A leftist agenda playing loose with the law has cost Obama his messianic aura, says John Andrews in the May round of Head On TV debates. Susan Barnes-Gelt disagrees, blaming the welter of scandals on arrogance at the top and incompetence of underlings. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over immigration, school taxes, recall of legislators, and Hickenlooper’s record. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997 and a presentation of Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all five scripts for May:
1. SCANDALS ENGULF OBAMA
John: IRS intimidation of anyone who gets in Obama’s way politically – Christians, Jews, conservatives, you name it – is the latest example of Chicago-style gangster politics that are bringing this administration into disgrace with Democrats and Republicans alike. I worked in the White House during Watergate, Susan, and this looks very familiar.
Susan: Given the 24-hour news cycle, twitter, IM and Facebook – and an ability to hire the best and brightest – Obama is strangely unplugged. If he expects to move his agenda, he’d better hire some strong critical thinkers: old dogs in touch with history.
John: The President and his palace guard – Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Susan Rice, Jack Lew, Jay Carney – believe their leftist agenda is so righteous that it justifies disregard of the law and the truth. IRS abuse, spying on journalists, covering up Benghazi, gun running to Mexico – Obama as Messiah is no more.
Susan: Obama’s overreach has nothing to do with a leftist agenda – Watergate? Iran Contra? The problem is out of touch, arrogance of power of those in high office and their staff, who forget they’re accountable to the public. Obama needs to replace the hallelujah chorus with savvier advisors.
2. IMMIGRATION REFORM
John: “Give me your huddled masses yearning to breath free.” So proclaims the Statue of Liberty, and as a conservative I agree. But the American dream attracting immigrants from all nations is opportunity and liberty under law, not simply crash the gates and then claim amnesty. The Senate bill is fatally flawed.
Susan: The US immigration system is fatally flawed. And if the United States Congress doesn’t get it together, the nation’s future is at risk. Anyone born in this country should be a citizen. Foreign nationals, educated at our best universities, should be encouraged to stay. End of story.
John: Birthright citizenship and a global brain drain to America already exist. What liberals and Sen. Schumer want now, and what conservatives and Sen. Rubio must not give them, are 10 million new Democratic voters legitimized by a fast track to citizenship and a slow stall on border security. Just say no, Republicans.
Susan: I continue to be surprised at your assumption that Mexican and Latin American immigrants are automatic Democrats. If the Grand Old Party (emphasis OLD) relied on demographics and economics instead of emotion, immigration reform would be on top of your must do agenda.
3. HICK & THE 2013 SESSION
Susan: Governor Hickenlooper gets points for the 2013 legislative session. Despite Democratic control of both houses, he maintained his trademark a-partisan, brand. Progressive on social issues: gay marriage and gun control; while supporting business interests on energy policy and fiscal restraint. Like Colorado – the guv is bright purple – tilting blue.
John: A-partisan, you say? Never in 40 years has one party rammed through its extreme ideological agenda as brutally as Democrats in 2013. It sets up common-sense Republicans for a 2014 comeback. Hickenlooper shares the blame, and it will hurt his presidential ambitions. Same-day registration, ripe for voter fraud, scares me the most.
Susan: Nearly half-dozen R’s are lining up to challenge Hick in 2014. For the most part, they are either unaffiliated unknowns or single issue opponents to the guv’s support for responsible gun control. Forgive the metaphor, but that dog can’t hunt in a state that’s experienced Columbine and Aurora.
John: Hickenlooper, Mr. Folksy, Mr. Indecisive, won with a bare majority in 2010. How is the state better off since then? Better schools, no. Better roads, no. Economic boom, energy boom, no. More crime, yes. Marijuana madness, yes. Hick can be licked. Challengers Gessler, Brophy, Tancredo, or Laffey could all do it.
4. BILLION DOLLAR SCHOOL TAX – GOOD IDEA?
Susan: Senate Bill 213 proposes to increase K-12 statewide funding. The key element – how to fund – is TBD. Supporters must reach agreement on whether to raise Colorado’s flat income tax to 5.3% or move to a graduated approach. Then – gather 86,000 sigs for the November ballot. Heavy lifting.
John: Only in the Alice in Wonderland world of big government does persistent mediocrity justify ever greater funding. American public education has tripled its real dollars per student since 1970 while test scores remained flat. Colorado doesn’t need a billion dollar tax increase for teacher unions. We need parental choice.
Susan: Obviously – Colorado has parental choice: charter schools and private and religious schools. That’s not the issue. In truth, urban districts – especially Denver – must air-condition every building and go to a 12-month school year and longer day – before asking for an operational tax hike.
John: You don’t have choice until the school dollars go in every child’s backpack so mom and dad can send kids where they learn best and are safest. Government monopoly schools are a fraud on Hispanic and black and poor families. Higher taxes, no. Tax credits or vouchers like Douglas County, yes.
5. LEGISLATORS FACE RECALL OVER GUN VOTES
Susan: Four Colorado Democratic legislators: Sen John Morse, Evie Hudak & Angela Giron and Rep. Mike McLachlan face recall attempts over their support for the responsible gun control measures. Even pro-gun advocate Dudley Brown thinks it’s a waste of resources. Even conservative Coloradans aren’t puppets of the NRA!
John: Legislators aren’t anointed to rule by decree, they are elected to represent you and me. The recall process – petition signatures followed by a vote – lets us unelect them for bad representation. The recent gun grab laws, rejected as unconstitutional by 54 county sheriffs, may cost some senators and representatives their seats.
Susan: Efforts against Durango Rep. McLachlan have failed to get enough signatures – same is likely against Hudak and Giron. El Paso County Dem John Morse is the real target – national gun rights groups are funding the effort. I don’t think Coloradans want outside interests to dictate local policy.
John: John Morse holds a high position of trust as Senate President. Holding that job years ago, I learned you can’t come on too extreme. Sen. Morse may learn that the hard way, by constituents booting him this summer. His agenda is way, way left. Conservative Colorado Springs may tell him sayonara.