Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 1)

Welcome to November! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Finger-Pointer-In-Chief Trump is blaming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for a deadly attack in New York on Tuesday. From the Washington Post:

As details emerged about the incident, prominent right-wing commentators and news outlets seized on a report from New York’s ABC7 that the alleged attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, had come to the United States from Uzbekistan under a State Department program known as the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Long before government officials publicly confirmed that report, Trump slammed the program and said he’ll ask Congress to “immediately” begin work to end it…

…In news interviews, blog posts and tweets, conservatives blamed the Democrat, saying he was responsible for allowing the 29-year-old man’s entry into the country.

Trump joined the criticism early Wednesday, hours before declaring that he would ask Congress to terminate the program.

This is par for the course for President Trump, who doesn’t want to politicize tragedies unless he does.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, meanwhile, has a different memory of immigration reform efforts in Congress.

 

► The open enrollment period for Colorado’s health insurance exchange begins today. Blair Miller of Denver7 has the details.

As John Ingold notes for the Denver Post, some health insurance customers could be in for a nice surprise:

While underlying premiums will climb more than 30 percent, in part because of a Trump administration decision to end key payments to insurers, what many people will actually end up paying is expected to drop. That’s because the amount available in federal tax credits to help pay premiums is also rising.

The state Division of Insurance estimates that for people whose incomes are low enough to make them eligible for tax credits, the net cost of premiums will decline by 20 percent this year.

As a result, the leaders of Connect for Health Colorado — the state’s online exchange for people shopping for their own health insurance plan — say they are expecting enrollment this year to remain steady.

Only Coloradans who make up to 400% of the federal poverty line are eligible for the bigger tax credits. For most middle class families, rates could increase dramatically because of efforts by Congressional Republicans and President Trump to de-stabilize the marketplace.

 

► Congressional Republicans are delaying tax reform legislation because they can’t agree on any of the details in the various proposals.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Jeff Flake Burns Donald Trump (And Coffman, And Gardner)

In the aftermath of yesterday’s apparent terrorist attack by a Uzbeki immigrant to the United States in New York City, President Donald Trump is doing what he does best in moments of national crisis–pointing the finger at his political enemies:

Trump appears to be referring to a program created by a 1990 immigration reform law signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush to increase immigration from nations that haven’t sent as many of their huddled masses yearning to breathe free. News reports as of this writing haven’t confirmed if this was the program that resulted in the alleged perpetrator of yesterday’s attack getting his green card, but that didn’t stop Trump from going off–or from blaming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s 27-year-old bill for yesterday’s attack.

But then another Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, rose to Schumer’s defense:

That would be the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation hammered out by the so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. Senators, which in addition to Sens. Flake and Schumer also included Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. Whatever the relevance of this particular visa program to yesterday’s tragedy may be, the man Trump tried to blame yesterday, half-cocked without all the evidence even known, tried to fix it. Along with a host of other well-known problems with American immigration policy that still have not been addressed, even now almost a year into total one-party control of the federal government.

It should also be noted that the 2013 immigration reform plan passed by the U.S. Senate was declared dead on arrival in the U.S. House, where Colorado Republican lawmakers including then-Rep. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman joined GOP leadership in thumbing their noses at the work product of the upper chamber. Both Gardner and Coffman have paid lip service to passing some manner of immigration reform since then, but that’s all it has amounted to. Coffman in particular has found himself repeatedly playing catchup with the news cycle following adverse Trump administration action on immigration, with his last would-be attempt to intervene unceremoniously plowed under by Republican leadership with Coffman’s sheepish consent.

The real moral of the story is that you should wait until the facts are known before you start singling out 27-year-old votes to lay blame for a terrorist attack. This is especially true if you are the President of the United States, whose first instinct should be leading not blaming fellow Americans.

Right below that, a point about how failing to lead as legislators has consequences too.

Vicki Marble’s Crazy Cub Scout Talk is Now National News

UPDATE: CNN picks up the story:

—–

State Sen. Vicki Marble, left, speaks to 11-year-old Ames Mayfield on Oct. 9

Republican State Sen. Vicki Marble’s spectacularly-strange talk to a group of Cub Scouts in Broomfield, which first appeared on Colorado Pols on Thursday, Oct. 12, has become a national news story after one of the fifth-graders who asked tough questions was kicked out of his Cub Scout Den.

