This is Completely Absurd

White House press briefing today

As the Washington Post reports:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that President Trump “stands by” his allegation that former president Barack Obama ordered wiretapping surveillance of Trump Tower last fall, despite statements from the leaders of congressional investigations that no evidence had been found to support the claim.

In a remarkably combative exchange with reporters at his daily news briefing, Spicer was asked whether Trump still believes Obama ordered the alleged surveillance effort.

“He stands by it,” Spicer said, going on to assail journalists for the way they have reported on the controversy.

Earlier Thursday, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said their investigation into the matter so far has turned up no evidence that the U.S. government had conducted surveillance on Trump Tower in New York, either before or after the election on Nov. 8. [Pols emphasis]

You really should head over to CNN to watch the full exchange between reporter Jim Acosta and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Here’s a sample:

Jim Acosta: You have the Senate and House Intelligence Committees…leaders from both parties on both of those panels saying that they don’t see any evidence of any wiretapping. So how can the President go on and continue to…

Sean Spicer: …It’s interesting how you jump to all of these conclusions about what they have and don’t have. And you seem to know all of the answers. But at the end of the day, there was clearly a ton of reporting…there was a vast amount of reporting about what was going on in the 2016 election. There’s no question that there were surveillance techniques used throughout this. I think that as a variety of outlets reporting on this activity have concluded.

Nevermind what the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have to say on the matter — there are stories on the Internet that prove President Trump’s “wiretapping” claims.

Ugh.

Make America Great (Except for Science, Arts, and Poor People)

President Trump unveiled his federal budget plans today, and HOLYCRAPWHATAREYOUTHINKING? As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Thursday will unveil a budget plan that calls for a sharp increase in military spending and stark cuts across much of the rest of the government including the elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs that assist the poor, fund scientific research and aid America’s allies abroad.

Trump’s first budget proposal, which he named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. Some would be hit particularly hard, with reductions of more than 20 percent at the Agriculture, Labor and State departments and of more than 30 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency.

It would also propose eliminating future federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Within EPA alone, 50 programs and 3,200 positions would be eliminated.

The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II, probably leading to a sizable cutback in the federal non-military workforce, something White House officials said was one of their goals.

“President Trump’s proposed budget will have devastating consequences for our country and for Colorado. I will do my best to fight against the cuts affecting hardworking families, federal employees, businesses and research organizations.”

— Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Trump probably doesn’t have the support in Congress to enact this budget proposal, which includes dramatic cuts to popular programs that nobody in their right mind would stand behind. Indeed many Congressional Republicans reacted with swift opposition. Again, from the Washington Post:

Congressional Republicans also protested cuts that might hurt their districts and states. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who had been White House budget director under President George W. Bush,  issued a statement “strongly opposing” Trump’s proposed elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Portman vowed to “fight to preserve” the program, which he said had been “an invaluable resource” to Ohio by generating more than $80 billion in benefits in health, tourism and recreation. [Pols emphasis]

Yeah. Good luck finding a lot of Members of Congress who are willing to look the other way while popular local initiatives get whacked. The attack ads for someone like Sen. Portman virtually write themselves (here’s an outline of the specific programs that would be all but eliminated under Trump’s proposal). In fact, congress may be protecting Trump from himself by opposing this plan; as Politico explains, the result of Trump’s budget proposal would be a devastating blow to a good number of Trump voters:

But while Trump’s first stab at budget politics has some eye-popping cuts, if passed it would also hurt many of the voters who supported him as a result of its slashing of after-school programs, job training and disease-fighting research — a line item that both Republicans and Democrats tend to support.

Unless the Department of Defense is ready with an advanced new weapon that can blow up cancer and keep kids from getting in trouble after school, Trump’s $54 billion in extra defense spending isn’t going to mean squat for most Americans.

Trumpcare: A Bloodbath For Colorado

Denver7’s Blair Miller reporting on a new study from the Colorado Health Institute on the effects in our state of passage of the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal/”replace” plan–and much like the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast of disaster for millions of Americans, it’s looking really bad for Colorado:

Colorado would lose $340 million in federal funding in 2020 when Medicaid provisions in the GOP-sponsored American Health Care Act run out, and the state stands to lose $14 billion in federal funds by 2030, according to analysis on the proposal released Thursday by the Colorado Health Institute.

