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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is back in Colorado this week not holding town hall meetings as Congress takes its annual July 4th holiday recess. Colorado’s cherubic junior Senator has risen quickly in the political world over the last decade by smiling broadly and throwing bombs at Democrats, but his strategy of climbing the partisan ladder at the expense of his home state has turned even once-loyal supporters like the Denver Post against him.
Late last week, the Post published two separate editorials critical of Gardner’s performance. In the first editorial, which appeared in Saturday’s print edition, the Post wrote that it was “ashamed” of Gardner after his office sought to have protestors with disabilities arrested. On Sunday, the Post then published another strongly-worded editorial calling on Gardner to show some actual leadership in the Senate healthcare discussions:
Here in Colorado, the spectacle has placed Sen. Cory Gardner in a most damning spotlight. It’s time for him to exercise his leadership within the party — Gardner runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee — and join the growing bipartisan rejection of the McConnell effort.
Gardner’s silence on what he’d like to see changed in the bill is deafening in a state where a shockingly high percent of voters support a more liberal approach to health care.
Our first-term Republican senator needs to think long and hard about who he represents and what he stands for.
He needs to spend his break telling constituents how he’d like to fix health care and why he’s the right man for the job in D.C. Because now there is clear reason for doubt. While he’s shown himself too skilled at dodging town hall meetings of constituents of late, Gardner can’t escape the public record. Gardner was one of the select members of a working group meant to inform McConnell’s bill…
…Nothing about the path he is on will be easy, but if Gardner wants to prove his mettle as a leader, this is his chance.
He ought to take it. [Pols emphasis]
Elsewhere, Politico points out just how big of a problem Trumpcare has become for Gardner.
► Senate Republicans remain perplexed by President Trump’s ever-changing strategy (and we use the word “strategy” very lightly here) regarding GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. As the Washington Post reports:
When congressional Republicans zig, President Trump zags. When they follow suit and zag, he zigs. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to overhauling the Affordable Care Act.
Trump jerked the GOP-led Congress around on a puppet string last week when he abruptly tweeted that the Senate should suspend its uphill climb to pass a health-care bill and instead just vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement already lined up.
But that two-step strategy of first repeal, then replace is precisely what the president had convinced Republican leaders not to do earlier this year.
“I feel that repeal and replace have to be together, for very simply, I think that the Democrats should want to fix Obamacare,” Trump said in a Jan. 10 interview with the New York Times. “They cannot live with it, and they have to go together.”
At a news conference the next day, Trump promised an Obamacare replacement “simultaneously.” “We will be filing a plan,” the president said. “It will essentially be simultaneously.”
Perhaps Trump meant to say that he would be “simultaneously” promoting competing narratives on healthcare.
► One Colorado woman profiled by NBC News shows how the healthcare battle over Medicaid spending is deeply personal:
Kelly Stahlman’s twin sons were born 12 weeks prematurely in 1992, and soon after, both were diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other severe health issues that required around-the-clock care.
After two years of constant care with the help of neighbors, friends and au pairs, Stahlman and her husband, Bruce, found themselves nearly broke — both financially and mentally, she told NBC News.
She says their search for assistance to help with the medical bills yielded nothing and even included advice to seek a divorce and give her twins up to foster care so they could receive adequate help.
Both sons required care that private insurance wouldn’t cover at a cost the middle-class family couldn’t afford as the bills reached hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
“We weren’t poor enough” to get financial assistance, she said, “not in the right county. No matter where I went or what I did we couldn’t access anything.”
► Maine and New Jersey have joined Illinois on the list of states facing massive cutbacks because of decimated state budgets. The causes of these state budget woes are too many to list here, but it’s no coincidence that all three states are led by Republican governors.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► There are 22 top aides at the White House earning the largest-possible maximum salary for their respective roles. You could make an argument that some are both overpaid and underpaid for having to work for Trump.
► The light rail system in the Denver area is far from perfect. It could be worse.
► Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world, is more migraine than headache for many Republicans. The rest of America feels their pain.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the current head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), whose job it is to maintain and grow a GOP majority in the U.S. Senate. Gardner and the NRSC got some bad news this weekend when their top candidate to challenge Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill decided against a Senate bid in 2018.
► If you’re taking bets on the next high-profile member of President Trump’s cabinet to take a hike, the smart money is on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. From Politico:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued with senior White House aide Stephen Miller over immigration issues last week in a second recent clash with the White House.
Miller pushed Tillerson and the State Department to be tougher on immigration and make changes to the programs they control, according to four people familiar with the conversation in the West Wing. John Kelly, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, was also present.
Two of these people described the conversation as tense, though there wasn’t the “yelling” that Tillerson reserved for Johnny DeStefano, the head of presidential personnel, in a different argument at the White House the same day, according to one of these people.
Tillerson made it “quite clear” to Miller that he wanted autonomy over his department, one of these people said.
Tillerson is also apparently deeply frustrated at how long it is taking the White House to fill key State Department administrative positions.
► We’d love to think that adding more “Unaffiliated” voters to the redistricting/ reapportionment process would make a significant difference in preventing gerrymandering, but it’s hard to pretend that there are really that many true “independent” voters who are interested enough to participate in one of the most insider-y of all insider-y political maneuvers.
► Why Donald Trump’s White House is like professional wrestling.
► Your Pulitzer Prize is in the mail, Dan Njegomir.
► Anadarko Petroleum says that most of its oil and gas wells in Colorado probably won’t blow up your house.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► The Denver Nuggets picked up an honest-to-goodness All-Star player in free agency.
► Here’s the “good news” from last week.