DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 has been hearing from the people President Barack Obama talked about in Political Specialist Shaun Boyd’s exclusive interview at the White House. Republicans and Democrats agreed on one thing — they like the attention he paid to Colorado.
It never hurts to have the president focusing on matters important Colorado, but Republican and Democratic leaders part ways there.
With concern that this could be another Hayman fire season, Sen. Mark Udall is pushing for money for bark beetle mitigation and was glad to hear from the president there will be more funding in the budget. But Udall is worried it won’t come soon enough.
“Now show me the money. There’s $50 million in unprogrammed Forest Service funds that could be put to work right now to lessen the chance of a catastrophic wildfire,” Udall said.
Colorado also needs jobs and the energy sector is a big employer.
Boyd asked Obama what one piece of red tape would he cut to increase jobs in the energy sector in Colorado. The president didn’t have a quick answer. While Gov. John Hickenlooper didn’t fault him, he said it’s important the federal government follow Colorado’s lead.
“I’m a firm believer, let’s cut red tape, cut permit time in half, but hold ourselves to the highest accountability if they spill frack fluids into our water, double the fine,” Hickenlooper said.
Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, has pressed the Environmental Protection Agency to cut regulation. He suggests the president is out of touch.
“The challenge is when you and I and your viewers are going to the gas pump and they’re paying $4, maybe $5 a gallon, is it really going fine?” Gardner said.
While the president’s answers didn’t please everyone, his willingness to take questions from Coloradans made even conservatives happy.
“I welcome him anytime to this state where can have great and open debate and dialogue,” Gardner said.
There is much debate over one particular answer the president gave. He said only 2 percent of small businesses make over $250,000 and would be affected by higher taxes in his budget plan. But the National Federation Of Independent Businesses says 40 percent of businesses with less than 250 employees would be impacted.
Colorado Speaker of the House Frank McNulty said the tax breaks they have carved out for small businesses in the state budget will be canceled out by the president and will hurt the recovery in Colorado.
The president also said he’s hopeful about bipartisan immigration reform. Gardner said House Republicans will not support an immigration amnesty bill and he suggested that the president may just be using the issue as a political ploy to activate the Hispanic voting block.
Dominic Dezzutti’s Blog: Obama Interview: Right Questions, Guarded Answers