The report says the state will have to choose between cutting up to 600,000 Coloradans from Medicaid by 2030 or making cuts to the state budget the nonpartisan CHI says would be “historic.” [Pols emphasis]

CHI’s analysis shows that once Medicaid provisions, including Colorado’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, are cut, that the state would start losing about $200 million in federal funding each year starting in FY 2020.

By 2030, federal funding through Medicaid to Colorado would be $2.26 billion less in that fiscal year alone than the state would have received under an unchanged ACA, according to the CHI analysis. The losses would amount to approximately $6 billion total over 10 years just from the AHCA change to a per-capita allotment system.

Like we said, these numbers quantify the local breakout of pain already forecast by the Congressional Budget Office. It should be noted that reduction of eligible Medicaid recipients is a goal of many state legislative Republicans, even as federal Republicans express concern about it. Likewise the principal defense from Democrats for the Medicaid expansion, other than the obvious public health and economic benefits of a healthier population, is that the expansion has been largely paid for with federal funds.

Whether you consider throwing hundreds of thousands of Coloradans off the health coverage rolls to be a disaster or an objective, the number who would be affected is becoming clear.

And it’s a lot of your fellow Coloradans.

Trumpcare: Coffman’s Credibility Collapses

UPDATE: Nick Riccardi of the AP, Tweeting Mike Coffman’s tele-town hall yesterday:

File under “clear as mud.”

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports–remember five days ago when Rep. Mike Coffman committed to supporting the GOP’s American Healthcare Act “in its current form?” Staking out his position right before the Congressional Budget Office released its damning estimate of 24 million more people without insurance than under the Affordable Care Act?

Yeah, forget all that:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) says he’s taking more time to review the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“Rep. Coffman is reviewing the [Congressional Budget Office] analysis to see what areas of the American Healthcare Act need adjustments before a final bill is enacted,” spokesman Daniel Bucheli wrote in an email to 9NEWS. “But he is encouraged that the bill leaves in place the consumer protections, such as preexisting conditions and allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26, and he believes the AHCA will face major changes before it’s signed into law.”

That’s different from what Coffman said March 11 on The Craig Silverman Show…

“In its current form, right now I would vote for it,” Coffman said. “I’m obviously concerned about it being changed, and what changes may happen. And I certainly do have some changes to it that I’m pushing, but if I had vote today on the form that’s there, I would support it.”

And don’t forget Coffman’s famous photo from March 7, in which he claimed to be “closely reading” the bill “to make sure it is in the best interest of CD-6 residents.”

So, on March 7, Coffman claimed he read the bill. On March 11, he said he would vote for it “in its current form.” And then yesterday, just hours before holding a tele-town hall, he backpedaled to “still reviewing.” We’re awaiting reports from yesterday’s call to update with any further contradictions/”evolutions” in Coffman’s position.

But folks, this is ridiculous. The only thing that changed between when Coffman claimed to have “read the bill” and said he would vote for it and today is the CBO’s report and the overwhelming public rejection of the bill. Coffman put himself out on this limb with no help, and his original statement that he would vote for the bill “in its current form” was not equivocal.

In short, Mike Coffman is all over the map, displaying the opposite of leadership on this central issue at a time when his constituents can least afford it. The situation reveals Coffman’s great weakness as a hard-right congressman representing a closely-divided swing district–weaker now more than ever with Republicans in full control, pushing an agenda that Coffman embraces at his peril.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Cory Gardner’s Abysmal Poll Numbers

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not fare well in new polling results from Keating Research.

The Denver Post reports today on new polling numbers from Keating Research showing that 54% of Colorado voters would rather save or improve Obamacare instead of eliminating or replacing the healthcare law — numbers that have been fairly consistent among Coloradans. But the more eye-popping numbers come in response to questions about the favorability of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma):

…the 503 Colorado voters surveyed in the new poll were less than happy with President Donald Trump: 43 percent viewed him favorably, compared to 55 percent who do not like the new commander-in-chief.

It’s a different story for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican who jettisoned his support for Trump last year and has spent much of 2017 trying to walk a fine line with the new administration on policies ranging from Russia to healthcare — all the while taking heat from Democrats and liberal activists for other issues, such as supporting Trump’s Cabinet picks.

The poll found a near-split on his approval ratings: 39 percent viewed Gardner favorably compared to the 38 percent who viewed him unfavorably.