The story of 11-year-old Ames Mayfield was picked up this week by 9News, Denver7, Fox 31 and the Denver Post. Earlier this week the editorial board of the Denver Post chastised Marble for lying to the group of Cub Scouts (“Vicki Marble’s Finger-Lickin Lie”), and on Thursday the Post editorial board again weighed in to support Mayfield.

Marshall Zelinger of 9News sat down for an interview with Ames and his mother, Lori, for a story that ran on Thursday night. Whether or not you agree with Ames, it’s impossible to not be impressed with this kid’s composure (full video after the jump below):   

“I know that they probably don’t want me back…and I know that they’re probably still mad at me,” Ames Mayfield said.

Ames asked very specific questions on gun control when State Senator Vicki Marble visited the 11-year-old’s den on Oct. 9…

…Five days later, the Pack leader met with Ames’ mom and said Ames could find another Den within the Pack but not the one he was currently in.

“I am really heartbroken that my Den leader, which I really felt like I had a pretty good relationship with, decided to kick me out,” Ames said.

If you’re skeptical about Ames and his questions to Marble, just watch the 9News story; this is a smart kid who asked smart questions all on his own.

Ames Mayfield

Marble’s bizarre talk with the Cub Scouts started to gain national attention on Thursday, and today Samantha Schmidt flushes out more details for the Washington Post:

Ames’s story drew the attention of gun control advocate and former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head by an assailant in 2011, suffering a severe brain injury.

“This is exactly the kind of courage we need in Congress,” Giffords tweeted Thursday. “Ames, call me in 14 years. I’ll campaign for you.”

Giffords’s husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, called Ames and his mother Thursday night to talk about what happened, according to Fox 31

After Mayfield posted the videos on YouTube, the website Colorado Pols published a story about the senator’s exchange with the Cub Scouts. It was after this article published that Ames’s pack leader requested a meeting with his mother. [Pols emphasis]

Mayfield said she was told by the pack leader that Ames should not have brought up the topic of gun control, although Mayfield asserts the Scouts weren’t given any parameters before the meeting. The pack leader, she said, told her words Ames used were disrespectful, such as “why on earth,” the mention of “Republicans” and the phrase, “if you truly represent your constituents.”

Remember to bookmark this link so that you can show it to your grandchildren when Ames Mayfield is elected President of the United States around the year 2048.

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Vicki Marble and the Cub Scout Tapes

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R)

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Broomfield-ish) is no stranger when it comes to making what we could charitably call “controversial” statements, but she really raised lowered the bar for herself this week while speaking to a troop of Cub Scouts in Broomfield.

We’ll get to that Broomfield scout meeting in a moment, but first a little primer on Marble. It is Marble who came up with the “Hateful Eight” moniker to describe her and seven of her conservative colleagues in the state senate. She has alleged that renewable energy proponents “destroyed” the town of Craig with their “maypole” windmills. She has trouble differentiating between legitimate news sources and satire sites like “The Onion.” She believes that advocates for equal pay are actually victimizing women.

And, of course, Marble was the voice behind the infamous “Chickengate” affair, in which she explained during a legislative hearing on poverty that African-Americans have a shorter life span because they eat too much chicken and barbecue; the State Republican Party practically tripped over itself trying to distance itself from Marble’s commentary on this issue.

On Monday, Oct. 9, Marble spoke to a Cub Scout pack in Broomfield and delivered a breathtaking display of craziness. Videos of Marble’s remarks showed up on YouTube soon afterward; we’ve taken the liberty of transcribing Marble’s comments so that you can better hope to understand one of the more uncomfortable diatribes we’ve come across in recent memory.

You can read Marble’s comments on a variety of subjects after the jump. We’ve also included links to the videos related to the transcription…

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Bennet Backs “Bump Stock” Ban While Dudley Brown Fumes

UPDATE: Via KOAA-TV Colorado Springs, Sen. Cory Gardner has a fat wad of nothing to say:

“I know there’s a tendency by some to immediately jump into the debate over gun control, but we have constitutional rights that we have to protect,” Sen. Gardner said. “I don’t believe that’s the right answer.”

