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September 21, 2012
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Five-way race for 3rd Congressional District

The campaign season for the Nov. 6, 2012, election is here, and the Post Independent wants to make sure readers and voters have plenty of information before casting their vote.

This month we are publishing question and answer articles with candidates for U.S. Congress, the state Legislature, University of Colorado Regent, Ninth District Attorney and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, as well informative articles about the Garfield Legacy and Rifle sales tax ballot questions.

Today we present interviews with the five candidates for the Third Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican incumbent Scott Tipton is facing a challenge from Democrat Sal Pace, Libertarian Gregory Gilman, independent Tisha Casida and independent Jaime McMillan.

The Third District encompasses much of the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo.

In early October, readers will hear again from candidates and issues campaigns when they speak directly to voters in opinion columns. And later in October, the Post Independent Editorial Board will publish its endorsements of candidates and ballot questions.

The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

For dates of upcoming local election forums, watch the calendar on page 4.

For an archive of these stories, coverage of campaign forums and other election issues on the local, state and national level, please visit www.postindependent.com > News > Elections.

Q. How best can we develop Colorado's energy resources, and which type of energy development should get the highest priority?

A. Energy independence cannot rely on renewable energy alone. According to the Institute for Energy Research, Colorado generates electricity from two major resources: coal and natural gas, approximately 63 percent from coal and 28 percent from natural gas. Renewables including wind, hydroelectric, and solar are nominal.

Natural gas is where we should make our efforts substantial in terms of investment and use. Colorado would benefit, because we supply about 5 percent of the nation's natural gas. We actually import coal from other states. By focusing on natural gas, we can shift more of our electrical grid to this resource while prices are cheap and supply natural gas to other states as the nation moves its commercial fleet to natural gas from oil.

Q. What is your preferred solution to making health care accessible and affordable to all U.S. citizens in a sustainable way?

A. We must realize that our current health care system is profit based. Health care companies are reporting record profits. In addition, health care management companies are not exposed to federal anti-trust laws.

Monopolies stifle competition, as with any product in the marketplace. Because of outdated legislation, only the states have the power to sue health care companies using anti-trust laws. Affordability is dependent on real competition among providers of health care.

Q. What, specifically, would you do to end the partisan bickering in Washington and concentrate on solving problems?

A. Our founding fathers of the country didn't engage in party politics. They worked together to form a republic and made compromises. However, even in their time, George Washington and James Madison wrote vehemently about the dangers to the nation of partisanship, going as far to call them an "evil to the Constitution."

The House of the People or Congress is not the cause of this, but rather the voters who elect these candidates. Ideology has now taken a front seat to pragmatism. I believe voters should carefully examine the ticket in 2012 for people who put the nation's interest first before their political party.

Q. What are your thoughts about U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budgetary proposals, and how would you vote on the Ryan budget today?

A. I would vote no on Mr. Ryan's budget. The reason is because the budget is premised on a basis of thinking or ideology that our deficit or liabilities in America are bad. The U.S. debt is good debt and that's why our creditors keep loaning the United States money. Also, keep in mind the majority is debt we owe ourselves.

Our economy is still the largest in the world, with an annual GDP of over $15 trillion. Our $15 trillion debt may be 100 percent of GDP, but that figure is stated in a vacuum and excludes our overseas assets. Our net deficit (debt less our assets overseas) accounts for only about $2.5 trillion, much less than the $15 trillion dollar fixation that media, and party pundits, prefer to discuss.

Now is not the time to be cheering deficit hawks. We must be pragmatic and heed lessons from previous economic slumps in American history. The recoveries were not achieved on the back of deficit cutting.

Famous economist John Maynard Keynes summed it up this way. "The boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity." We're not in a boom right now, something Mr. Ryan may not have noticed.

Q. How best can we develop Colorado's energy resources, and which type of energy development should get the highest priority?

A. I truly believe in an all-of-the-above energy approach. Cleaner burning coal, wind, solar, hydroelectric and natural gas power are all important sources of energy in Colorado, and the key is balance. We have to have a balanced approach with multiple sources of energy.

But we also have to balance the need for domestic energy production with protecting our land, water and property.

I also understand that energy development means jobs right here in Colorado, and for this reason I think it's incredibly important for Congress to support renewable energy, a top priority of mine.

Furthermore, I'm proud of my work in the Colorado Legislature, supporting initiatives like the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act and increasing Colorado's energy portfolio standard to one of the strongest in the country, which resulted in 1,000 more jobs in Colorado.

