From left: Democrat Bob Seay, Republican Ken Buck and Libertarian Bruce Griffith.

(Photos: Courtesy Seay campaign, U.S. House of Representatives, Griffith campaign)

Libertarian Bruce Griffith and Democrat Bob Seay are challenging incumbent Republican Ken Buck in Colorado's 4th Congressional District, which covers the Eastern Plains.

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As of June 30, Buck had raised nearly $600,000, Seay a little more than $21,000, and Griffith $0. Updated figures are due from the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 15.

Seay and Griffith answered the following questions about issues they may face if elected. The Buck campaign declined to complete CPR's questionnaire. His positions are comprised of previous statements and news coverage that CPR News has compiled.

What areas of federal spending should be increased? What should be cut?

Bob Seay
(Democrat)
"Cut subsidies to corporations. Cut unnecessary defense projects and replace them with equipment that is more suitable to 21st century conflicts. Increase our investment in people, i.e., healthcare, education, and others. Increase spending on infrastructure."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

Buck told the Greeley Tribune: "I hope to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Our national debt is approaching $18 trillion and we have $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities. We are financially bankrupt. If we continue to place our debt on our children's credit cards, we are morally bankrupt. We have witnessed a steady assault on our constitutional rights, including IRS discrimination, NSA spying, and attempts to restrict the Second Amendment. Congress must shrink the federal government in order to reduce our deficit and protect our rights. We must return as much power as possible to the local level of government."

Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Until the American government stops spending money it does not have, I can image no area where it makes sense to increase spending. There are SO many areas where spending should be decreased. Let’s start with businesses that the federal government can simply not afford: AMTRAK ($1 billion subsidy), Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($220 million subsidy, provides GREAT services that Americans should support individually, not with tax dollars), US Postal Service, and many more. FEDERAL Departments of Education, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development to begin with since these are mainly for wealth redistribution, plus a few others. It would be better to keep the taxes in the states and not siphon off taxes to fund bureaucracies in Washington."
Do you support the Paris climate change deal that the U.S. agreed to in 2015? Why or why not?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Yes. Climate change is real, it is happening, and it is exacerbated by human activity. We need to take responsibility for those problems and start working to reduce our carbon emissions."
Ken Buck (Republican) Buck asserted in his 2010 U.S. Senate run that it’s "the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated." Later, his campaign backtracked. “Ken believes there is global warming, but thinks the evidence points to it being natural, rather than manmade,” a spokesman said.
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Whether Global Warming is man-made or not, it is a threat to mankind. It is a commitment that the U.S. agreed to. We should keep our foreign commitments as we expect our allies and trading partners to do with us."
What is the one thing the federal government could do that would have the biggest positive impact on Colorado's economy?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Legalize hemp production."
Ken Buck (Republican) Buck says building the Keystone Pipeline, lowering the corporate tax rate, and changing the individual tax structure will put people back to work.
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Increase the price of oil inside our borders. I don’t know how to do this in a fair and equitable way. This would normally be a tariff on foreign oil, but I believe in free markets. Increasing the price of oil would put oilfield workers on the Eastern Plains back to work. This would make wind and solar cost competitive and put Colorado workers back to work building turbines and installing solar panels. This would dramatically decrease our foreign imbalance of trade and make America a net oil exporter again. This would end our conflict-of-interest that requires us to participate in costly Middle East wars where we support governments or other groups that we shouldn’t. This would preserve precious fossil fuels for alternative uses such as plastics. This would make alternative fuel cars more attractive and potentially improve U.S. CO2 emissions. This would stimulate research into better and cheaper energy storage mechanisms. This would potentially make public transportation, such as light and heavy rail, more effective."
How should the federal government balance the need for affordable energy with its stated goal of shifting to higher-cost renewable sources?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Your question assumes that renewables cost more. That is not the case in the long term. The price of oil is much higher if you figure in the environmental costs and the economic costs of a fluctuating oil market."
Ken Buck (Republican) "For America to become a land of inexpensive and sustainable energy, the role of the federal government in the energy industry needs to change," Buck says on his campaign website. He supports deregulation and less government involvement across the energy industry.
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"This is not an area where the federal government should be involved. The traditional method of incentivising a shift to renewable energy would be through federal subsidies. Let free market or local government energy providers determine how their customers want them to generate power. If it is appropriate, the federal government should tax energy companies for generating greenhouse gases if it becomes the federal government’s job to clean them up."
Should western states, including Colorado, assume control of federally owned land? (See here for a good explanation of this issue.) Why or why not?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "No. Federal ownership prevents irresponsible drilling and other exploitation of these resources."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

“Special designations on public lands owned by all the American people should be decided by acts of their elected representatives in Congress,” Buck said on his website. “They should receive the concurrence of the elected representatives of the people in the affected states, not be decreed from the White House."

Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"To what end? National Park Service land could be turned over to private, not-for-profit organizations for management such as the Nature Conservancy, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. This would preserve public ownership of our national parks and end the drain on the federal treasury. These organizations would probably, in the end, be better stewards of the land since conservation is their charter. The Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Forest Service should be net money makers for the federal government. I am not convinced that 30 to 50 regional government organizations would be any better than the existing national organizations."
What are one or two changes you would like to see to federal gun laws?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Universal background checks for all gun sales. The Colorado gun law would make a strong template for federal legislation."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

Buck opposes restricting gun ownership rights. "I will oppose any federal legislation to compile a database of gun owners or to further proscribe Americans' freedoms under the Second Amendment. My strong position on Second amendment rights has earned me the endorsement of the Gun Owners of America, which I was honored to receive," his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign website stated.
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Our founding fathers gave us the Second Amendment as protection against tyranny. They wanted an armed citizenry capable of defending itself against the Federal Government. By far, the majority of gun-related homicide is domestic violence by handgun. Colorado already exceeds federal law in this area. I would strongly prefer that gun control be a local thing rather than a one-size fits all policy from Washington. What makes sense in Parker may not make sense in Lamar or Julesburg."
Do you want to keep the Affordable Care Act and possibly make minor changes, overhaul it, or eliminate it? Please explain.
Bob Seay (Democrat) "We should expand and build on the ACA."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

Buck wants the act repealed, KUNC reports. "America can create a healthcare system that serves all of its citizens by relying less on government intervention and more on incremental changes that promote the doctor patient relationship, patient choice, and competition," Buck said on his campaign website.
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Eliminate it and let states regulate their own health care problems. Create 50 centers of innovation instead of one bloated system. You can’t fix what you don’t understand. How many times have you left the doctor’s office wondering how much the visit is going to cost beyond your co-pay or how many bills you are going to receive in the mail? How many times have you been surprised to find out that you are taking medicine that costs hundreds of dollars per dose for a relatively minor condition? The first step to understanding how to fix our healthcare system is to get healthcare providers to give good, solid estimates to patients before procedures are performed. That’s the first step towards enabling a real free-market healthcare system. Regulated mandatory insurance where insurance companies negotiate contracts with all medical providers and dictate payment amounts is not free-market. It seems like we are on the verge of eliminating some terrible diseases, do we really want to stop medical research cold with a universal healthcare system?"
College has become unaffordable for many Americans. What would you do to make it more affordable?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "This is a question of priorities. We will be able to cut college costs for all Americans when we stop giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and to corporations.

Ken Buck
(Republican)

[We were unable to find information that directly answered this question.]
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Get the federal government out of it. Today, students are running up debt that they cannot ever expect to repay based on their chosen career field. And the government is coming after students when they can’t get a job after leaving college. Brick-and-mortar colleges cost a lot of money just to maintain the campuses, let alone teach classes. We need to find a way to lower licensure requirements for college graduates and we need to find a way to offer more interesting and relevant classes at a lower cost. At present, online self-paced learning is a promising solution."
Should the federal government play any role in making housing more affordable in places like Colorado? If so, what should it do?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "This is one area where public sector / private sector partnerships would be very appropriate. We need to make it easier for developers to obtain capital for housing projects.

