Ken Buck Interview

( – promoted by ClubTwitty)

I got a chance to interview Ken Buck this morning. Speaking as a Democrat I have to admit Ken is worrisome – he is a thoughtful, intelligent, personable candidate. And he makes credible arguments for his views on the issues. I think he will be competitive with Senator Bennet. He also was faithful to the 11th commandment never mentioning his opponents by name or even calling them out indirectly.

I first asked him what he thinks the big issues in the primary will be. That got a laugh with the comment of who knows what will come up as the major issues. But he thinks it will fundamentally be who will best advocate for smaller government. On one hand this is a predictable major issue. But what is interesting is what he did not bring up – not a word about social issues. Not here or elsewhere in this discussion.

Note: I’m a firm believer in separation of church & state and so, if a candidate does not bring up religion or social mores in their campaign, I respect that and don’t bring it up in the interview. It will be interesting to see if that continues in the GOP primary across all the candidates. I also in this interview focused on questions that I think will be key issues in the primary – not the general election.

I then asked if now, in hindsight and in our present financial situation, are we better off because ref C passed. Ken’s reply was that he opposed ref C at the time and he still thinks it was a bad idea. He thinks the state needs to cut out waste and inefficiency and brought up a specific case in Weld County where they have reduced cases in the county courts by ¼ and he proposed eliminating one of the 4 county judgeships.

I then asked Ken if he thought the financial rescue and/or stimulus bills were a good idea. If they had helped us get through the recession. He thinks both were counterproductive in that they had a bunch of unnecessary pet projects. And that we have a system in place to handle companies that go bankrupt. He also sees all the debt as saddling us with higher interest rates for a long time.

Note: I’ll agree that the state wastes funds here and there. And I’ll agree that the bills that went through had some major problems. But we’re also a government of imperfect human beings and so we get imperfect systems. But I think while we’re going to have the Republican candidates all proposing lower taxes, I think they’re taking a free ride on American’s propensity for wanting government services – but not wanting to pay for it. And because there are significant elements of truth in their criticism, it works for a lot of voters. And to be honest, we Dems do it too – but I still don’t like it.

Ok, back to the interview. I then asked how do we make sure we don’t have this happen again. Ken wants to see the federal regulation improved. He brought up the case of New Frontier Bank where they asked the feds to come check it out three times and each time the feds said there was nothing they could do. Then it went belly up. He also talked about how Allan Greenspan heard a discussion of a new derivative and he had no idea what it was – how can you be regulating properly when you don’t even know what people are trading.

So Ken sees a need for better regulation. He also is in favor of the idea of not allowing banks to be too big to fail and thinks we should look at using the anti-trust laws to break up the ones that can take the entire economy down with them if they fail. What’s really interesting here is Ken is not a no government candidate. Where he sees a need for the government to be involved, he wants that involvement.

I then asked him if he thinks global warming is occurring, is that bad, and what should we do about it. He definitely sees it occurring (although he thinks just how much is due to human beings is arguable). On the is it bad question he had a very interesting answer in that he listed a number of the pros and cons of warming from longer growing seasons in places (good) to increased disease (bad). I think it speaks well of him that he has a decent grasp of the ramifications of warming – that generally leads to better legislation.

On what to do he immediately jumped on to numerous steps we can take to reduce warming. So while he was somewhat equivocal about is it bad, he is in favor of reducing it. He dove in to all the alternative energy sources – wind, solar, etc. I asked about nuclear and he replied that he thinks nuclear is one of our best sources for non-carbon energy and that people need to get over their illogical fear of nuclear. So Ken may be equivocal about global warming, he’s definitely in favor of addressing it.

Next I asked Ken about our evolving economy where we have cases of a new system eliminating rather than replacing hundreds of thousands of jobs (I used the Craigslist example). He clearly sees this change in the economy. And he does think it will be disruptive. But he thinks people will learn new skills required by the new economy and that will shake out ok. I worry about this but he has a very valid point that we have historically done this and so we may be ok.

This took us in to a discussion of our educational system including the abysmal graduation rates in DPS and other districts serving poor students. He thinks partially this is addressed by people deciding to go back later and complete their education. But he also thinks the federal government should get out of K-12. He brings up the point that the federal government has gotten more and more involved in K-12 over the last 40 years – and it has not gotten better.



Note: I’d like to disagree with him, but he’s got the facts on his side on this one. Maybe the best thing the federal government could do for education is butt out. I would love to see this become a major issue in the Senate race so we can see it discussed in detail, especially in the general if it’s Bennet on the Dem side. Because continuing to do the same thing and expect different results is a form of insanity.

