- The “Head On” debate between former state Sen. John Andrews (R) and former Denver councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt (D), seen daily on Colorado Public Television since 1997, began its July series this week. Andrews gave a barely passing grade to the recent legislative session on immigration. Other topics this month include the Denver mayor’s tax fetish, the narrowing field for governor, North Korean missiles, and Mexico’s new president.
1. SPECIAL SESSION LACKED BANG
Susan: Coloradans paid $75,000 for a special session that was more whimper than bang. Immigration is a federal issue – State government departments can’t even itemize what they’re spending. The session was a circus – all about posturing and politics. The legislature turned a tough human and economic problem into stupid soundbites.
John: Democrats controlling the legislature did the least they could to make illegal aliens less welcome in Colorado. Their weak bills reflected the softness of Salazar, not the toughness of Tancredo. Still the special session was not in vain. Immigration lawbreakers are less welcome here as a result. Secure borders are one step closer.
Susan: John, you are too smart to reduce the complexity of immigration to simple answers. The U.S. must have a secure border – that’s a federal solution. Industry needs workers – that’s a federal solution. The future of 11 million people already in this country demands a federal solution. All else is nonsense.
John: Federal, shmederal, Susan. One billion dollars in taxpayer costs from illegal aliens is a Colorado problem. Two billion dollars in smaller paychecks because of illegals is a Colorado problem. Our ballot issue offered a Colorado solution, but Democrats killed it. Voters should fire them in November.
2. DENVER MAYOR STARTS 4TH YEAR
Susan: Hickenlooper kicked off his re-election campaign at his State of the City address on July 12. His popularity remains strong and he’s stumped successfully for some good stuff – including FasTracks. The focus for his next term will be sustainability – Greenprint Denver, and the 311 system.
John: Typically for a Democrat, Hickenlooper loves tax increases. He’s “stumped successfully” for higher city taxes with the jail, higher metro taxes with transit, higher state taxes with Referendum C. He has shown little interest in better education and little support for law enforcement. Denver’s attractiveness for job creation is at risk.
Susan: Investments in public infrastructure and a well-educated workforce are critical to a healthy economy. Hickenlooper’s support for FasTracks, Denver Public Schools and his new early childhood proposal all focus on those core principles. Hickenlooper’s priorities are right and his values solid. He deserves another term.
John: Oh yeah, the preschool tax. Thank you! I knew there was another Hickenlooper tax hike that I hadn’t mentioned. Be careful, Mayor: Rob Reiner, television’s Meathead, recently lost big in California with his preschool tax. Will Denver voters say no as well? Hick could be heading for trouble.
3. GOV’S RACE DOWN TO TWO
John: After having run for governor, as I once did, you feel differently about would-be governors in the future. The jilted lover is less interested in who else gets the girl. But conservative businessman Bob Beauprez would clearly do a better job with the budget and the economy than liberal lawyer Bill Ritter.
Susan: My you’ve changed your tune – an active partisan feigning indifference – Puleeze. . I sense you’re frustrated with both-ways Bob – watching him change his position on Amendment 38, making it easier for citizens to get to the ballot – because his money boys don’t like it. Next he’ll flip on TABOR!
John: I’m a Beauprez partisan because Beauprez is down the line for Bush. He’s all about cutting taxes, defending the family, winning the war. He’s stronger than Bush on immigration. With liberal lawyer Bill Ritter, who knows? Ritter’s immigration position seems to blow with the wind. Red-state Colorado voters have to prefer Beauprez.
Susan: Ritter’s immigration position is clear: Public agencies should verify citizenship – before providing benefits other than those required by federal law. Employers must be held accountable. The Bobble-head – I mean both ways Beauprez – did nothing during 4 years in Congress – on an issue the federal government must solve.
4. NORTH KOREAN MISSILES
John: The axis of evil is very real and increasingly dangerous. North Korea with its nuclear blackmail and missile shots understands only the language of force. It supports our enemies in Iran with encouragement from China. It threatens our allies in Japan and Taiwan. The US should not rule out military action.
Susan: Slow down there, pardner – Even President Bush favors informal bi-lateral talks and a diplomatic solution. We don’t have proof that Kim Jong Il has the kind of nuclear arsenal the Korean leader is bragging about – and Bush – appropriately wary of opaque intelligence reports – is urging caution.
John: Go to Tony Snow if you want the official White House position. The position from here is more blunt – never give America’s sworn enemies the benefit of the doubt. North Korea and Iran are two of those enemies. China and Russia may also be. We need to carry a big stick.
Susan: Walk softly there, John. It’s way to soon to reveal the big stick. That’s what Pacific policy experts on both sides of the aisle are cautioning. The real issue is whether to begin informal, unilateral discussion with North Korea as a prelude to 6-party talks. Let’s not “fire, aim, ready.”
5. MEXICAN ELECTION
John: Congratulations to our neighbors in Mexico for a clean election and a wise presidential choice. Voters rejected Lopez Obrador, the anti-American leftist, and chose the more conservative Felipe Calderon. Bush should urge the new president to expand economic opportunity through free markets, and stop sending Mexico’s problems northward.
Susan: The remarkable thing about July’s elections was that after nearly 70 years of dominating Mexican elections, Mexico’s “official party” the PRI – the Institutional Revolutionary Party is out of power. They even lost their control of Mexico’s Congress in this past election. It’s a new day for our neighbor to the south.
John: It’s healthy for the PRI to finally have some competition from the PAN party. Calderon is the second consecutive president PAN has elected. Yet Mexico still has no major politician or party offering a real alternative to the collectivism and corruption that make the country so dysfunctional.
Susan: It’s too soon to tell how far Calderon – a well-educated man with an excellent reputation, can advamce more transparency and accountability in Mexico’s government. Vincente Fox made some strides and the big party shifts in Congress bodes well. True reform takes time – or revolution. Let’s hope it’s time.