Colorado Congressional District 7 Race: Perlmutter, Athanasopoulos And Buchanan On The Issues

October 11, 2016
Photo: Perlmutter, Athanasopoulos, Buchanan
From left: Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Republican George Athanasopoulos and Libertarian Martin L. Buchanan.

Republican George Athanasopoulos and Libertarian Martin L. Buchanan are challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado's 7th Congressional District, which covers the western and northern suburbs of Denver.

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As of June 30, Perlmutter had raised nearly $1.5 million, Athanasopoulos a little more than $21,000, and Buchanan $0. Updated figures are due from the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 15.

Perlmutter, Buchanan and Athanasopoulos answered the following questions about issues they may face if elected.

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

Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I believe federal spending should reflect our priorities as a nation which I believe include working class families, students, veterans, workforce training, renewable energy, national defense, space exploration and innovation and technology."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"None. The federal debt stands just short of $20 Trillion. That averages to over a quarter million dollars for every American under the age of 18. That we would burden our children with that level of debt is unconscionable."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Almost all should be cut. I've written a book, free on my website, proposing a trillion dollars in annual cuts."
Do you support the Paris climate change deal that the U.S. agreed to in 2015? Why or why not?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"Yes, because it establishes a long-term framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement marks the first time that more than 190 countries have come together to determine national climate targets and commit to move toward clean energy and sustainable growth. International cooperation and engagement to combat climate change is imperative to ensure we leave a healthy and sustainable planet for future generations."
George Athanasopoulos (Republican)"No. The very foundation of the agreement is flawed. Let's skip premise and plan of action and cut to enforcement. How can this possibly good for the United States? This agreement is wholly without merit."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Yes. Global warming is real and major."
What is the one thing the federal government could do that would have the biggest positive impact on Colorado's economy?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I believe the federal government could improve Colorado's economy by reducing the student loan debt. This means letting students refinance their student loans just as with any other type of debt and increasing the level of funding for Pell grants. In addition, I believe the federal government could help boost Colorado's working families with policies such as paid family leave, child care tax credits and a credit for first-time homebuyers."
George Athanasopoulos (Republican)"Further delay or, better yet, rescind the EPA’s proposed ozone standard of between 65 and 70 parts per billion."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"A permanently balanced budget, a completely new tax code, and ending the drug war."
How should the federal government balance the need for affordable energy with its stated goal of shifting to higher-cost renewable sources?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"In order to combat climate change and become more energy independent, the federal government needs to get serious about investing in renewable energy sources. By offering more incentives and investing in newer, more efficient technologies, the U.S. can continue shifting to renewable energy sources while also making them accessible and affordable."
George Athanasopoulos (Republican)"This is not an issue for the federal government to decide. There is no constitutional authority for such determinations. This is an issue for the states."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"A carbon tax, perhaps with the fee and dividend approach."
Should western states, including Colorado, assume control of federally owned land? (See here for a good explanation of this issue.) Why or why not?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"No. I don't believe states should assume control of federally managed public lands for several reasons: 1) the incredible financial burden it places on state budgets; 2) the risk of overdevelopment and lack of land preservation; and 3) the economic blow to the outdoor recreation and tourism industry in Colorado and across the west. Our public lands are an American treasure, and we have a responsibility to safeguard them for future generations."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Yes. The Constitution contains a 10th amendment for a reason."

Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Some federal lands should become state or private lands and some should expand conserved areas."
What are one or two changes you would like to see to federal gun laws?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"After the countless tragedies our country has been through because of gun violence, I believe it is incumbent for Congress to take action on common sense gun violence prevention measures. I believe this starts with legislation to expand and strengthen the background check system, legislation to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists ("No Fly, No Buy"), and legislation to provide resources for mental health crisis intervention services."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Not to beat a dead horse but under what authority does the federal government abridge the 2nd amendment? Would journalists accept the same qualifications concerning the 1st amendment?"
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Unsure as this is not my area of expertise."
Do you want to keep the Affordable Care Act and possibly make minor changes, overhaul it, or eliminate it? Please explain.
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is improving and enhancing the health of millions of Americans across the country, and it needs to be upheld. There are a few legislative fixes I support including but not limited to the following: a two-year delay on high-cost insurance plans otherwise known as the "Cadillac Tax", a two-year delay of the 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales known as the "Medical Device Tax", and a health insurance measure which would help reduce insurance premiums."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Eliminate it. Go to my website to find out more."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Eliminate it and make major reforms to reduce government distortions of health care markets, for example in drug prices."
College has become unaffordable for many Americans. What would you do to make it more affordable?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I have worked to ensure costs of higher education are not unreasonable by supporting policy proposals to increase the level of available Pell grants, allow borrowers to refinance their debt at the same low rates offered to new borrowers, and to increase the maximum tax deduction for interest paid on any qualified education loan. I also support President Obama's proposal to offer two years of community college free to every student."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"College became unaffordable when the federal government took over student loans. Now Universities can increase tuition and fees without suffering negative market consequences and students with impossible to repay loans cannot discharge them in bankruptcy. Democrats broke our system and the only way to fix it is to get the federal government out of the student loan business. (Note: I did not say stop providing Pell or other federal grants.)"
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"End federal involvement in education, which has greatly increased college costs and increased student debt."
Should the federal government play any role in making housing more affordable in places like Colorado? If so, what should it do?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"While affordable housing is primarily a state issue, I believe the federal government can increase funding for programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), New Markets Tax Credits, and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). In addition, my legislation, the Tenant Income Verification Act, which became law in 2014 helps to reduce the regulatory burden on public housing authorities and fixed-income tenants. This legislation and other similar pieces of legislation can help ensure we are breaking down barriers to affordable housing."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Absolutely not."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"No."
Do you believe adults who came to this country illegally should have a path to citizenship? Why or why not? 
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform and believe we need to establish a legal path to citizenship for people who have not committed any crimes, are paying taxes and are learning English. This includes securing our borders, cracking down on organized crime and human trafficking, and streamlining and modernizing the visa process to hire specific or temporary workers legally and efficiently."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"No. They broke the law and should not be rewarded for their transgressions."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Yes. We need many more immigrants, not fewer."
What should the federal government do to address growing income inequality in America, and in Colorado?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I believe we must raise the minimum wage, which is why I support Colorado's Amendment 70 which will be on the ballot this year. I also want to ensure those who are doing the same work as their counterparts - regardless of their race or gender - are receiving equal pay. I believe we can also work to address this issue through access to job training programs as well as helping to maintain an affordable cost of living through affordable housing options, transportation programs, and more."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"I would point out that unfettered immigration has flooded the labor market, depressing wages. I would further point out that corporate rent-seeking has become its own cottage industry. Incomes in the United States are diverging because of government inaction on the one hand and corruption on the other. If we want to stop this trend, we have to reform government."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"End counter-productive policies, like high marginal tax rates and occupational regulation."
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?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I supported the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) because it requires oversight, accountability, and transparency while allowing more tailoring to local needs. ESSA provides the support and resources states and school districts need to increase teacher quality, improve low-performing schools and establishes a comprehensive state-designed accountability system rather than using the one-size-fits-all approach of No Child Left Behind."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Absolutely not. Government involvement in education is built on the premise that the government knows better than parents do about what’s best for all of our children. The less government involvement in education, the better."
Martin L. Buchanan
Libertarian)
"One slogan is no better than the other. Get the federal government entirely out of education and give families control of all education dollars for home, private, religious, or government schools."
If elected or re-elected, what one piece of legislation would you focus on? 
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"There are several. I plan to continue making it a priority to tackle the burden of student loan debt for our young people, for working families, and for Colorado's economy. I also plan to continue to work with our aerospace community to bring good paying jobs to our state and to make sure the new VA hospital in Aurora is completed and open to our Veterans who need and deserve it."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Repeal the 15-year old Authorization for Use of Military Force and introduce legislation invoking and enforcing the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide to confront the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East."
Martin L. Buchanan (Libertarian)"A balanced budget amendment."
Should marijuana be legalized across the country? Why or why not?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I believe it is up to the voters of each state to decide whether recreational and/or medical marijuana should be legalized. Colorado residents are among 213 million Americans who now live in a jurisdiction with some sort of accepted marijuana laws. For the states that have legalized some form of marijuana, as Colorado has, I believe it is time we align federal and state laws to allow legitimate businesses access to the banking system."

