Kelley & Kafer Show, Walker Stapleton, October 11, 2016

Station: KNUS, 710 AM

Show:     Kelley & Kafer Show

Guests:  Stapleton, Walker


Date:      October 11, 2016

Topics:  Trump Comments, Trump Tapes, Billy Bush, Sexual Harassment, Amendment 69, Colorado Cares, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Krista Kafer, Top of the Ticket, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ballot, Initiatives, Bernie Sanders, Health Care, Socialized Medicine, Colorado as a Laboratory for Democracy, Single Payer, Vermont, Economic Disaster, T.R. Ried, Federal Healthcare Mandate, Medicaid Expansion, Governing Board, Bureaucrats, Beneficiary, Funding, Outiside Money, Amendment, Energy Industry, Colorado State Constitution, Chairman of the “No on 69” Campaign, Bipartisan Opposition, Irene Aguilar, Canada, Germany, Out of Pocket, Hospital Stay, Emergency Care, Coverage, Raise Taxes, Taxpayer Bill of Rights, TABOR,

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HOST STEVE KELLEY: [00:00:00] Well, this is a guy that we love to talk to. He’s on — he’s on the ‘A’ list, here, when it comes to guests. And we love to have Walker Stapleton, who is the state Treasurer, on the line with us, 710 KNUS. Sorry for making you wait, there, Walker, and thank you for coming on.

COLORADO STATE TREASURER, WALKER STAPLETON: [00:00:16] Not at all. Always good to be with you Steve, with or without Krista.

KELLEY: [00:00:20] I know Krista wanted to be here. We want to not only focus on the top of the ticket, but just a quick comment — maybe an overview from you — about the debate, where this thing is headed at the top of the ticket. You are focused really a lot down ticket and primarily with a lot of the proposals or propositions and amendments and so forth. But give a comment. from your perspective so far.

STAPLETON: [00:00:45] Well, you know, I think it’s a messy situation. It’s an unfortunate situation. I think it’s a lost opportunity to expose the many, many flaws that Hillary Clinton has. I think she’s a very duplicitous individual. And I just wish we could find a way to pull it together. And in the last two months of the campaign, we should be uniting Republicans, not dividing Republicans. So, I’m pretty frustrated, as you might imagine, with the macro- — I guess — state of affairs on the national level, which is why I’m really redoubling my efforts to focus here in Colorado on what’s at stake on the ballot this election cycle, and the nightmare scenario of Amendment 69 which has been put forth by a bunch of Bernie Sanders acolytes as a way to solve our health care problems in the state of Colorado, which will do nothing of the sort, and end up bankrupting our state. And so I’ve really redoubled my efforts to be fighting for the taxpayers here in Colorado against socialized medicine, which is right here on our front doorstep. And if we don’t defeat this thing — Amendment 69 — by a decisive, decisive amount of votes, they’ll bring it back two years from now, or — and then two years from now, and then keep bringing it back until we’re, you know, dumb enough to pass it, which hopefully will never, never be the case.

KELLEY: [00:02:03] You’re right! It seems that this state is used as — I think Bill Clinton, during one of their meetings here a year ago or so said, you know, this is a laboratory for democracy. Little did we know. What is it about Colorado, Walker Stapleton, that seems to be a test market for the rest of the country, in many cases.

STAPLETON: [00:02:23] Well, you know, it’s an interesting question, Steve. This proposal to create a single, state-run, single payer health care system was started in Vermont about four years ago.

KELLEY: [00:02:35] Right.

STAPLETON: [00:02:35] And the governor, Shumlin, campaigned for it. And the legislature passed it. And Shumlin then had his people crunch the numbers — his budget folks — and found out it would bankrupt the state of Vermont, reversed himself on a piece of legislation that he himself had advocated for, showed up in his office the next day and found that his office had been adorned in toaster ovens, with a massive sign outside that said, “You’re toast, Shumlin!” [It was] probably put there by Bernie Sanders.

KELLEY: [00:03:02] Right.

