ARVADA– In a debate sponsored by a business group here Thursday morning, it came as little surprise that Colorado Congressional District Seven candidates Joe Coors and Ed Perlmutter received no questions about their stances on social issues.
Although their views on abortion and gay rights, for example, may offer the sharpest contrast between the two men, it was their approaches to tax policy that got the business crowd pumped.
Incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter said he supported President Obama’s position that the country should let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year for people earning $250,000 a year or more. Coors said the cuts should be extended indefinitely.
“One of the things we have to realize is that you got to have to compromise in this world,” Perlmutter said. “You don’t get everything you want all the time and very rarely even. You need to work with the other side, so if that number were to move up I would listen to it. But I would otherwise stand with President Obama in allowing those tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest people in the country but I’m open to whether it is $250,000 or $500,000 or maybe even a million.”
While neither Perlmutter nor the moderator had used the phrase “fair share” during the debate, Coors said it was wrong for the government to make those kinds of determinations.
“Saying we are not paying our fair share is just a ridiculous notion. Do you really want the government to tell you what’s fair? I don’t,” Coors said when addressing the issue of whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts.
“Apparently Joe Coors along with Mitt Romney think what’s fair for them is to pay vastly lower taxes than middle-income earners,” said Perlmutter spokesperson Leslie Oliver by email after the debate. “Joe wants to a part of Congress so he can raise taxes on seniors and hardworking people in the middle so he can have more tax cuts and increase the deficit by another $5 trillion”
The Coors campaign did not respond to a request for comment or clarification.
Coors said business owners need to know their future tax rates in order to plan to make investments back into their businesses. The best way to provide tax certainty, he said, is simply to extend the current tax structure.
Perlmutter argued that balancing the budget will require both increasing tax revenue and reducing expenditures.
Coors said he would like to see meaningful tax reform but that “reformation will take forever.”
“My solutions is we need certainty in the tax situation and that is best done by extending the current tax rate out indefinitely. Then we can come back and look at the things we need to reform, but tax certainty is one of the key things that will stimulate small business in this country. I would extend those taxes out as far as possible to allow certainty for small businesses… and reignite that American dream.”
Noting that he was one of a bipartisan group of 38 U.S. representatives who voted to support a budget plan that both increased revenue and cut spending, Perlmutter said only a budget approach that looks at both revenue and expenses will be effective in cutting the deficit.
“I’ve already voted on a budget proposal that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan that addresses both revenue and expenditures. There are two sides to a ledger. There is a revenue side and and an expenditure side. The proposal that the Republicans have come up with looks only at the expense side and does not recognize the revenue side. Under the Ryan budget, which my opponent favors, we would add $5 trillion to the deficit. What we need is a balanced approach…
USA Today called us the brave 38 because we didn’t go with partisanship. We recognized that it takes both revenue and expense to reduce the deficit. As you recall, at the end of the Clinton Administration we had a surplus, with revenues exceeding expenses, but then we added two tax cuts which cost the country about $2 trillion, two wars, that’s another couple trillion dollars, and a crash on Wall Street, so all told those add up to about half our debt.”
In addition to freezing taxes, Coors said we need a moratorium on new business regulations.
“Regulations need to be frozen. We have enough of them. We don’t need any more. Let business sort things out,” he said.
Perlmutter said he is supported by various business groups, including real estate and mortgage groups, whose members he said understand the value of some regulation.
“Four years ago in 2008 we were having a massive failure on Wall Street because they ran amok because regulations were not being enforced or had been repealed,” Perlmutter said.
He said Americans lost about $19 trillion in personal wealth in the stock market and real estate crashes and in lost jobs.
“So you need regulations. We need to know what the rules of the road are but they need to be smart and effective.”
The debate, at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, was sponsored by the Jefferson County Business Lobby, and drew about 300 people, who paid $20 each for the program and breakfast.
Image of Rep. Ed Perlmutter: Kersgaard