Colorado Democrat: Yes to Tax Cut Extension. Maybe for Everyone

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said middle class tax cuts scheduled to expire in January should be extended, but he disagreed with his Republican challenger during their first debate Saturday night over tax cuts for the rich.

Bennet said he wasn't convinced that tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year should be continued, although he said he would consider a temporary extension.

"Cutting taxes from the very wealthiest Americans, borrowing from the Chinese to pay for it and sticking our kids with the bill is not what I would call fiscal responsibility," Bennet said.

But Republican Ken Buck insisted that all of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush should be extended, adding that wealthy earners are often also employers and could use the extra cash to hire more workers.

"My view is, you're entitled to your money," Buck said.

The first debate between Bennet and Buck Saturday was largely cordial, though the two bickered toward the end over an attack ad being aired by Bennet that uses snippets of remarks made by Buck to present him as too conservative.

Buck and several news organizations have described the ad as misleading.

For example, the ad suggests Buck wants to end federal student loans. Buck has questioned the government takeover of student-loan companies but hasn't suggested ending loans for "middle-class kids," as the ad asserts.

Bennet defended the ad and said he wouldn't take it off the air. Buck asked him why independent news organizations have questioned the ad.

"They're mistaken," Bennet said.

"Everyone's mistaken but you?" Buck asked in response.

Bennet defended a comment he makes on the campaign trail that has become fodder for conservative attacks.

Bennet frequently complains that the nation has a $13 trillion debt and "nothing to show for it." Bennet repeated the assertion and said the nation needs to invest more in its infrastructure.

Buck and other Republicans have said it was wrong for Bennet to vote for last year's stimulus package if he believed we'd have nothing to show for it.

On foreign policy, both candidates said military action against Iran shouldn't be ruled out. They agreed that the U.S. should consider military action if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.

Buck and Bennet have only one more scheduled debate, an appearance next month on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Both campaigns have said additional debates are in the works.