George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)

"Marijuana should be decriminalized at the federal level and the decision of legalization should be left to the states."
Martin L. Buchanan (Libertarian)"Yes. The drug war is a failure."
What should the federal government do to improve the long-term financial viability of Medicare and Social Security?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I oppose efforts to privatize Social Security or dismantle Medicare. We must uphold this promise to our seniors. This is an issue Congress needs to tackle and I support further Congressional oversight and investigation on identifying ways to keep Medicare and Social Security solvent. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress in maintaining these important and necessary programs.
"
George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)
"Based on current revenue projections, entitlements and service on the national debt will crowd out all discretionary spending in approximately a decade, depending on interest rates. If we do not massively reform entitlements now, in a dozen or so years, we will only have three options. 1. Massive tax increases. 2. Crash reform. 3. Default on our sovereign debt. I prefer entitlement reform now to put these programs on a fiscally sustainable path moving forward."
Martin L. Buchanan (Libertarian)"Make Medicare a high-deductible plan and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Raise the Social Security retirement age."
Do you support raising the federal minimum wage? Why, or why not?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"Yes, I believe everyone should have the opportunity to earn a fair wage."
George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)
"No. Basic economics clearly shows that raising the minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs and increasing levels of labor replacement. This will harm, not help, the most vulnerable populations in our society."
Martin L. Buchanan (Libertarian)"No. Abolish the minimum wage."
What changes should be made to the federal tax code?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I believe Congress needs to focus on comprehensive tax reform because the code is littered with special interest tax breaks that favor the wealthy over hard working Americans."
George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)
"Our tax code, and the entire economic structure of government, was designed to favor those who can afford the pay-for-play economy and the government class. This is wrong. If elected, I will fight for a low rate, broad-base flat tax without any loopholes."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)

"Replace the present system with two flat taxes, one on personal income and a value-added tax paid by business, both Constitutionally limited."

What can Congress do to ensure timely medical care for veterans?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"Since I first took office in 2007, completing the new VA Medical Center in Aurora has been one of my top priorities. The facility will serve Veterans from Montana to New Mexico and will work to improve medical care for our Veterans. Unfortunately, I've heard from too many Veterans facing challenges with the Choice Program. We must maintain rigorous oversight of the program and continue to look in to the problems plaguing the VA. I've also cosponsored legislation to help modernize and provide new tools to the VA as they work to eliminate the backlog and improve processing of new medical claims. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure our Veterans receive the care they need and deserve once they return home."
George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)
"To start, pass a VA Accountability Act. The fact that veterans in the United States commit suicide at a rate of one every 72 minutes is a national disgrace. That veterans calling a VA crisis hotline can’t always speak to a live person defies reason considering the VA has 345,000 civilian employees. After dealing with this crisis, the federal government should empower veterans with the ability to choose what’s best for themselves in terms of healthcare while moving the VA to zero-based budgeting."
Martin L. Buchanan (Libertarian)"Continued oversight."
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?
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"I believe the U.S. should continue to aggressively fight ISIS and destroy its capabilities as we continue to do by conducting airstrikes every 2 1/2 hours and with more than 3,000 advisors and special operations forces on the ground. We must continue to stay vigilant against international and domestic threats while doing what we can to provide refuge for some of the most vulnerable people, especially the women and children coming from Syria."
George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)
"The entire premise of this question is flawed. To start, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 75, acknowledging that there is an ongoing genocide in the Middle East. Among the targeted groups, Christians are being expelled or exterminated at a rate that would leave the Holy Land without Christians in approximately 10 years. Given these facts, of the 10,000 Syrian refugees accepted by the United States, only 56 were Christians. Most refugees were poorly screened, military aged Sunni Muslim males. As for what to do about this Humanitarian disaster, please scroll up six questions."  
Martin L. Buchanan (Libertarian)"We should have no role in Syria but should generously admit refugees."
Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions? Please explain.
Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)"Support. A woman's right to choose is a personal healthcare decision that should be between her and her doctor."
George Athanasopoulos
(Republican)
"I oppose it and I approach the issue as an advocate for the child."
Martin L. Buchanan
(Libertarian)
"Keep most abortions legal, without tax funding."

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