Democrats Strike Back on GOP Bogus Math

From a Senate Majority Press Office release (with accompanying thousand-word photo):

Today, Senate Democrats responded to the Republicans “plan” to balance the budget and to oppose the budget balancing plan discussed on the Senate floor today with House Bills 1189-1199.  Yesterday the Republicans offered an ill-conceived plan to balance the budget which didn’t quite add up.  Today, Senate Majority Leader John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) addressed it on the Senate floor, as he held up a copy of “Cliff’s Notes: Basic Math”:

Senator Morse’s statement: “Today, I present the Minority Leader with the Cliff Notes version of Basic Math.  Because your math is so far off I’ve gotten you a book on math.  And I’ve gotten you a Cliff’s notes version since you are coming at the 11th hour. With great honor I give you this book and look forward to your proposal.”

“After reading the Republican budget fix it is quite clear that they can’t add or subtract.  The budget shortfall is $1 billion.  The Republicans proposed a reckless “off the cuff” idea to fire state employees to save $17.8 million. $17.8 million in cuts to solve a $1 billion shortfall. Now they just need to come up with 50 more plans so the math will add up.  The problem is their plan doesn’t even identify the first $17.8 million.

“The Governor’s budget proposal cuts state spending by $700 million.  Removing corporate tax credits and exemptions provide the balance of the $300 million needed to balance the budget.  It’s a balanced approach to serious financial crisis. It preserves as best it can our core values.   It protects the most vulnerable of our citizens.  It asks everyone to pull together during these tough times. The Governor’s plan demonstrates leadership.  There’s an old saying that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  It’s time the Republicans either offer a serious solution or get out of the way.”

The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover writes that Josh Penry didn’t appreciate getting called out:

“Sen. Morse, thank you for the book,” [Penry] said. “Let me remind you of some more recent math. 52 to 48. That was the margin by which the voters of Massachusetts rejected your tired arguments that budget cuts are impossible, and that taxes and fees are the catalyst for economic recovery.

“The math was the same in New Jersey and Virginia, and the math will very soon be the same in Colorado, too.”

We think this retort from Penry says a mouthful: about his motivations, that is. It’s about as frank an admission as you could ever ask for that electoral posturing is his biggest priority, not good policy. And in terms of a substantive response to the charge that the GOP’s ‘budget plan’ is based on poppycock fantasy math, more or less exactly what we said yesterday?

That’s where the bravado ends and the backpedaling begins, folks. Hoover continues:

Senate Republicans now say their figures have been misinterpreted. On Thursday, they put out a statement that said their budget proposal “includes a 0.25 percent reduction in state payroll spending for the current fiscal year, and a 4.4 percent reduction for next fiscal year.” They also said the plan “would require Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter to cut the state’s $3.2 billion state payroll budget by $19 million for the current fiscal year.” Republicans said the plan would save $306 million in the next fiscal year.

Republican staff told reporters that the 0.25 percent figure pertained to payroll.

But by Friday evening, they said that what they meant was that they were calling for a 0.25 percent cut in the state’s total general fund operating budget. That’s roughly $7.5 billion.

The thing is, nobody ‘misinterpreted’ anything. As Hoover plainly states, the GOP release cited exactly the “payroll” figures that were deconstructed by Sen. Morse. They were wrong, laughably wrong, and substituting a completely different suggestion a day later does not excuse the original grandstand founded on misrepresentations and bogus arithmetic.

We received an unusual number of messages from under the Dome yesterday about this budget debate. By all accounts, the level of factless acrimony and election-minded posturing is peaking in the legislature this year in a way that few have ever seen. We think the Democrats are doing as good a job as they can responding, but aside from a few quickly-buried posts on The Spot, we’re concerned that the full facts–like Morse’s shredding of the GOP’s math into bite-size pieces, and their feeble backpedaling in response–are not being adequately reported to the public.

And that, we’re afraid, is why Penry is so unflappably smug.

80 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Republican staff told reporters that the 0.25 percent figure pertained to payroll.