STAPLETON: [00:03:03] Colorado became the next place to try this. Except, in Colorado, the proponents of this knew that there was absolutely no support in the legislature, no support amongst Republicans, and tepid support amongst some Democrats. And they couldn’t get it passed legislatively. And so they decided to make it a ballot initiative. And the problem is that it it’s fairly easy to get stuff on the ballot and change stuff around here in Colorado still. But in order to defeat an initiative like, [it] this takes millions of dollars and takes a concerted effort across the state to educate voters about the economic disaster that will ensue if this thing is passed. And I’ve debated folks, including T.R. Reid who’s the intellectual godfather of this. He’s written a bunch of books on socialized medicine and, you know, how his utopian vision for America where everybody with every chronic condition can get cared for and have their health care paid for, which is just not economically feasible.

KELLEY: [00:04:05] Mm-hmm.

STAPLETON: [00:04:05] But he’s been quite open about the fact that if this fails, that there that they’re going to bring this back in Colorado. And I’ve heard rumblings that Bernie Sanders himself might even make an appearance here on some of the college campuses around our state in order to campaign for this. So–.

KELLEY: [00:04:19] Indeed! Bernie said, “Hey! Look to Colorado!” This was back when he’s campaigning in the primary. Little did he know, the system was rigged! He had no shot! But he said, “Look to Colorado. This could be a template for the rest of the country, here!” That, from Bernie Sanders. But anyway, he’s out of the picture. Make no mistake, Hillary Clinton has aspirations for a single payer system — a nationalized health care. But, what–.

STAPLETON: [00:04:41] Exactly! And the biggest– you know, the biggest irony of this, is that a lot of the people that are the strongest proponents of this are the people that just a couple of years ago were the strong proponents of a federal health care mandate. And because that hasn’t worked out, and that’s been such a disaster — both at the federal level and the state level — as states like Colorado has extended Medicaid, created an exchange where there’s myriad questions around it, where, you know, the co-op failed, where we’ve had major health insurers like UnitedHealth to pull out. Now they’re saying, “No, no, no! That’s not enough! It’s not enough to have a federal health care mandate. Now, the states need to be involved in a single solution to take care of everybody’s health care needs. And this literally — this proposal would literally create a brand new bureaucratic agency from which a board of 21 members — or, actually bureaucrats–swear allegiance–.

KELLEY: [00:05:26] Unelected!

STAPLETON: [00:05:26] Unelected — they’d have their own elections. In fact, you can be a member of this system, as I tell people, and be an-con. I mean, you literally can be a felon, which is very different than voter rolls in Colorado and voter regulations in Colorado, and you can be a member of the system. In fact, the only thing you need to do to qualify to be a beneficiary of ColoradoCare is have a Colorado address. And they say, “Well, don’t worry! We’re going to verify who’s legal and who’s not.” We have enough problems doing that at the federal level. The idea that a brand new state agency is going to be able to verify whether, you know, Ted or Julie — who has an address in Colorado — actually should be a beneficiary not is a joke!

KELLEY: [00:06:08] Yeah. Outside money — who’s funding this, to get [Amendment] 69 going?

STAPLETON: [00:06:16] Uh, this — well, it doesn’t cost –. That’s another problem. It didn’t cost them a ton to get on the ballot — a couple of hundred thousand dollars. There have been a number of wealthy doctors in the Boulder area who stepped forward to fund this, and in a bunch of, you know, social elites — individuals, mainly — that have wanted to see this thing –Colorado be the test tube for this. So, there’s — you know, there’s been–. There hasn’t been a lot of funding on the ‘pro’ side, but there’s been enough to get it on the ballot, and enough to potentially bring it back if we don’t defeat it by a wide margin. And as I tell people, the tax structure of this thing is just absolutely ridiculous. You know, a 10 percent payroll tax on all businesses in the state. In addition to that, a 10 percent tax on every dollar of income that an individual would be earning in the state, whether it be interest income, capital gains, rental income. And a 10 percent tax on all companies doing business in Colorado, even if they’re not domiciled here. Because you’re [inaudible] –.

KELLEY: [00:07:12] On top of what you’re doing — or what you’re paying right now!

STAPLETON: [00:07:12] Exactly.

KELLEY: [00:07:12] By the way, Krista just walked in. I hate to interrupt you, there, Walker, but Krista is here. Welcome!

