Bennet, Pena named co-chairs of Obama campaign

The Obama campaign announced today that Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and former Denver Mayor and Transportation Secretary Federico Pena have been named national co-chairs, along with 33 other people.

The campaign said The co-chairs will serve as ambassadors for the President, advise the campaign on key issues, and help engage and mobilize voters.

“Colorado families were facing incredible challenges as the nation struggled through the worst recession since the great depression. The President made difficult decisions that have helped turn the economy in a positive direction,” Bennet said by email.

“He is committed to addressing major challenges – reforming education, rebuilding our infrastructure and incentivizng an innovation economy – to ensure we compete in the 21st century and leave more opportunity for our kids and grandkids.”

“The President’s National Co-Chairs will be tremendous assets on the ground as we build the biggest grassroots campaign in history,” said Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager. “They each share the President’s vision for a future where every American can have a fair shot at success, where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded.”

Pena told The Colorado Independent he is honored to serve as a co-chair, a position he also held in 2008.

He said being a co-chair means acting as a surrogate for the president, giving advice to the campaign, and making appearances and giving speeches on Obama’s behalf.

In 2008, Pena said he visited seven states on behalf of the campaign. “I have a great affinity for the West and so I’m happy to help in that way.

“I think President Obama has done a solid job. He hasn’t accomplished everything he might have wanted to, but he has accomplished a lot and I will remind people of that. I don’t think the administration has always done a very good job of marketing, if you will, just letting people know everything he has done.”

Pena ticked off a handful of things that he said Obama has done in the first three years of his term, including passing health care reform, the Recovery Act and the auto industry bail-out.

“The Recovery Act saved thousands of jobs. Obama’s quick work in getting that passed prevented a depression. There is no question about that. His investment in Detroit and the auto industry saved that industry and kept those jobs in the United States. People like Mitt Romney said ‘let it go bankrupt.'”

On the subject of health care reform, Pena said the reform had enabled thousands of Coloradans to remain on their parents’ policies for a few more years and has stopped insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions.

“He has doubled the amount of money available for Pell Grants to college students and has extended tax cuts to families paying for college,” Pena continued.

Pena also praised the president for his energy policies, which Pena said have helped reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil while also encouraging domestic development of both alternative energies and oil and gas.

“Many Americans don’t think we should have spent a trillion dollars fighting three wars. Well, President Obama didn’t think so either and he has gotten us out of Iraq, has us almost out of Afghanistan and has focused on Al-Qaeda which is where the focus should have been all along,” Pena said.

“We need to reelect him so that he can continue his work building a sustainable economy. Unemployment is down, but there are still a lot of people hurting. Republicans aren’t saying anything new–just reduce taxes on the wealthiest, that’s their plan. Independents and moderates are moving away from the Republicans and supporting Obama, for good reason.”

Pena praised proposed changes to the tax code that Obama announced today.

From the White House announcement:

In my State of the Union, I laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last — where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone pays their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. That includes a tax code that rewards companies who invest and create jobs in the United States of America.

Our current corporate tax system is outdated, unfair, and inefficient. It provides tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas and hits companies that choose to stay in America with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It is unnecessarily complicated and forces America’s small businesses to spend countless hours and dollars filing their taxes. It’s not right, and it needs to change.

That’s why my administration released a framework for reform that simplifies the tax code, eliminates dozens of tax loopholes and subsidies, and promotes job creation right here at home. It’s a framework that lowers the corporate tax rate and broadens the tax base in order to increase competitiveness for companies across the nation. It cuts tax rates even further for manufacturers that are creating new products and manufacturing goods here in America. Finally, because no company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas, this framework includes a basic minimum tax for every multinational company. This reform is fully paid for, and it won’t add a dime to the deficit.

As I said in the State of the Union, it is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.

Romney also released a tax proposal today.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.