Colorado Congressional District 5 race: Doug Lamborn, Irv Halter on the issues

Photo: Doug Lamborn, Irv HalterDemocrat Irv Halter is challenging incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn in Colorado's Fifth Congressional District. The district covers Colorado Springs and surrounding suburbs.

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The candidates answered the following questions about issues they may face.

Do you want the Affordable Care Act to stay in place and possibly have minor changes, or do you want to completely overhaul or eliminate the ACA?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

The ACA fight in Congress is a great example of why so many Coloradans hate career politicians. The process by which it passed a Democratic Congress was ugly. The implementation by Health and Human Services -- especially the website blunders -- has been poorly executed. If someone who served under me in the Air Force had failed this badly, I would have removed them for cause. Unfortunately, the Republicans in Washington haven't behaved any better. Instead, politicians like Congressman Lamborn have voted more than 50 times to repeal the ACA without offering a viable alternative plan that addresses America's health care challenges. I would support an alternative to the ACA that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and maintains affordable coverage for the millions of Americans who now have health insurance. But it's unfair to play political games with people's healthcare.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)Obamacare is a disaster. Until it is replaced with conservative, free-market solutions, it will continue to cripple job growth, stifle economic progress, and be an enemy of individual prosperity. I have opposed this monstrosity from the beginning and have voted well over 50 times to repeal, replace, and defund all or part of Obamacare. 
What can be done to shore up Medicare and Social Security?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

Social Security and Medicare are two successful programs that our seniors rely on and have paid into their entire lives. I will always fight to protect these programs for future generations.  Meanwhile, my opponent supports raising the retirement age and reducing benefits costing seniors. And he wants to privatize Social Security and gamble it on Wall Street.  

Doug Lamborn (Republican)Wasteful entitlement spending must be reformed so that we can ensure that these programs are solvent and stable for the people who truly need and depend on them.
What role should the federal government play in regulating oil and gas extraction?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I believe that government should ensure that Americans have access to inexpensive forms of energy, while protecting the environment. This is why I support fracking and building the Keystone XL pipeline.    

Doug Lamborn (Republican)As minimal a role as possible. This is an issue that is best handled at the state and local level, like we do here in Colorado. 
Do you support changes to the Endangered Species Act? If so, what?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

The Endangered Species Act has had some success in protecting plants, insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and other creatures that have been in decline.  But the Act has also harmed economic development and growth. I am open to changes that will do a better job of protecting species while balancing the need for policies that promote economic growth.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)This summer, I supported the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act. This bipartisan bill increases transparency regarding ESA classifications, begins building an accessible online database, and offers the first substantial reforms to the ESA since 1988.
What should the federal government do about climate change?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

My opponent simply denies the science behind climate change and global warming. This is dangerous and reckless. We should do our best to foster energy independence while investing in technologies that will reduce the impact on our environment. America can be a leader in developing these technologies, saving our environment and creating jobs here at home.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)The federal government should not cripple our economy and burgeoning domestic energy industry with more onerous fees and regulations designed to curb the possibility of climate change hundreds of years in the future. 
What can the federal government do to boost Colorado's economy?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

Government needs to make it easier for businesses to create jobs. This means we need to lower taxes and reduce regulations.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)The federal government should help create the most business-friendly tax and regulatory climate possible. Instead, America has the highest corporate tax rate in the world and is ranked by experts as 32nd out of 34th on tax competitiveness. In order for the economy to truly take off, we must implement more business-friendly policies at the federal level. 
What should the federal government do to address growing inequality in America, and in Colorado?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I do not believe that government is the solution for everything. I believe the best way to address income inequality is to ensure businesses can create good-paying jobs. This means lowering taxes and reducing regulations. We also need to make sure everyone gets an equal start, which means safe communities and effective schools.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)The best way to fight inequality is to make sure that the federal government works hard to ensure equality of opportunity. The federal government should not go from industry to industry picking winners and losers. I believe that the American people, when given a level playing field, achieve and succeed at improving their lives. 
What should the federal government do to lower the child poverty rate in Colorado?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

The best way to lift people out of poverty is to ensure they have access to quality education and good-paying jobs. We must make sure that everyone has access to quality education regardless of where they grow up, and that everyone who wants to go to college can. The federal government must also make it easier for companies to grow and hire more employees by lowering taxes and reducing regulations.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)Child poverty comes when parents or guardians are not able to find stable, high-paying jobs that allow them to provide economic security to their families. The federal government needs to reform our broken tax and regulatory system in order to get out of the way of our entrepreneurs and job creators. When they are able to have regulatory stability, and a smaller tax bill from the federal government, they will be able to create more jobs, thereby reducing child poverty. 
Do you support raising the federal minimum wage?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

Yes, but the increase must be graduated so businesses are able to adapt without cutting jobs.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)No. The CBO has estimated that this will cause 500,000 Americans to lose their jobs. Some employers simply won't be able to pay the higher wages and will have to let people go. 
What areas of federal spending should be increased? What should be cut?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I would start my eliminating duplication in federal programs, sell vacant federal properties and unused federal vehicles, and most important, provide better oversight of this president. Finally, we need to stop buying things that the Pentagon and other agencies say they don’t need. Buying obsolete or unneeded equipment costs us billions each year.   

