Get More Smarter on Friday (September 22)

Welcome to the first day of Autumn. 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 appears to have torpedoed the last best hope for Republicans hoping to repeal Obamacare before a budget reconciliation deadline of Sept. 30. From the Huffington Post:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Friday that he doesn’t support the latest Obamacare repeal bill, all but ensuring Republicans’ last-ditch effort to gut the Affordable Care Act is dead in the water.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full [Congressional Budget Office] score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

As multiple news outlets are reporting, McCain’s statement of opposition to the Graham-Lindsey healthcare bill all but ensures the legislation’s demise. The major flaws in Graham-Cassidy were too much for McCain to ignore. While this is another blow to Senate Republican leadership, it also provides a convenient exit strategy for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who had absurdly claimed that he was “undecided” on the legislation when he is more worried about angering major Republican donors.

Coloradans such as Sarah Metsch can also exhale — for the moment, anyway.

 

► Colorado Republican opposition to a “special session” called by Gov. John Hickenlooper is getting more and more ridiculous by the day.

 

► The Washington Post reports on escalating rhetoric between President Trump and North Korea. If you’re looking for a silver lining here, at least Americans are learning a new word.

 

► The Trump administration is making changes to its “Don’t Call it a Muslim Travel Ban. From the New York Times:

President Trump’s ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans said on Friday.

The new restrictions, aimed at preventing security threats from entering the United States, could go into effect on Sunday after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration’s original travel ban. Though the restrictions would differ for each country, people living in the targeted nations could be prevented from traveling to the United States or could face increased scrutiny as they seek to obtain a visa.

As part of the review, administration officials said that the Department of Homeland Security initially identified more than six nations that were failing to comply with security standards that could block terrorists from entering the United States. Officials notified the governments in those nations that travel to the United States could be severely restricted if they did not increase those standards. It was not clear which countries would be targeted under the new restrictions or exactly how many would be affected.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…

 

► The U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday that it is formally rescinding Obama-era Title IX guidelines for sexual assault cases. As CNN reports:

As part of the interim guidance, the department released a Q&A outlining recommendations on how schools should respond, including guidance on what schools are obligated to do in response to allegations and their flexibility in establishing their own procedures.

The administration is formally withdrawing the Obama administration’s “dear colleague letter” that some, including DeVos, have criticized for going too far. The standard for proof has been raised for school disciplinary proceedings in some instances, as different schools have different policies.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has plenty of problems, but we’ll give her credit for this: At least she’s not wasting taxpayer money on elaborate travel arrangements.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is an altogether different story. As Politico reports:

Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents.

The frequency of the trips underscores how private travel has become the norm — rather than the exception — for the Georgia Republican during his tenure atop the federal health agency, which began in February. The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries. [Pols emphasis]

Price’s use of private jets represents a sharp departure from his two immediate predecessors, Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially in the continental United States. HHS officials have said Price uses private jets only when commercial travel is not feasible.

But many of the flights are between large cities with frequent, low-cost airline traffic, such as a trip from Washington to Nashville that the secretary took on June 6 to make a morning event at a medication distributor and an afternoon speech.

Three hundred thousand dollars, in less than 9 months. Fiscal conservatism, baby!

 

► Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler is finding running for statewide office to be a tough slog. It might be easier if he wasn’t so awful at using Twitter.

 

Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman profiles 2016 GOP Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, who is now seeking to unseat Rep. Doug Lamborn in CD-5 (Colorado Springs):

Last year’s statewide campaign will bear little resemblance to Glenn’s quest this time, a battle of El Paso County Republicans with the winner emerging as heavy favorite to win the general.

Gone is the tightly coiled, confrontational Glenn who opened nearly every Senate campaign appearance describing himself as “an unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative, pro-life, Second Amendment-loving American who will beat Michael Bennet.”…

…It isn’t just that Glenn is driven and resolute and unflinching — although he hasn’t lost a whiff of those characteristics — but his familiar swagger carries with it something lighter, something that voters didn’t often see during last year’s race against Bennet. Relaxed and confident, Glenn seems happy.

If Glenn can maintain this relaxed persona, he could make June’s Republican Primary very interesting. Glenn was at his best in the early stages of the 2016 Senate campaign when he was more spontaneous and energetic.

 

Mitt Romney’s Nephew (Doug Robinson, a Republican candidate for governor) probably didn’t ingratiate himself with executives at the Denver Post when he spoke at a campaign stop about a conversation with a newspaper editor who claimed that the Post would never endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis. As the Colorado Independent reports, Robinson now says that he misquoted himself:

Robinson confirmed he’d made some misstatements. Robinson says before he announced his candidacy he called Singleton, whom he says he knows socially. Robinson told me in describing Singleton as the editor of The Denver Post to the Grand Junction crowd, “I would have been incorrect.” Robinson also said this: “I don’t recall talking with him about Jared Polis.” Perhaps, he said, he did hear it elsewhere and got it conflated. Then again Robinson says he did not recall Singleton saying Robinson should consider running for treasurer instead of governor. “He definitely said that the candidates were further out than they had been in the past,” Robinson said of Singleton.

Asked if he had anything further to say about the incident, Robinson said no. Earlier he mentioned how he didn’t know he was being recorded when he was speaking in Grand Junction. Lesson here? I think that’s pretty obvious.

I don’t remember saying any of these things that I said. Oh, there’s a recording? 

 

 If you are not particularly enthusiastic about Republican plans for “tax reform,” you’re not alone.

► A Denver-based organization that works to prevent teenage pregnancy will close its doors because of federal funding cuts implemented by President Trump.

 

► Colorado’s new Medicaid payment system needs some adjusting.

 

► Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a former judge in Colorado, talks up the “importance” of conservative judges.

 

► Colorado Republicans may decide to scrap their own Primary Election at a meeting this weekend.

 

Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

 

► State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, everybody:

► President Trump is filling the Agriculture Department with political allies — many of whom have virtually no expertise in agricultural policiesCheck out this example via Politico:

The truck driver, Nick Brusky, was hired this year at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service — an agency tasked with developing overseas markets for U.S. agricultural trade goods — at one of the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale, a GS-12, earning $79,720 annually. Though that pay grade requires a master’s degree or equivalent experience, it’s not clear from Brusky’s résumé whether he’s a college graduate. The document lists coursework in business management and political science at three universities from 2000 to 2013, but does not specify a graduation date.

Brusky served as a field representative for Trump’s campaign in the battleground state of Ohio, beginning in November 2016, while driving for a trucking company in Hilliard, where he also was a county commissioner. Brusky’s résumé shows he has no experience in cultivating international markets for trade goods, though he notes he has experience “hauling and shipping agricultural commodities.” [Pols emphasis] It says he was twice elected to local office and was a legislative aide to an Ohio state representative from January 2009 until June 2012.

We really wish we were making this up.

 

► “All Lives Splatter” is not clever or funny. At Least She’s Not Your Legislator.

 

ICYMI

► Former Congressman and potential GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo is not happy with the editorial board of the Denver Post.

 

► Many Americans are juggling work and personal life responsibilities with a new concern: Asking their Congressional representatives not to kill them.

 

 

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