HOST KRISTA KAFER: [00:07:12] But I’ve got a voice, but no ears. Can you turn me up?

KELLEY: [00:07:24] Oh, sure! That’s my job. Okay. There you go!

KAFER: [00:07:26] There! Ah! Woooh, that’s a bold voice! Hi, Walker! It is so great to have you on the air.

STAPLETON: [00:07:31] How are you?

KAFER: [00:07:32] Very, very good, and thank you for working on behalf of Coloradans against Amendment 69.

STAPLETON: [00:07:37] Thank you!

KAFER: [00:07:37] Now, have you taken a position on any of the other amendments? And, forgive me, there was about a four minute gap between the car and my sitting down. You may have addressed that.

KELLEY: [00:07:43] Oh, he was on a roll, Krista! He was rolling, about –! Yeah, go ahead!

STAPLETON: [00:07:48] Yeah, I would say that most of the amendments are not helpful. I’m against any amendment that’s going to cost Colorado taxpayers more money. And we were lucky to jettison the terrible proposals that would have set back the energy industry, which has had enough setbacks already in the state of Colorado. I think — I was talking with Steve about the process. You know, it is very easy to amend our state constitution. And obviously, Amendment 71 which would change some of that. But for every, you know, good ballot initiative, it’s kind of like getting the black lab in, you know, in a yellow lab litter.

KELLEY & KAFER: [00:08:23] [laughter].

STAPLETON: [00:08:23] You have one black lab. But 9 out of 10 of the puppies are not helpful. And it costs a lot of money to go around the state and defeat these initiatives. And so, you know, I think that — I think that’s something that we need to think very hard about, in terms of potentially making it harder to get some of this junk on the ballot. And Amendment 69 is really where I focus most of my efforts as the Chair of the ‘No’ Campaign, because of the economic damage it will do to our state. And I was saying before you came in, you know, even if this fails the proponents of this are pretty dogged in their determination to bring it back two years from now, or two years later, or, — you know?

KELLEY: [00:09:03] You have got to be pleased, Walker, that even Democrats are siding with you on this one. Krista?

KAFER: [00:09:09] Yeah, you know, I think they’re — you know, they’re occassionally right.

STAPLETON: [00:09:10] Yeah! Some! Some! I will tell you, there’s been a really lack–. I’ve debated the state Senator, Irene Aguilar, who’s responsible for putting this on the ballot. And her whole raison d’être for running for the Senate in the first place in Colorado was to be a proponent of socialized medicine. And so she’s determined to bring this back. But there have really been a lack of folks on a statewide level that have that have outwardly opposed it. They have lent their name, but I think on the Democratic side, a lot of them are scared to run sideways at the Bernie Sanders people.

KAFER: [00:09:50] And that’s a shame. I’d like to see them be bolder, just simply because this is a nightmare! And it’s a nightmare physically. But more importantly, it’s a nightmare to people’s health. As you know, I was just at my orthopedist. I’m like a frequent flyer, and basically, I’ve got like a Franken-body, for all the metal and work I’ve had done on it. But I would leave the state for that reason if 69 were to pass, because I want to see my surgeon. I don’t want to wait three months for it, the way I might in Canada. I don’t want to be given a random person and have no control over my health care, as I would in England. This is a nightmare for patients. It’s a nightmare for providers.

STAPLETON: [00:10:27] Yeah, absolutely! And you know, one of the things — I’ve debated proponents all over the state on this. And one of the things they say is, you know, we’re the most industrialized country in the world and we spend the least amount on health care, and, you know, if Colorado passes [Amendment 69] it will be a catalyst for other states. We can be just like Canada and Germany. Well, we have folks on the ‘no’ side that are from Canada and from Germany. And they have joined me to tell their stories about how, yeah, it’s great if you are just going in for an average checkup and aren’t sick, But, you know, one individual who I’ve spoken to repeatedly tells a story about his father. You know, it took three months to get an MRI. They find a tumor. [It was going to take] six months to operate on the tumor. And he died before he even got a chance to get to the operating table. And the irony is that it creates an even more bifurcated system where people that have the resources are either, you know, crossing borders from Canada into the United States, or they’re paying out of pocket, on top of what they’re already paying, for some sort of expedited concierge service. And the idea that this thing is going to be all encompassing — the problem is, is that, if you read the amendment, it’s totally general in terms of what it covers — it’s general hospital stays, emergency care, but nothing specific! And if you ask the framers of this, “Well, well, so what is exactly — specifically — going to be covered?” They’ll tell you, “Well, we’ll get to that! As soon as the board meets, we’re going to decide what we’re going to cover.” Well, from a cost standpoint, they’re going to have to either raise our taxes even more than the twenty five billion dollars that they admit that they are going to raise it, or else they are going to have to start excluding conditions for what is going to be covered, — or both!