Gardner said he wants to wait for more information surrounding the shooting to come out.

“Let’s get the facts, let’s find out exactly what happened, let’s have a discussion about this. But I don’t believe gun control is the solution. I don’t believe trampling on constitutional rights is the right answer.” Gardner said. “We have to make sure we’re protecting the rights of every American. Let’s have a discussion about what we can do to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”

Okie dokie then.

—–

Dudley Brown

Denver7’s Lance Hernandez:

Social media is lighting up with discussion about “bump stocks,” which are after-market accessories that make semi-automatic weapons fire faster.

There are calls to ban them, on Twitter, following revelations that the Las Vegas shooter used them in his deadly spree.

Senator Diane Feinstein, D-California, introduced a bill to do just that, saying her daughter had planned to attend the ill-fated concert in Las Vegas, but had a change in plans.

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports via Twitter that Colorado senior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet was quick to sign on to the effort:

Most of the world–outside the culture of gun enthusiasts in the know about all the various ways modern guns can be modified–only learned what a “bump stock” is in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre. The bump stock is designed to bypass the “biomechanical limit” of how fast in individual can pull the trigger on a semiautomatic weapon by allowing the weapon’s recoil to push the trigger into the shooter’s finger at a speed closer to the action of the weapon. The result is a weapon that doesn’t quite match the rate of fire of a fully automatic assault rifle, but those on the business end would have trouble telling the difference.

For example, the dozens killed and hundreds wounded in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

With all of that in mind, you might think that defenders of the “bump stock” would be hard to find right now–or at least biding their time for a better moment to make their case than while everyone is still in a state of relative shock over the worst mass shooting in American history.

But if you think that, you obviously don’t know Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners!

Dudley Brown, the head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said Feinstein’s proposal won’t do anything to limit crime…

Brown told Denver7 that bump stocks are relatively uncommon.

“Many people call them a poor man’s machine gun,” he said. “It’s mostly for people who just want to go to a range and try to see what automatic fire sounds like.” [Pols emphasis]

“What automatic fire sounds like?” Sorry Dudley, but after last Sunday, everybody knows “what automatic fire sounds like.” Thousands of people who were at the Route 91 Harvest concert on Sunday night in Las Vegas will never be able to forget “what automatic fire sounds like.” And for 58 of them, it could have been the last thing they ever heard.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been left jaws agape by Brown and RMGO’s shocking indifference to the suffering caused by the products they are lavishly funded to endorse. No matter how “uncommon” bump stocks may be–which you’d like would make banning them less of a problem–their use in the Las Vegas shooting to multiply the casualties, creating a situation indistinguishable from machine guns in a war zone with legally obtainable products, is enough to merit getting rid of them. Right there. Case closed.

And if Dudley Brown doesn’t understand that, for the safety of the American public he needs to be ignored.

Neil Gorsuch Under Fire For Trump Hotel Speech

Justice Neil Gorsuch.

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is speaking today at a conservative political group’s event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.–a speech generating the first ethics controversy of what’s expected to be many decades on the nation’s highest court for Colorado’s most polite “radical son.”

It’s not clear what Gorsuch will say at the invite-only event, though organizers with The Fund for American Studies, a conservative group, said they expect he’ll talk for about 30 minutes on topics such as the constitution and American exceptionalism.

The speech, though, isn’t what is attracting an outcry — as there’s a long tradition of Supreme Court justices accepting invitations to speak before groups across the political spectrum.

Rather, it’s the setting inside the Trump International Hotel — a hangout for hangers-on of the administration just a few blocks from the White House. Critics contend Gorsuch’s presence there sends the wrong signal… [Pols emphasis]

Here’s an excerpt from the letter asking Gorsuch not to speak at the Trump hotel:

As you may know, the Trump International Hotel is owned, through LLCs and a revocable trust, by President Trump. This creates several ethical conflicts associated with your appearance there:

Political activity. Under Canon 5 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a judge should refrain from “political activity.” President Trump has declared his candidacy for re-election in 2020. Consequently, your appearance at the Trump International Hotel creates the appearance of a political endorsement. However implicit, and however you may not desire to create such an impression, the appearance of such an endorsement is why you should not appear at a hotel owned by, and named after, a candidate for political office. This is not comparable to appearing at the White House, or appearing with the president at an official presidential event.

