The Whole Story On Norton’s Jobs-Bill Comments

As much as it humors me to be quoted by Colorado Pols and the Colorado Independent, those leftist publications are failing to tell the whole story behind Jane Norton’s comments on the jobs bill. They are trying to score political points rather than get to the truth. While I seek to hold politicians from all parties accountable for their statements and votes, Colorado Pols and the Independent are beating up Republicans while giving Democrats a free ride.

On February 24, in the course of a Fox interview discussing her television ad attacking President Obama over the budget, U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton said the Congressional jobs bill “was too small.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant by this, because the jobs bill contains two major elements. The Associated Press explains:

First, it would exempt businesses hiring the unemployed from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December and give them an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.

Second, it would extend highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year and pump $20 billion into them in time for the spring construction season. The money would make up for lower-than-expected gasoline tax revenues.

The “jobs” bill, then, is part tax break and part “stimulus” spending. Which part of it did Norton think was too small? To find out, I called up her office and asked to speak to Cinamon Watson, Norton’s Deputy Campaign Manager. The reason I asked for her is that my dad and I have communicated with her previously about Norton’s campaign and the Armstrong Survey at Watson said I should instead talk to Nate Strauch, Norton’s Press Secretary, who called me back later in the day. (This all took place on February 25.) I didn’t ask to speak to Norton directly, because I figured I’d never get through to her, and I figured I could get the relevant information out of her staff.

Here’s what I wrote about my conversation with Strauch:

Nate Strauch, Norton’s Press Secretary, said that what Norton meant was that “the impact was too small, not the price-tag was too small.”

But that implies that she did favor some sort of jobs bill, just one with a larger impact, does it not?

Strauch said “she supported a number of different measures,” such as “suspending the payroll tax for small businesses.” So Norton wants to cut taxes without touching spending levels? That’s not much of a policy.

Norton’s comments about the jobs bill were brief and off hand. Strauch’s clarification of her remarks fits perfectly with the nature of the bill. I’m satisfied that I now know Norton’s basic position on the bill. (I don’t think it’s a very good position, as I indicated, because tax breaks without corresponding spending cuts don’t help.)

Enter the Independent. In his article today, John Tomasic said, “Colorado GOP frontrunner for the U.S. Senate, Jane Norton doesn’t talk to the press–not even to the conservative bloggers at People’s Press Collective.”

Tomasic’s characterization is wrong for several reasons.

First, I’m not a “conservative blogger.” I advocate individual rights. I advocate gay rights, legal abortion, free speech, and an end to the drug war. How is that “conservative?” I do not seek to “conserve” the status quo, I seek the significant social and political changes necessary to fully protect individual rights.

Second, I am not “at People’s Press Collective” (PPC) in the sense that Tomasic seems to intend. By mutual consent, PPC republishes some of my articles. I recognize that PPC tends to lean more conservative and Republican friendly, but I am neither a conservative nor a Republican. (I am registered unaffiliated, and I voted for Democrats Bill Ritter and Mark Udall, among others. I have not yet decided how I will vote this year for governor and U.S. Senate.) I am not a writer for PPC in the same sense that Tomasic is a writer for the Independent; it’s just not that sort of relationship.

Third, Tomasic wrongly implies that I asked to speak directly with Norton; I did not. I was fine speaking with Strauch.

Tomasic adds that I supposedly “joined the chorus of writers mocking Norton’s commitment to communication with the people she aims to represent.” Yes, there was some definite mocking going on when I pointed out that Norton has yet to reply to the Armstrong survey. However, I will note, as Tomasic should also note, that neither Michael Bennet nor Andrew Romanoff has replied to that survey. Indeed, getting through to Bennet’s office was like pulling teeth, and one receptionist I spoke with was exceedingly rude and dismissive, though another representative was helpful. By comparison, Norton’s office has been a joy to contact.

If Tomasic wishes to act like a real journalist, rather than a partisan hack, he will join me in asking Bennet, Romanoff, AND Norton to respond to the Armstrong Survey and other tough questions, and he will report the views of all candidates fairly. Until he does so, he should be dismissed as nothing more than a Democratic lap dog.

Tomasic’s claim that Strauch’s clarification of Norton’s brief comment on the jobs bill somehow differs from Norton’s intended meaning is unwarranted. (That said, I would very much like to hear more of Norton’s views about “stimulus” spending and tax breaks absent spending cuts.) Colorado Pols’s similar criticisms are likewise misplaced.

Look, there is not a single person in the state of Colorado, who, in the rough and tumble of an extemporaneous interview, will always state every point with perfect clarity and precision. I certainly could not always meet that standard. If we are to remain intellectually honest, we must put a speaker’s comments in context and allow room for reasonable clarifications.

Is our goal to figure out what Norton’s true views are or to play partisan “gotcha” games? It is the left that most vociferously complains about big money in politics, yet the only alternative is honest debate. I ask Colorado Pols, I ask John Tomasic, I ask the writers for the Colorado Independentand the People’s Press Collective to join me in pursuing intellectually honest evaluation of the candidates, regardless of their party affiliation.

I’m sure there will be plenty of substantives points on which to criticize Jane Norton (for me, including her support for Referendum C) without Making Stuff Up about the meaning of the phrase “too small.” We’re bigger than that.

One thought on “The Whole Story On Norton’s Jobs-Bill Comments”

  1. Comment by Jim February 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    What strikes me about the proposal to target temporary suspension of employer contributions to Social Security through payroll taxes is that it is a tacit acknowledgment of the disincentive such taxes put upon hiring. Note to self: that is a point that should be remade more explicitly.

    Comment by Jason Salzman February 27, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    You think the loving interview she got on FOX constitutes the “rough and tumble of an extemporaneous interview?” Who knows why, but she was completely and unnecesarily vague, and a person should be readily forgiven for interpreting her “too small” comment as a cry for more federal money. I hate to think what she might have said if the FOX interviewer had acted like a real journalist and asked her the tough questions.

    Still, I like the sentiment of your post. Thanks. Jason Salzman

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