Debaters take on taxes, mayoralty, Japan & Libya

Taxes in Colorado at this time of record unemployment should be reduced, not increased, says John Andrews in the March round of Head On TV debates. Maybe you’d prefer no taxes at all, replies Susan Barnes–Gelt satirically. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the fiscal mess in Washington and the mayor’s race in Denver. But they’re in rare agreement over Obama’s Libyan intervention and Japan’s triple tragedy. Head On, now presented by Centennial Institute, has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for March:

1. COLORADO FISCAL WARS

John: Liberal Democrats want Coloradans to pay more income taxes and sales taxes so politicians don’t have to control spending like the rest of us. They say it’s temporary. Fat chance. We should instead pass the competing proposal to cut taxes. That would grow the economy and create jobs as we face record unemployment.

Susan: Right. Let’s eliminate taxes. Each of us can build our own roads. Home school our kids, K–12. Build our own university, public park, social service system, jail and hospital. We can change the state motto to “me for me, you for you” and have a tea party—bring your own bag, kettle, cup and burner.

John: Nice try, Joan Rivers, but you misfire with your satire. I pay my taxes cheerfully. They are the price of a civilized society. But the power to tax is also the power to destroy. In Colorado’s case, the Democrats’ tax increase would destroy even more jobs—and voters know that.

Susan: Colorado voters can decide whether or not they want to have great schools, higher ed, public safety, and transportation. Though the legislature can increase fees without the public’s approval, voters determine a tax increase. It may surprise you that Coloradans want to invest in themselves and the future.

2. WASHINGTON FISCAL WARS

John: With an exploding national debt and a deficit of 1.5 trillion dollars this year alone, America will be as broke as Greece unless we get some adult leadership now. Obama’s spending cut of 6 billion is pathetic. The House Republican cut of 60 billion is little better. I say 500 billion or bust.

Susan: I have an idea. Why don’t all the Senators and congresspeople who want to cut taxes and abolish programs in order to stimulate the economy, quit their well–paid, richly benefitted public trough jobs and start a business and create jobs? $500 billion is nuts—unless we abolish the Pentagon!

John: Whoa, yesterday you wanted to zero out taxes, today you want zero out Congress. The sarcasm is heavy. We have too many zeroes already, Susan—too much reckless spending, on entitlements in particular. Tackle them as Rand Paul and Paul Ryan want to do, and America can still be saved.

Susan: Yes –and your party’s fiscal hawks are talking straight about social security, Medicare and Medicaid. Au contraire—they are quibbling over pennies when billions are at stake. The squeaky wheels get all the attention—at both ends of the spectrum. America needs a grown up in charge.

3. MAYORAL RACE

John: “Can’t buy me love,” sang the Beatles. Denver mayoral candidates Michael Hancock, James Mejia, and Carol Boigon hope it’s true, as front runner Chris Romer has nearly as much in the bank as the other three put together. Will the deep pockets win, or will the black–Latino–woman factor upset Romer?

Susan: Romer gets to the run off—money, name ID and Daddy. Boigon doesn’t get there, despite the big bucks she and her spouse will put into her campaign. Linkhart has name ID, but no juice—a chronic elected with scant vision, leadership skills or backbone. Hancock and Mejia are vying for the second spot.

John: I was Roy Romer’s opponent for governor in 1990. He waxed me. Now his son leads the race for mayor of Denver, where my son and daughters are building their lives and raising the next generation. Chris Romer’s experience and leadership impress me. I wish I could vote for him.

Susan: Bet he’d welcome your endorsement. None of the top candidates has the experience balancing a complex budget, overseeing strategic investments or managing a large, diverse workforce. The race has no pulse. Denver voters must do their homework to make an informed choice.

4. DISASTER IN JAPAN

Susan: An earthquake, a tsunami and the threat of massive nuclear meltdown. Japan is facing unfathomable disaster—8500 dead and 13,000 missing—so far. Radiation contamination threatens lives, food sources and long–term recovery. Though many will try to reap political advantage from this tragedy—It’s too soon to reach definitive conclusions.

John: At our house this awful news was personal—my cousin’s family lives in Tokyo. Japan’s threefold tragedy and courageous response should touch all our hearts in a human way and engage our best thinking as citizens of a fragile industrialized society. But let’s avoid panicky reactions against nuclear power.

Susan: Recent events demonstrate there’s no fail–safe energy source: the Gulf oil spill, last year’s West Virginia coal mine disaster, the untold cost in lives and treasure spent to protect our mid–East petroleum dependence. Solar, natural gas, and geothermal combined with conservation must be in the mix.

John: There’s no fail–safe approach to life, period. Earth is a hospitable planet for mankind most of the time, and we are very blessed to be here, but it can turn brutally hospitable in a second. Japan’s ordeal is another reminder of worldwide human inter–dependence—economically, technologically, culturally, and yes, spiritually.

5. LIBYA

Susan: Qaddafi is a mad man and has been for 40 years. Does the US have vital interests in Libya? The despot has been guilty of human rights atrocities for 4 decades. Why are we there now? Obama promises no boots on the ground, but Qaddafi is a cornered animal—capable of anything. We cannot afford another war.

John: Madman vs. weak man. That’s the matchup between Qaddafi and Obama. Under this incompetent president, America has relinquished its role as leader of the free world. That’s what we cannot afford. US intervention in Libya, if any, should be purposeful, fierce, and decisive. So far it’s none of those.

Susan: U.S intervention in Libya shouldn’t be—period. We have no vital interest there—Our resources are spread too thin, with troops be deployed 5, 6 or 7 times. Qaddafi is a monster. But our abuse of American troops may be the real tragedy.

John: Making war is the ultimate act of political responsibility—or for this president, irresponsibility. Obama ignored the US Congress and took his lead from a UN committee, attacking Libya with no clear justification or plan. America these days uses force too often and too casually. Our Founders would be horrified.

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