Subject of pending litigation. Because the hotel is owned by the president, it is currently the subject of several legal disputes that could come before you. These include three separate federal lawsuits involving the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Domestic Emoluments Clause…

Judicial imprimatur for profiting from the presidency. Setting aside the legal questions associated with the hotel, the fact that the president is using his office to enhance the booking and room rates at a for-profit hotel for his own personal profit presents an unprecedented corruption of the presidency. Your participation in an event that will involve payments from the organizers to the hotel, and from there to the president himself, is inconsistent with the high ethical standards for an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. More broadly, your appearing at the hotel that has become one of the foremost symbols of the for-profit presidency is inconsistent with judicial independence and integrity.

The letter goes on to cite Trump’s recent extreme statements on a variety of issues as further reason to not give the Trump International Hotel any degree of “judicial imprimatur.” The fact is that the circumstances of Gorsuch’s confirmation, coming after an unprecedented year of stalling on the nomination made by Trump’s predecessor, have already given his appointment an unwanted air of scandal. By appearing at an event at a Trump hotel already mired in controversy, Gorsuch risks tying himself even more closely to a President likely to have a lot of legal action in his near future. And not the good kind.

The only thing we can add to that for today is another word about how commendable it was for Sen. Michael Bennet to vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation–factoring Republican treachery against Merrick Garland as well as Gorsuch’s hard-right judicial record against tremendous local pressure to support a fellow Coloradan. This won’t be the last chance to favorably contrast Bennet’s difficult decision with the full-on advocacy for Gorsuch from Colorado Democrats like Gov. Bill Ritter. Since Gorsuch will still be on the court when Bennet and Ritter are old men, it will be an evergreen topic.

But every time something like scandalous happens with Gorsuch, Bennet’s conscience will be clear. Ritter’s, not so much.

OF COURSE Coffman Wants Tancredo To Primary Him

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman.

As 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports, the dudgeon is getting deep between Rep. Mike Coffman and his sort-of (as we’ll explain) predecessor in Congress, anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo–so deep, in fact, that it’s getting a bit silly:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) picked an unusual fight Monday: he wants another Republican to challenge him in next year’s primary election.

Not just any Republican. Coffman wants to do battle with Tom Tancredo—the firebrand conservative former congressman who used to occupy Coffman’s seat in the House of Representatives.

“Come after me,” Coffman said to Tancredo in an interview Monday for Balance of Power. “We could define what the Republican party is for a generation to come.”

Coffman says he decided to propose the challenge after a recent 9NEWS interview in which Tancredo defended a group called VDARE, which serves as an online platform for racist and white supremacist viewpoints…

Although Coffman technically holds Tancredo’s former CD-6 seat in Congress, the major omission from this story is the fact that the district was totally redrawn in the 2011 redistricting process. Where CD-6 used to be an impregnable Republican stronghold, tolerant and even happily supportive of Tancredo’s immigration demagoguery as it made Tancedo persona non grata at the pro-reform Bush White House, after 2011 it became a highly diverse and competitive district with a large immigrant population.

The dramatic reshaping of Coffman constituency, all sides agree, is the catalyst responsible for Coffman’s “evolution” on immigration reform from a hard-liner doing his best to keep up with Tancredo–once calling the DREAM Act “a nightmare” and telling bilingual voters to “get a dictionary”–to one of the most often-cited examples of a “pro immigration reform” Republican and supporter of the same DREAM Act-eligible immigrants he once derided.

Where Coffman’s defenders and detractors disagree is whether that evolution is legitimate. Did Coffman really have a heartfelt conversion on the issue of immigration, or was his evolution nothing more than political theater to survive redistricting?

Asked if he was implying that Coffman is a RINO (a political pejorative that stands for “Republican In Name Only”,) Tancredo went further.

“[Coffman] is a turncoat, not a RINO. He is unprincipled,” Tancredo said. [Pols emphasis] “What does he care about the Republican party? He’s moved as far away from it as he can in the last several years.”

