Remember George Brauchler?

George Brauchler’s gubernatorial campaign, metaphorically-speaking.

If you were going to compose a theme song for the already-sputtering gubernatorial campaign of Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, you would probably start with a sad trombone (wah-wah-wahhhh) accompanied with the sound of air escaping from a deflated balloon. For vocal accompaniment, hiring the teacher from Charlie Brown would be ideal.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Brauchler announced his Q2 fundraising numbers on Monday without enough practical spin to generate any momentum whatsoever:

Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler raised $190,696 in the just-completed fundraising quarter — nearly all of it from Colorado residents and with donors in all 64 of the counties, his campaign said Monday.

Brauchler received contributions from 673 donors, with just over 95 percent of them from Colorado. After spending $46,731, he ended June with $143,966 cash on hand…

…His primary rivals include Douglas County entrepreneur and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, who launched his campaign by writing himself a $3 million check, and former investment banker and Mitt Romney nephew Doug Robinson. On top of the millions he loaned his campaign, Mitchell raised $13,098 in the quarter that ended in June. Robinson reported raising $207,532 and loaned himself $57,022 in the same period.

George Brauchler.

Brauchler was always going to have trouble competing with the self-funded campaigns of Victor Mitchell and Mitt Romney’s Nephew, both of whom seem able and willing to bankroll their own gubernatorial bids. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a proven fundraiser, should join the gubernatorial field later this summer, and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is likely to enter the fray as well. If Brauchler couldn’t even raise $200k when he was the only somewhat-known name in the field, then there is little chance he will be able to ramp up the money machine when he is competing for donations with Stapleton and Coffman.

Brauchler doesn’t need to be the top fundraiser on the Republican side, but he needs a minimal amount of dough just to keep the lights on in a statewide campaign. Brauchler ended June with $143,966 in the bank; that’s enough to keep the doors open for another quarter, but there’s not much money left over for important things like advertising and voter outreach. This is dangerous territory for a statewide candidate.

While money isn’t everything in politics, timing certainly is. Two years ago, Republicans thought Brauchler might be their next big thing as a candidate for U.S. Senate. Brauchler passed on that race and focused his sights on running for governor, but whatever gravitas he may have had in September 2015 seems not to have followed him into 2017.

Trumpcare is Really, Very, Seriously Dead

If you missed the breaking news late last evening, Trumpcare is dead. The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) is kaput. Senate Republicans have failed, again, to even get a healthcare bill to the floor.

Even conservative news outlets like RedState are giving eulogies for Trumpcare. As the New York Times examines:

Two more Republican senators declared on Monday night that they would oppose the Senate Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, killing, for now, a seven-year-old promise to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The announcement by the senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, left their leaders at least two votes short of the number needed to begin debate on their bill to dismantle the health law. Two other Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, had already said they would not support a procedural step to begin debate.

With four solid votes against the bill, Republican leaders now have two options.

They can try to rewrite it in a way that can secure 50 Republican votes, a seeming impossibility at this point, given the complaints by the defecting senators. Or they can work with Democrats on a narrower measure to fix the flaws in the Affordable Care Act that both parties acknowledge.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, conceded Monday night that “the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” He outlined plans to vote now on a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with it taking effect later. That has almost no chance to pass, however, since it could leave millions without insurance and leave insurance markets in turmoil. [Pols emphasis]

Trying to repeal Obamacare without a replacement in place is an even worse idea than Trumpcare — even Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has said as much — but Senate Republicans might try to do it anyway. This isn’t like the poor loser on the playground taking his ball and going home; this is the poor loser taking his ball and then returning with heavy machinery to raze the field to the ground.

As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump predicted Tuesday morning that Republicans may wait for the federal insurance market to collapse and then work to broker a deal to rewrite the nation’s landmark health-care law.

In a series of tweets, Trump blamed the demise of a months-long effort to rewrite the Affordable Care Act on Democrats “and a few Republicans,” but he suggested that the drive to overhaul the law was not completely over…

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opened the Senate on Tuesday morning touting his latest plan — to vote on a pure repeal, with a two-year delay, by taking up the House’s health-care bill. But while conservatives and Trump have been pushing for such a repeal as a last resort, it appeared unlikely that the vote would succeed.

