Thursday Open Thread

“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”

–Lord Acton

Can Republicans Write Different Ending to Obamacare Repeal Story?

UPDATE #3: Denver7’s Blair Miller quantifies the damage locally:

Senate Republicans’ latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would quickly cost Colorado at least $6 billion in federal funds, and could end up taking $78 billion from the state in the long-term, according to new analysis out Wednesday.

The Graham-Cassidy amendment, named after its writers, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., has until Sept. 30 to pass the Senate with a simple majority vote.

Afterward, due to parliamentary rules, the Senate would need 60 votes to pass a repeal-and-replace measure.

The Congressional Budget Office has said it won’t have enough time to do a full analysis of the amendment before it’s brought to the floor, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday would likely happen next week. So other organizations are stepping in to try and analyze the amendment before a possible vote.

—–

UPDATE #2: The Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill would most certainly NOT be good for Colorado, as this graphic from CNN illustrates:

—–

UPDATEMark Matthews of the Denver Post has more reaction from Colorado’s delegation:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Wednesday did not give a firm “yes” or “no” when asked about his potential support for the GOP’s latest proposal to unwind the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m trying to get some more information on it,” Gardner said during a brief hallway interview outside a confirmation hearing for Colorado jurist Allison Eid. “(We are) looking into the numbers. We don’t have the numbers that we think we need to make a decision.”…

…When asked about what specific information he would need to make a decision on Graham-Cassidy, Gardner said, “just additional information.”

Yeah, right. The only “additional information” Gardner needs is a specific time and place for when he is supposed to show up and vote YES. But we’ll give Matthews and the Post credit for noting Gardner’s bullshitty tendencies:

Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, made similar comments before his votes this summer on every other major GOP health care bill attempting to undo Obamacare that came before the U.S. Senate. He supported all of those pieces of legislation. [Pols emphasis]

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver), meanwhile, continues to express adamant opposition to the Graham-Lindsey legislation:

“I can’t decide whether this is Groundhog Day or the definition of insanity: Every attempt is worse than the last.”

—–

 

(more…)

At Least She’s Not Your Legislator (All Lives Splatter Edition)

State Rep. Lynne DiSanto (R-SD).

USA TODAY connects us to the story of GOP Rep. Lynne DiSanto of South Dakota, who employed a most unfortunate visual to spell out her apparently visceral dislike for left-wing protesters:

A Republican state lawmaker in South Dakota faced calls to apologize Tuesday after she shared an image on Facebook depicting protesters being hit by a vehicle under the caption, “All Lives Splatter.”

Rep. Lynne DiSanto shared the image Sept. 7, less than one month after a driver plowed through counter protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.

The Box Elder Republican deleted the post Tuesday after it was circulated by members of progressive groups, who called on the lawmaker to apologize.

“To put up a meme that pretty much encourages violence and possibly murder, that’s inappropriate. She’s a community leader and an elected official,” said Lori Miller, a spokeswoman for the group Indivisible Rapid City. “Not only is she inciting violence, she is targeting a certain race of people.”

Here’s what she posted:

After the attack in Charlottesville, Virginia in August involving a vehicle driven at high speed into a crowd of counterprotesters against a white supremacist rally…for God’s sake, do we have to explain why this is a problem for a sitting Republican lawmaker to post something like this? Really? A short while later came this sort-of-but-not-really apology:

“I am sorry if people took offense to it and perceived my message in any way insinuating support or condoning people being hit by cars,” DiSanto said. “I perceived it differently. I perceived it as encouraging people to stay out of the street.”

Apparently we do have to spell it out, gentle readers. Apparently we do.

Polis Lands Big Endorsement in Governor’s Race

As Joey Bunch writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

In some races, certain endorsements matter much more than others, and Jared Polis bagged a big one early in the Democratic race for governor Wednesday.

Colorado Politics is the first to report that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers is backing the congressman from Boulder in the nine-candidate Democratic primary. Polis, in turn, cites the union’s role in his energy and infrastructure plans…

…While labor unions aren’t as politically potent as they used to, the endorsement remains coveted in Democratic circles.

This is a big deal for Polis, particularly in a competitive Democratic primary for Governor. Along with SEIU (nurses, janitors) and UFCW (grocery workers), the IBEW is one of the most influential labor unions in Colorado. Labor unions won’t necessarily follow the same path of candidate endorsements in a high-profile race, but landing IBEW certainly gives Polis an advantage in courting support from other labor groups.

Polis is already the frontrunner in the Democratic Primary, and endorsements like this are particularly important because of who doesn’t receive them; this is the kind of support that candidates such as Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston desperately need in order to differentiate themselves with Democratic voters next June.

