Opinion | John Hickenlooper: Rebuilding the economy after the global pandemic | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | John Hickenlooper: Rebuilding the economy after the global pandemic

John Hickenlooper
U.S. Senate Democratic candidate
John Hickenlooper
Evan Semón Photography

We are living through tough times right now. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed fundamental flaws in our health care system. Washington has focused on cutting insider deals for the largest, most connected corporations instead of looking out for the smallest small businesses. And millions of people are marching in the streets, rightfully demanding we address two systems of justice that have emerged from our nation’s original sin: slavery. From the coronavirus pandemic to racial justice, we have a lot of work to do. 

But, at every tough moment, Colorado has always met the challenge of our times. When I was governor, we faced the worst mass shootings, fires, floods and natural disasters. When I first took office in 2011, we were in the midst of the Great Recession. Together, with a bottom-up approach, and with input from every community, we took our state from 40th in the country in job creation to the No. 1 economy three years in a row.

We again brought people together to expand health care in Colorado on a bipartisan basis. We used the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to an additional 400,000 Coloradans and cut our state’s uninsured rate by nearly two-thirds. Our Medicaid expansion helped save at least eight rural Colorado hospitals from closure and has been called “a coronavirus lifeline.” Now an additional half-million Coloradans are expected to rely on Medicaid to get through the pandemic.

Yet in Washington, Republicans are still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which threatens to take health care away from everyone who gained coverage through that law and jeopardize protections for the 2.4 million Coloradans with preexisting conditions.

I know Colorado can come back stronger than ever, but we need to change Washington first. 

In Colorado’s mountain communities, our public lands have a key role to play in helping our economy recover from this pandemic. Our outdoor industry generates 511,000 jobs and contributes $62 billion to Colorado’s economy. I support expanding protections for our public lands to safeguard our landscapes, our planet and our Colorado way of life. We can start by passing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, a bill to protect 400,000 acres of Colorado’s public lands, including parts of the Continental Divide and Camp Hale. 

Unfortunately, the Republican-led U.S. Senate has been reluctant to protect our public lands and left new protections for Colorado wilderness out of the last major public lands bill to become law. 

We currently have a senator who is more interested in being a yes man for President Donald Trump than being the independent voice he promised to be for Coloradans. Sen. Cory Gardner has repeatedly voted to repeal the ACA, still supports the Republican lawsuit that would overturn the health care law, refuses to support the CORE Act and has rubber stamped Trump’s anti-environment nominees. These Gardner-approved officials have overseen the largest rollback of protected public lands in American history.

Rather than gutting health care, I will work to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower health care costs — particularly in our mountain communities where costs are still too high. Instead of lining the pockets of the most connected corporations, I’ll work to make sure the smallest small businesses, the backbone of our economy, are the ones getting the help they need. And I’ll work to protect our public lands, address climate change and get our country to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Colorado needs a leader who is not just beholden to party bosses and special-interest donors. To address the issues of our time, like health care, climate change, and rebuilding the economy after the global pandemic, I am asking for your vote for U.S. Senate. Together, we can change a broken Washington and get things done for Colorado.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

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