Next was healthcare. First I asked about coverage, specifically pre-existing conditions. This got the most emotional response of the entire interview where he said that insurance companies absolutely must stop this – and regulations should be passed to say so. This again speaks to Ken’s willingness to have the government step in where he thinks it makes sense.

We then discussed Medicare, Medicaid, VA, & TriCare. He sees Medicare, etc as a major cost shifter in that it’s set rates are below what the medical establishment needs to be profitable thereby pushing up the rates for people on private plans. He did not propose ending them but clearly thinks they have a negative impact on cost for the rest of us.

Ken then discussed how 85% of us are on an insurance plan and we get care that is as good as anywhere else through that plan. And we should be able to stick with a system that works well in terms of providing quality care.

Then we shifted to costs. He agrees that costs are much higher here and need to be addressed. He brought up tort reform and said that some say it could help a bit (which is a very fair way to put it). He also talked about how low-tech the medical system presently is and how much can be saved by improving the I.T. infrastructure used (very true).

I then asked about end of life care and he had a very thoughtful response. It was personal and so I am not going to repeat it – but very thoughtful.

He also touched on the issue of “death panels” and his comment was that some say some of the bills include something along those lines, but he does not know if they do for sure. But that if we go the Dick Lamn route (his words) he is totally opposed to limiting care based on criteria like that.

I asked next about Iraq & Afghanistan. He has a personal iron in this fire as his son is a junior at West Point and so his decisions on this will have a direct impact on his child. (I wish most in Congress had kids in the military, like WWII – it gets them very focused on is this worth our children’s lives.) He thinks we definitely need to continue a major effort in Afghanistan. And he pointed out that this is an effort that will take at least 10 years and will require both military for security and civilians to build the country (as Ken said, re-build is not the right phrase for Afghanistan as it has nothing).

His answer is not a go in and kick ass one. It’s not a retreat to our shores one. It’s that we need to go in for the long, difficult, complicated effort of trying to build up a civil society there. And he then went on to say we need to work to bring the Islamic world into the 21st century.

I then asked Ken about immigration. He first wants to see us craft a guest worker program that is sufficient to meet the needs of our economy. He spoke quite well to the fact that if there is a lot more need than workers, then people will come illegally. He also is concerned about people having babies here which gives them a child who is a U.S. citizen. Next he talked about tightening up our border security – both borders (ie Canada too). To keep out both illegals and terrorists. He did say that the number of terrorists are few, but we want to get them.

I want to stress one thing on this part of the discussion because of how this topic has been handled in this state recently. There was nothing in Ken’s statement that in any way could be construed as nativist or racist. He wants to regain control of our immigration system appropriately. But in no way did it come across as an excuse to do anything more than that.

I next asked about getting us off oil from the geopolitical perspective (as opposed to global warming). He first commented that the largest transfer of wealth in human history has been the recent transfer from the industrial world to the oil producing world. And that we have to stop that. He came back to the need to work on any and all kinds of alternative energy. He singled out natural gas for autos as a solution that can make a sizeable dent in our oil consumption.

I ended asking him about the Estate tax. He laughed and said you mean the death tax? Needless to say he opposes it and thinks it should be abolished. He did speak specifically to the case of family farms that had to be broken up upon the death of the parents (which I thought had been exempted from the tax).

So what do we have with Ken Buck? A thoughtful conservative who would like to see the government do less in some areas. But also sees a very necessary role for the government in others. He also is a strong believer in the American system where people, companies, etc., if left to their own devices, will between everyone’s efforts, figure out how best to move forward.

I don’t think anyone knows how he will do in the primary because we haven’t had a real GOP statewide primary here forever (and this year we have two). But I think in the General election he will be very competitive. What he says will be compelling to the moderate middle that decides statewide races in Colorado. And if he’s elected, I think he would do a good job.

original post & podcast at Ken Buck Interview

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  1. RedGreen says:

    between all your paragraphs? Makes it harder to read, David.

    And what was the Coors/Schaffer primary just a few years ago, if not a “real GOP statewide primary”?

  2. gertie97 says:

    You don’t ask about social issues because they’re not important to you, but then claim you asked about issues that will be important in a primary. Jeez, you don’t think social issues will come up in a GOP primary? What planet do you live on?

    And his position on health care according to this is as clear as mud.

    Keep trying with interviews, David, but please try to learn to do them better.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      …then I’ll ask. But I’m not going to be the one to inject it into the campaign.

      On healthcare he was pretty plain – leave it to the insurance companies but add some slight regulation like they can’t refuse people for a pre-existing condition.

  3. Middle of the Road says:

    with multiple answers here but the one that I find the most appalling is this one:

    He definitely sees it occurring (although he thinks just how much is due to human beings is arguable). On the is it bad question he had a very interesting answer in that he listed a number of the pros and cons of warming from longer growing seasons in places (good) to increased disease (bad).

