Independence Institute’s Murrey sees little good in state government


Ben Murrey Photo by Freda Miklin

At the March 1 meeting of the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club at Maggiano’s DTC, Ben Murrey, fiscal policy director for Jon Caldera’s Independence Institute, used a historical quote from James Madison in, “The Interest of the Man,” as an analogy for today’s Republicans and Democrats. He told the group that when the question was posed by Madison, “Who are the best keepers of the people’s liberties?” the Republicans answered that it was the people themselves. The group then known as the anti-Republicans, who Murrey directly linked to today’s Democrats, said, “People are stupid, suspicious, licentious…They cannot safely trust themselves. When they have established government, they should think of nothing but obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their wiser rulers.”

Said Murrey, “The Wall Street Journal, in 2021, reported that national corporations hosting remote jobs for people who live anywhere in the country could apply, but not if you’re from Colorado…because of a wage discrimination law that was passed by politicians here in Colorado that didn’t do anything to prevent wage discrimination…What it did do is make it harder for Coloradans to get hired for jobs.” 

He also said that, “In 2019, Colorado Democrats eliminated 8,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry through new regulations,” according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. 

The Denver Gazette reported on March 13 that Colorado’s unemployment rate in December, 2022 and January, 2023 matched the state’s record-low rate of 2.8%, according to the most recently available data from Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), which also reported that the state’s 33-month job recovery was 116%, compared to the national average of 112%. 

Murrey is a graduate of Hillsdale College, known as a conservative institution. He shared that after studying politics there, he returned to his home state of Texas, where he worked for a little-known candidate, one of 15 vying for an open U.S. Senate seat. That candidate was Ted Cruz, who won the election and took Murrey to Washington with him, where he stayed for seven years, working on tax policy, budget, appropriations, and economics. 

Murrey criticized the Colorado general assembly, where Democrats hold the majority, for having “created billions of dollars in new taxes, most of those disguised as fees” in the past four years, and “taking away tax benefits that business owners enjoyed and replacing them with tax benefits for constituencies that they favor.” 

In Murrey’s view, “We give, we give, we pay our taxes, and what do we get? We get politicians who make our lives harder.” He asserted, “Costs have risen for essential things like food, energy, and shelter in Colorado at a faster pace than any other state in the country, according to a congressional study by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC), which I used to work on.” The Villager verified that the JEC reported that monthly household costs were up $1005 in Colorado in November 2022 compared to the national average of $747. 

He blamed inflation nationally on “the increase in the money supply by the fiscal stimulus financed by the issuance of debt,” but said it was higher in Colorado “because of our elected officials, because of stupid laws.” 

He continued, “After taking unified control of the state in 2019, Democrats began working vigorously to make life less affordable in Colorado,” though he did note that the state reduced the unemployment insurance rate for employers, as well as car registration fees. 

Murrey was less than enthusiastic about free universal preschool for all Coloradans, recently implemented by state government. He described it as, “Democrats take my money and spend it on someone else’s kids and that’s somehow saving me money.” When an audience member pointed out that the program is free to parents of young children, Murrey said, “It’s free if I actually wanted to hand my kids over to the state to be indoctrinated by the state,” adding, “I don’t have any preschool-age kids, but even if I did, I wouldn’t be handing them over to the state.”