Q. What is your preferred solution to making health care accessible and affordable to all U.S. citizens in a sustainable way?

A. I am strongly opposed to privatizing Medicare and other health care programs, and I will never vote to turn them into voucher programs. That being said, we need to do something about skyrocketing medical costs.

We can reduce health costs by transitioning away from the fee-for-service model and instead having more integrated and bundled care. Costs will go down without sacrificing benefits for Medicare recipients.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but I think that allowing college kids to stay on their parents' plans, closing the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug costs for seniors, and stopping insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions will help to make health care accessible and affordable to all U.S. citizens. We can address concerns with the ACA only if we have folks who are willing to work together instead of pushing narrow partisan agendas.

Q. What, specifically, would you do to end the partisan bickering in Washington and concentrate on solving problems?

A. I am extremely frustrated with the politics-as-usual approach of Congress. Rather than focusing on solving our most important problems, our leaders are more concerned with scoring partisan political points. Making the other side look bad may win an election, but it will do nothing to put people back to work.

In Congress, I would look to find common ground, rather than vilifying the other party. This is an approach I have taken during my time at the Legislature. Lawmakers in Washington spend too much time only voting, caucusing and socializing with their own party. I would befriend and cosponsor legislation with members of the other party, on local issues as well as national ones.

Q. What are your thoughts about U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budgetary proposals, and how would you vote on the Ryan budget today?

A. I think that the Ryan budget, which Congressman Tipton voted for twice, is the wrong plan for America.

The Ryan budget would end the guarantee of health insurance for American seniors and replace Medicare with a voucher system. On top of that, it slashes spending for everything from forest fire prevention to farm programs to the school lunch program. It makes all these cuts not to balance the budget, which wouldn't happen for decades under the Ryan plan, but to pay for new tax breaks for multi-millionaires.

These are the wrong priorities for Colorado; I would absolutely vote against this plan if I am elected to Congress.

Q. How best can we develop Colorado's energy resources, and which type of energy development should get the highest priority?

A. A balanced energy policy that strives to meet the needs of the American people through the production of renewables like hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal, and traditional resources such as oil, gas and clean coal, would greatly benefit Colorado's economy while providing certainty for our country's energy future and strengthening our national security.

Any development of our energy resources must be done responsibly, fully adhering to environmental safeguards that protect our natural climate and most precious resource - water.

I applaud the work that Colorado has done under the leadership of Gov. John Hickenlooper to monitor and regulate fracking, and in Congress I have worked to strengthen such efforts to protect our water by successfully amending legislation to increase environmental accountability for oil shale development.

Q. What is your preferred solution to making health care accessible and affordable to all U.S. citizens in a sustainable way?

A. Health care shouldn't be a partisan issue that divides our country, but a unifying effort to ensure that every American has access to affordable high quality health care.

Americans shouldn't be forced to sacrifice quality and the ability to make personal health care choices in exchange for a government plan that reduces certainty for seniors and makes it increasingly difficult to find providers willing to accept vital programs like Medicare.

I support a plan that puts Medicare on a sustainable course - rather than allow it to go bankrupt - and continues to provide benefits for current seniors and those nearing retirement, while strengthening it for future generations.

Our nation's health care future is strongest when built on market-driven solutions that increase competition and drive down costs.

Q. What, specifically, would you do to end the partisan bickering in Washington and concentrate on solving problems?

A. I'm proud to say that Colorado's congressional delegation has found multiple opportunities to move past politics and work together to get things done. From my efforts to establish Chimney Rock National Monument with Sens. Bennet and Udall and the president, to working with the majority of Colorado's delegation to extend the wind production tax credit and protect Colorado jobs, and passing a law with Sen. Bennet to expand the membership of one of our nation's most active veterans service organizations, we have worked together in the best interest of our constituents.

I believe it's the duty of elected officials to maintain a steady dialogue and keep an open mind to work together and solve our nation's complex problems, and I'm committed to doing so.

Q. What are your thoughts about U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budgetary proposals, and how would you vote on the Ryan budget today?

A. The Ryan proposal is a starting point for the discussion that our nation needs to have on how to address our $16 trillion national debt and annual deficits that expand it. It's not perfect, and I'd like to see it taken up for debate.

But to date, it's the only plan that's been put on the table, and rather than going to conference in the Senate and engaging in an open dialogue, the proposal has been shouted down without any alternative offered.