    This is the classic, textbook response from people that refuse to acknowledge that the vast majority of our problems with global warming stem directly from humans and our habits and the result of the Industrial Revolution.

    Does he believe in evolution or does he find that concept arguable, too?

    And yeah, considered me unimpressed that he can name the “pros”  associated with global warming. (Ooh, a longer growing season–great. That extra food will be awesome when mankind has wiped themselves out, won’t it.) Yet another deflection instead of a hands on, proactive approach to the most overwhelming problem that we are facing.

    And while I’m commenting, I feel I need to add that at this point, for him to even insinuate that he’s “unsure” whether or not current bills include a death panel reminds me very much of the right wing lunatics that we all rail against here. I find it difficult to believe that he was allowed to assert that he wasn’t “sure” or not about that point when every major news magazine including Time, Newsweek and even the National Review have written articles thoroughly debunking that claim.

    The fact that he would even mention it tells me exactly what kind of a Senator he will be and precisely what kind of representation I can expect from him in the Senate.

    I’m glad you think he’ll make an excellent addition to the Senate. That makes one of us.

  4. dlof says:

    I tried to give you some food for thought a few days ago, and would love to have seen a follow up question after Buck’s answer about government waste.

    Maybe, “how can you claim to be against government waste, while putting two top (rather than junior) deputies, and two days of court time, on a petty offense, ‘Misuse of a noxious substance’ charge?”

    Buck seems to believe that it isn’t government waste if he agrees with a policy (dog poop, Amelia’s tax service fishing expedition – which is still costing taxpayers), but it is waste if he doesn’t.  

  5. As always – well done David! You always give us great insights that are otherwise not brought out by many other interviewers

    REGARDING KEN BUCK –

    I’m very impressed with Buck

    I endorsed Ryan Frazier early on and I stay proud of that endorsement — that said, I only come away more and more impressed with Buck

    I honestly am in strong disagreement with how Buck handled some immigration issues in his work as a DA — what I admire about Buck though is that he is running a very proactive campaign that is based on outreach

    At every GOP event, he does a great job of trying to speak with as many activists as possible, and as mentioned in David’s interview above, he keeps the issues really centered around fiscal elements that we can all agree on

    Nonetheless – I like Buck because it’s very clear that he WANTS to build a broad-based coalition and WANTS to unite the Party, even if it means putting some of his biggest issues on the shelf, in order to speak to the majority desires – overall, it all shows a strength of confidence and sincere leadership

    Lastly – Ken Buck’s wife, Perry Buck, is total dynamite! I talked to her briefly in Keystone and just loved her enthusiasm and warmth for building the Party, and she has a good history of already doing that

    I wish Buck good luck on his campaign and I’m looking forward to a ‘gentlemanly’ primary that helps our Party more than hurts

  6. Ralphie says:

    I’ve read this interview and all of your others.  Every one of them has pissed someone off.  Pissing people off is both a curse and a blessing.

    At least you’re going out there and doing it.  That’s the important part.

    I’ll digress.  Many of my former co-workers from 15 years ago are still working in their same slots.  They haven’t gotten anywhere, but they are still drawing a paycheck just the same.  Why?  Because they never pissed anyone off.  The way they accomplished that is by never doing anything.

    Kudos for you for doing these interviews.  You have your own style, which I might or might not agree with.  But at least you’re doing it.

    To those who criticize David in this thread and other threads, if you have a better idea, God bless you.  Do something with your better idea your damned selves.  If you don’t, then who gives a shit what you think?  

    It’s what you do, not what you think without doing, that’s important.

     

  7. DavidThi808 says:

    When we have crimes like this occuring in Greely?

    Gwendolyn Purcell, 45, is out of jail on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond after telling police that she set fire to several pairs of her husband’s pants Sunday.

  8. The realist says:

    ” . . . and brought up a specific case in Weld County where they have reduced cases in the county courts by Вј and he proposed eliminating one of the 4 county judgeships.”

    Does anyone here know what this is about?  First, is the one-fourth reduction accurate?  If so, we need to know the details – fewer crimes being prosecuted in county court? fewer small claims cases being filed by citizens? fewer traffic infractions?  If we knew the details, we might not like them.

  9. MADCO says:

    1) Estate tax & family farms

    see http://www.irs.gov/businesses/

    and

    http://www.factcheck.org/artic

    and

    http://www.ctj.org/pdf/farm060

    and

    …in 2004, there were only 440 taxed estates (about 2% of all taxable estates) where farms or small businesses represented more than half of the assets, and most of those paid an effective tax rate of less than 10%. Exempting the first $1.5 million – as the estate tax does – leaves out most ‘family farms.’ In fact, the estate tax repeal advocates are unable to cite a single example of a ‘family farm’ that the family had to sell in order to pay estate taxes.

