Salazar: cut deficit; Coors: cut taxes
LAKEWOOD – The two candidates seeking Colorado’s open seat clashed on national tax policy during a business luncheon, with Democrat Ken Salazar telling the group the federal deficit must be cut, while Republican Pete Coors called for staying the course set by President Bush.Coors, on leave as chief executive of the Coors Brewing Co. his family founded in nearby Golden, sounded familiar themes Thursday during the country club luncheon: his business experience and making the tax cuts that Congress approved permanent.”I’m a businessman, not a bureaucrat. I’m a job creator, not a litigator,” Coors said in a dig at Salazar, Colorado’s attorney general.Salazar responded by saying he doesn’t believe Congress needs another millionaire.The two men are vying for the seat vacated by retiring GOP incumbent Ben Nighthorse Campbell. It’s one of the nation’s most closely watched races because the outcome could help determine control of the Senate, where Republicans have a 51-48 margin.Salazar has accused his opponent of being short on specifics in his campaign. Before the forum began, Salazar’s campaign staff handed out his economic plan, which includes reducing the deficit with pay-as-you-go programs and permanent tax cuts for people making less than $250,000 a year.He also proposed 3.5 percent tax cuts for companies that create U.S. jobs and ending tax breaks for businesses that move jobs overseas, something Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has proposed.Salazar has disputed Coors’ claim that he has created jobs, saying the brewer has lost hundreds of jobs since the early 1990s.”Are we as a people better off than we were three years ago?” Salazar asked the crowd.”Yes,” said a man in the crowd of about 200.Not everybody is, Salazar replied. He said household incomes in Colorado have dropped an average of $2,700 over the last three years and health care costs are straining budgets.Coors contended that Salazar’s plan would raise taxes on small businesses, which create most of the nation’s jobs. He said capping court rewards in medical malpractice lawsuits and enabling small businesses, farmers and ranchers to form associations to buy health insurance would ease health care costs.Coors has called for making the president’s 2001 tax cuts permanent, contending they will only help the economy by giving people more money. The $1.7 trillion plan cut income taxes and eliminated the marriage penalty and estate taxes.Salazar favors retaining most of the cuts, but said they should be rolled back for the wealthy. He has also called for estate taxes on couples inheriting more than $10 million or individuals getting more than $5 million – something his opponent says is a tax hike.Coors was applauded when he advocated following the course the president has charted in combating terrorism.”I’m proud of George Bush and Congress for sending our troops over to Iraq so they could fight the war there so we don’t have to fight it here,” Coors said.Salazar, though, said recent history and the report by Sept. 11 commission show that the federal government was slow to respond to problems and make needed reforms.”As we look at the that history of what has happened with the most important responsibility of our national government, that we have not done a good job of protecting the homeland,” Salazar said.—On the Net:Pete Coors Campaign: http://www.petecoorsforsenate.comKen Salazar Campaign: http://www.salazarforcolorado.com
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