Ken Buck
(Republican)

[We were unable to find information that directly answered this question.]
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"No, this should be handled by the free market."
Do you believe adults who came to this country illegally should have a path to citizenship? Why or why not? 
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Yes. Our immigration laws should focus more on directing people towards citizenship and less on punishing people for past offenses."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

"Illegal immigrants must return to their country of origin to enter the United States with respect to our laws,” Buck said on his 2010 campaign website. "We need to establish a program that will help make legal immigration a feasible option. This will allow legal immigrants to fill jobs that American labor cannot fill."
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Yes, they should be able to get in line behind their countrymen and wait their turn. If they are paying taxes and have clean records, they should be allowed to stay in the U.S. while they wait their for their turn. If they entered the country illegally, they should not get any special treatment as a reward for breaking our laws."
What should the federal government do to address growing income inequality in America, and in Colorado?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Require employers to pay a living wage and penalize employers that do not. Require people who have benefited the most from the American system to pay a fair share of taxes."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

[We were unable to find information that directly answered this question.]
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Nothing. This is best left to the free market. There is opportunity and a high paying job for anyone who wants to do the work to get a college or vocational education."
Do you think the federal government ceded too much power to the states in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind? Why or why not?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "The United States and especially Colorado have a long history of local control in education. All students need a certain common set of skills and knowledge. However, schools should be allowed to develop curriculum that moves beyond that to address regional or demographic differences."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

Buck supports reducing the federal government's role in education. "Local control of public schools means getting rid of Common Core standards and the federal takeover of education that accompanies them."
Bruce Griffith
Libertarian)
"I believe we need better education in America, but that doesn’t mean we need more control of education in Washington. I received an Outstanding Educator award from a national non-profit educational organization for work in Colorado schools to achieve the goal of better education. I have experienced, first-hand, what classrooms are like for Colorado K-12 teachers. While I believe in what No Child Left Behind and Common Core are trying to achieve, they aren’t working. Bright and innovative student teachers are choosing to opt out of the career field because the fun and sense of accomplishment are being driven out of the profession. We have extremely dedicated teachers and involved parents in Colorado. We need to give schools and parents the freedom to find what works for their specific circumstances, not mandate a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington. What works in Detroit or Boston doesn't necessarily work in Greeley and what works in Greeley or Longmont doesn’t necessarily work anywhere else in Colorado. I will work against any effort to impose new unfunded mandates on Colorado schools by the federal government. And I will work to return all control of education back to our local communities because they know what is best for our children."
If elected or re-elected, what one piece of legislation would you focus on? 
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Campaign finance reform, because nothing is going to change until we change the way we pay for elections."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

[We were unable to find information that directly answered this question.]
Bruce Griffith (Libertarian) "Anything that balances the federal budget."
Should marijuana be legalized across the country? Why or why not?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Yes. It is ridiculous that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug."

Ken Buck
(Republican)

"No. I was a co-chair of the 'No on 64' campaign. I do not support the legalization of marijuana. While Colorado must continue to evaluate the effects of our constitutional amendment the federal government should not force legalization on the states," Buck told 9News.
Bruce Griffith (Libertarian) "Yes. The war on drugs is a failed policy that has created the same problems as Prohibition. We need to end drug-related gang violence."
What should the federal government do to improve the long-term financial viability of Medicare and Social Security?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Increase the cap on Social Security. Negotiate medication prices for Medicare."
Ken Buck
(Republican)
On Social Security, Buck said in 2010 that it was a "horrible, bad policy" and questioned its constitutionality.  He later said he could have chosen his words better. More recently, he said the program shouldn't be altered for those who rely on it. He also said he supports means testing. On Medicare, Buck told CPR News in 2010 that, "We’ve got to encourage people to save to deal with some of their medical expenses as they get older. We’ve got to also deal with the healthcare issue, get away for the fee-for-service model that we have in this country and move towards a quality-of-care model."
Bruce Griffith (Libertarian)

"The current Social Security trust fund, in round numbers, holds about $3 trillion. If contributions stopped today, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid would run out of money in about two years, maybe less. In addition, there are approximately $5 trillion in excess contributions that have been "borrowed" by other parts of the federal government. Assuming that this money could ever be recovered, a big "if", then Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid could be extended by an additional couple of years.

What this means is that if you stop paying FICA from your paycheck, then grandma and grandpa stop getting retirement income and stop receiving healthcare in less than five years. And it also means that people nearing retirement age can never retire and will someday become dependent on either their children or the state.

How to fix the problem?

1. People are living longer with active lifestyles than when Social Security was enacted. We can reduce the burden on working families by raising the minimum retirement age.

2. Slowly phase out Social Security by reducing the benefit annually and continuing to raise retirement age. And by slowly, I mean REALLY slow, like over decades. Slow enough that working families have enough advance warning to save for retirement outside of the Social Security framework.

