VOTER GUIDE: Colorado District 1 race

KUSA - Republican candidate Martin Walsh, Frank Atwood (L) and Danny Stroud (UA) are going against incumbent Diana DeGette (D).

The following questions and their respective topics were sent to each candidate:

GOVERNMENT

Is a government shutdown ever warranted as a means of achieving policy goals?

  • DeGette – No, a government shutdown is not warranted as a means of achieving policy goals. Congress must fulfill its responsibility to the American people to work together to keep the government open and running. It is irresponsible to shutdown the government over extreme ideological issues.
  • Walsh – First, I would like to emphasize that I will work hard to get things done on behalf of the people of Denver. I will reach across party lines wherever possible, finding common ground in the spirit of serving my district. One of my top priorities is to put aside the partisan extremes that currently exist in Congress. While a government shutdown is not the preferred way of achieving policy goals, it should serve as a last resort when the constitutional rights of Americans are being threatened.
  • Atwood (L) - The crux of our government's checks and balance system is letting a branch shut down the government and suffering benefits or consequences of its action. [FDR threatened to stack the Supreme Court because they had eviscerated the New Deal.] This is game theory. When is a branch too submissive or too assertive? Each political entity panders to the citizenship and makes its demands / positions based on how it perceives its strengths vis-a-vis the other branches. To deny shut down is to cultivate tyranny. The checks and balance system is designed to use shut downs and their threats to achieve policy goals. Do you expect or want any branch of our government to capitulate?
  • Stroud (UA) - NO, this is a method that hurts many innocent people that should not be punished by our Congress's inability to function. With the massive amount of wasteful spending, there are plenty of opportunities to cut costs and reduce government operations without a total shutdown.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

On balance, has the Affordable Care Act been helpful or harmful? What changes are needed?

  • DeGette – The Affordable Care Act has been helpful to millions of Americans. Young Americans can stay on their parent's health care plans until they turn twenty-six. Individuals will not be denied healthcare for having a pre-existing condition, and many people are now paying less and receiving better access to health services. Today, eleven million more Americans have insurance than twelve months ago. Premiums are below the levels predicted by the Congressional Budget Office, and the agency has once again reiterated that the Affordable Care Act has slowed inflation, saved billions of dollars, and will even reduce deficits. I continue to have concerns about the technology systems running many ACA programs. While some problems from last year's disastrous launch have been repaired, the administration must have all programs running so that the public can see how the healthcare system is performing.
  • Walsh – The Affordable Care Act has been much more harmful than helpful. If elected, I will work to repeal it immediately. We live in a free society. Americans should never be compelled by government decree (and IRS penalties) to have to purchase mandatory healthcare. We already spend more per capita on healthcare than nearly any other country in the world, yet we still fail to provide great results to all Americans. I will work to enable the free markets, and market-based pricing in healthcare, to improve outcomes and drive down prices.
  • Atwood (L) - On balance the Affordable Care Act has been harmful; I believe in free markets, especially where the cost to save a life is so ambiguous. Keeping the family dog alive has brutally reminded me how expensive a life can be. I think we need to state how much a life is worth. My dog is worth $2K of medical expenses today.
  • Stroud (UA) - Harmful. Too many people have had their premiums increased or have completely lost the plans that they prefer. Doctors are being separated from their patients. Overall, our health care system is becoming less effective for many patients while it is increasing the overall cost of our healthcare system. The ACA was a poorly planned program and the unintended consequences have been severe for the average citizen. A "one size fits all" for the entire nation is simply not workable. Instead, we should repeal the act and do what should have been done in the first place. For example, open up the free market to cross-state insurance, allow people to keep their plan when they change jobs or move to a new state, allow insurance companies to develop special policies for unique groups of people, or allow groups of citizens to come together as group to buy group insurance. These are just a sample of ideas that could create more choice to patients while controlling costs and improving the quality of treatment.

ENERGY

Should the government use financial incentives to encourage the growth of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar?

  • DeGette – I strongly support financial incentives to encourage growth of America's renewable energy sector, including both the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit. Colorado has set and achieved ambitious renewable energy targets, and our leadership shows that this goal is worthwhile and doable.
  • Walsh – The government should work hard to level the playing field for all energy sources—not by providing subsidies to any special interest group but by removing tax loopholes and encouraging free market competition. We need to get out of the business of picking winners and losers. The sad tale of Solyndra is one of many examples where well-intentioned government subsidies resulted in failure. Wind and solar should be a part of the overall energy mix for the next century, but we must also include a mix of traditional energy sources. Natural gas will become a much more important part of the way forward, resulting in cleaner energy for our country.
  • Atwood (L) - No, government picking winners and losers and trying to subsidize even the renewable energy source economy is contrary to free markets.
  • Stroud (UA) - NO. Even if these technologies prove promising some time in the future, funding them with tax dollars is not the way to go. These industries, if managed well by the people inside the industry, will potentially eventually thrive and be successful in a free market environment. But subsidizing them with "free money" from taxpayers only creates bad habits in management, reduces the hunger to succeed, and creates situations like Solyndra, the government-subsidized company that failed miserably. It cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while enriching only the people who got the government subsidies.

