Below are substantive answers by Congressman John Salazar to questions about the economy, the separation of church and state, and abortion and related matters. My father Linn and I sent a set of questions to Salazar’s team on August 12, and we received the answers via email on September 10. Our goal was to solicit Salazar’s answers to questions comparable to those answered by Scott Tipton (Salazar’s Republican opponent) for our article published by Grand Junction Free Press on August 20.
As readers will see, Salazar does a pretty thorough job of answering the questions, though he skips a couple. Following the questions are Salazar’s unedited comments. Because we will not be able to address his views until our October 1 column with the Free Press, Linn and I discussed the matter and decided to release Salazar’s answers early, and save our commentary until later. – Ari Armstrong
1. What are the main policy issues we face in this election?
2. What is your view of federal bailouts and “stimulus” spending?
3. What is your view of the current level of federal spending?
4. What do you believe is meant by the “separation of church and state,” and do you endorse it?
5. Should religious institutions receive tax dollars for providing welfare or other faith-based services?
6. Should the teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design be subsidized by tax dollars?
7. Do you support gay marriage or domestic partnerships?
8. Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children by the same standards as heterosexual couples?
9. Do you believe that abortion should be restricted by the federal or state government?
10. What is your view of Amendment 62, the “personhood” measure on this year’s ballot?
11. Do you believe that types of birth control, including the pill, and fertility treatments that may result in the destruction of a fertilized egg should remain legal?
Comments of Congressman John Salazar
I believe that the important issues facing us include economic growth and job creation, reigning in the budget deficit, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare. It was critical that Congress passed a stimulus package early last year to put a floor under an economy that was in a free fall, shedding 700,000 jobs per month. The economy has now begun to stabilize, so we should pair reductions in spending with providing tax credits for small business, along with incentives to encourage banks to provide credit to small businesses seeking to grow in order to create an environment for job creation. We should also consider extending the Bush tax cuts for one year to give us time to review the report and recommendations of the Deficit Reduction Commission, which are due on December 1.
I did not support the bailout of Wall Street. I was concerned about using taxpayer dollars to bailout those who gambled recklessly with investors’ money. I was also concerned that the bailout bill before Congress failed to address the necessary reform issues – it simply provided taxpayer dollars to those who created the problems leading to the collapse without any conditions or assurances that taxpayers would ever be paid back, or with establishing new structural reforms to prevent what happened from every happening again.
My view of Church-State separation issues – I believe one of the greatest threats to our religious freedom is for the State to attempt to favor one faith over another, or impose undue restraints on an individual’s freedom to worship. We are a nation founded on the view, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, on the freedom to believe, or not believe, as we see fit. As a Catholic, I do not want the State interfering with my right to worship. Fortunately, Church-State issues have been minimal as this right has generally been respected. But as with any right guaranteed by our Constitution, it is a right that we must be vigilant to ensure that we don’t allow any encroachment.
While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, I do support civil unions or domestic partnerships in order to recognize certain state legal rights between same sex couples.
Although I am personally opposed to abortion, I support a woman’s right to choose. Today, our Constitution guarantees this right, and that right must be respected. The Supreme Court has recognized that some restrictions, such as parental notification, don’t unnecessarily burden the right of a woman to choose. I also agree that taxpayers should not be funding abortions. But the basic decision to terminate a pregnancy should not be made by legislators, but should be left to the woman and whatever network of family, friends, medical and faith groups she wishes to consult.
I do not support Colorado Proposition 62.
The question concerning the destruction of embryos resulting from fertility treatments really gets, in my view, to the issue of stem cell research. As you know, a federal judge recently overturned an executive order issued by President Obama that loosened restriction on embryonic stem cell research. I have supported stem cell research in the past, and will do so again should legislation be brought before the House to permit the research. Congress had passed stem cell research legislation twice in the past, but both times the legislation was vetoed by President Bush. This research holds great promise for addressing a wide variety of diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. As long as ethical guidelines are in place and the practice is monitored to ensure only approved lines are used, I believe stem cell research should be allowed.