But Gardner’s efforts to keep Trump at arm’s length may be hurting his support among Republicans. His approval among GOP voters was 63 percent — a far cry from the 83 percent of Colorado Republicans who approved of Trump.

Gah!

These are absolute horrid numbers for Gardner…and they are also easily explainable. As we’ve said in this space many times, the cardinal sin for any politician is to ignore your constituents, which Gardner has done regularly since the 2016 election. It doesn’t help Gardner that he tries so hard to be all things to all people, but the bigger albatross is his very public decision to avoid having contact with Colorado voters (despite what he has said himself in the past).

When a cardboard cutout is more popular than the man himself, you’ve got problems.

Gorsuch/Anschutz Exposé Puts Bennet on Hot Seat

Phil Anschutz.

The New York Times put out a story late yesterday that’s driving a lot of discussion in Colorado–detailing very close ties between U.S Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz that raise a number of previously unasked questions:

Mr. Anschutz’s influence is especially felt in his home state of Colorado, where years ago Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a Denver native, the son of a well-known Colorado Republican and now President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, was drawn into his orbit.

As a lawyer at a Washington law firm in the early 2000s, Judge Gorsuch represented Mr. Anschutz, his companies and lower-ranking business executives as an outside counsel. In 2006, Mr. Anschutz successfully lobbied Colorado’s lone Republican senator and the Bush administration to nominate Judge Gorsuch to the federal appeals court. And since joining the court, Judge Gorsuch has been a semiregular speaker at the mogul’s annual dove-hunting retreats for the wealthy and politically prominent at his 60-square-mile Eagles Nest Ranch.

“They say a country’s prosperity depends on three things: sound money, private property and the rule of law,” Judge Gorsuch said at the 2010 retreat, according to his speaker notes from that year. “This crowd hardly needs to hear from me about the first two of the problems we face on those scores.”

As an outside counsel for Anschutz’s business empire, Gorsuch reportedly worked on a number of high-profile cases. But the big news in this story, something we and we’re pretty sure most Coloradans were not aware of, was Anschutz’s apparent heavy lobbying for Gorsuch’s appointment as a federal judge in 2006. Since his appointment, Gorsuch has apparently recused himself from some–but not all–cases that came before his court with a relationship to Phil Anschutz.

A surprising omission from this New York Times story is the fact that Gorsuch’s service as counsel to Anschutz overlaps with Sen. Michael Bennet’s tenure as Managing Director of the Anschutz Investment Company. Bennet’s employment by Anschutz is of course a matter of record, but obviously disclosure of these ties between Neil Gorsuch and Phil Anschutz invite new questions about how that association might affect Bennet’s vote to confirm Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sen. Bennet has been very reserved about Gorsuch’s nomination, and is publicly undecided on whether to support him.

With Democrats generally hardening in opposition to Gorsuch as confirmation hearings prepare to begin, this could be a big moment for Sen. Bennet to refute some of the persistent criticism he gets on his left. A vote against Gorsuch–and especially against cloture to proceed to the simple majority confirmation vote itself–is an opportunity for Bennet to prove he’s his own man, at a moment it would really count.

Whether he likes it or not, Bennet is now front-and-center in the Gorsuch confirmation battle. Stay tuned.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 15)

The NCAA Tournament starts tomorrow morning, so get those brackets filled out. Scroll down for more from Get More Smarter, which is also available through microwave ovens. 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…

► Trumpcare appears to be in trouble. Following a brutal Congressional Budget Office review of the GOP healthcare plan, many moderate Republicans are abandoning ship. As CNN reports:

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said publicly Tuesday that she wouldn’t be able to support the GOP health care legislation after the CBO score revealed the high number of people who would lose insurance.

“I plan to vote NO on the current #AHCA bill. As written the plan leaves too many from my #SoFla district uninsured,” the Florida congresswoman wrote in two consecutive tweets. “As #AHCA stands, it will cut much needed help for #SoFla’s poor + elderly populations. Need a plan that will do more to protect them.”

Republican Rep. Leonard Lance, a moderate from New Jersey who Democrats believe will be vulnerable in 2018, told CNN that he believes the House bill will fail in the Senate. As he eyes his own reelection campaign next year, Lance said he doesn’t want to support a legislation that would be rejected by his Republican colleagues across the Capitol.

“I do not want to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing over in the Senate,” Lance said. “The CBO score has modified the dynamics.”

In light of the new CBO report, Lance said House leaders must make changes to their existing bill and only bring to the floor a version that can survive in the Senate.

