The only sane response to Obamacare is to replace the Congress and repeal the bill, says John Andrews in the March round of Head On TV debates. But Susan Barnes-Gelt lauds the new law as a medical, social, and economic boon. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Israel, teacher unions, and the Colorado contests for governor and senator. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for March:
1. OBAMACARE BECOMES LAW
Susan: Health care reform means people can change jobs and start new businesses without losing their health insurance if they have pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies won't be able to cap coverage or discriminate. 30 million previously uninsured will be covered. It's great for Americans and the economy.
John: Great for the economy? Like a noose is great for your neck. Obamacare means a government takeover of one-sixth of everything this country produces. Medical costs will rise and quality will decline. Americans know that, which is why polling on this corrupt and dishonest bill has been so negative.
Susan: The healthcare bill is more about insurance reform than healthcare reform and private insurance companies will control the market - not the government. Universal access to quality care will emphasize prevention, improve productivity and relieve local and state taxpayers of the huge burden of uncompensated, emergency room care.
John: Obamacare tramples freedom and shreds the constitution by forcing individuals to buy something against their will. Obamacare worsens the deficit, raises taxes, puts insurance companies under government control, pushes doctors out their profession, and degrades the entire health system. We should replace the Congress and repeal the bill.
2. GOVERNOR’S RACE
John: Colorado has not been well governed under Bill Ritter, and voters know it. That’s why he’s not running again. Ritter and the Democrats let spending and taxes get badly out of balance. They brutalized an important industry, oil and gas. Fellow Democrat John Hickenlooper admits it. Republican Scott McInnis is a better bet.
Susan: McInnis better have a more compelling message than tax and spend to beat Hickenlooper. Coloradans want a problem solver, not a grenade lobber. Legislative antics on both sides are reaching new lows. Hick has the smarts and the disposition to bring people together.
John: After taking the governor’s office with Colorado in good shape, Democrats failed to keep it that way. Ritter increased spending even as revenues were falling. He became anti-business just when jobs were needed. He handed over state workers to the unions. To fix it we need a Republican, not another Democrat.
Susan: We've learned from partisan antics in Congress Colorado's bickering legislature that partisan incivility doesn't solve problems. Hickenlooper is a businessman, social moderate, fiscal conservative. His experience, finding common ground and working with diverse interests on multiple issues is what Colorado needs.
3. U.S. ANGRY WITH ISRAEL
John: America’s most important ally in the Middle East is Israel. It has an exemplary democracy, a dynamic free economy, and it’s the cradle of our Judeo-Christian heritage. It has shown heroic fortitude and amazing restraint against 60 years of unrelenting Muslim efforts to destroy it. Obama’s hostility to Israel is totally wrong.
Susan: Israel violated a 10-month moratorium and slapped the US by announcing West Bank settlements the day V.P. Biden arrived in Israel. Suggesting East Jerusalem isn't part of the west bank is nonsense and if Netanyahu wants peace he'd better start exercising better judgment.
John: Obama and Biden and Hillary Clinton are all dangerously confused about how to protect America’s national interest in the boiling cauldron of Islamic hatred and violence that is the Middle East. It starts with standing strong for Israel, our brave democratic ally, and against Iran, the looming nuclear menace.
Susan: Netanyahu leads a fragile coalition government - if he loses the support of the super-conservatives, he loses his government. A two state solution is the only answer for lasting mideast peace. Confusing that with standing firm against the Iranian nuclear threat, is simplistic. Clinton made that clear in her remarks.
4. EDUCATION ON WRONG TRACK
John: The US Education Secretary flew in the other day. He was here to take sides in the Democratic Senate primary and to dangle $400 million in front of lawmakers to change the way Colorado educates its kids. That’s what government schools have come to – arm-twisting from Obama and borrowed money from China.
Susan: Investing my federal tax dollars in Colorado's k-12 school is a great idea. Public education in this state reached a new low with the peevish fighting among Denver school board members and the watered down plan submitted to the feds for Race to the Top dollars.
John: The root of the problem is teacher unions. Government schools in our state and across the country are run more for the benefit of their employees than for students in the classroom. Unions dominate the school boards, the Ritter administration, the legislature, and the Congress. It’s a scandal.
Susan: The issue is accountability. It's too easy to blame unions for inexperienced school boards, entrenched administrative bureaucracies, disengaged parents, obsolete schools and equipment and poorly trained teachers. Obama's race to the top program is a good start at rewarding practices that work and bringing them to scale.
5. SENATE PRIMARIES
Susan: The caucuses reflected badly on frontrunners Bennet and Norton, though you could hardly say the 2-percent turnout was representative. Republican activists are far more conservative than mainstream R's and will never field a candidate acceptable to Colorado moderates. And voters don't have a clue about Senator Bennet.
John: Both parties often have a different favorite at the spring caucus from the big vote-getter who wins the summer primary. In 2004 it was Republican Bob Schaffer and Democrat Mike Miles, only to be overtaken in August by Pete Coors and eventual winner Ken Salazar. In 2010 I foresee a GOP Senate winner.
Susan: It's a throw the rascals out year - incumbents across the country are at risk. Bennet is further disadvantaged - he's an incumbent without a base. Romanoff is the stronger Democrat. Norton is burdened by weak party infrastructure in the State and her both sides of every issue track record.
John: Michael Bennet has been an embarrassment in the Senate. He voted for all those corrupt health care deals. Andrew Romanoff is part owner of the Bill Ritter budget mess. Republicans have tax-fighter Tom Wiens, crime-fighter Ken Buck, and popular conservative Jane Norton. She may become Colorado’s first woman senator.