Colorado’s Senators warn of Romney’s budget proposals

Udall, Bennet cite ‘devastating’ effects
The Colorado Statesman

Colorado’s two senators — both Democrats — sounded the alarm over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s budget policies on Monday, warning that his proposals would be “devastating” to key industries and populations in the state.

“For months, we here in Colorado have watched this campaign unfold, and now it’s time to make our voices heard. As we cast our votes, it’s really important to understand what’s at stake,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who joined fellow senator Michael Bennet at a press conference at an Obama campaign office near the University of Denver.

Udall said that election of the GOP ticket would mark a return to policies that failed to spur the economy — the very policies, he charged, that drove the economy into a ditch under President George W. Bush.

Sara and Naomi Froelich, recent transplants from Illinois, greet Colorado’s two Democratic senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet on Oct. 15 at an Obama campaign office near the University of Denver. “We simply can’t afford Mitt Romney’s plans for Colorado,” Udall said at a press conference attacking the Republican’s budget.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“As far as I can tell, Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan’s plan is to cut taxes and cut regulations, and somehow that’s going to make things hunky-dory. We tried that 10 years ago and it didn’t work,” Udall said.

Waving a report released that day by President Barack Obama’s campaign, Udall enumerated what he said were the implications of tax and spending policies advanced by the Romney campaign or by his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee. According to the report, GOP plans could lead to 20-percent cuts in federal spending, affecting everything from energy research to the prevention of wildfires.

“Mitt Romney keeps avoiding a discussion of his plans, but the numbers are in this report in black and white for all of us to see,” Udall said, later adding, “From our public schools to energy to Medicare, the Romney-Ryan budget would harm Colorado for generations to come.”

Pointing to specific cuts that might occur under the Romney plan, Udall raised the specter of privatized prairie and shuttered national parks.

Colorado’s public lands, Udall said, “support 107,000 jobs, contribute over $10 billion to our economy, but in Mitt Romney’s Colorado, many of these public lands could be sold off. Our parks could even be forced to shut down for part of the year. And under Romney’s budget plan, Colorado’s parks could see shorter operating hours and fewer rangers.”

Udall continued by describing the effects he said Romney’s plans could have on the state’s alternative energy industry.

“In Mitt Romney’s Colorado, our energy future would unravel. He has been clear, he would maintain big tax breaks for corporations and he would extend them further for wealthy Americans. Gov. Romney would also slash funding for our investments in our Colorado clean energy sector by turning his back on advanced energy research and renewable energy development,” he said. Udall blasted Republicans for opposing the extension of a federal wind energy production tax credit, which he said could cost thousands of jobs in the state. “He literally is running into the wind here in Colorado,” Udall added.

Bennet attacked the GOP ticket for refusing to discuss budget specifics, while at the same time blasting Romney for the cuts Bennet predicted would result from the broad outlines of Republican proposals.

“Coloradans expect people running for elected office to say the same thing in red parts of the state, to say the same thing in blue parts of the state, to say the same thing in their primary election and in their general election. They want to know the facts, they want to hear specifics. But we’ve seen little in the way of facts or specifics from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and I think it’s pretty clear why,” Bennet said. “It’s not that they don’t have a plan, it’s that they don’t have a plan that they want the people of Colorado to know about. From my point of view, it’s a plan that doesn’t even reflect the values of Colorado Republicans, much less our Democrats and our independents.”

Pointing to possible cuts to federal higher education grants, which have doubled under Obama, Bennet said that students and society at large would suffer.

“My view is that if we balance this budget on the backs of our students rather than figuring out how to get a comprehensive, bipartisan plan in place, we’re going to get the future that we deserve, and that’s not the future I want to see for my kids, and it’s not the future that Colorado wants for our kids,” he said.

A Romney campaign spokesman dismissed Udall and Bennet’s criticism, saying that the Democrats were drawing the wrong conclusions from Republican proposals.

“What they’re saying is, well, this might cut here or here. What they’re not taking into account is the growth that comes with pro-growth, less regulation. You’ve got $2 trillion in capital in the private sector sitting on the sidelines because they’re afraid of this president and his policies. Unleash that private sector, unleash that ingenuity and growth, and you see the tax receipts come as a result of that,” said Chris Walker, a regional press secretary for the Romney campaign.

Referring to the senators’ laundry list of possible cuts to programs that affect Colorado, Walker said, “Instead of focusing on little minutia here, little minutia there, we need to bring in policies that produce the sweeping kind of growth that Gov. Romney’s talking about.” Rather than fearing a Republican budget, he added, “Coloradans should be afraid of another four years like the last four years. Coloradans should see the growth and the job potential out of Gov. Romney’s plan.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com