Zappolo mixes light touch with tough questions in interview with Coffman about Social Security, flat tax

In late September, on KNUS’ Kelley and Company, Rep. Mike Coffman said Social Security was “obviously” a ponzi scheme.

Kelley let it fly by, but I thought this should have been picked up by journalists, since it came from Coffman, especially given that Rick Perry, who was surging at the time, had just called Social Security a ponzi scheme.

After I posted it on my blog, Coffman’s comment was reported by national blogs and, later, by a Post columnist, but not a single reporter asked Coffman to comment further.

Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I missed an subsequent interview in October with Coffman on Fox 31’s Zappolo’s People, a weekly interview program that airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Channel 31.

Fox 31 anchor Ron Zappolo usually asks his guests tough questions, so the show has an underlying edge, but his questions are often sufficiently surrounded with light chatty stuff that his interviewees don’t get defensive; they answer with more honesty than they otherwise might, like on a lot of talk radio.

In this segment of the Coffman interview, Zappolo begins by shaking his finger at Coffman and smiling to Coffman and into the camera, as if Coffman were an old friend:

Zappolo: You are never afraid to say controversial things.

Coffman: It’s true.

Zappolo: I’ll give you just a couple. You went on somewhere the other day and said that Social Security is a ponzi scheme. You’ve also talked about how all ballots should be in English. Correct?

Coffman: Right.

Zappolo: Do you ever think about, as a politician, some of these things, I might be better off steering away from?

Coffman: You know, no. [smiles] My staff wishes I would. [laughs]

Zappolo: The honesty comes out. [laughs]

Coffman: But I don’t. The thing with Social Security. I think it is, although I agreed with ponzi.

Zappolo: You scared people in your district who are 65 and over.

Coffman: I think a lot of people, and I made my best effort to get them to understand. Quite frankly, the program is going to be there for them. It’s just the younger generation that it’s not going to be there for. And so the sooner we can reform it, and I think if we reformed it it now, I think there are analyses that say for people 55 and older, we can leave it the same. For 55 and younger we are going to have to phase up the age up to age 70 to make it work. And so I think we can certainly make it work.

Zappolo also gently raised the question of whether Coffman supports a flat tax, another controversial topic:

Zappolo: What do you think of the candidates who believe in a flat tax?

Coffman: I think the flat tax has tremendous value.

Zappolo: You don’t think it hurts the lower income—

Coffman: No, I don’t think it does because I think there are, the way that it’s defined, or there’s a provision in there that has to be defined, and that is where is there an exception on it, in terms of lower income people. So you can easily do that. But I think we are at a point now where about half of Americans have an income ┬átax liability, and then it’s very progressive from that point forward.

Zappolo’s show isn’t always political, which makes for a great change for a person like me who takes in too much politics. As a general newsmaker show, his program stands out locally among TV interview show, most of which are focus more narrowly on politics or sports.

Mike Coffman talks about Social Security with Zappolo:

Mike Coffman talks about the flat tax with Zappolo:

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