For activists focused on protecting immigrants and Democrats working toward the same goal in Congress, praising every feint by Coffman in their direction is obligatory. They have no incentive to question Coffman’s honesty, not when his vote is urgently required to achieve success. Unfortunately, Coffman’s personal lip service to some allegedly common goals with immigration reform activists has not in all these years resulted in anything like tangible progress, primarily due to Coffman’s Republican leadership in Congress failing to share his newfound priority. As a result, Coffman has gained credit as “supporter” of immigrant rights without having to deliver any results–and even while continuing to support GOP leadership that obstructs his professed agenda.

And yes. To everyone who believed what Coffman said before 2011, like his predecessor in Congress, he’s just “unprincipled.” There’s no reason for the right to buy any of this “evolution” business, not when redistricting fully answers the question in simple Machiavellian terms they can easily understand.

Coffman knows that Tancredo could never beat him in the new CD-6, even in a GOP primary. That’s why Coffman has nothing to lose by throwing out this worthless challenge, which superficially bolsters his revamped image. But if the clock could be turned back to the old CD-6, the deep-red stomping ground Tancredo bequeathed Coffman in 2008…?

That would be a different story. And quite possibly a whole different Mike Coffman. Which is Tancredo’s whole point–and one that liberals and conservatives should consider. Sometimes it takes polar opposites’ experience to understand how both sides have been getting screwed.

Get More Smarter on Monday (September 25)

Coloradans are not going to back President Trump over the Denver Broncos. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Arizona Sen. John McCain may have torpedoed Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, but the rhetoric out of Washington D.C. suggests that the Senate might still try to force a vote this week. Senate Republicans made some changes to the Graham-Cassidy legislation that is the topic of debate this week, but as the Washington Post reports, it’s probably not enough to get the bill across the finish line:

The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act proposed Monday sending more health-care dollars to the states of key holdouts, hoping to keep their bill viable as it faced a wall of resistance on Capitol Hill.

Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) have given Alaska and Maine — two of whose GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), respectively — have expressed concerns but not yet declared how they would vote on the measure.

But there was little evidence Monday that the changes would secure enough votes for the legislation’s passage. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who is one of two GOP senators against the bill, reiterated his opposition to the updated measure, and the other lawmaker, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), has objected to it on the grounds that there has been no bipartisan outreach…

…A vote by Collins or any other senator would be enough to defeat the bill, since no Democrats are expected to support it. Republicans hold a 52-to-48 advantage in the Senate and can lose only two votes from their party and still pass legislation with the help of a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence.

 

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was quoted by the New York Times on Friday telling his fellow caucus members that Republican “donors are furious” over the GOP’s inability to move healthcare legislation forward; Gardner was a guest on the CBS show “Face the Nation” on Sunday, where he was asked twice to comment about the idea that repealing Obamacare was more about appeasing major donors than anything else. Gardner did as Gardner does by ducking both questions.

 

► State Treasurer Walker Stapleton finally made his announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper responds to Republican legislators who have been voicing their opposition to a “special session” called for next week. In short: We’ll see you on Monday.

 

► Check out the latest episode of “The Get More Smarter Show,” featuring an in-depth interview with Joe Neguse, Democratic candidate for Congress in CD-2.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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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.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 15)

There are 100 shopping days until Christmas. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We’re going back…to the legislature. As Brian Eason reports for the Denver Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday called lawmakers back to the state Capitol to fix a bill-drafting error that has been costing a number of Denver-based institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in marijuana revenue.

The special session set to start Oct. 2 will be the first in five years for Hickenlooper and the Colorado General Assembly, an extraordinary step for a governor who has typically deferred to lawmakers on legislative matters during his two terms in office.

“After hearing about the potential impact on citizens around the state, it is clear that this problem is best solved as soon as possible,” Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing his executive order, capping a day of speculation about his plans.

The October 2 special session is expected to be a fairly quick affair to address a drafting error related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee). As part of SB-267, legislators approved a change to the collection of recreational pot taxes that is inadvertently costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Colorado Republicans, including the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity, are having trouble getting their message straight on the special session announcement.

 

► Congressional Democratic leaders seem to have figured out how to work with President Trump, crafting another big deal on DACA just a week or so after working with Trump on a debt ceiling/disaster relief proposal. The New York Times examines what happened during that White House dinner on Wednesday night:

Senator Chuck Schumer had just finished outlining a new Democratic immigration proposal over a working dinner at the White House on Wednesday night when President Trump stopped him with a simple question: What is in it for me?