Blaming Democrats for the failure of Trumpcare is transparently silly, of course. Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of Congress and have one of their own in the White House; they didn’t need Democrats to pass anything, and they still failed.

It seems unlikely that the Senate will be able to muster any sort of support to pursue a repeal-only plan, though there may be some scuttlebutt about this in the days and weeks to come. It is certainly a huge blow to Republicans to fail — repeatedly — to make any headway on Obamacare after spending seven years complaining about it, but in the end a few cooler heads in the GOP prevailed and prevented what would have been a complete disaster for most Americans. Republicans never seemed to understand a fundamental problem with their entire approach to healthcare: You can’t base an entire policy strategy on taking things away from people.

The immediate aftermath for Republicans will be a soul-searching look at how and why they weren’t able to make any headway on Trumpcare or BCRA. It didn’t help that President Trump was absolutely clueless about healthcare policy in general. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains in a story worth reading in its entirety, Republicans face some very tough realities today:

Talk to any Republican privately and they will tell you that there are simply no good options to turn this legislative lemon into lemonade. Below are seven hard realities Republicans need to face in the aftermath of this epic collapse…

1) There is no other, better bill, 2) “Repeal then replace” isn’t likely to go anywhere, 3) McConnell wants this to go away, 4) House Republicans who voted for healthcare are WAY out on a limb, 5) Obama leaving office was the worst thing to happen for repeal/replace advocates, 6) Delaying the vote was a total killer, 7) Trump never had any real idea about the policy.

At the end of the day, the only thing Republicans really accomplished with this healthcare fiasco is to prove to the American people that they are heartlessly inept. This one’s gonna sting for awhile.

Cary Kennedy Shuts Down The Critics

Cary Kennedy.

A press release yesterday from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy announces the most important thing she needed to stay relevant in a changing primary landscape–a big fat pile of money:

Cary Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Governor of Colorado, today announced raising $343,000 dollars in the first financial quarter of her campaign for governor. Ninety-two percent of contributors to Cary’s campaign reside within Colorado; the campaign received contributions from 34 of Colorado’s counties. Kennedy is building a grassroots campaign with 1,705 donations, more than half of which were under $100.

“I am honored to have the support of so many Coloradans across our state,” said Kennedy. “Thank you to all of my supporters. Together we will work to make sure every Coloradan benefits from the progress we’ve made.”

Kennedy’s campaign has gained momentum as she engages her supporters across the state and it’s clear her statewide base is continuing to grow. Notably she was endorsed by EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. If elected, Cary will be the first woman to serve as Colorado’s governor.

Cary Kennedy spent the first months of her campaign traveling across Colorado and connecting with voters. For example, she marched for science in Mesa county, helped build a trail in El Paso, met with voters in Grand County, paraded for Memorial Day in Adams county, toasted with supporters in Larimer and celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Pride and Juneteenth in Denver.

Cary Kennedy endured some ribbing after a campaign launch stunt that local news media spent an undue amount of time and energy deconstructing–so much so that we suspect it motivated her supporters to make a strong showing in a way nobody can ignore, Kennedy’s bottom line. Kennedy handily outraised Democratic opponent Mike Johnston, who was unable to sustain his huge first-quarter haul from out-of-state education reform interests. With the departure of Ed Perlmutter from the race, a window has opened for competitiveness with now-presumed frontrunner Jared Polis that Kennedy is well-equipped to exploit.

And really, hats off to Kennedy and her team. They did exactly what they needed to do to be taken seriously in this race.

Tuesday Open Thread

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.”

–H. L. Mencken

Republicans Just Can’t Shake the Shirtless Sheriff

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, aka the “Shirtless Sheriff.”

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, aka the “Shirtless Sheriff,” continues to plague Republicans even though he formally left office more than two years ago.

As we noted last week, Maketa somehow skated on all seven charges related to official misconduct and witness tampering dating back to his controversial tenure as Sheriff in the  most staunchly-conservative county in Colorado. Maketa’s alleged crimes are numerous and well-documented, which is why many political observers in Colorado were more than a little surprised to see him escape penalty in a trial that wrapped up last week. Jurors deadlocked on four of the charges against Maketa, which creates a significant problem for Arapahoe County District Attorney — and candidate for Governor — George Brauchler.

