Second Congressional District candidates Rep. Jared Polis and George Leing debated Wednesday night at an event hosted by College Republicans at CSU and College Democrats at CSU. Moderated by political science professor John Straayer, the debate featured a wide range of student-selected topics.
Straayer began the debate by asking the candidates how they plan to reduce student loans.
Polis emphasized the importance of open access to textbooks, as well as allowing students to test out of classes they are proficient in. Leing criticized public education and claimed he would address the issue directly.
“The thing that we can do in Congress is student loan reform,” Leing said. “The Congressional budget office has estimated that the public education is going to make a profit of $126 billion on the backs of the students. This makes no sense. Why should they be profiting when they could be lowering the cost of student loans?”
Polis supports the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson plan, which slowly increases the cap of salary contributions citizens will be required to pay towards social security.
“People should know now what their going to get, rather than Congress sticking their heads in the sand for another ten years or another 15 years until it becomes an actual crisis,” Polis said. “And, I guarantee you at that time there will have to be drastic changes.”
On the contrary, Leing said debt is at a critical level now.
“It’s [social security is] almost 50 percent of our annual federal budget,” Leing said. “It’s such a big part of it, but the only thing that the parties agree on is that their going bankrupt. If you ask the Medicaid trustees, by 2030, they’ve estimated that Medicaid will be bankrupt. We have to deal with it, and we have to deal with it almost yesterday. This is something that can’t wait.”
The candidates then discussed the Affordable Care Act. Leing was critical of the act, saying that it did not fulfill what it promised. He said that many constituents have lost healthcare as a result of the act. Polis retaliated that more Coloradans gained coverage than those who lost it. He said that the government needs to ensure that as many people as possible are included.
Renewable Energy, Fracking and Oil
Both candidates said that renewable energy is the future of energy.
Leing criticized Polis for not conversing with regulators about fracking before deciding policy. He believes that it should be used but regulated closely. Polis said he will support voters decisions.
Leing expressed his support for the keystone pipeline. Polis said that either decision should be made quickly.
Polis expressed disdain for current immigration policy, saying that it does not reflect American values. He supports bipartisan reform.
“There’s a bipartisan bill and conference that passed in the Senate with more than two-thirds with Democrat and Republican support,” Polis said. “I support that bill. Of course it’s not perfect, but it does secure the border.”
Leing wants to enforce current laws and find ways to help immigrants that came to the United States legally.
“The laws are already there,” Leing said. “They’re not being enforced.”
Leing supports the reservoir, saying that Colorado needs to use its resources effectively. Polis said that he will support whatever Colorado voters decide on the issue.
Campus Sexual Assaults
Both candidates expressed their desire to help in whatever ways possible. Polis stressed the importance of raising awareness on college campuses about consent. Leing said that, under Title IV, victims may fear retaliation when they share their experiences and hopes this will change.
Guns on campus
Leing said that he believes the 2nd Amendment right to bare arms should apply to college students. Polis, however, said that individual university boards of governors should decide campus arms policy. He does not want local or federal government to make the decision for campuses.
Both candidates oppose Amendment 67. Leing said that he understands the cause behind it but believes it is too extreme.
Polis said selective service is sexist and financially foolish. Leing admitted to having no clear position on the issue but said that there are societal benefits to serving one’s country.
Legalization of Marijuana
Both candidates said they believe individual states should decide this issue.
Proposition 105: Labeling Products with GMOs
Leing does not support this, saying that this assumes that GMOs are negative.
Saying that he believes people should have easy access to information about their food, Polis said that he supported the proposition.
Collegian Diversity Beat Reporter Hannah Ditzenberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @h_ditzenberger.