Mr. Schumer, the schmoozy Senate minority leader, responded with a litany of what he saw as Mr. Trump’s presidential sins, according to two people with direct knowledge of the interaction. Those included pulling out of the Paris climate accord and failing to unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism and racism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.

The time had come, Mr. Schumer declared as Nancy Pelosi, the top House Democrat, nodded in agreement, for the president to prove himself to Democrats if he wanted to do any big deals.

Mr. Trump has been known to freeze out or tongue-lash critics for far less. Instead, to the surprise of people in the room, he responded positively, if vaguely, and laughed.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) sounds pretty optimistic about the deal Trump reached with Democrats. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, is no doubt much less enthusiastic.

 

► Summer isn’t officially over until next week, but it snowed in the mountains.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Trump Makes Another Big Deal with Democrats

President Trump keeps tipping his hand.

In the parlance of poker, you might also say that Congressional Democrats have “spotted his tell.”

Politico reports on the framework of a new immigration plan for DREAMERs negotiated by Trump and Democratic leadership:

President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement Wednesday night to provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants known as Dreamers — but after a conservative backlash, the president and his aides sent conflicting signals about how firm the agreement was.

After a meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday night, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they had come to terms with Trump on a plan that would provide protection for Dreamers in exchange for beefed-up border security — but, notably, no additional funding for a border wall.

“We all agreed on a framework: Pass DACA protections and additional security measures, excluding the wall. We agreed that the president would support enshrining the DACA protections into law,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Thursday.

The news triggered an outcry from the right, which accused Trump of abandoning his tough-on-immigration campaign stance. So Trump and his aides rebutted Democrats’ claims that an agreement had been struck — while at the same time acknowledging the outlines of a deal.

One week after negotiating a debt limit/disaster relief formula with Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did it again — this time on a legislative framework for DACA protections. House Speaker Paul Ryan says that there is no such deal, but that’s not the narrative coming out of the White House.

Trump supporters are absolutely furious that he would even shake hands with a Democrat, but those critics are missing something if they are just blindly painting Trump as a partisan traitor. Even though they are in the majority, Congressional Republicans haven’t been able to come to any agreement with Trump on much of anything. Republicans seem to be struggling to understand the new political reality of Washington D.C. and the new guy in the White House.

Meanwhile, Democrats might have cracked the code…

We all know that President Trump fancies himself to be a master negotiator, in large part because he tells us whenever he gets a chance. Being adept at negotiating deals is a fundamental part of Trump’s persona — and not just the act he displays in public. Trump desperately wants to show that he can “win” at being President, and he doesn’t really care who he has to work with in order to make that happen [cough, Russia, cough].

Schumer and Pelosi have smartly figured out that Trump wants to get to “yes” as quickly as possible — that he won’t get hung up on policy details at the risk of losing the sale. Trump also loves to get attaboys in the press, as he did earlier this month on the debt limit bill, and it’s hard to generate praise when nothing is getting accomplished in general.

Republicans could follow this same blueprint for dealing with Trump, but they can’t even come to an agreement amongst themselves.

Hickenlooper Upstages Cynthia Coffman on DACA Lawsuit

UPDATE: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman picks a side–and it’s not the DREAMers:

“In Colorado, my office has the independent authority to take legal action on behalf of the state when I believe doing so is in the state’s best interest,” Coffman said in the statement. “In this case, I do not. Nor do I support the legal arguments in the Democrats’ lawsuit.”

In the choice between DREAMers and positioning herself for a GOP primary, Coffman chose the primary.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper and AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking action to challenge President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, standing up for some 17,000 undocumented immigrants in Colorado who came to this country as children–and could face deportation if the high-stakes game of chicken over their fate in Washington doesn’t go well:

Colorado announced Wednesday that it plans to join more than a dozen other states in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is outrageous and risks the futures of more than 17,000 Coloradans,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Colorado benefits when (DACA recipients) have the opportunity to thrive in our communities and the only country they’ve ever known. These young people should not have to suffer because of our broken immigration system.”

