhood’s dangerous subversion is everywhere. Congress will and should investigate.
4. UNDERWHELMING MAYOR’S RACE
John: What’s twice as bad as seven dwarfs? Fourteen miniature mayoral candidates -- or whatever the number is this week. Romer, Boigon, Hancock, Mejia – they all seem like lightweights compared to past mayors such as Webb or Hickenlooper. No wonder the likable and capable incumbent, Bill Vidal, flirted with running.
Susan: Number 14 just entered the Mayor’s race. That makes 3 council people, a longtime political appointee, a former legislator, a woman with a public legal background, 3 city employees, a homeless man, a libertarian and four other guys. All told - not a very impressive field at a very important time.
John: Not to mention ten lords a-leaping and three French hens. Pretty underwhelming which is why a late entry with executive credentials, TV charisma, or both, is still possible before the petition deadline. The capital of the Rocky Mountain Empire needs an economic jolt and better public safety. Who will step up, Susan?
Susan: The Hick exercised his considerable power to keep the best candidate out of the race – Bill Vidal. Vidal loves the city, knows the city and has a strong management track record. Hick’s attempt to control both sides of Broadway is going to backfire – sadly on the city he seduced – and abandoned.
5. STATE OFFICIALS’ SALARIES
Susan: Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler started a brouhaha when announcing he’d be working part time for his former law firm – election specialists – to supplement his paltry state salary of $68,500. He should have thought about that before running for office. However, full time state electeds should be paid more.
John: I see no shortage of capable people wanting to run for governor, attorney general, treasurer, or secretary of state – even though all of them do pay less than $100,000. Colorado is low on the scale nationally, yet we have cleaner and leaner government than the high-paying states. Ain’t broke, don’t fix.
Susan: Implicit in that view are two choices: 1 – only rich people can run for office or 2 –so-called full time elected officials – need to moonlight – whether it’s teaching or speaking fees or working at the Dairy Queen. I want leaders to be full time. And I don’t want only the well-to-do to apply.
John: Susan, you’re brilliant. Picture it: Hickenlooper working weekends at Dairy Queen. Gessler as a greeter at Wal-Mart. Attorney General Suthers on the UPS night shift. Treasurer Stapleton bagging groceries at Stapleton. Humility under the dome. Exalted politicos finally getting their hands dirty. Let’s not raise their pay!