Special Session Shenanigans Nearing Point of Absurdity

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

As the countdown to the October 2nd kickoff of a special session of the Colorado General Assembly to address a drafting error in legislation this year that’s costing special tax districts like RTD Denver millions in uncollected marijuana tax revenue, 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman tried to sort out earlier this week the whys and wherefores:

Colorado’s 100 state lawmakers will trudge up the capitol steps for at least three days of extra work in October—all because of a technical error in a bill they passed earlier this year.

The major political parties don’t agree on whether this is an emergency that warrants calling a special session—the next regular session in only months away in January—but they do at least agree on what the problem is…

By removing marijuana from the group of things subject to regular sales taxes, special districts and other limited purpose governmental entities could no longer collect sales tax on retail marijuana.

“Consequently, those entities have experienced, and will continue to experience, reductions in revenue that jeopardize their ability to provide services to their constituents… a correction is needed to ensure services are not unintentionally diminished,” said Hickenlooper in the executive order.

As we discovered late last week, Republicans not only are aware of the error in this legislation that’s costing special districts millions, GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg had already filed a draft bill for the 2018 legislative session to fix the error. In their initial angry response to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s executive order calling the special session, Republicans never once mentioned this critical detail.

After we exposed the existence of a Republican bill to accomplish the goal of the special session last Friday, Sen. Sonnenberg responded:

The problem? That statement is ridiculous. Every month that goes by is costing money to these special districts, something that everyone agrees was not intended. Waiting until January would cost RTD alone an estimated $3 million–far more than the cost of a special session. If the problem is worth fixing at all, why would you not avert the loss of millions of dollars to these districts by acting now? It just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the real problem: Sen. Sonnenberg, the prime Republican sponsor of this year’s grand bargain legislation that included the drafting error cutting off special districts from marijuana tax revenue and a possible future congressional candidate, has taken heavy fire from far-right activists at the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity for what they see as an apostasy against the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Their position, that a statewide campaign and vote was needed to make the changes in this year’s bill, wasn’t agreed with by Gov. Hickenlooper, the state’s Republican attorney general, or the majority of legislators–and in the end AFP lost the fight and SB267 was signed into law.

Now that this mistake has been discovered that is costing special tax districts millions of dollars, these same activist groups are pressuring Republicans to not fix the problem at all:

As you can see, AFP-Colorado has leapt right past the question of whether to fix the problem now or wait until January–by declaring that any such fix requires a statewide vote of the people. That’s not a position either directly or indirectly supported by legal opinions from the AG or rulings by the Supreme Court, who have consistently interpreted TABOR in favor of allowing the state to carry out basic functions–and yes, to get around TABOR’s obtrusive yet narrow wording where necessary in order to do so.

Look, we get that TABOR’s defenders view it as obligative to defend the 1992 law’s provisions to to the smallest semantic detail, but in this case they are rapidly descending into self-reinforcing nonsense. No reasonable observer of this process would conclude it’s justified to demand a multimillion-dollar statewide election campaign to fix a drafting error in legislation that is doing immediate harm. If anything, this dogmatic insistence on manufacturing an unworkable situation from a simple drafting error exposes the underlying motivations of the law’s defenders: to make it harder to govern. To blame the system instead of fixing the error. To use the hurdles TABOR imposes to break government, not to fix it.

This kind of intransigent nonsense may be what TABOR’s convicted felon tax cheat author intended, but the 52% of Colorado voters in 1992 who voted for TABOR should be horrified by the destructive nonsense their vote 25 years ago is being used to justify today.

Gardner Wants Obamacare Replacement to Make Colorado Better, But No GOP Bill Does This

(“Undecided” for Gardner is another word for “Whatever Mitch wants” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is a glorified page at this point in his career.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has told multiple reporters he’s undecided on the latest GOP bill to kill Obamacare, in part, as he told KOA radio this morning, because he wants to see “whether Colorado is better or worse” under the legislation.

But every analysis of the bill so far, like the one from the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, shows that Colorado will be worse off.

Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters yesterday that the legislation would cost the state $800 million to $1 billion in federal health-care dollars.

And it’s widely predicted that millions of people would lose health insurance under the latest GOP bill, just as they would under previous Republican proposals that upend Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for children, elderly, disabled, and other poor people.

So it’s hard to know what information Gardner is waiting for.

In fact, when asked directly by Denver Post political reporter Mark Matthews what specific information he’s looking for, Gardner replied, “just additional information.”

Strangely, though, Gardner told KDMT’s Jimmy Sengenberger last month that the Cassidy-Graham bill would put the country in the “right direction” on health care and “could result in a 42 percent increase in funding for the state of Colorado.”

Gardner did not divulge where he got this information and a call to his office was not immediately returned today.

On KOA radio, Gardner said of the latest Obamacare replacement bill, “I hope it has bipartisan participation and support.”