Hickenlooper added that while the legal action is “no substitute for the sort of comprehensive immigration reform that can only come from Congress, it sends a necessary message that the rule of law and basic notions of fairness still matter in this country.”

Hickenlooper is taking this extraordinary action without support from Colorado’s Republican attorney general Cynthia Coffman, a prospective GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2018:

An outside attorney will act as a special attorney general and represent Colorado in the legal action, she said. The move requires Coffman’s consent because she is the only one who can file legal challenges on behalf of the state.

Coffman, a Republican, last week suggested she wouldn’t join the other state attorneys general in suing to block Trump from dismantling DACA, saying the immigration debate “belongs in Congress.”

So-called “DREAMer” students and young people, who are the most sympathy-inspiring class of undocumented immigrants being childhood arrivals in this country who in many cases know no other culture, are supported by a large majority of the public–either for a path to American citizenship, or at the very least legal permission to remain in the country. There are really not many people in America outright opposed to protecting DACA recipients in some form–but unfortunately for Cynthia Coffman, who is trying to figure out a path to the GOP nomination for governor of Colorado next year, a lot of those opponents are GOP primary voters.

And that, dear reader, is why Coffman is reluctant to go to bat for the DREAMers.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 13)

Go away, (Hurricane) Jose. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing a “Medicare for All” healthcare plan today with significant support from well-known Senate Democrats. As the Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has no chance of passage in a Republican-run Congress. But after months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a public pressure campaign, the bill is already backed by most of the senators seen as likely 2020 Democratic candidates — if not by most senators facing tough reelection battles in 2018.

The bill would revolutionize America’s health-care system, replacing it with a public system that would be paid for by higher taxes. Everything from emergency surgery to prescription drugs, from mental health to eye care, would be covered, with no co-payments. Americans younger than 18 would immediately obtain “universal Medicare cards,” while Americans not currently eligible for Medicare would be phased into the program over four years. Employer-provided health care would be replaced, with the employers paying higher taxes but no longer on the hook for insurance.

Private insurers would remain, with fewer customers, to pay for elective treatments such as cosmetic surgery — a system similar to that in Australia, which President Trump has praised for having a “much better” insurance regimen than the United States.

Republicans will immediately point to projections showing big tax increases under such a plan, but Americans might actually end up saving money in this scenario because of the reduction or elimination of copays, premiums, and deductibles.

On Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy announced her support for a “Medicaid for All” proposal in Colorado.

 

► Jefferson County Republicans are mad as hell (at Republicans) and they’re not above issuing toothless threats to prove it! As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Jefferson County Republican Party is demanding Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act or, if it can’t, to elect new congressional leadership.

A strongly worded resolution adopted unanimously by the county party’s executive committee Monday night maintains that the failure of congressional Republicans to overturn the sweeping health care legislation known as Obamacare “has caused great consternation and angst among registered Republicans in Jefferson County” and put GOP candidates “in great election peril.”

The county party is giving Congress until Nov. 1 to “repeal the abominable legislation,” but if Republicans “fail to meet our demand … and continue in their deceit of the voters,” the Jefferson County GOP want different Republicans in charge of the House and Senate…

…“[I]t is imperative that we differentiate ourselves from the National GOP,” the county party wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “Otherwise, our local and state candidates will be painted with the same brush as the GOP in Washington. Those in Washington are not doing what they promised, and we intend to hold their feet to the fire.”

The irony is strong with this one. By unanimously demanding that Congress immediately repeal Obamacare, the Jefferson County Republican Party has painted every one of its 2018 candidates into a tight little corner.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Colorado today touring schools, and will finish her visit with a visit to the Air Force Academy this afternoon.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 12)

For those of you who fell asleep before Monday’s late game was over, the Denver Broncos are now 1-0 on the season. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Things were very good economically for the American middle class in 2016 (thanks, Donald Obama!) As the Washington Post reports:

America’s middle class had its highest-earning year ever in 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday…

…America’s poverty rate fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. The percent of Americans without health insurance for the entire year also dropped in 2016 to just 8.8 percent, largely thanks to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Economists hailed the news as evidence the recovery is finally taking hold after years of frustration for the middle class, which watched the stock market soar while the average American’s income barely budged.

