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By Jack Minor
Michael Bennet, D-Colo,at a town hall meeting in Greeley last Saturday, Aug 21 said we had nothing to show for the debt incurred by the stimulus package and other expenditures calling the recession the worst since the Great Depression.
The meeting began with former Greeley Mayor Tom Selders introducing Bennet by telling the audience that he was a former Republican who changed his affiliation to Democrat because of “disgust with what the other party was doing.” He went on to say that he was a Republican right now because he “wanted to exercise my influence against a certain candidate.”
During his introductory remarks, Bennet criticized partisanship and praised local politics where people “don’t scream at each other all the time, they just try to get things done.” He then opened it up for questions for an hour. During the meeting, Bennet also downplayed his position as the incumbent saying, “I’m not a career politician; I’ve never run for office before.”
Showing his educational roots, he said the chances of a student graduating from college was 9 out of 100 and for a student in the 8th grade chances of being a proficient mathematician was 15 percent. He also said part of the education problem is that the system of training and retaining teachers “belongs to a labor market that discriminated against women and said, ‘you’ve got two choices, one is being a nurse and one is being a teacher, which is it going to be?” He said this caused women to take teaching jobs at salaries that were not competitive because they could not do anything else, and that while this is no longer the case he said, “We have not changed the proposition for our teachers which is why we lose 50 percent of them in the first five years of their careers.”
Regarding spending during his time in office he said, “We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet” and, “in my view we have nothing to show for it.” Speaking of the debt, he said our debt almost equals the economy. Regarding the current job situation, Bennet said the situation has been dire for over a decade saying, “We have created no net new jobs in the United States since 1998” which were the last two years of the Clinton administration. Pointing to a slide showing budget expenditures, he said that currently 65 percent of the budget was for social security, Medicaid and Medicare expenditures and that we could not grow our way out of debt.
Regarding the expiration of the Bush tax cuts Bennet would not commit to a position on whether to extend them simply saying, “I hope we look at it comprehensively.”
When asked about a recent report showing that government employees make more than their private sector counterparts said, “This is a time when we need to restrain wages in the public sector.” He said we need to make sure “our wages are not growing faster than inflation or faster than our growth.” Bennet also received a question about whether he would support card check and declined to give a firm answer saying, “I have not been a sponsor of the employee free choice act and the bill as written will not come to the floor to a vote.” He also said, “I believe strongly in the right of workers to collectively bargain and organize free from intimidation.”
School board member Judy Kron asked a question about negative campaign ads and Bennet replied he wanted to keep the campaign positive but he would respond to ads he felt misrepresented his record.
Following the meeting, a small aircraft flew over the location multiple times with the words “Stop Obama” written on the bottom of the wings.