As Lance Benzel reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

In failing to resolve the criminal case against ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, a District Court jury forced a dilemma on a candidate for governor.

A veteran political observer says the decision on whether to retry the embattled lawman on four remaining counts could have political costs for Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler, who leads the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case.

If Brauchler’s office decides to drop Maketa’s charges, Brauchler could be accused of letting a fellow Republican skate on sweeping allegations of corruption.

If his office pushes for a new trial, he could alienate parts of the Republican base in El Paso County, where Maketa has his sympathizers.

“It’s a media disaster,” said Bob Loevy, a retired Colorado College political science professor and longtime political analyst in El Paso County. “To have this stretch into the gubernatorial primary and then possibly the general election in 2018, the Republican Party doesn’t need that at all, not in its most significant county.”

El Paso County boasts more Republicans than any county in the state. Although it doesn’t always have the numbers to sway a general election, it does have the potential to decide which Republican makes it past the primary, Loevy said.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Regardless of whether or not Maketa faces a new trial, Brauchler has already incurred heavy damage because it fuels the perception that he seems to come up short in high-profile court cases. The Maketa case was handled by Brauchler’s office because the El Paso County DA was conflicted out of handing the charges directly. Brauchler chose Mark Hurlbert — yes the same Hurlbert who infamously tried to prosecute basketball star Kobe Bryant many years ago — to handle the Maketa case, and now he’s going to have to get even more involved than he would have liked:

Brauchler did not personally prosecute the Maketa case, which ended in a partial mistrial last week when a jury acquitted the former three-term sheriff on three counts and failed to reach a verdict on four others.

But he will be personally involved in the decision whether to retry Maketa, lead prosecutor Mark Hurlbert said after the verdicts. [Pols emphasis]

Brauchler has been facing criticism from fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates about his decision to run for Governor while still working full-time as the DA in the 18th Judicial District, and the Maketa trial puts a new spotlight on that controversy.

Is Brauchler doing a disservice to the people of Arapahoe County, and now El Paso County, by trying to tackle two full-time jobs at once? It was an inevitable problem for Brauchler anyway, but there are now some very real — and very public — consequences for his decision. It’s difficult to convince voters that you should lead the state as Governor when your opponents can make a solid case that you’ve been asleep at the wheel in your current position.

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 17)

Today is 7/17/17. Seems like a good date. 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…

► President Trump is consistent in one regard: His approval ratings are reliably awful. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump is not Teflon, and the conventional wisdom that “nothing matters” is wrong.

fresh Washington Post/ABC News poll underscores the softness of Trump’s support as he prepares to mark six months in the White House on Thursday.

It also highlights a growing intensity gap. Support for the president is more tepid, but opposition is increasingly inflamed.

The president’s overall approval rating has slipped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April. For context, George W. Bush and Barack Obama both held 59 percent approval ratings in Post/ABC polls conducted around their six-month anniversaries.

Media coverage often focuses on how rank-and-file Republicans, as well as elected officials, continue to stand behind Trump. While true, a close examination of the results suggests that no more than 1 in 4 Americans believe passionately in him or his presidency at this juncture.

Trump’s Russia problems are also breaking through to a broader populace; just 3 in 10 voters still don’t think the Russian government tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Overall, Trump’s disapproval rating has risen to 58%.

 

► Campaign finance reports for the second quarter fundraising period should all be available today (barring technical difficulties, which tends to happen with the FEC). We’ll have a separate story later breaking down all of the fundraising winners and losers from Q2.

 

► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed a potential vote on the Senate GOP healthcare bill on account of…health reasons. As CNN reports:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday that the Senate will delay consideration of the Republican health care bill while Sen. John McCain recovers from surgery for a blood clot.

McConnell tweeted that the Senate will work on other legislative issues and nominations next week and “will defer consideration of the Better Care Act” while McCain is recovering. McCain’s absence would have imperiled the bill, which needs the support of 50 of 52 GOP senators to advance.

