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 August series this week. Andrews warned of a stealth move against the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Other topics this month include State Capitol security, the Ward Churchill firing, and the 2008 presidential race. 1. SPENDING LOBBY TO SEEK TABOR REPEAL?
John: The new money from taxpayers to bureaucrats under Referendum C has doubled, from the original $3 billion to almost $6 billion today. The spending lobby wants even more, so they now seek repeal of TABOR’s restriction on government growth. The excuse: constitutional harmonizing. The point man: Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
Susan: We must figure out how to fund Colorado’s public infrastructure from highways and higher ed to public safety and healthcare. Competing fiscal constraints resulting from TABOR, the Gallagher amendment, which limits residential property tax and spending formulas like Amendment 23, paralyze Colorado’s ability to keep pace.
John: Colorado’s people are not undertaxed, they are overburdened with ineffective government. When experts claim otherwise, hang onto your wallet. The fiscal shell game starts next year with a harmless-sounding ballot issue to, quote, work on comprehensive solutions. The stealth proposal to gut TABOR comes the following year. Watch out.
Susan: Colorado’s budget for higher ed is 48th in the nation. Money for the transportation systems that keep our economy moving will be $100 billion short over the next 25 years. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Our new state slogan?? “Thank God for Mississippi!”
2. TIGHTEN CAPITOL SECURITY?
John: Protection against violence Colorado’s Capitol has long been provided by brave and capable state troopers, and the system worked again when they took out a deranged gunman in the building on July 16. Barricading the Capitol with metal detectors is an unnecessary violation of open government.
Susan: I agree. But sadly today’s world demands caution, which likely means metal detectors and more state troopers patrolling the Capitol. Imagine if an innocent visitor had been harmed by a stray bullet or volley of gunshots. How the deranged young man was able to purchase a gun, needs answering.
John: Ours has been one of thirty state capitols that were open and accessible without metal detectors for the true owners of the state government, the people, to freely come and go. Let’s not give that up because of one isolated incident. The people’s house should not be a closed fortress.
Susan: Prudent security measures do not a fortress make. If lawmakers, visitors and school tours don’t feel safe when they are in the Capitol – the climate of fear will be much worse than metal detectors at public entrances. The people’s hall must be safe – for the people.
3. FREE SPEECH AIN’T CHEAP
Susan: Free speech is in the news. Regents fired tenured CU prof Ward Churchill. His wanton ways with the words and disregard for history were rewarded with termination. Conversely, former Surgeon General Carmona was consistently muzzled by the Bush administration – to the detriment of the nation’s public health.
John: Free speech didn’t figure in either case, Susan. The crybaby Dr. Carmona needs a remedial in constitutional government. You can either cross the President or keep your job, not both. The America-hater Ward Churchill was canned from CU purely for academic misconduct, not for his many seditious statements.
Susan: Constitutional government doesn’t really happen in the Gulag – where subjects are forced to utter the empty rhetoric of the boss man. Carmona – correctly understood his greater fealty was speaking truth to the public. And, sadly, the jury’s still out on Churchill.
John: Both men’s troubles were their own fault. Carmona pushed anti-life policies in a pro-life administration. Churchill was a dishonest revolutionary in a profession that demands integrity and rationality. They’re not martyrs. As for that Gulag comparison: in this freest of all societies, you must be joking.
4. YOU-TUBE & DEM CANDIDATES
Susan: Democratic presidential candidates faced questions directly from voters on the first-ever CNN/YouTube debate. Clearly, presidential contenders are too tightly scripted and tethered to their talking points to respond with candor. The R’s get you-tubed in September -- maybe. Hard to imagine they will fare any better in the face-to-face with real people.
John: The gimmicky YouTube event hurt Democrats not because they had talking points, but because they’re so hopelessly liberal. Obama and Edwards want to make nice with enemy dictators. Hillary wants socialized medicine. All eight of them are fixated on gay marriage and oblivious to the twin perils of immigration and Islam.
Susan: John, BTW welcome to the 21st Century where talking points issued from headquarters are going to be as obsolete as the dial tone. Any viable candidate better understand instant messaging, YouTube and netroots. Feet on the street are being replaced by the blogosphere. Very horizontal.
John: I remain vertical, and gratefully so. Presidential power is also vertical: a solemn trust, long on responsibility, short on frivolity. The frivolous toy called YouTube is ill suited to helping us choose a President. But the Democratic candidates themselves are shallow – dangerously blind to the Islamofascist enemy we face.
5. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIALS ON THE SKIDS?
Susan: The party of Lincoln must be nervous – given the state of its presidential wannabe’s. McCain’s campaign is broke and on life-support. Turns out Fred Thompson is a big friend of Republicans’ nemesis – the trial lawyers. Rudy pales with each passing day. And Mitt Romney is on how many sides of every issue?
John: Your gloating is way premature. Mr. Lincoln won the presidency twice by upsets, as did Mr. Bush. Mitt Romney is so strong in Iowa and New Hampshire that Giuliani has gone on TV there. Romney is now zinging Obama, delighting the base. Thompson has huge star power. Look out, Democrats.
Susan: I admire your ability to whistle a happy tune! Thompson’s aides and advisors are resigning in droves. They wonder who’s in charge. And Romney made a fortune in the venture biz because he can really shmooze a room. The leader of the free world requires a different skill set.
John: Come on, Democrats never even talk about leading the free world. They believe America isn’t worthy to lead. Meanwhile, Mayor Giuliani cleaned up New York and stood tall on 9/11. Gov. Romney reformed health care and ran the Olympics. Thompson fought Democratic corruption under Clinton and Republican corruption under Nixon. That’s leadership.