It’s not difficult to see the political calculations taking place here. Skittish House Republicans are going to oppose Trumpcare as written because they’ll say that it can’t pass the Senate. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans will demand changes to the bill and just refuse to do anything unless/until the legislation passes through the House.

For a terrific breakdown of Trumpcare, check out this page from the Denver Post.

 

► Allies of President Trump, meanwhile, are warning the big orange man that the GOP healthcare legislation is doomed and are encouraging the President to cut bait before he gets sucked too far into the debate (we’d argue that this has already happened, but, whatever). From the Washington Post:

A simmering rebellion of conservative populists loyal to President Donald Trump is further endangering the GOP health-care push, with a chorus of influential voices suspicious of the proposal warning the president to abandon it.

From headlines at Breitbart to chatter on Fox News Channel and right-wing talk radio, as well as among friends who have Trump’s ear, the message has been blunt: The plan is being advanced by congressional Republican leaders is deeply flawed – and, at worst, a political trap. [Pols emphasis]

Trump’s allies worry that he is jeopardizing his presidency by promoting the bill spearheaded by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wis., arguing that it would fracture Trump’s coalition of working- and middle-class voters, many of them older and subsisting on federal aid.

It is a bit strange to hear Republicans referring to the American Health Care Act as a “political trap.” If it is indeed a trap, it is one that the GOP set for itself.

 

► Fringe right-wing interest groups in Colorado are demonstrating that they are absolutely not interested in any sort of constructive outcome on, well, anything.

 

 

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Another Try At “Rolling Coal” Ban This Year?

“Rolling coal” is not sexy.

As the Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Nick Coltrain reports–after a substantial outcry over the killing of bipartisan legislation from GOP Sen. Don Coram and Democratic Rep. Joann Ginal to outlaw “rolling coal,” modifying your diesel vehicle to spew clouds of black smoke on demand, Sen. Coram is planning to try again before the end of the legislative session with a new bill introduced in the GOP-held Colorado Senate:

The effort to outlaw rolling coal may have stalled out early on this legislative session, but don’t count it out just yet.

State Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, plans to introduce a similar bill later this session targeted at stopping drivers who harass others by blasting smoke from their diesel trucks. It would not seek to make the modifications that make doing so possible illegal.

“(Rolling coal) is not done for fuel economy, I can tell you that,” Coram, a rancher by trade, said. “It’s just harassment.” [Pols emphasis]

Each year Ginal’s bill passed the House and failed in a Senate committee on partisan lines with Republicans in dissent. She hoped that Coram sponsoring this year’s version in the Senate would bridge that divide.

Instead, it fell among Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg’s fears that it would lead to California-like emissions regulations for Colorado motorists.

Coltrain reports that Sen. Coram is going to “tweak” the bill in an attempt to allay Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg’s concerns and get the bill through the Senate, and Rep. Ginal will serve at the House sponsor of the new bill. It’s anybody’s guess whether Coram will have more success next time, but it’s face-saving on behalf of his fellow Republican Senators for him to at least try.

Will Colorado finally summon up the will to crack down on the noxious practice of “coal rolling?” We know plenty of pedestrians, bicyclists, and Prius owners who sincerely hope so.

Wingnut Pressure Groups: Why Colorado Can’t Have Nice Things

We mentioned this developing story in today’s Get More Smarter roundup, but the crisis over Republican intransigence on a deal to increase revenue for transportation spending in Colorado is getting worse by the minute–recapping the Denver Post’s report today on an “alternative” to the bipartisan deal between the Senate and House leadership from the #2 Republican in the Senate:

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg calls his effort “supplemental” but the proposal is a clear alternative to the one put forward by Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran.

Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said his draft bill would not increase taxes and would use $100 million in existing state dollars to cover a much smaller $1.3 billion bond, which is only enough to improve small local roads.

“I am going to do a supplemental transportation bill that may reduce the tax increase, may provide for some help if this transportation bill doesn’t pass,” he said Monday in a briefing with reporters in Grantham’s office.

At the same time, conservative activists led by the Independence Institute are pushing an “alternative measure” called “Fix Our Damn Roads,” which directs the state to find money in the existing budget to pay for roads improvements:

On Friday, Jon Caldara, head of the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute, filed his own ballot measure with the Colorado Legislative Council that calls for $2.5 billion in bonding without the tax increase and without the transit funding. There’s enough money in the existing budget to pay for road improvements, he said, and the legislature needs to stop messing around.