Two Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky — have already said they will not support a motion to proceed to floor debate on the legislation.

McCain is in Arizona recovering from surgery and has been advised by doctors to rest at home for the entire week. As Politico explains, there is no good estimate for when Trumpcare may be back on the agenda:

Privately, Republicans said the delay could be as little as a week as McCain recovers in Arizona, though others worried it could stretch for several weeks and jeopardize the entire repeal effort. Clouding the timetable further, a new Congressional Budget Office estimate for the bill that was expected on Monday has also been delayed, Republicans said. It could come as early as Tuesday.

Whether the bill would advance even if McCain were in Washington is another question altogether, as the Arizona senator is one of more than half a dozen undecided Republicans, any one of whom could tank the bill.

Notably, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is still opposing the GOP healthcare legislation…which is a strong indication that Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would be the third “no vote” should a vote be held anytime soon.

 

 

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Monday Open Thread

“Grant us a brief delay; impulse in everything is but a worthless servant.”

–Caecilius Statius

Gardner’s Health Care Day of Reckoning Gets One-Week Delay

A Newsy syndicated story via Denver7, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mashes the pause button on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act while Sen. John McCain of Arizona recovers from surprise surgery Friday:

Senate Republicans were forced to postpone a vote on their party’s health care bill after Sen. John McCain announced he would be home all week recovering from surgery.

McCain revealed he had a blood clot removed from above his left eye on Friday and that he would be spending the upcoming week at home.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement late Saturday. The bill — the majority of which was written behind closed doors — has already been delayed once due to a lack of votes to bring it to the floor.

At least two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins and Rand Paul — have refused to approve the bill in its current form. Several others have signaled they’re on the fence. And the GOP can only afford to lose two party votes, since every Democrat and both independents oppose it.

It’s a surprise to the public, of course, we have no way of knowing how much advance word may have been given to McConnell that the deciding vote on the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act would be absent all week from the Senate. And that’s only assuming there are no further defections in the coming days, which seem more or less inevitable–the bill’s support from conservatives resting on an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz allowing the sale of “bare bones” insurance plans that insurers and moderates say will destabilize the market. But for the sudden absence of Sen. McCain, this would all be coming to a head tomorrow instead of, now, next week.

Meanwhile, continuing analysis of the latest version of the bill unveiled last week continues to indicate large reductions in Medicaid funding vs. current projections–underscoring a falsehood from lots of Republicans including Vice President Mike Pence, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who have all claimed “there will be more money going into Medicaid.” You’ve probably already seen this in the Washington Post or somewhere else, but here it is once again:

Trump says Medicaid spending “actually goes up” because he is referring only to the raw dollar increase between $393 billion in 2017 and $464 billion in 2026.

But that omits the other part of the full picture: The Senate bill significantly reduces how much the federal government would spend on Medicaid in future years compared to projections without a change in the current law. It would lead to 15 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026 than there would be if current law stayed in place. For context, Medicaid expansion under Obamacare provided insurance to as many as 14 million more people.

This is why the shift we identified in Gardner’s rhetoric last week, away from protecting Medicaid expansion patients in Colorado to preventing those “most in need” from being “crowded out,” is so important. The latest version of the bill unveiled last week does nothing to address the large reductions in Medicaid funding relative to current law, which will result in millions of Americans and thousands of Coloradans losing their coverage. There’s no way to make that any less destructive without sacrificing support from conservative Senators, and as McCain’s absence demonstrates, McConnell can’t lose any more support.

Which means that if this thing comes to a vote, Gardner will either have to give thousands of Coloradans the shaft, breaking his promises to protect Medicaid patients without any exceptions–or vote against fellow Republicans as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Either choice has serious political consequences–for Gardner and the majority he is charged with defending. Everyone wishes McCain a speedy recovery, but we can’t imagine many Republicans are upset about this no-win vote being pushed back yet again.

And that tells you how crazy the whole exercise has become.

