"Barnstorming from one ungrateful, uncooperative country to the next, signaling weakness, apologizing for America’s generosity and sacrifice? That’s not my idea of success," says John Andrews of Obama's foreign trip in the April round of Head On TV debates. But Susan Barnes-Gelt argues the President was impressive abroad and later in the piracy hostage crisis. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over carbon emissions, school reform, illegal aliens on campus, and a legislative scorecard. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for April: 1. OBAMA AS WORLD LEADER?
Susan: Obama's European tour was a resounding success. His intelligent, calm and deliberate manner impressed leaders, the foreign press and public. If we are going to join with our allies and our foes to address problems than aren't defined by jurisdictional boundaries, we must begin with respectful listening and focus.
John: Barnstorming from one ungrateful, uncooperative country to the next, signaling weakness, apologizing for America’s generosity and sacrifice? That’s not my idea of success. The Messiah’s dangerous inexperience and pacifism were obvious for allies to manipulate and enemies to exploit. Scary!
Susan: Obama proved himself by the way he performed, as commander-in-chief during the recent Somali kidnapping. His decision to authorize the Navy SEALS to free Captain Philips shows he knows when to use military force and that he remains cool under pressure.
John: Remember Bin Laden’s description of America after 9/11 – “the weak horse”? That may become truer than ever under this president. People still seem to like him, but our enemies have other ideas. The hostage rescue was good, but Obama’s weakness toward Iran and North Korea is not good.
2. CAP & TRADE BILL IN CONGRESS
John: The last six quarters have seen a declining economy and the last ten years have seen global cooling. There couldn’t be a worse time to slam American industry and American taxpayers with a huge new tax on carbon emissions. Obama’s cap and trade bill should die a quick death in Congress.
Susan: The Dems were naïve to fast track Cap and Trade legislation. A comprehensive policy confronting climate change, emissions and smart energy is a 21st Century reality. Bold action entails working with the American people to educate and develop strong grassroots support.
John: Do Obama and the Democrats care more about prosperity American-style or socialism European-style? Their policy on energy will tell us. Punitive action on global warming will hurt everyone. Full speed on oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables will bring back the good times. Which is it, Dems?
Susan: John, you are so smart - but very 20th Century! The choice is not black or white - combustibles and pollution vs clean and green. The answer is both - and - not either - or. Cap and trade is inevitable - the question is not whether, but when. You'll see.
3. GRADING THE 2009 LEGISLATURE
John: Democrats went on a tear in the legislature this year. First they raised car taxes on everyone. Then they ripped out another fiscal guardrail from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, never mind a vote of the people. Then they illegally targeted the worker’s comp fund. Don’t they know there’s a recession on?
Susan: Colorado's budget is a disaster, in large measure because of mandated constraints - TABOR, Amendment 23 and under - funded federal requirements. What does it mean when legislators must choose between educating the workforce or ensuring public safety? Colorado's fiscal challenges are epic.
John: The General Assembly gets an F for this 2009 session. F as in failure, F as in fake, F as in fiscal flop. Democrats bear most of the blame, they were in charge. Republican Don Marostica also flunked. Bill Ritter started things with his reckless budget a year ago.
Susan: Real budget authority rests with the Joint Budget Committee. The Gov is right to take cuts to higher ed off the table and I, for one, think he is smart to let the legislature come to consensus. My grade for the lege is short of a B - for BOLD
4. IMPROVING COLORADO'S SCHOOLS
Susan: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Colorado - along with Senators Udall and Bennet - visiting our public schools. If the state is going to compete for $44 billion in federal dollars for education reform, leaders must address longer school days, teacher accountability and school choice - just for starters.
John: If dollars translated into learning, kids would show more academic mastery after we doubled real spending per student in recent decades. Instead mediocrity in the government schools worsened. Forget the federal honeypot. To improve the 3 R’s we need the 3 C’s – charters, competition, choice.
Susan: We need federal money to fix up decrepit schools so that kids can learn in safe, healthy and well-resourced environments. Neither local communities nor the states have the money to address failed facilities. Then your 3 C's charters, competition and choice should be part of the equation.
John: Speaking of education, Susan, I have to praise Secretary Duncan and President Obama for tapping Peter Groff to coordinate faith-based school initiatives across the country. Groff did well as Senate President, where I once served, and he’s a tiger for educational opportunity. Colorado’s loss is America’s gain.
5. IN-STATE TUITION BILL FAILS
John: What do you know? Sometimes the system works. Illegal aliens won’t get favored treatment at state universities after all. The kid who snuck here from Mexico won’t pay a lower tuition while the veteran who commutes from Wyoming pays full tuition. Five Senate Democrats and 13 Republicans did the right thing.
Susan: Democratic Sens. Morgan Carroll, Jim Isgar, Moe Keller, Linda Newell, and Lois Tochtrop joined Repub's in defeating this bill,which had NO fiscal impact. Shame on them and shame on the partisan and mean-spirited myopia of the Republican minority.
John: Colorado’s hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding families want no part of a college subsidy for scofflaw foreigners. You may call that mean-spirited. I call it common sense. Enough senators from both parties got the message from voters and killed the bill. The others, plus Bill Ritter, will pay the price in 2010.
Susan: Get a grip John.These kids are both law abiding and hardworking, hardly scofflaws. Any Colorado student who works hard enough to attend college ought to go and pay in-state tuition. It's in the best interest of every Coloradan to have an educated workforce.