The Ken Buck interview: Government is good; too bad it costs money

Colorado politics blogger David Thielen interviewed Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck last week. Buck is one of the GOP frontrunners in the race to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Thielen is a straight shooter in the world of politics blogging. Buck is a straight shooter in the world of politics. The results are revealing.

Highlights include the old “waste and inefficiency” non-answer to the state budget crisis; the matter of Republicans’ tortured relationship to the government they’re a part of; and the environment, specifically global warming, and how GOP leaders will continue still to find any reason at all to turn from leadership on the matter.

On the state budget, Thielen asks what Buck thinks about Referendum C, the controversial ballot initiative barely passed in 2005 that allowed the state to keep revenue that otherwise would have been returned to taxpayers. Ref C was described as a desperate move at the time. State revenues, of course, have plummeted in the years since Ref C passed. It expires in 2010.

Are we better off because Ref C passed?

Ken’s reply was that he opposed Ref C at the time and he still thinks it was a bad idea. He thinks the state needs to cut out waste and inefficiency and brought up a specific case in Weld County where they have reduced cases in the county courts by one-fourth and he proposed eliminating one of the four county judgeships.

Waste and inefficiency? Gov. Ritter is slashing programs. He will slash more. He has closed special care facilities and taken heat. He has furloughed state employees. He has OKd early release of prisoners. Ken Buck cut one of four Weld County judgeships. No candidate for any office today Democrat or Republican can say they will raise taxes. Which means voters will hear both sides talking about waste and inefficiencies. Where will they cut exactly and how much will they save? A judgeship in Weld County is no answer.

Thielen asks Buck about the financial-industry meltdown and Buck comes out with a surprising admission: He is a Western conservative politician who believes in government and in government regulation. This is like Nixon going to China.

I then asked how do we make sure we don’t have this [financial meltdown] happen again.

Ken wants to see the federal regulation improved. He brought up the case of New Frontier Bank where they asked the feds to come check it out three times and each time the feds said there was nothing they could do. Then it went belly up. He also talked about how Alan Greenspan heard a discussion of a new derivative and he had no idea what it was – how can you be regulating properly when you don’t even know what people are trading.

So Ken sees a need for better regulation. He also is in favor of the idea of not allowing banks to be too big to fail and thinks we should look at using the anti-trust laws to break up the ones that can take the entire economy down with them if they fail. What’s really interesting here is Ken is not a no government candidate. Where he sees a need for the government to be involved, he wants that involvement.

On global warming Buck thinks maybe humans have something to do with it. Perhaps. In any case, he said, we should recognize the upside as well as the downside to global warming. What? Yes that’s right, there’s a near-term upside in the coming global climate disaster.

Buck definitely sees [global warming] occurring (although he thinks just how much is due to human beings is arguable)…. he had a very interesting answer in that he listed a number of the pros and cons of warming from longer growing seasons in places (good) to increased disease (bad).

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