It’s not clear why Gardner or anyone would express hope for the unreal outcome of bipartisan support, given the GOP’s seven-year partisan campaign to kill Obamacare. Could Gardner possibly be trying to score political points with rhetoric that’s completely divorced from reality?

Here are Gardner’s full comments from KOA, followed by his comments to The Post.

(more…)

Michael Hancock Getting Ready Early for Third Term Campaign

Good politicians with strong political organizations understand that the best way to win an election is to prevent top opponents from ever entering the race.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock won’t be up for re-election until May 2019, but he’s already working to clear the road for his third term. Hancock is holding a “reception” tonight with some very prominent names on the host list, including House Speaker Crisanta Duran, businessman Zee Ferrufino, former Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo, and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

You’ll notice that most of the names on this list are those of well-known Latino politicos in the Denver area, which is certainly by design. A list of supporters like this will undoubtedly make any potential Latino candidates think twice about taking on the two-term incumbent Mayor of Denver. Sure, there is a lot that can happen between now and Spring 2019 that could change the dynamics of the next municipal elections in Denver, but the wise move for any incumbent is to get out in front of possible challengers as soon as possible.

Tonight’s event is not being billed as an official “kick-off” for Hancock’s third term, but the message it sends is unmistakable.

Wednesday Open Thread

“When we believe ourselves in possession of the only truth, we are likely to be indifferent to common everyday truths.”

–Eric Hoffer

Only Trump Can Fix Immigration, Says Mike Coffman (Yes, Really)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

As the debate over immigration policy in the United States endures the hard shake of President Donald Trump and the hard-line slate of policies he promised on the campaign trail, fellow Republicans hoping to chart a politically survivable path through the chaos on this explosive issue are having a very difficult time. Nationally one of the most frequently-cited examples of this is Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, whose “evolution” on immigration since redistricting forced him out of Tom Tancredo’s old constituency and now placing Coffman necessarily at odds with Trump’s plans for a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

Except, as Real Clear Politics reported over the weekend, maybe that’s not true? Does Coffman actually see Trump as a savior on immigration?

Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents a swing district in Colorado and has been a strong supporter of protecting Dreamers, said Trump might be able to convince even his most conservative supporters to back such a deal.

“He’s got the credibility in terms of being tough on immigration and I think he’s the only one, probably, within the Republican Party that can solve this issue,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Subsequent to the announced deal with congressional Democratic leadership and the Trump administration on protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program beneficiaries, there’s been an uptick in speculation about the possibility that a President elected on what can be accurately described as the most anti-immigrant platform in modern history might be able to broker a grand bargain on the issue–to include resolution of status for all undocumented immigrants in the United States and “border security” consistent with keep Trump’s promises to build a wall on the southern border. Since that time, as Trump sought to reassure his base that he wasn’t “caving” on the campaign’s hard line, much of that confidence has dissipated. Negotiations are nonetheless reportedly ongoing this week, and we’re all obliged to wait for news there.

In the meantime, this is another chance to remind readers that Coffman’s fate is linked to that of the Trump administration–on immigration as just one of a range of issues, and Coffman has done it to himself. This is a man who dramatically outperformed in a district that Trump lost handily by brazenly triangulating off Trump’s various offenses. And now he says it’s Trump who has credibility on immigration? In fact, Coffman says, Trump is the only Republican who can get immigration reform done? Is that what the ticket-splitters in CD-6 expected?

All we can say is, remember this moment.

Coffman says Tancredo is “bored” and angry

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman, hermanos por vida.

Former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo is considering a run for governor because he’s “bored” and mad at Republicans for attacking him last time he ran.

That’s the opinion of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), as explained in a radio interview yesterday.

“I think [Tancredo] misses the spotlight,” Coffman told KHOW guest host Krista Kafer Tuesday. “He really thrives on the attention. And I think he’s bored. I mean, this is cheap entertainment for him. I think it will be awfully hard on the Republican Party.”

Harsh stuff, but it didn’t seem to faze Tank, who joked, “If that’s the best he can come up with, I’ve got nothing to worry about from Mike Coffman.”

“If Mike Coffman was living up to the promises he made me before he was elected, and the people who are running for governor would say the things I believe need to be said, I wouldn’t be thinking about running,” Tancredo told me.

“The idea that I’m bored, well, maybe it’s because he doesn’t have grandchildren, and he doesn’t know how much time they take up with baseball games,” said Tancredo. “It’s constant. Baseball, hockey and basketball. Believe me, I’m not bored.”

A Tancredo’s campaign could “give us a Democratic governor, and I don’t think [Tancredo] cares,” said Coffman on the radio.

If that’s true, Coffman must think a lot of Republicans don’t care or are deluding themselve, because Coffman believes Tancredo can win the GOP gubernatorial primary next year.