    AP confirmed this in 2005- the last time Congress seriously debated the issue.  “fix”  = “abolish”  due to mythical breakup of family farms and businesses.

    2) You dislike asking about social issues or religious beliefs – fine.

    But to conclude they won’t be a factor in the R primary seems …. wishful.

    3) Guest worker program

    I thought that was a bad thing for actual R’s – not those RINOS.  Good for him if he will campaign on it and attempt to lead.

    4) 10+ years in Afghanistan? What’s the goal?

    There is no functional gov;t in Somalia either- should we go on a nation building binge and occupy all the dysfunctional countries?  I agree – nice to hear his son volunteered to serve.

    5) Total dodge on “death panels.”  Makes me wonder – if he thinks it would be inappropriate (it would be) and there was all the public discussion and debunking in the past 6 weeks- what’s he been looking at for sources?

    Sounds like another R talking point delivery to me- albeit in what I suspect was a reasonable, paternal, friendly kind of way. Should make a strong primary candidate – but I’m also sure the R crazies will find a way to hurt him.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      1) I didn’t have the facts at hand so all I could do was repeat what he said.

      2) Maybe, maybe not. But I’m not going to force it into the campaign.

      4) He spoke about how AfPak we must solve because they are a direct threat to us.

      5) It’s difficult to get across his delivery when he answered this but he did not credit it as a fact at all.

      • MADCO says:

        In mid-2007, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. told executives to slow growth and add capital. The FDIC cited weak management, a rise in soured loans and an increased reliance on volatile funding, according to board minutes of the privately held bank obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

        http://www.greeleytribune.com/

        To paraphrase- the FDIC did what they could, New Frontier management and owners resisted.

  10. WesternSlopeThought says:

    What a Gary Harmonesque job.  So would Buck reject stimulus funds ala Penry?  You just throw a softball and accept his standard worn out uberCon response of “cut out waste and inefficiency” without asking him exactly where that waste is, what he would cut or how he would balance that state or federal budget or how he would go about it?  Incredible.  No drug decriminalization, tax rate or credit questions?

    Oh, I forgot, you’re the one who believes candidates really do not mean what they say when campaigning.  Sorry, my bad.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      Buck didn’t say he would reject the funds, he says he would not have voted for them. Big difference.

      As to the waste & efficiency response – keep in mind I can ask questions, but I can’t force people to answer within the framework you want.

      Are you expecting something like:

      Q: How do we balance the budget without tax increases.

      A: By eliminating waste & inefficiency.

      Q: But isn’t it true that there is no waste & inefficiency?

      A: Sobbing… You’re right, there isn’t any. I’m full of shit. People should vote for my Democratic opponent.

      • WesternSlopeThought says:

        But I’d at least expect that you apply the same vigor and demands that you did with Governor Ritter.  You threw a hissy fit because you didn’t get the answers you wanted a few days ago.  Yet you had the same opportunity to ask them of Buck and did not.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          To make a true comparison look at my interview with Ritter two months ago – http://www.davidthielen.info/p

          • twas brillig says:

            You asked Polsters to provide some questions for Buck. Which of those questions did you actually ask?  

          • WesternSlopeThought says:

            Let me put it another way.  You accused Ritter et al of not thinking outside-the-box.  But when Buck gives the standard uberCon center-of-the-box response, that’s cool?  Much like you avoiding my first question. You do not know if Buck believes Colorado should reject stimulus money because you simply did not ask.  But don’t fret much.  It is a long campaign.  I’m sure some smart journalist will ask the question at some point.

            • DavidThi808 says:

              When interviewing I have about 40 questions I’d like to ask and have to narrow that down to 14. Then on those I have to weigh out follow-up questions vs saving time to get through at least 10 of the 14.

              And all this I have to do on the fly weighing things out. So I always walk out of the interview immediately thinking of 1 or 2 follow-up questions I wish I had asked.

              But… I don’t think would Buck reject stimulus money for Colorado is an interesting question for a Senate candidate (it is very interesting for Governor). What was very interesting was would he vote for stimulus funds – and that was asked & answered.

              Clearly you are pissed that I did not ask the exact questions you would have asked. That’s life – no interviewer is going to take the same tack you would. But you know something, you can go interview and post the results here – that’s the beauty of open blogs like this.

  11. MountainDem says:

    Nice work David.  There were a couple questions that you could have hammered Buck on but I sense that is not your style.  I have had the same concerns about Ken for some time, he is very articulate, understands what he is talking about as good as any candidate out there and has the fire to campaign hard across the state.  I have heard him talk a few times and he actually reminds me of Jared Polis, no offense Congressman!

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