And at the top of the Republican food chain, national conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is leading opposition under the Gold Dome to the bipartisan roads compromise:

Watching Americans for Prosperity tear into Senate GOP leadership is particularly interesting, since there has been famously little daylight between that group and Senate Republicans ever since former Senate President Bill Cadman credited AFP with the Republican majority after the 2014 elections. The spokesman for Senate Republicans, Sean Paige, is himself a former AFP staffer–and taking fire from his former shop must be an unusual experience.

Both AFP and the Independence Institute are demonstrating a dogmatic unwillingness to compromise on this important issue, placing them well outside even the Republican mainstream–the proof of that being their opposition to a plan negotiated by a Republican Senate President. Both AFP and the Independence Institute have celebrated the “fiscal responsibility” that the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires the state to observe, but still claim there is hundreds of millions of dollars of waste in the budget that can be “reprioritized” to fund road repairs. Obviously, only one of those can be true.

At some point, you just have to understand that these groups are not interested in a constructive outcome. Their proposals can afford to be unworkable because they are not intended to be serious. These “alternatives” only exist to thwart debate on the real deal. It’s fine for outside pressure groups to draw an ideological hard line like this, but that shouldn’t be the final answer from responsible elected government officials. Governing, after all, is all about compromise.

Unfortunately, these groups wield enormous power. And too often, they write the script that Republican lawmakers read.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 14)

If you’re having trouble reading today’s edition of Get More Smarter, note that we are also sending it out via microwave ovens. 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…

► Republicans from Capitol Hill to the White House may publicly insist that Monday’s CBO score of Trumpcare is bogus, but reality is likely to intervene. As the Washington Post reports:

The worse-than-expected Congressional Budget Office forecast seems certain to force meaningful changes to the Obamacare repeal bill now under consideration in the House.

An alarm bell for GOP leadership: Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) is exactly the kind of mainstream conservative whose support House Speaker Paul Ryan needs to secure passage of his pending legislation. After reading the CBO report last night, he came out against the plan…

…Senate Republicans are making it increasingly clear that the House bill, as presently constituted, will be dead on arrival in their chamber.

The Congressional Budget Office estimate that Trumpcare would leave 24 million Americans without health insurance might have actually been generous compared to a separate analysis from the White House. As Politico reports:

A White House analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare shows even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a document viewed by POLITICO on Monday.

The preliminary analysis from the Office of Management and Budget forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimates. [Pols emphasis] The White House has made efforts to discredit the forecasts from the nonpartisan CBO.

 

► An increasing number of prominent Republicans are backing away from Trumpcare in the wake of Monday’s news (“Let’s say the CBO is half-right; that should be cause for concern,’’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham), but Congressional leaders are still trying to convince members to choke down this shit sandwich. The Republican-aligned “American Action Network” is running advertisements praising Congressional Republicans — including Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) — for committing to support the Trumpcare disaster. On Monday, Coffman said that he supports the GOP healthcare bill “in its current form.”

 

► Conversations at the State Capitol about a potential sales tax increase for road construction are getting more convoluted as conservative Republicans balk at the idea. From the Denver Post:

How troubled is the much-acclaimed deal at the Capitol to spend $3.5 billion on Colorado roads to relieve traffic congestion?

Here’s the best indication to date: The No. 2 Republican in the state Senate said Monday he is proposing an alternative to the measure unveiled last week by the Senate’s No. 1 Republican.

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg calls his effort “supplemental” but the proposal is a clear alternative to the one put forward by Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran.

Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said his draft bill would not increase taxes and would use $100 million in existing state dollars to cover a much smaller $1.3 billion bond, which is only enough to improve small local roads. [Pols emphasis]

Way to get a handle on your caucus, Sen. Grantham.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Jeff Sessions Sure Sounds Like He’s Coming For Your Weed

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Alicia Wallace reporting at the Denver Post’s Cannabist news site on an interview last week of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt–in which Sessions gets even more specific about his options for cracking down on the legal marijuana industry:

Sessions’ latest remarks on marijuana legalization and enforcement came during a radio interview Thursday with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Hewitt broached the topic of marijuana by asking Sessions whether he would apply the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to “end this facade and the flaunting of the Supremacy Clause.”

“…And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize. I don’t think we’re going to be a better community if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store.”