    But by Friday evening, they said that what they meant was that they were calling for a 0.25 percent cut in the state’s total general fund operating budget. That’s roughly $7.5 billion.

    If $7.5 billion were 0.25% of our operating budget, that must mean our operating budget is $3 trillion.  Pretty sure someone screwed the pooch on that one.  And since Republicans didn’t write the article, surely…

  2. allyncooper says:

    Penry and his fellow travelers have no credible “plan” or solution to the budget crisis, nor do they care about one.

    Their only “plan” is to let things go from bad to worse so they can blame the Dems. Stevie Wonder could see that.  

  3. divad says:

    So true.    

    Great stuff CoPols, keep it coming please.

  4. Barron X says:


    I know what John Morse looks like, and I don’t think that’s the same person.


  5. WesternSlopeThought says:

    people in Colorado, with maybe the exception of Gary Harmon and Lynn Bartels, know that Penry has never been concerned with competent governance or what is good for the people of Colorado.  Partisan political, mealy mouthed flimflamry, at the cost of hurting the people of Colorado, is what his political career has been about from the get-go.  

    To be honest, I guess I had held out some hope that lame yuck Penry would want to do something for the people of Colorado and salvage a little honor and respectability for his disgrace filled legacy.  But Penry has chosen to be nothing but a two-bit partisan hatchet man, yet again.  The result of all that time spent with Tom DeLay and Scott McInnis, I suspect.  Penry has yet to learn, as Governor Owens did with his advocacy for Ref. C, that there are more important priorities for the people of Colorado than playing the dim-witted partisan.  Why not just give it a try, Josh, and grow up to be a responsible adult in your last few months in the senate?  

    And while Penry worries about the numbers for people on the east coast, here are the numbers which the people of Colorado have determined are best for our own state:

    State Senate:  20-15 D

    State Representives:  37-27-1 D

    US Senate:  2-0 D

    US Representatives:  5-2 D

    And those numbers come because of people like Penry shrinking the R Party down to far right extremists.  If they would try moderation and compromise at some point, instead of just determining that they will be the party of NO!, then they might have a chance of making gains.  But with politicos like Penry, McInnis and Wadhams calling the shots, do not look for much to change.

    Kudos to Sen. Morse for calling out Penry’s CSB.  Scratch the thin veneer of Penry’s slick facade and you will always find the weak powdery substance.  His desire to throw even more people out of work in the depths of the Bush recession is reprehensible.  And when his numbers do not add up, just say that you didn’t really mean what you said. Penry has been called out for his arrogance and ignorance even by people in his own party, like Owens and Marostica, who know that you cannot govern from extremist idiocy.  But such will be the Josh Penry legacy.

    “Is anyone else here tired of the flimflam, mealy-mouthed Republican?”  –Josh Penry

  6. GOPwarrior says:

    The people are tired of your bullshit and know you can cut the fucking budget if you have the fucking political will. Period.

    Damn right it’s posturing, by the losing majority against the will of the people!!

    • gertie97 says:

      Where should your boy Penry cut the budget? Specifically.

      Saying the governor ought to pick is wussing out.

      So go for it, or put a cork in it.

    • ThillyWabbit says:

      Though I didn’t know we had a budget specifically for the purposes of fucking. I thought that was more of a Nevada thing.

            • Libertad says:

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              • Republican 36 says:

                Former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and former Fed chief Alan Greenspan called for both spending cuts and TAX INCREASES to solve the federal deficit problem. We can’t solve the budget problems at the federal or state level with just cuts or just tax increases.

                In 1986, before TABOR, we were in the bottom of a recession and the General Assembly temporarily increased the sales tax to see the state government through the next fiscal year. I don’t remember the exact period but the increase had a sunset after six or nine months. The sky did not fall and the state recovered from the economic slump with basic services intact. But, of course, with TABOR such practical and common sense solutions are no longer available. That is why you see the eleven revenue bills in the General Assembly at the moment. The futility and silliness of TABOR is showing through again.  