 

► Don’t stop us if you’ve heard this before (because you have): Congressional Republicans are eager to get to work on tax reform issues, but they’re a bit perplexed by the absence of anything resembling a specific proposal. As Politico reports:

“This time around there is no room for error. This has got to be a home run,” Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said, recalling the GOP’s Obamacare fiasco. “I would hope everyone wants to know what’s in it before you vote on it. That’s the old [Nancy] Pelosi joke on health care, it turned into a colossal joke. ‘You’ll find out what’s in it after we pass it.’”

A member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely said, “It is frustrating and concerning that we don’t have the details and yet we’re going to be asked in 60 days to vote on something,”

The member suggested that congressional and administration leaders negotiating a plan are holding back information either to avoid leaks or because they haven’t found enough common ground yet to share anything. [Pols emphasis]

Or…and we’re just spitballing here…perhaps not having a plan really is the plan. After all, you can’t oppose something that doesn’t exist.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

► Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Brauchler should also be seeking some advice on how to talk about water policy in Colorado. HINT: Don’t say that you are surprised that water is a big issue here.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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No One’s Happy: Tancredo Calls For Coffman Primary Challenge

Rep. Mike Coffman.

With former Congressman, presidential and once-and-future gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo making lots of news lately with his defense of Donald Trump’s immigration policies and criticism of “backsliding” Republicans growing afraid to see those policies carried out, an interview with Tancredo last week pummeling his successor in Congress Rep. Mike Coffman, and calling for Coffman’s ouster by hook or by crook, is vexing so-called “establishment” GOP strategists today. Here’s the transcription of the key moment of audio above:

TANCREDO: …All of the things he said about Trump, you, you just don’t have to do that. Right? He just didn’t have to do that even before the election, all the things he called him. And then…

CAPLIS: Well, I don’t know Congressman, I think he, I think he made a calculation that he had to come out against Trump in that manner to be able to keep his seat. I think we won by such a large margin that, that he didn’t have to. I didn’t like it when he did, I think what was a stake with the presidency and control of the U.S. Supreme Court in Colorado, a possible decision state in the election, I didn’t like it when he did that.

TANCREDO: Yeah–no, neither did I, and to tell you the truth, see I would not mind at all if he failed in his next attempt, if it is to retain his seat.

CAPLIS: Even if it means Pelosi as Speaker?

TANCREDO: Or actually anything he goes for, I wouldn’t care if he failed. But I especially wouldn’t care if he failed, and I would encourage people–I have encouraged people to, to run against him in a primary, and if he lost that would be okay with me because we, I would say a conservative loses nothing if Mike Coffman loses his seat. We are not in, the Republicans are not in jeopardy of losing the House, um, and it’s not the same as a Senate seat, so really it’s not worth it, I don’t think, to have somebody in there doing the things, he you know he’s threatening a um, discharge petition. I don’t know if everybody recognizes this…

CAPLIS: Yeah, yeah.

TANCREDO: But it’s like the ultimate slap in the face, you know, to the leadership and that sort of thing. Um, and it’s not going to work, it’s just simply another little, you know it’s a showpiece that he’s doing, to again, pander, I think…

In their zeal to win over centrist voters and even some low-information liberal votes, Coffman like U.S. Senator Cory Gardner has made great efforts to affect moderation on defining political issues like immigration and reproductive choice. But in doing so, they’ve put their core constituency of conservative Republican voters at risk of, if not voting for their general election opponent, something perhaps even more damaging: base demoralization. It’s fine to make inroads with new constituencies, even formerly opposition voters–as long as you’re not alienating your base.

Because if you do, you end up with someone like Tom Tancredo telling voters you can’t afford to lose that “a conservative loses nothing if Mike Coffman loses his seat.” Obviously Tancredo would prefer that Coffman lose his seat in a Republican primary, and these words would hurt more in the event Coffman attracts a primary challenge.

It’s really not good for Coffman either way though, folks. With bad political moves like unceremoniously yanking a rare discharge petition on legislation to protect DREAM Act-eligible immigrants that he received genuine credit for initiating, Coffman’s path to successfully triangulating this issue in 2018 is more perilous than ever. Coffman definitely can’t afford to lose his right flank now.

Enter Tom Tancredo.