U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat and former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, talks with residents and local officials during a town hall meeting Tuesday morning at Centennial Hall.

Photo by Matt Stensland

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat and former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, talks with residents and local officials during a town hall meeting Tuesday morning at Centennial Hall.

Bennet advises holding on to reserves

Freshman senator says health care reform 2nd only to economy


By the numbers

Routt County federal stimulus funds

- $2.2 million to the Routt National Forest to remove beetle-killed trees in Routt, Jackson and Grand counties

- $92,000 to the town of Hayden for sidewalks

- $238,000 to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

- $57,129 to the Steamboat Springs School District

- $39,720 in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants to the city of Steamboat Springs

- $20,580 to the South Routt School District

- $11,961 in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants to Routt County

- Local governments eligible to compete for $2.2 million in competitive stimulus funds available to rural transit agencies for the purchase of new buses

Source: Office of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet


U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., stands in the back row for a group photo with Strawberry Park Elementary School fifth-graders Tuesday. Superintendent Shalee Cunningham, right, showed Bennet around the school after he held a town hall meeting with Routt County residents and local officials.


U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., talks to Strawberry Park Elementary School fifth-graders about the book "My Side of the Mountain" on Tuesday while touring the school.

— Local governments' strategies for confronting the economic crisis received some senatorial validation Monday during a visit by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

Asked by Steamboat Springs resident Bill Moser whether local governments should be using their reserves to stabilize services through the downturn, Bennet said that in his previous positions, including superintendent of Denver Public Schools, his preferred approach has been to preserve reserves and minimize layoffs.

"I can't speak to the particular case, and I don't want to because I want to walk out of here in one piece," said Bennet, who joked that he knew the subject was a touchy one locally. "I've always wanted to try and build reserves and keep them there during tough times. : (If you use reserves,) you're really betting on there being a recovery. If it's not there, you end up having to make the cuts anyway, and then the reserves aren't there."

The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County have made or considered tough budget reductions - such as pay cuts, furloughs and hiring freezes - to combat declining revenues including sales tax. Some have argued that the governments should have dug deeper into their own pockets before slashing pay and reducing levels of service.

While praising fiscal conservatism locally, Bennet also touted a federal budget that is projecting a $1.75 trillion deficit this year, the largest in history. At the national level, Bennet said, such action is necessary to jolt the country out of the longest economic downturn since 1930.

"It's been a very steep ride down this slope," Bennet said. "We have some immediate challenges we have to confront and face down."

Bennet said the budget also fixes "structural flaws" in the federal budget and includes deficit reductions that will reduce the deficit to $508 billion in 2014.

"It took us a long time to get into this mess; it's going to take us a long time to get out," Bennet said. "At least it's putting us on a path toward fiscal responsibility."

Bennet's visit to Steamboat on Tuesday morning was part of the freshman senator's "Recovery in Action" tour of the Western Slope.

Bennet also visited Hayden, Craig, Meeker and Glenwood Springs.

In addition to discussing federal economic stimulus legislation and projects, Bennet touched on energy, education and health care. Gov. Bill Ritter appointed Bennet to the Senate in January after former Sen. Ken Salazar took a Cabinet post in the Obama administration.

After the economy, Bennet said health care reform should be the No. 1 priority of federal lawmakers and the Obama administration this year.

"I don't think it's possible for us to sustain another 10 years like the last 10 years," said Bennet, adding that the U.S. spends 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. "I think it's ripe in a way that it's never been ripe before. It would be a real shame to let the opportunity go by. : We have to get it done."

Bennet guessed that the health care solution will include a combination of private and public plans that maintains the country's current high quality of care, achieves universal coverage and reduces high administrative overhead costs that largely are responsible for annual cost increases.

Bennet also said the Colorado delegation in Washington is working on comprehensive legislation to deal with the effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic across the state.


Scott Wedel 8 years, 1 month ago

Most studies indicate that litigation costs and even defensive medicine, while a problem, is not the big problem.

