Sen. Allard begins last term with high profile stances
U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard heard it all at his Summit County town meeting Wednesday in Silverthorne. The first question was whether Allard favored “caging” people for marijuana violations.
The question was wrapped around references to marijuana in the Bible and Allard’s Christianity.
Nonplussed, the senator said he would never support legalization of marijuana. So as off-the-wall as the question was (you had to be there), Allard scored some easy points.
In the course of the town meeting, Allard heard calls for more tax cuts but more spending on prescription drugs, Homeland Security for local law enforcement, veterans’ benefits and closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
As usual, people want taxes cut but their federal programs maintained and benefits added, if it is in their interest.
That may become the true caging the Republican senator from Loveland learns to loathe.
In a short interview, Allard called himself a deficit hawk, and his record bears him out. He also is for tax cuts and supports President Bush’s plan to cut taxes by $350 billion.
He also supported the full Senate’s recently passed $401 billion military spending bill for fiscal year 2004 starting Oct. 1, which has some nuggets for Colorado. The increase is $18.3 billion over this year. Much of the new money is related to the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism. Allard is a strong supporter of both, believing our borders will be easier to defend if we reach out and eradicate the scourge where it lives.
At the same time, the senator agrees a prescription drug plan is necessary to help his constituents, to the tune of $400 billon, he said.
All of this comes against a national deficit spinning, as even the senator would have to admit, out of control.
Allard said he believes the economy will turn around and even out the budget. He also said he has a plan to start paying down the deficit in 10 years. Allard offered a similar plan in 2001 when budgets were about even. That was before the economic collapse.
It will be interesting to see how Allard figures out how to be true to his principles while supporting President Bush’s economic policies.
We look forward to hearing more about Allard’s philosophies. He has been invited to a Summit Daily News editorial board meeting at his convenience.
In the meantime, it is not hard to observe that Allard, known for being mild-mannered, has raised his profile. The senator would disagree with that assessment, saying his work during his first term was so Colorado-
centered or secret to escape national attention. The secret part relates to his service on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
This year, Allard deserves every pat on the back for stepping out and calling for accountability of Air Force brass for the rape scandals at the Air Force Academy. (See related story, page A18.)
Allard’s leadership should create a new culture about sexual appropriateness and sex crimes at the Colorado Springs institution. Air Force retiree Arnie Yuen of Frisco likes that and gave the senator credit at the town meeting. Yuen also called Allard’s attention to federal legislation to cut veterans benefits. There’s that budget yo-yo again.
Allard’s latest claim to fame is a firm stance against possible new Federal Communications Commission rules to allow greater consolidation of media ownership.
Allard wants the status quo where no one company can “own” more than 35 percent of the national audience and rules prohibit common ownership of newspapers and electronic media in any one market.
The senator wants to preserve a democratic media market and prevent a dictatorship of ownership and content. Allard and his allies will be bucking a lobbying effort pegged at more than $60 million, mostly on behalf of the electronic side of media. Good luck.
The greatest issue here is conglomerate domination of public air waves and further shrinking of the public service aspect that used to be required of TV and radio. Besides that, how will the next Willie Nelson get his break when play lists are so tightly formatted? OK, that’s what we really care about.
Allard said when he was re-elected over Tom Strickland this was his last term. This fact should liberate him from the necessary dogma and party rhetoric that seems to dominate these days on both sides of the aisle, at the expense of common sense and doing the right thing.
Allard likes to think of himself as a citizen legislator. His next five years in office will be a time to fulfill that role.
Opinions published in this space are formulated by members of the Summit Daily News editorial board: Michael Bennett, Jim Pokrandt, Abigail Eagye, Rachel Toth, Reid Williams, Aidan Leonard, Shauna Farnell and Martha Lunsky.
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