COLORADO SPRINGS– Answering questions on the economy, ongoing international trade imbalances and American employment here Tuesday, U.S. Senate candidates Andrew Romanoff (D) and Ken Buck (R) offered impressively wide ranging answers that highlighted Democratic and Republican differences in a measured fashion that has been rare in this year’s heated political environment and primary season.
Buck unabashedly embraced free trade despite present persisting imbalances, restated his commitment to cut back government spending, including even recession unemployment benefits, and said he thought energy policy that considered climate change was based on junk science.
Romanoff said the best way to cut the deficit was to grow the economy and that stimulus spending was necessary to do that, mainly by funding key infrastructure development and education services. He said that advanced infrastructure and education would increase U.S. competitiveness in the contemporary globalized economy.
“We need to strive for energy independence. I don’t know if we can ever get to full energy independence, just like we don’t get to full employment, but we need to get to a level of energy independence… we need to drill here,” Buck said. “Environmentalists are telling us that coal is a primary cause of global warming. If we continue to let bad science dictate policy, we will continue to have bad policy.”
“Corporations are not patriotic,” he said. “They are profit seeking entities… we need to create a climate in this country [such that] corporations will find it profitable to keep jobs here.”
The Weld County D.A. argued that tax incentives for corporations and a new energy policy – more domestic drilling and nuclear production – would be the principal way he would seek to increase internal investment and stimulate job growth.
Former state House Speaker Romanoff didn’t shy away from underlining the power of government to work with the private sector to bolster the economy by fueling innovation and production.
“It is important for us to make targeted investments in infrastructure where private initiative or individual action can’t accomplish on their own…. I will look for allies on both sides of the aisle and, more than that, with allies outside the capitol.”
Romanoff said his experience as a state legislative leader bound by the law to balance the budget ingrained him with fiscal discipline, an asset he would take to DC. He added that he was for more than merely making cuts. He would seek reforms that would lower income taxes while taxing vastly profitable non-contributing multinational corporations as well as carbon producers.
“If we are willing, and I am, to take the kind of steps we need to restore our competitiveness, then the incomes that would flow would balance the budget,” Romanoff said. “Look, the best way to balance the budget is to grow the economy.”
The event, hosted by the Coalition for a Prosperous America— which is dedicated to regaining a positive trade balance– drew a bipartisan crowd and saw moderators and audience members asking tough questions including follow up questions. The audience was overwhelmingly pro-business but also seemed largely to line up against perceived abuses of trade partners that close the U.S. out of markets and corporations that outsource labor to places where the cost is cheap in part because of lax environmental and safety regulations and a dearth of employee rights Americans find unacceptable.