Asked about whether he could send a message by bringing a RICO case against one retailer, Sessions said the Justice Department is analyzing its options.

“Well, we’ll be evaluating how we want to handle that,” he said. “I think it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case, I’ve got to tell you. This, places like Colorado, it’s just sprung up a lot of different independent entities that are moving marijuana. And it’s also being moved interstate, not just in the home state. … And neighbors (Oklahoma and Nebraska) are complaining, and filed lawsuits against them. So it’s a serious matter, in my opinion.”

That Sessions specific cited the example of Colorado, as opposed to other legal marijuana states with functioning retail markets like Washington or Oregon, should indeed worry local marijuana industry supporters. Without the resources to deploy thousands of federal agents to shut down marijuana stores and growhouses, it’s much more likely that Sessions would choose to file suit against one example state, or even prosecute an individual business under federal marijuana laws in order to send a chilling message to the industry. The real objective for Sessions would not be to use federal resources to stamp out the marijuana industry, but to induce states to do so themselves.

Politically, this would be a destructive development for Colorado Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The question is whether our one small swing state would count for enough politically to give someone like Sessions pause–or for that matter, any of the marijuana states, most of whom are reliably blue.

Most likely, Sessions doesn’t give a crap about the politics. And if you care about Colorado’s marijuana industry, it’s quite possible that the best chance to defend it was before November 8th, 2016. Federal law is what it is, and the only thing that allowed this new industry to flourish without changing federal law was a permissive executive branch.

And because elections matter, those days are over.

Lipstick on a Pig: Ad “Thanks” Coffman For GOP Health Disaster

Rep. Paul Ryan with now-Sen. Cory Gardner.

The news yesterday from the Congressional Budget Office that the much-anticipated Republican repeal/replacement legislation for the 2010 Affordable Care Act would leave 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026 has rocked the debate over former President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law. We haven’t seen much in the way of response to the CBO’s damning analysis from Republicans, some of whom were fully intending to dismiss the estimate until the White House’s own numbers projected an even larger loss.

Politico obtained one of the only responses from Sen. Cory Gardner we believe has been made public as of now:

“We’ve got work to do here,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who had raised concerns about the bill’s effect on Medicaid. [Pols emphasis]

Whatever that means! Sen. Gardner’s decision to join with three other vulnerable Republicans in expressing concern about Medicaid patients under the House GOP’s plan was contradicted by Gardner’s appearance at a press conference with Vice President Mike Pence to support the plan a day later. This contradiction has yet to be resolved, but we have to believe that time is running out for Gardner to continue skating.

On the other hand, as Jason Salzman reported yesterday, Rep. Mike Coffman has explicitly committed himself to voting for the House GOP legislation “in its current form.” Coffman said that before the CBO score was made public, and there’s been no subsequent statement to suggest otherwise. Not that it would matter much anyway, after the Paul Ryan-orbit American Action Network started running ads today praising Coffman for his support of Ryan’s American Healthcare Act:

Today the American Action Network (@AAN) begins a new $1.5 million issue advocacy campaign to further momentum as conservative lawmakers fight to pass historic health care reform with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The ad highlights key elements of the plan and encourages lawmakers to deliver on their health care promise. Over the next two weeks, the ads will air nationally on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and in 15 congressional districts nationwide…

“This is a historic opportunity to reverse the trajectory of health care in our country. Many conservative lawmakers are fighting for strong, conservative solutions to the Affordable Care Act that has failed and will only get worse unless Congress passes the American Health Care Act,” said Corry Bliss, AAN Executive Director. “We want constituents to know about their representatives’ efforts as they fight to keep their promise and deliver a plan that will provide access to quality, affordable health care of their choice.”

At some point, we expect Coffman to issue a statement on whether he, you know, wants their “thanks!” With Coffman already committed to the bill prior to the analysis of its effects being released, the ad makes sense–as of right now.

But for politicians with an interest in their own career survival like Coffman, these things have a way of changing. The stark human costs of the House GOP repeal bill, weighed against any economic benefit it might have for the nation, invite the most basic questions about what the point of this entire exercise even is. And it breaks the central promise that has been made by Republicans throughout the long debate over Obamacare: to replace it with something quantifiably better.

For Sen. Gardner and Rep. Coffman, this is a fateful moment. Six years of posturing and misinformation just hit the wall of reality. It is not hyperbole to suggest that what they do next will make or break their careers.