I voted for the Ryan proposal in the past and would do so today, because I believe we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to our crippling debt, our stagnant economic recovery and the imminent bankruptcy of critical programs, including Medicare.

Q. How best can we develop Colorado's energy resources, and which type of energy development should get the highest priority?

A. We can create greater control, input and benefit at the local level for regulations, decision-making, and how the community profits from energy development. Stakeholders - property-owners and citizens of a community - are best able to contribute knowledge and offer input as to the types of rules and regulations that should be in place for energy development.

In addition to this, companies that lease land from the county or state governments (public land) should pay citizens directly for use of those public resources (vs. paying governmental agencies alone), and allow citizens to directly profit from all energy development, both of renewable and nonrenewable sources.

Q. What is your preferred solution to making health care accessible and affordable to all U.S. citizens in a sustainable way?

A. We need to get the corruption and bureaucracy out of the insurance agencies and the government entities that attempt to control individual health choices. We must start to pave the way for sustainable health care choices, meaning that we need to give patients the opportunity to work directly with their health care providers, and when seeking health insurance, ensure that they have the optimum choices of what is available. I would allow insurance providers to compete across state lines.

Q. What, specifically, would you do to end the partisan bickering in Washington and concentrate on solving problems?

A. As an independent I can work with both Democrats and Republicans to ensure that all of the voices of my constituency are heard and that everyone has a voice, regardless of income bracket.

I can be completely transparent to the Coloradans of District 3 and I can be held accountable to individuals versus the political parties, which are partisan and inaccessible to those they represent.

I am the only candidate who has signed the voluntary U.S. House Term Limits Declaration and will serve a maximum of six years in office.

I want to be a statesman and work on positive, proactive, and immediate solutions for our communities, and can work with others who want to be public servants with integrity.

Q. What are your thoughts about U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budgetary proposals, and how would you vote on the Ryan budget today?

A. I have not been able to read his budget in its entirety so cannot comment on it as a whole, and since I have not read it in its entirety would not be able to vote for this particular piece of legislation.

I do not think that the Ryan budget addresses many concerns. However I do appreciate that it at least sets forth some type of plan. It is inexcusable that our Congress has not passed a budget in several years.

I would want to ensure that those who have contractual obligations such as Medicare and Social Security coming from the federal government are afforded the funds they are expecting. But to do this effectively, we must take a very serious and immediate step towards addressing our monetary policy and financial markets, which are both vulnerable.

If we do not have a currency of value, it does not matter what is "owed" to the American people. We must first address the economy to then be able to have an effective budget and plan for future economic growth.

Q. How best can we develop Colorado's energy resources, and which type of energy development should get the highest priority?

A. Private industry can best develop Colorado's energy resources. Access to public lands should be limited to protect the environment and the public interest. Renewable energy, such as solar and wind, should be emphasized, along with existing energy facilities, to protect jobs and limit our dependence on foreign oil.

Q. What is your preferred solution to making health care accessible and affordable to all U.S. citizens in a sustainable way?

A. More competition and transparency in the health care marketplace is needed to control costs and improve the quality of care. Physician liability issues also need to be addressed to further control costs. Increased insurance choices for catastrophic care can protect all Americans from the financial burdens associated with health care.

Q. What, specifically, would you do to end the partisan bickering in Washington and concentrate on solving problems?

A. Congress is the main problem. More diversity is needed in Congress, as a majority in the House or Senate creates a partisan atmosphere.

The elimination of the two-party system through participation of third-party and independent candidates would require collaboration and compromise in the legislative process.

Also, legislators should be required to write their own bills instead of having lobbyists do it. And each piece of legislation should be limited to one subject.

These changes would end the partisan bickering and force legislators to solve problems or risk their re-election.

Q. What are your thoughts about U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budgetary proposals, and how would you vote on the Ryan budget today?

A. I do not support Paul Ryan's budget proposal for several reasons.

The changes in the tax code would provide tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while doing little to alleviate the tax burdens of the middle class.

The revenue projections are overly optimistic in light of current economic growth, and without these estimated revenue increases, the deficit reductions would not be met. Moreover, deficit reductions are not good enough - the goal should be a balanced budget.

Also, the spending cuts do not target the government giveaways, elimination of war spending, and reduction of the national debt, which should be a priority.

Finally, the spending levels outlined in the Ryan plan would continue to grow the size of government, which would further increase the tax burden.


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The Post Independent Updated Sep 21, 2012 01:06AM Published Sep 21, 2012 12:58AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.