Doug Lamborn (Republican)We live in a dangerous world with new and dynamic threats developing nearly every day. We cannot afford to continue to gut our military budgets. Draconian defense budget cuts are harmful to our nation and place our future security in serious jeopardy. At minimum, we must restore the defense dollars removed by sequestration, a policy I did not support. We must seriously reform our entitlement spending programs to remove waste, fraud, and abuse and to make sure that they are sustainable for the people who truly need them.
What changes should be made to the federal tax code?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I am a pro-growth candidate who believes that government should make it easier for businesses to create jobs or get out of the way. I believe that we need to work in a bipartisan fashion to look at the entire tax code, both corporate and individual income taxes, and figure out the best system that encourages growth and doesn’t penalize success. Both parties have said the tax system needs fixing—but the time for talk is over.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)We need a flatter and more simplified tax code. Wherever we can find tax relief for Americans, we should pursue it. When I served in the Colorado State Legislature, I authored and passed the largest tax cut in Colorado history, so I know how effective tax cuts can be to stimulate economic growth. 
Do you support Common Core standards? Why or why not? 
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I do not support Common Core standards. While Common Core was well intended it has missed the mark and made it more difficult for our educators to do their job. I believe that we need to give parents and teachers the freedom to determine what is best for our students.  

Doug Lamborn (Republican)No. Once again, the president is exceeding the limits of his authority and is using "his pen and his phone" to bypass Congress and implement the Common Core education system. This deeply flawed system moves parents further and further away from the education of their children and stands poised to lower the educational standards of the next generation of American leaders, job creators, and innovators.
Do you believe adults who came to this country illegally should have a path to citizenship? Why or why not? 
Irv Halter (Democrat)

It is time we pass comprehensive immigration reform. First, we must improve border security and crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers. Second, any path to citizenship must be rigorous and require undocumented immigrants to pass background checks, learn English, and pay taxes. And, they must commit to going to school or getting a job. This is not amnesty—it is a well-defined plan to bring undocumented immigrants into the American mainstream. It means they pay taxes instead of getting free schools and health care. Finally, we must reform the legal immigration system. 

Doug Lamborn (Republican)I do not support amnesty of any kind. We must do everything possible to secure our borders before even considering extending blanket amnesty. That's why I worked hard to bring a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office to Colorado Springs. President Obama will not even enforce the current immigration laws on the books, so how can we trust him to enforce any new legislation?
Should marijuana be legalized across the country?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

No. While early signs indicate that the new laws have been successful at bringing marijuana into the mainstream, creating jobs, and generating revenue for the state, there are still many questions about the negative impacts of legalized marijuana. Instead of rushing to vastly expand the legalization of marijuana, I believe that we must continue to monitor the impacts here in Colorado and other states before further legalization should be considered.

Doug Lamborn (Republican) No. 
What is your stance on same-sex marriage?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I believe the government should grant equal legal status to all marriages.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. 
Should the federal government impose new restrictions on the sale or possession of firearms?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

The Constitution, which I defended with my life, guarantees Americans certain freedoms including the right to keep and bear arms. I have been a gun owner my entire life, and I oppose new restrictions on gun purchases and will work to ensure that the rights of law-abiding Coloradans are never infringed. That being said, with all rights come responsibilities. There are some common-sense actions we should take to reduce the chances of firearms being purchased by people we all agree should not be allowed to have them, such as those who are mentally unstable or who have been convicted of felonies. This is why I support universal background checks for all gun purchases.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)No. 
Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I do not believe that we can trust government to interfere in complex decisions made between a women and her doctor. I do support a continued ban on federal funding for abortion. 

Doug Lamborn (Republican)Every life is precious. I am and always have been 100% pro-life.
Should the U.S. be helping arm Syrian rebels to take power away from ISIL--the Islamic extremist group? Why or why not? 
Irv Halter (Democrat)

I support the current actions in Syria. I believe that the president waited too long to act, but it is clear that ISIL poses and imminent threat to our allies and to the homeland.

Doug Lamborn (Republican)Yes, and I voted to support President Obama's strategy to combat ISIL. Arming the Free Syrian Army will open a third front and increase pressure against ISIL. 
What would you do to help this country’s veterans, many of whom have recently returned from war?
Irv Halter (Democrat)

In a district with 100,000 veterans, we need a member of Congress who will fight for our veterans.  Unfortunately, my opponent, who sits on the VA committee failed to show up for more than half the hearings, and recent reports show that my opponent has ignored the needs of local veterans who have asked for his help. I will always stand up for our veterans, and most important I will always show up. 

Doug Lamborn (Republican)As a senior member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee I have supported legislation designed to expand access to care and suicide prevention for veterans. As a member of the exclusive Veterans House Senate Conference Committee, I played a part in negotiating this summer's multi-billion dollar veteran's healthcare legislation. Locally, I helped bring a new national VA cemetery and an expanded, state-of-the-art VA clinic to the Fifth Congressional District. These brave men and women deserve our respect, our thanks, and the benefits they have earned.