Weekend Open Thread

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

–Albert Einstein

Legislative Session Holds Back Early CD-7 Primary Fundraising

Sen. Andy Kerr, Rep. Brittany Pettersen.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman reporting, all three Democratic candidates vying to replace outgoing Rep. Ed Perlmutter have reported their first quarter of fundraising–Rep. Brittany Pettersen finished first this initial period with $170,000 raised, followed by Sen. Andy Kerr at just over $100,000 and Sen. Dominick Moreno just south of $85,000:

Colorado State Sen. Andy Kerr, a Democrat hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, will report raising more than $104,000 in his first fundraising period, Colorado Politics has learned.

The campaign says fundraising was driven by grassroots and in-state donations, with 536 donors. More than 85 percent came from within Colorado. Almost three-fourths of the donations were under $100, according to the campaign…

The other two Democrats running for the seat are Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City.

Pettersen earlier this week reported raising more than $170,000 in her first fundraising period. Her campaign said fundraising was restricted by her work in the legislature this year, with more than 80 percent of donations coming after the conclusion of the legislative session in May.

Moreno earlier on Friday reported raising nearly $85,000 in his first fundraising period.

Obviously, Rep. Pettersen comes out on top and that’s the headline. With that said, in all three cases fundraising was hampered by our state’s strict prohibitions on fundraising by serving state lawmakers during the legislative session. It’s also true that fundraising in a contested primary is harder than the general election, as donors are more cautious about making an investment that goes nowhere. We do expect these numbers to rise in future quarters for all three candidates now that the legislative session is behind us, and that’s when we’ll be watching to see a spread emerge to tell us who is definitively pulling ahead. Before then, detailed reports we should see next week will tell us more about where the money is coming from and how it’s being spent by the candidates.

Bottom line: nobody’s out of the running yet. From here, we can watch to establish the trend.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 14)

Eek! It’s Friday the 14th! 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…

► Let’s be honest — we’d be more surprised at this point if it turns out that Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign did not collude with the Russians. As NBC News first reported:

The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.

The lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies, accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.

This is a big story, but there appears to be even more to come. As the Washington Post explains, Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russians last summer is sounding sketchier every day:

A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr., could not confirm Akhmetshin’s attendance but said there was an additional participant, whom he declined to identify. [Pols emphasis]

That brings the total number of people who accompanied Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya to the Trump Tower meeting to three: Akhmetshin, British music publicist Rob Goldstone, and the unidentified person.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) told CBS News on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “couldn’t ask for a better friend” than President Trump.

 

► Things are not looking good for Senate Republicans as they try to cram through their new-but-basically-the-same Trumpcare legislation. As the Washington Post reports, at least 10 Senate Republicans have expressed concern over the latest version of new healthcare legislation; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republicans if he hopes to pass legislation. The New York Times is equally skeptical on GOP support for passage of the new bill. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, however, is fully onboard with the idea of demolishing Medicaid.

Meanwhile, health insurance premiums in Colorado may be on the rise again (not that they have ever not increased, before or after Obamacare), in large part because of market uncertainty over the state of healthcare legislation. From the Denver Post:

Colorado health insurers are asking to be able to charge customers in the individual market nearly 27 percent more on average in premiums next year, the state Division of Insurance announced Friday.

The division must still review and approve the requests — after receiving public comment. But state Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar said in a statement that the large proposed increases were not a surprise.

“I believe that the dubious situation at the federal level has contributed to the premium increase requests we’ve seen from the companies,” she said.

The price increases would impact a relatively small percentage of Coloradans. No more than 8 percent of people in the state shop for health insurance plans on their own. [Pols emphasis]

 

► House Republicans are gauging support for legislation that would lead to a massive increase in federal spending. As Politico reports:

In a closed-door GOP conference meeting Friday morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said all 12 appropriations bills will be finished in committee by the end of next week. Starting Monday, leadership will begin a tentative whip count on whether lawmakers would vote for a package before the August recess that combines all of those bills into one $1 trillion government funding bill.

The idea, first proposed by Rep. Tom Graves, a senior appropriator, is to give House Republicans a chance to pass a red-meat spending bill that will lay out GOP priorities. Though the bill would never pass the Senate in the face of Democratic opposition, the process would allow House Republicans to offer potentially hundreds of amendments, an exercise that excites members who are frustrated that they’ve had no input on how to fund the government.

