Panelists: Colorado will feel more pain from federal debt

By Staff

At the “First Friday” in this year’s Buechner Breakfast series, School of Public Affairs Dean Paul Teske moderated the Sept. 2 discussion, "“Federal Debt in the Future and Colorado’s Consequences.”

With United States unemployment at 9 percent and the presidential campaigns ramping up, Americans are getting “a lot of different messages on what’s happening,” said Andy Merritt, district director for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. He also pointed out, “Election years are a loss as it relates to policy.” Merritt added that he doesn’t expect to see any major policy-making until next year with possible acceleration around the end of this year.

Questioned by Teske about the potential impacts for Colorado, Merritt said, “Colorado has a lot of government-funded research and contracts. A lot of this defense funding could go away.”

Panelist Henry Dubroff, Denver Post opinion writer and entrepreneur, referenced Winston Churchill: “‘You can count on the Americans to do the right thing when they’ve exhausted all other alternatives,’” Dubroff said. “I think we’re out of alternatives.”

Dubroff also said the future of Medicaid is in serious jeopardy without some policy changes. “I do think we’re headed to entitlement reform.”

Lauren Larson, former chief of the treasury branch at the Office of Management and Budget and senior adviser at the IRS said, “We need to look at all of our programs side-by-side to determine the best actions.”

She pointed to the attention focused on President Obama’s planned announcement tonight, because “it sounds like he is coming up with a jobs plan to boost our confidence in the economy.”

“Ballot Issues and Education Fixes in Colorado” is the topic of the next Buechner Breakfast on Oct. 7. The series is named for John Buechner, School of Public Affairs faculty member who also has served as University of Colorado president and University of Colorado Denver chancellor.