Michael Bennet in 2010 CO Senate Debates

On Health Care: I back fiscally sound measures, including Medicare cuts

When the debate turned to the economy, Buck accused Bennet of overspending in Washington but coming home to Colorado and talking up the need to cut the national deficit. Buck pointed out that the debt has risen $3 trillion since Bennet was appointed to the job last year. "He refuses to take responsibility for that $3 trillion dollars in debt," Bennet said. "He's been in Washington, D.C., and he hasn't done anything to clean it up."

Bennet fired back, "Quite the contrary." He said that he has backed fiscally sound measures, including the health care overhaul. Bennet described Medicare cuts included in that new law as "the heart" of the plan.

Source: CBS-4-Denver coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate Oct 24, 2010

On Jobs: Opposes Employee Free Choice Act & card-check

Buck also pressed Bennet to clarify his position on a union-organizing bill on which the Democrat has given only vague answers. Bennet said that he opposes the main thrust of the Employee Free Choice Act--allowing a majority of employees to form a union by signing a card instead of holding a secret ballot vote. "I think that the secret ballot rules shouldn't change," Bennet said. It was Bennet's most specific position to date on that bill, which has passed the House but stalled in the Senate.
Source: CBS-4-Denver coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate Oct 24, 2010

On Budget & Economy: Stimulus bill avoided Depression; now we need infrastructure

Q: You helped the stimulus get passed. You say there's nothing to show for it but more debt. Isn't that an admission that the major piece to help the economy simply did not work by this administration?

BENNET: Absolutely not. In fact, what I was saying is true, because we have $13 trillion of debt on the balance sheet and nothing to show for it. We have not even had the decency to maintain the assets that our parents and grandparents built for us: our roads, our bridges, our wastewater systems, our sewer systems; by the way, those weren't Bolsheviks, those weren't socialists that built those things for us--much less build the infrastructure we need for the 21st century.

Q: But the president acknowledges that infrastructure spending has not been really dealt with in this stimulus bill.

BENNET: Transportation, transit and energy infrastructure as well. That stimulus package saved us from going into the second Great Depression. But that's hardly enough.

Source: NBC's Meet the Press: 2010 Colorado Senate debate Oct 17, 2010

On War & Peace: Commit to bring home troops from Afghanistan in July 2011

Q: If President Obama and General Petraeus were to determine that they need a significant number of troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the July 2011 deadline, is that a position that you'd be able to support?

BENNET: My position is that we ought to begin bringing our troops home in July '11. And there will be troops there, they'll have to leave troops there, and I recognize that. But this is the longest shooting war in our country's history.

Q: But if a significant number of combat forces must remain to achieve US goals, you'd be for it or against it?

BENNET: I would have to look at it then, but what I want to make clear is that I believe the president needs to honor the commitment that he made to begin bringing our troops home. I don't know what "significant" is. I imagine that there will be a substantial number of troops there for the foreseeable future.

Q: And you could support that?

BENNET: I believe what the American people need to see that our commitment there is coming to an end.

Source: NBC's Meet the Press: 2010 Colorado Senate debate Oct 17, 2010

On Budget & Economy: Stimulus bill limited because recession worse than expected

Buck said he would never have voted for the $787 billion federal stimulus spending bill. He also mentioned Bennet's comments last summer that Congress had increased the national debt to $13 trillion "with nothing to show for it."

Bennet said the stimulus bill hasn't been more effective because the U.S. recession was even worse than initially believed. "But 37% of that legislation was in tax cuts," he argued, a claim that Buck's supporters scoffed at.

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate Oct 8, 2010

On Environment: $5 million to begin work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit

On the Arkansas River basin: Both men said they wanted to protect rural water supplies but Bennet made a point of having supported the $5 million budget appropriation to begin work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, a planned water pipeline from Lake Pueblo to 40 valley communities. Congress authorized the project in 1962 but had never appropriated money until this year.

Buck dismissed that to the crowd. "(Bennet) stood up and took credit for a conduit that others had worked on for 10 years," he said.

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate Oct 8, 2010

On Health Care: $500B savings in Medicare is heart of health care reform

Buck offered Bennet an olive branch of sorts, saying Bennet knew what it was like to be a target of distortions. "Republicans did it to you during the health care debate when they said you wanted to cut $500 billion out of Medicare," Buck offered. "It wa wrong of the Republicans then and it's wrong of you to do it now."

Bennet was pleased to hear it. "I hope you'll call your friends who are pushing an ad accusing me of cutting $500 billion out of Medicare," he told Buck. "That $500 billion savings in Medicare is the very heart of the health care reform bill."

Bennet said he too wanted to change the new Democratic health legislation, but not its essentials. "I'm not going to repeal it because people with pre-existing conditions will again be denied health care coverage," he said.

Buck insisted he would repeal it--getting a cheer from supporters. Buck said the law was produced by a "corrupt" process, especially the special concessions granted Nebraska and Louisiana senators to win their votes.

