Colorado: What’s at Stake This Year

Photograph by Win McNamee/Getty Images

University of Denver students Zach Gonzales, left, and Dia Mohamed stand in for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during a dress rehearsal for tomorrow's presidential debate on October 2, 2012 in Colorado.

More than 2.4 million ballots were cast the last time Coloradans voted for a president.

So whose policies matter to the electorate in the state that will host the first presidential debate of the season, one of few states which the candidates are most heavily contesting?

Taxes on high-income earners? President Barack Obama’s plan to roll back the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes above $200,000 for individuals affect about 79,000 filers in the state, or just 3 percent of the population, according to a Bloomberg Government Study released today. Those millionaires who might pay more under a separate proposal known as the Buffett Rule? There are about 4,300 in the state.

Challenger Mitt Romney wants to eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends for households with income of less than $200,000. That helps about 36 percent of Colorado households, according to the study by BGOV senior economic analyst Nela Richardson and legislative analyst Melissa Avstreih.

Overall, Colorado’s economy is in decent shape. The state lost 61,000 jobs in the last four years, a 2.6 percent decline. Its most recently reported unemployment rate is about 8.2 percent, slightly higher than the national average. Romney would reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition, which could cost the state 4,000 jobs.

About 21 percent of Colorado’s mortgage holders are underwater, about the same as the national average. About 6 percent of the state’s mortgages are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure, compared with 12 percent nationally.

Avstreih and Richardson also reviewed the potential effects of sequestration, the automatic spending cuts set to begin in January.

Defense contracts in the state could be slashed by $590 million, and Medicare providers could have their payments reduced by $210 million under the automatic cuts unless Congress and the president agree on an alternative deficit reduction plan. The election could determine whether such a deal is possible.

 

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