Denver Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate John Hickenlooper stopped by David Sirota's radio show on AM 760 Thursday. (the show can be heard in its entirety here) The conversation centered largely on taxes and the economy. Hickenlooper declined to weigh in on the legislation currently in the Colorado Senate that would eliminate certain tax exemptions to close the budget gap, saying he preferred not to insert himself into other elected officials' business.
"When I'm mayor and I'm in the middle of trying to work through the budget, the thing I hate is having other elected officials come in and tell us what we should do and what we shouldn't do."
The Mayor offered few specifics when asked how he would balance the budget and avoid raising taxes, instead speaking to how he would make sure people were aware of the consequences of budgeting.
"During this campaign I will drive all over the state. Is that really what people expect? If they want to get to that level of roads, that they're willing to pay that level of taxes, and I think the job of an elected official is to paint that picture as clearly and viscerally as possible."
Oddly, when asked by Sirota on how he would handle criticism from anti-tax Republicans, Hickenlooper steered the conversation toward a discussion of what causes recessions.
"This is a hard thing for people to get, but a recession like this really is driven by peoples' mental state... We have no less capacity today to make steel and create jobs and grow businesses than we did three years ago. What we lost was the belief in ourselves... I think what this campaign will come down to is to how do we work our way out of this?"
In response, Sirota raised the specter of Phil Gramm, the former McCain campaign economic advisor who was fired for making similar statements to the Washington Times in July, 2008.
Gramm told the Times:
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet... We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline. We've never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today,"
Hickenlooper immediately distanced himself from the comments following Sirota's comparison.
"Obviously people lost jobs. People can't make their car payments... You know... getting evicted... you see divorce rates rising... There's nothing just mental about this, but the country's attitude is very relevant."