Coffman, who once called Tancredo his hero, said on air that if Tancredo can “bring a certain element out” to vote in the crowded Republican primary, Tancredo “may just do it.”

“A certain element? I don’t doubt that to him, that means the troglodytes,” Tancredo laughed in response, adding that he agrees he can win the GOP primary, especially in a crowded field, due to the loyalty of his voters. And in the general, he thinks he’d get serious support from unaffiliated voters.

On the radio, Coffman called it “just bizarre” that Tancredo “came back to register as a Republican so he could run for Governor.”

(more…)

Trump Delivers…Interesting Speech to U.N.

A different Rocketman

President Trump delivered his first speech to the United Nations this morning. It went about as well as you might expect. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump condemned authoritarian regimes in harsh and Trumpian terms during his first United Nations speech, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, lamenting Iran’s “pursuit of death and destruction,” and warning that major portions of the world are “going to hell.”

The president spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, delivering what a senior administration official described beforehand as a “deeply philosophical address” promoting his vision of “principled realism.”…

…Trump escalated his rhetoric toward the saber-rattling Kim Jong Un regime beyond his prior “fire and fury” warning, deploying his “Rocket Man” nickname as he told UNGA “no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.”

“No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said.The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric seems to match his militaristic views of late; on Monday, as the New York Times reported, Trump said that he likes the idea of holding a “really great parade to show our military strength.”

Really great.

Colorado Christian University Makes Up “Student Success Story”

A popular marketing angle for colleges and universities these days is to feature graduates who have gone on to success in their respective career fields in advertising. Metropolitan State University in Denver is a good example:

Browsing around yesterday, we came across a similar “success story testimonial” ad for Lakewood’s Colorado Christian University–the politically-connected doctrinaire conservative college closely tied to the state’s Republican establishment and home to the Centennial Institute, which holds the high-profile Western Conservative Summit every year:

Now, that’s pretty cool! First-generation college graduate, gets her bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from CCU’s online education program and goes on to serve as a police officer! That’s a success story by anyone’s estimate. Enough to make you think, as the ad suggests, that “all things are possible” at CCU.

But then it occurred to us: haven’t we seen this woman before? And as it turned out from about five seconds of Googling, yes. We have seen this woman before. Lots of times.

Via Shutterstock. The “first-generation grad” depicted in this advertisement is a stock photo of a female police officer you can buy for about ten bucks. While the ad doesn’t specifically name the person or give additional details like the Metro State ad above does, it’s clearly meant to leave the same impression of a personal success story. Of course it’s possible that this stock image just happens to depict an actual CCU student, and by a gobsmacking coincidence was used legitimately by CCU for this ad campaign–in addition to being used all over the place as a stock photo of a female cop.

More likely, though, Colorado Christian University has just earned itself a “B.S.” degree of its own.

Tuesday Open Thread

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

–Dante Alighieri

More Weird Shit in Colorado Springs

Perhaps when the Colorado legislature convenes for a special session on Oct. 2, they can squeeze in (see what we did there?) legislation making it illegal for people to poop in public. You should watch this story from KKTV in Colorado Springs:

Some of the quotes in this story were transcribed by Deadspin, and they are pretty darn fantastic. Here’s our favorite:

“They are like, ‘There’s a lady taking a poop!’ So I come outside, and I’m like … ‘are you serious?’” Budde recalled. “’Are you really taking a poop right here in front of my kids!?’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, sorry!’”

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Messy Fight for Chair of Colorado Springs Republican Party

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, El Paso County Republicans are more than a little fractured as they prepare (or not) to select a new county chairman:

Some members of the El Paso County Republican Party’s executive committee are crying foul over a proposal to name a new county chair at a meeting tonight rather than throw the selection to the much larger central committee at a later date.

County GOP chairman Trevor Dierdorff, who was elected to the post this spring, announced weeks ago he would step down at the end of tonight’s scheduled meeting of the party’s executive committee — several dozen party officers, elected officials and Republicans elected to the panel. He supports a complicated plan to allow the executive committee to pick his replacement.

Under the proposal, the party’s vice chairman, Joshua Hosler — who has made clear he doesn’t want to ascend to chairman —  would resign his position if two-thirds of the committee agrees on a candidate to replace him during the meeting. Then, according to a draft resolution circulated by party spokesman Eli Bremer, a former chairman of the county party, Hosler would vacate his vice-chair post, the consensus candidate would be named vice chair, Dierdorff’s resignation would take effect, then the meeting could reconvene and the new vice chair would be elevated to the vacant chair position, and then the executive committee could recommend the new chair reappoint Hosler as vice chair.

This should be a fun night in Colorado Springs. We got a headache just trying to make sense of the proposal outlined in that last paragraph.

  • RECENT COMMENTS