IMMIGRATION

What is the most important policy change needed in immigration reform?

  • DeGette – Realistically, changing just a single element of immigration policy will not do enough to improve our broken system. That is why I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. We need workable programs for people who wish to join their families or work to achieve the American Dream, we must ensure control of our borders and ports, and we need to sensibly deal with people who are already here but are forced to live in the shadows.
  • Walsh – We need to create a comprehensive plan for immigration reform, not simply a patchwork of contradictory laws like we have currently. I will work hard to pass comprehensive immigration reform that allows for immigrants to pursue the American dream, legally and transparently.
  • Atwood (L) - Do away with anchor babies.
  • Stroud (UA) - Secure the border. Until that is accomplished, no other actions make sense. We need to have skilled immigrants. They bring new ideas and new energy to American business. We should continue to encourage that. But as long as we have open borders, there is no way to manage that process. Open borders also allows people to freely come here that are not good for America. Criminals and terrorists can freely come across an open border.

MARIJUANA

Do you support the nationwide legalization of marijuana?

  • DeGette – I believe we should let states decide this question, just as Colorado has. As other states consider this issue, the federal government should give states the legal flexibility to responsibly carry out voters' wishes.
  • Walsh – I believe that this is an issue best delegated to individual states. I support the people of Colorado deciding what is best with respect to marijuana laws in Colorado. The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government to be reserved by the states.
  • Atwood (L) - Yes, Prohibition did not work. Current marijuana prohibition is iatrogenic - the apparent solution exacerbates the problem. The profits in the black market exacerbate corruption and false role models breeding scofflaws and hypocrites.
  • Stroud (UA) - This should be a state-by-state decision. States would be able decide when or even if they want to legalize it. States should be able to plan their legalization programs to fit their local needs, resources and timeline.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Should same-sex marriage be legal?

  • DeGette – Yes, same-sex should absolutely be legal. I have fought my entire career for equal rights for members of the LGBT community. I'm proud to be a founding member and vice-chair of the U.S. House LGBT Equality Caucus.
  • Walsh – I do believe that same-sex marriage should be legal. I view this as a civil rights issue. I support the equal treatment of all Americans.
  • Atwood (L) – Yes.
  • Stroud (UA) - This should be a state-by-state decision. The federal government is wrong to try to dictate a single solution for every state. Each state has the collective wishes of its people. I am careful to not force my personal opinion on the will of the voters.

INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE

Are more restrictions needed on the ability of intelligence agencies to monitor the communications of US citizens?

  • DeGette – American citizens deserve better protections against domestic surveillance, and more robust Congressional oversight can help to ensure these protections.
  • Walsh – Yes, this is an issue of paramount importance. We must protect the privacy of Americans and uphold the constitution. Americans must be protected from unreasonable search and seizure and I will work hard to uphold our privacy rights.
  • Atwood (L) - No, enforce the current restrictions.
  • Stroud (UA) - Yes, we have due process standards in America. When the government starts to monitor everyone's actions "just in case", this is not acceptable.

2ND AMENDMENT

Do you support new restrictions on the sale or possession of firearms?

  • DeGette – I support basic protections to make sure guns are sold safely and are kept away from convicted felons and others who cannot responsibly possess a firearm. I believe this can be done in a way that does not overly burden responsible, law-abiding citizens such as target shooters and hunters.
  • Walsh – I am strong supporter of the Second Amendment and every American's right to bear arms. I am also not opposed to reasonable legislation that regulates the ownership and sale of firearms. I do not support any new restrictions on the sale or possession of firearms.
  • Atwood (L) – No.
  • Stroud (UA) - No, we have an amazingly huge number of laws regarding gun sales. The problems we have are not with legal gun owners. Criminals generally ignore gun laws. We need to work on preventing and prosecuting the illegal use of guns.

ABORTION

On abortion, do you consider yourself generally "pro-life" or "pro-choice?"

  • DeGette – I am strongly pro-choice and currently serve as Co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus in the House. I have spent my entire career fighting and advocating for pro-choice legislation and access to reproductive healthcare.
  • Walsh – My answer is twofold. As a private citizen, I am Catholic by background and am personally pro-life. As a publicly elected representative, I will do everything in my power to stay out of your personal life—including issues of abortion.
  • Atwood (L) - Where government financing or providing of services is involved, I am pro-life; where private or charities are involved I am pro-choice. The financing power of government should not be used to terminate life. I am also against the death penalty.
  • Stroud (UA) - The law regarding pro-life vs. pro-choice has been set for 40 years. We need to live by and enforce this law. The problem is when people in power think they can ignore the law or modify it for their own opinions. Abortion is available under the law. I do believe that steps must be taken to insure that taxpayer money is not used to provide abortions. As long as it is legal as a personal decision, those costs should not be a taxpayer responsibility.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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