KELLEY: [00:12:02] Pass it, and then you can find out what’s in it! With this unelected board, here, of who knows, and where they’re coming from. How does this square with TABOR? Is that a dumb question? I mean, — go ahead!

STAPLETON: [00:12:12] It doesn’t square with TABOR, which is why the amendment specifically gives the board the power to raise taxes outside of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. And they say, “Well, that –. It says clearly that, you know, that we were able to raise these taxes from our members, and the members or all of the state of Colorado.” Well, they’re going to create their own criteria for who members are, outside of the Secretary of State’s office. So, I don’t subscribe to the fact that their members are all the voters in Colorado, because it’s a different system to qualify to be a member than it is to be a voter in the state of Colorado. And why — if you didn’t try and subvert TABOR, why would you specifically put in the Amendment that they have the power to raise taxes and fees, outside of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. More often, on an annual basis, all sorts of different exceptions are given to them. The best exception of all, is that if they find that they can’t get the federal matching dollars needed in order to implement this thing — approximately 13 billion [dollars]. The whole cost of this thing is at least — by the proponents admission — 38 billion, which makes it larger than 3m, GE, Apple, all sorts of different big companies out there. But if they can’t get the 13 billion dollars in federal matching money, they can vote to disband. In which case, we will have total anarchy around our health care system in Colorado. Because people will say, “Well, wait a second! I’m covered under United on the health care exchange!” or, “I’m covered by CIGNA outside of the exchange.” But now, we passed this thing, and it’s — and they voted to disband it, even though it’s [inaudible] in our Constitution. And meanwhile, the healthcare providers and insurance companies aren’t going to wait around to find out what’s happening. They’ll start canceling policies and leave the state.

KELLEY: [00:13:52] What a mess!

STAPLETON: [00:13:52] So, that would be a disaster, a total disaster!

KAFER: [00:13:52] It’s like going into surgery, where you’re not sure what the surgeon is going to do. You don’t know what it’s going to cost. You don’t know if you’re going to come out missing an arm or a leg, and in this case, you may end up with missing all four limbs! This is a nightmare.

KELLEY: [00:14:05] Or a veternarian comes in and works on you!

KAFER: [00:14:06] And you end up with a tail!

KELLEY: [00:14:07] Yeah! You get — what do you call it? — neutered!

KAFER: [00:14:11] [laughs].

KELLEY: [00:14:11] Oh, sorry! We’re almost out of time, here, Walker, but just a final thought here: I think we get the clear message [that] this is not good! And it transcends politics.

STAPLETON: [00:14:24] Yeah it does. It does. I will say, one of the reasons why I’ve really enjoyed being engaged with this issue as much as I have been over the last couple of months, is because I think it creates a fantastic opportunity for elected officials in Colorado who are conservative to go around and talk about economic policy issues around our state. And what you find out is that when you do that, overwhelmingly, people side with you. When you’re talking about economic commonsense, when you’re talking about matters of the purse or the wallet –. You know, I’ve done this with the pension system until I’m blue in the face. I’ve done this now with the health care system. I think it is a way forward — and is a path forward — for people who are conservatives to talk about economic and fiscal policy issues, which is which is high ground for us. And I’m just — it’s unfortunate we don’t do enough of that.

KELLEY: [00:15:14] Harvard University trained, Harvard Business School, he is a second term State Treasurer. Walker Stapleton, you’re the man! Thank you!

STAPLETON: [00:15:22] Thank you, guys! T.

KAFER: [00:15:24] Thanks, Walker. Have a great day, and we’ll have you on again in the future.

STAPLETON: [00:15:28] Take care.