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate Oct 8, 2010

On Homeland Security: No expansion option for 238,000-acre Trinidad training site

On Pinon Canyon: Both candidates said they were opposed to the Army using eminent domain to expand the 238,000-acre training site northeast of Trinidad and that the Army had failed to make a case for needing expansion.

Bennet went further, saying the Army understands expansion is not an option in the near future. "They understand they have to work the geography they have now," he said.

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate Oct 8, 2010

On Immigration: More National Guard troops on border; then amnesty

Noting the murder of a U.S. citizen on a Texas border lake last week, Bennet said he supported more National Guard troops on the border as well as comprehensive immigration reform.

Buck countered that when he hears Bennet talk about immigration reform, he hears the word "amnesty," which got cheers from his supporters.

"You voted against more Border Patrol agents and finishing the fence on the border," Buck charged. "We don't need to send signals that if (illegal immigrants) can get here and stay in the shadows, we will excuse them in time."

Bennet replied, "You can call it amnesty if you want. I'm willing to call it (President) George Bush's policy in Texas as well as that of the Wall Street Journal for the past 10 years."

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate Oct 8, 2010

On War & Peace: Afghan exit after al-Qaida groups destroyed in Pakistan

While endorsing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Buck said it was a mistake to attempt to build a democratic nation there. He said U.S. policy should be limited to three goals--to prevent the country from becoming a haven for terrorists; to disrupt the illegal drugs coming out of Afghanistan; and to promote peace in the area by leaving a minimal force behind.

Bennet's view was even briefer, saying U.S. goals in Afghanistan should be to destroy al-Qaida groups on the Pakistan border and then to support the Pakistan military to make certain that country's nuclear weapons are secure from terrorists. Then U.S. troops should be brought home.

Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate Oct 8, 2010

On Tax Reform: Cut taxes $12B on small businesses

When asked, "What would you do in Congress to create jobs and turn the economy around," both men said the key would be small businesses. Buck said, "As a leader in Washington DC, I would do everything that I can to make sure that our small business people have a lower tax burden. That those small business people know that we aren't going to pass cap and trade, and cause their energy bills to go up. That we aren't going to let regulators legislate in administrative settings rather than to have the United State Congress legislating. That we are going to give our small businesses the kind of stability that they need." To which Bennet fired back by saying, "Two weeks ago, I voted to cut taxes on small businesses in this country by $12 billion. And that bill was opposed by my opponent in this race."
Source: KKTV coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate Oct 7, 2010

On Civil Rights: Opposition to homosexuality is an outdated views of society

An issue that illustrates the differences between Buck and Bennet is the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. When asked about repealing don't-ask-don't-tell, Sen. Bennet said he supported lifting the ban, saying opposition to homosexuality was a result of "outdated views of our society."

Buck said, "I do not support the repeal of don't-ask-don't-tell. I think it is a policy that makes a lot of sense." The don't-ask-don't-tell policy itself was instituted during the Clinton years and prohibits inquiries into the sexual orientation of military members. The current policy states that a person who makes their sexuality known is subject to discharge under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The Colorado Independent, in a story titled "Coloradans mostly agree with Bennet not Buck on don't-ask-don't-tell," reported that the majority of Coloradans supported lifting the ban. However, Buck's opinion appears to be more in line with the majority of generals and service-members.

Source: Greeley Gazette coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate Sep 29, 2010

On Immigration: Sponsor and enthusiastic support of the DREAM Act

One of the questions concerned the "Dream Act" which would grant citizenship to illegal aliens, in return for meeting certain requirements such as promising to serve two years in the military or completing two years of college with the intent to obtain a degree.

When asked for positions on the Dream Act, Sen. Bennet, who co-sponsored the bill, enthusiastically voiced his support while Buck stated he is opposed to the bill. Buck said we should not give people that have come to this country illegally the benefit of the Dream Act. Buck went on to criticize a portion of the bill that would allow an individual with two misdemeanors to still qualify for citizenship. "I consider two misdemeanor sex assaults, or two DUI's or other crimes to be serious, especially if they're committed by the time they are 18 or 19 years old." Buck said he does agree that he wants to give people the opportunity to become citizens, but that citizenship has to be earned.

Source: Greeley Gazette coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate Sep 29, 2010

On Tax Reform: Open to compromise on temporarily extending Bush tax cuts

Both men emphasized their willingness to break from party orthodoxy. Bennet said that he'd be "open" to a compromise on "temporarily" extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans. Buck told the audience, "I will not swear allegiance to the Republican party in Washington, DC."
Source: ABC News coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate Sep 12, 2010

The above quotations are from 2010 Colorado Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Colorado Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts by Michael Bennet.
Click here for a profile of Michael Bennet.
Michael Bennet on other issues:
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
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Page last updated: Nov 01, 2010