      • Republican 36 says:

        I was at the news conference and two things were obvious:

        1. His numbers are silly and made no sense.

        2. The Penry-Republican plan is a set-up. They ask the Governor to make additional cuts but of course they weren’t specific where the cuts could be made because they want the Governor to do it so they can then criticize the specific cuts. Anyone who has ever followed the state budget knows the Joint Budget Committee submits a budget to the House and Senate based on a detailed evaluation of every executive department down to how many employees each program should have. The two Republican members of the JBC have access to all of that information. Surely, Sen. Penry, as minority leader, has access to the same information and could surely announce the specific cuts he wants to see in the state budget.

        His news conference was a political gimmick, not a serious statement about the budget.


    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Governing, not quite so easy.

    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

      Republican talking points: NSFW and definitely don’t let the children hear them

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      is that you also cut services and jobs which  who knew could have an impact on our economy.

      What are you going to do with all those out of work state employees who also pay taxes and buy things in our economy?

      There is also that issue with plowing roads during snowstorms and educating our workforce.  You willing to drive through the blizzard on unplowed roads?  How many basic services are you willing to get rid of to feed your fat ego?

  7. dmindgo says:

    Once again, the state Republicans engage in distortions and, once again, the newspapers in SW Colorado don’t report it.  Rep. Roberts says the Democrats don’t play nice at the state house but won’t answer a basic question:  Who do you stand for? the local taxpayers or the power brokers?  She authors a moratorium on insurance reforms but doesn’t say a word about the shenanigans in the State House.  Now she wants to join the state Senate this fall.  Which will it be, Rep. Roberts, will you support the bad math of the Republican Party or its worse policy?

    (What is really disappointing is that I figured I would vote for her in November.  Now, I’ve swung from being a sure vote to a probably not.)

  8. I hope Sen. Morse properly reports the “book” as a gift from Michael Hutner.

    He’s not clever enough to have created it himself.

    • Laughing Boy says:

      …your chart stops pre-Obama.  You’re going to run out of blue ink after last year.

      What in nature outside of man shows a liberal bias?  Isn’t evolution the most poignant demonstration of an extreme free market?

      • ClubTwitty says:

        Politically, a majority of conservative Republicans favor replacing evolution with creationism in the classroom, but support for this proposal falls below 40% for all other political groups, including moderate and liberal Republicans.…  

      • Steve Harvey says:

        Evolution is a poignant demonstration of a combination of coordination mechanisms, one of them being market exchange. It also has produced hierarchical organization, and normative organization (defined as mutually enforced rules of conduct, found frequently in mammal populations), as well as an array of anatomical technologies (eg, stingers, wings, legs, hands, claws, brains, other organs, fins, mimicry, etc.). Human societies are in many ways echoes of biological evolution, produced by a similar but far more accelerated dynamic (involving packages of information, whether genes or memes, which reproduce, mutate, compete for reproductive success, and thus evolve).

        Human genius isn’t defined by favoring any one of the various institutional (and technological) models that we have reproduced in remarkable similarity to nature, but rather by drawing on the full array, and combining them most effectively.

        This truth is reinforced by the study of economics, which shares not only a linguistic root with ecology (“eco” being Greek for household or habitat), but, not coincidentally, an underlying mathematical structure as well. And our two 2009 Nobel Lauriets in Economics both made their mark in institutional economics, one (Oliver Williamson) analyzing the efficiency trade-offs under varying conditions between hierarchical and market structures, and the other (Elinor Ostrom) analyzing very effective normative controls of common pool resources in various times and places.

        Even though the analogy you invoked militates strongly against any absolute privileging of markets, carrying the analogy too far isn’t a good idea. Evolution doesn’t necessarily produce “good” outcomes according to human values (which is precisely why Social Darwinism is so odious; it mistook a descriptive reality for a normative prescription). That’s why modern market economies are so deeply in need of complex regulatory architectures: Because they don’t necessarily lead to humanity-serving outcomes on their own, a fact well-exemplified by the Enron-induced California Energy Crisis of 2000, and the near economic collapse of 2008.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        You drive the bus off the road and then complain when someone has to pay the tow truck to get you out.  How come you weren’t concerned about deficits when President Cheney was driving this economy into the ground with his tax cuts for the rich and off the books wars?  Such selective outrage and derision.