“It’s actually been the consensus of the conference to get all this done before August,” Graves (R-Ga.) said upon emerging from conference Friday, optimistic that his idea will take. “We’re here to get our job done, and I’ll tell you, members are excited about the opportunity to put our priorities forward and advance it to the floor.

The strategy could open something of a Pandora’s box, however. Lawmakers would be required to vote on controversial amendments that could be used against them in their districts, from provisions on the Confederate flag to gay rights proposals that put them in bind. Democratic amendments chiding the administration for the Russia controversy are almost assured.

Have fun with that one, Republicans.

 

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Clueless Climate Alliance Clamor Continues

We wrote earlier this week about Republican gubernatorial candidates who reacted with over-the-top anger to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to join the U.S. Climate Alliance–a group of states committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Accords despite President Donald Trump’s unilateral pullout of the United States.

Since then, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has joined the pile-on in his own colloquial way:

We don’t know who Mark Train is, but we assume he doesn’t drive an electric car! Bah-dum-tish!

Ribbing aside, this is another chance to remind readers that we’ve never understood the intensity of the clamor against renewable energy from groups like the Independence Institute and their Republican message surrogates. The scientific consensus regarding human-caused climate change is really only challenged by a small subset of non-mainstream voices, who are almost always are revealed under scrutiny to be funded by interests with a financial motive to deny the overwhelming consensus.

This description sums up the Independence Institute pretty well.

What we’re trying to say here is that the only people who rage against renewable energy this much are paid to–or in the case of politicians like Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, supported politically by those who are. If you don’t have a financial interest in the fight against clean energy, there’s just no reason to badmouth it. Not even as price-sensitive consumers, since the cost of power from renewable sources has been dropping, steadily eroding that once-decisive factor. Consumers understand the benefit of using clean energy over fossil fuels, and are excited about new technologies to make them practical.

In all cases, whether it’s the GOP’s candidates for governor or the fossil fuel industry’s paid surrogates, these are extremely weak arguments, that the next generation will find laughable as they routinely set out for the West Coast in their electric cars and power their homes with renewable generation. Unless you’re already primed for these anti-renewable energy arguments by immersion in the Fox News/talk radio infobubble, in which case you’re the choir the Independence Institute is wasting time preaching to, it simply doesn’t work. It sounds stale, strained, and above all contrived.

Like the real Mark Twain once said, “do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”

Friday Open Thread

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

–Mark Twain

Senate Republicans Caught in Infinite Loop on Trumpcare

Trumpcare

Senate Republicans today introduced a new version of Trumpcare, and it’s a mess. This is all very confusing, so we’ll try to catch you up on the healthcare debate(s) in the Senate today with a short news roundup.

As Vox.com explains, the new “revised” version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) is not all that different from the old BCRA. This is not a surprise, but here’s the short and sweet from Vox:

Senate Republicans introduced a revised version of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, one that would allow insurers to once again deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, and to charge higher rates to sick people.

The bill would keep most of the Affordable Care Act’s tax increases but repeal one aimed specifically at medical device manufacturers. It would deeply cut the Medicaid program, making few changes to the bill’s first draft.

Even with these new changes, the general structure of the bill stays the same from its original draft, which was itself largely similar to the bill that passed the House in the spring.

Got that? Now, let’s go to a separate story by Vox.com examining amendments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas):

Included in the new bill is a version of Ted Cruz’s amendment allowing insurers to offer plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations so long as they also offer plans that do comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations.

So imagine you’re an insurer. As long as you offer some Obamacare compliant plans, you can also offer plans that deny people coverage for preexisting conditions, that don’t cover mental health benefits or pregnancy.

What will happen here is clear: The plans that have to offer decent coverage to anyone who wants it, no matter their health care history, will become a magnet for the old and the sick or the soon-to-be-sick, as they can’t afford, or perhaps can’t even buy, the other plans. That will drive premiums in those plans up, pulling younger, healthier people into the non-compliant plans.

The entire process leading up to today’s announcement has been as murky as ever. As CNN reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the “new BCRA” without bothering to inform all of the members of his caucus…

 

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