3. Introduce legislation that requires all excess FICA collections to be kept on the books of Social Security and Medicare trust funds and not lent to the general fund. Any excess principal above statutory requirements should be invested by money managers who have a personal financial interest in the performance of the investments.

4. If there is enough concern that younger workers will not plan for retirement, then make private retirement savings mandatory on a sliding scale that increases as Social Security is phased out."

Do you support raising the federal minimum wage? Why, or why not?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Yes. You can't call it a minimum wage if it doesn't meet the minimum requirements of what it costs to live in a community."
Ken Buck
(Republican)
"I am not in favor of raising the minimum wage. What happens when we raise the minimum wage is fewer people get on the bottom of the economic ladder to start working their way up the ladder," Buck said to the Sterling Rotary Club in October 2014.
Bruce Griffith (Libertarian) "No. This just leads to inflation and does not help those that are working minimum wage jobs."
What changes should be made to the federal tax code?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Tax stock transactions. Treat investment income the same as all other income."
Ken Buck
(Republican)
Buck signed a pledge in 2010 to repeal the federal estate tax. In October 2014, he said America's corporate tax rate needs to be reduced and the individual tax structure needs to be changed, "to give people really the incentive to take risks and get into the business community."
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"Eliminate the term ”marriage” and get rid of all the associated financial manipulations. Combine family income for all who share bank accounts and pool their deductions. Simplify, simplify, simplify."
What can Congress do to ensure timely medical care for veterans?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "Provide enough funding for VA to do its job."
Ken Buck
(Republican)
Buck said at an September 2014 debate in La Junta that he doesn't want to privatize VA care, but said veterans who live a long way from VA clinics and hospitals should be able to go to private hospitals and doctors.
Bruce Griffith (Libertarian) "Treat VA benefits as a traditional health care plan. Allow free market choice of providers. Reduce VA hospital services to those services that are unique or significantly more common to veterans."
The U.S. has admitted far fewer Syrian refugees than other countries. And President Obama has limited the American military's role in the Syrian civil war to an air campaign against ISIS. What should be America's role in Syria?
Bob Seay (Democrat) "We should provide humanitarian aid and we should take in more refugees."
Ken Buck
(Republican)
In response to President Obama seeking congressional approval for limited military action against ISIS, Buck said he didn't want to give Obama a "blank check to engage in unending and poorly defined wars." Buck also voted for a bill that would have effectively blocked Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming into the U.S.
Bruce Griffith (Libertarian)

"Our nation should offer refuge to those that are truly in need. We need to make sure that all immigrants come through appropriate checkpoints and procedures at airports and at our borders with Mexico and Canada. If they don’t have appropriate papers or the qualifications for admission as required by our existing laws then we shouldn’t let them in.

If we want to be safe, to ensure that new immigrants are the type we want in America, then we need to welcome them and be part of their lives. We need to offer them jobs and help them succeed. I don’t mean the government with government programs and government social workers. I mean we, the faith-based organizations and people of the United States.

America should have no role in fighting ISIS unless American interests are directly threatened, or to aid one of our allies whose interests are directly threatened. If ISIS invades a sovereign nation, then we should respond based on our relationship that sovereign nation. We should end all nation-building endeavors in the Middle East. Americans, not the American government, should play a substantial role in humanitarian relief for the 90 percent of the Syrian and Iraqi population that has been bombed out of their homes by the various competing powers."

Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions? Please explain.
Bob Seay (Democrat) "I am pro-choice. Abortion should be legal, safe, and rare."
Ken Buck
(Republican)
"I am pro-life, and I'll answer the next question. I don't believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. I believe that the only exception, I guess, is life of the mother. And that is only if it's truly life of the mother," Buck said in 2010. More recently, Buck took heat in 2014 for distancing himself from the 'personhood' amendment that would give a fertilized egg the same rights as a person.
Bruce Griffith
(Libertarian)
"An unborn child is a child. A mother carrying an unwanted child is in bondage, slavery, if she can be charged with child abuse for almost anything she does that could cause harm to the child. That said, given that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and has determined that abortion is a woman's Constitutional right, then there is almost nothing that a federal representative can do to change that. I believe that we need to find a way to end this schism that has divided America for almost 50 years. For now, this is a deeply personal issue that I believe is best left to state or local control."

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