Udall: Innovation will lead state out of economic slump

By Peter Meredith

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) brought a message of innovation and fiscal discipline today to the Colorado Springs business community.

“The government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does,” Udall told a lunch sponsored by the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. “We will roll out of this economic difficulty we are in by innovating.”

Answering a question about the impact of budget cuts on the defense industry, Udall said one way forward was for companies to parlay technological advances invented for the military into civilian applications, in areas such as clean technology and communications. “Strong countries build things,” he said.

Udall also spoke of his support for an up-and-down vote in Congress on the findings of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the presidential commission that recommended $200 billion in cuts at the federal level. He said that if the right legislative vehicle could be found to put it into effect, he would vote yes.

That drew concern from Terry Storm, president and CEO of the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, who asked about the commission’s proposal to tighten the tax rules on home mortgage deductions.

Udall said the appeal of adopting the proposal as a whole was that it dealt out the pain equally. “In the long run it has the right priorities,” he said.

“We ought to this year cut some spending, but we need to do it in a smart way,” Udall said. He said entitlements should be reformed so programs such as Social Security remained solvent and the tax code should be reformed too.

Udall did not avoid talk of possible increases in certain taxes. “Let’s have a conversation about increasing the gas tax,” he said.

Udall’s schedule also included meetings with military leaders at US Northern Command and Fort Carson. The senator was appointed to the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence last month.