There are two big problems. First, we spend far more than the rest of the world for medicine provided in the last few months of someone's life. Second, we have sky high administrative costs. Overhead to get insurance company approval to provide care and then again to get paid. The most shocking thing to me is that the current system is so screwed up that doctors want to change the system and it is not to get paid more.

And everyone here is already getting medical care. It is just that the insured are also paying for the uninsured. And the uninsured tend to wait until they are very sick to show up at the emergency room instead of going to a doctor earlier when only somewhat sick.


ybul 8 years, 1 month ago

Health care reform starts with the food we eat. Without reforming that we will never reform health care! A buddy went to the doctor for 3 years to manage his high cholesterol took every drug conceivable and finally ended up taking omega 3 fatty acids to control the problem.

Maybe the government has created our health care woes in subsidizing grain production, to be used in livestock feed sweeteners, etc. that permeate our society. we are a corn nation and have a diet with too many omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3 fatty acids.

Another friend went to the dermatologist to take care of a skin condition. Five different types of prescriptions and lotions later I told him to take flax seed oil, and the rash went away within a week. Too bad we fail to address the root of our problems as opposed to treating the symptom.


seeuski 8 years, 1 month ago

ACORN administering the upcoming census and the Obama administration talking about a path for citizenship for illegals which will add up to 20 million more to the wellfare roles for the new universal healthcare plan that we will have to pay for from increased taxes, not to mention the ballooning of the deficit. Distribution of wealth or in Obama's own words, spreading the wealth around. Happy tax day!


jk 8 years, 1 month ago

ybul, maybe the trillion dollar a year prescription drug companies have something to do with it?


JLM 8 years, 1 month ago

There will be no real healthcare reform until and unless there is tort reform which dramatically reduces the cost of medical risk management. The costs of litigation are enormous and healthcare does not derive a scintilla of benefit from them.

To effectively reduce the cost of healthcare, it will be necessary to wring huge savings out of tort reform, union costs, hospital administration and illegal immigration.

The Obama administration does not have the cojones to attack these legitimate issues and the prospect of real healthcare reform is doomed.

Interestingly enough, the trial lawyers and the insurance companies will ultimately band together to thwart any meaningful tort reform as these blood suckers need each other to feed their own slices of the misery.

Insurance companies need predatory trial lawyers to drive insurance sales while trial lawyers require insurance policies to get paid.

If you think that healthcare is expensive now, just wait until another 20MM uninsured illegals are converted into American citizens. This will be wonderful for both unemployment and healthcare.


ybul 8 years, 1 month ago


Maybe the farm lobby has something to do with it. Maybe it is the legalized plunder of of others wealth that socialism is that fosters this action.

Though you are right in that the drug companies are using our universities to "educate" our doctors on the drugs to be used as they stand to profit. Whereas our food has lost nearly 50% of its nutritional values as it is raised in sterile soils, in the past 100 years. But no one stands to profit from one raising food in a way which ensures it is nutrient dense as you can not patent it.

Maybe that is the reason we are supposed to eat more fruits and vegis as they no longer contain the nutritional content of yesteryear. Go buy an the cheapest egg you can find, an organic egg and then go find an egg raised on a farm outside (on grass and bugs) in the spring time, look at the color difference in the yolks and then tell me an egg is an egg. The one raised on grass and bugs is going to be almost orange, chock full of omega 3 fatty acids where as the cheap egg will be pale yellow and nearly devoid of omega 3 fatty acids. Seeing is believing, don't take my word go and do the experiment yourself.


ybul 8 years, 1 month ago

To the admin costs, uninsured driving up costs and law suits, those are purely topics of our SICK CARE system. They do not address peoples health and only work on treating symptoms of underlying problems caused by toxins in the environment, stress and poor nutrition.

With working towards correcting diets and eliminating toxic exposure people have, we will have high cholesterol, skin disorders, cancer etc. which require medical attention. (at higher rates than we should)


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