        • Laughing Boy says:

          I’m just not in the Keynesian school.  I do have faith that eventually the economy will come around, but it’s a question of how to make that happen quickly.

          Ardy – thanks for that.  Don’t you think that survival of the fittest makes up much more of the natural world than the relationships you’ve mentioned?

          • ardy39 says:

            not all of them were captured in Canto 56 of Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H.:

            Who trusted God was love indeed

            And love Creation’s final law

            Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw

            With ravine, shriek’d against his creed

            You might look up kin selection too. (OK, I’ll help out here: helping to raise the offspring of your siblings and other relatives increases your fitness if those offspring carry some of the same genes that you do.)

            Being “fit” (in a Darwinian sense) is not restricted to eating, fucking, and killing more than your neighbors. It is much more complex, especially in social organisms.

            Indeed, most male organisms in the natural world spew their seed out indiscriminately into the air or water, and that’s all the effort they put into rearing their offspring. If this “natural” model is what you recommend for people, you ought to practice what you preach and stop worrying about the education of  your daughters. You bleeding liberal you!

            (Really, though, please DON’T practice this. Please, worry about your children and their friends and the children of all your relatives. Make sure you raise them to the best of your ability. Don’t let the fact that this makes you a “natural world” liberal for doing this influence you into doing something stupid like what most starfish do!!)

            Science is cool (and real!). In general, poems (even really really long poems), are not the best source for reliable scientific information.

            • Laughing Boy says:

              Thanks Ardy.


              Indeed, most male organisms in the natural world spew their seed out indiscriminately into the air or water, and that’s all the effort they put into rearing their offspring.

              I have a buddy like this.  What a jackass.  🙂

              • ardy39 says:

                This spring (if it ever arrives), when you are outdoors and there is pollen wafting everywhere, that you are walking through a giant botanical circlejerk, and that stuff you just inhaled up your nose is …

                OK, maybe not such a good thing to keep in mind. 😉

            • Rainidog says:

              You and Steve have jump-started my brain.  Just hope I can keep it running, hard to do on a gray, cold, snowy day.

              You generated a big grin with

              . . . poems . . are not the best source for reliable scientific information.

               Must say, as a bit of poet myself and friend to a very good poet, that fine poetry is also good brain food, very “whole-brain,” you might say.

              • ardy39 says:

                I did not mean to imply that poems and all the other arts do not offer incredible insights into the human condition and do not offer opportunities for us to more critically evaluate the natural world.

                I would be much less of a scientist, not to mention human, without the arts to cause my neurons to fire in totally unexpected ways!

                • Steve Harvey says:

                  There are multiple ways of understanding the same thing. For instance, a river can be examined and appreciated through the lenses of fluid dynamics, chemical composition, and light reflection and refraction, or through the lenses of painting, music, and poetry. I wouldn’t consider any understanding of that river complete without being able to see and hear the spirits within it, singing and dancing their way to the sea….

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            You started off bitching about how the graphs of deficits were unfair because it didn’t show the Obama years but when it was pointed out that he inherited a 1.2 trillion dollar deficit from Republicans and his deficit spending was in direct response to an enconomy circling the drain due to Republican misrule, you change the subject to talk about evolution.  What a nonsensical reply.

            The trends show that Republicans love to borrow and spend money because then they can brag about not raising taxes but they are being disingenuous because the borrowed money comes with interest so the taxpayer will have to eventually have to pay the original amount for the goods or services and then the interest so no Republicans don’t do better with the deficit than Democrats.  As all the graphs show, the trend line is that Republicans abuse deficit spending to a greater degree than Democrats.  If you are going to complain about Obama and the deficit then you should also hold your partisan politicians equally responsible for this mess.

            Quit blaming Obama for the deficit when it is obvious it started before he came into office and his response to the economic crisis was neither radical or unprecedented.  It was a middle of the road approach that probably prevented an immediate collapse but was too tentative to snap the country out of this economic crisis.  

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