Questions for Gardner About Senate Healthcare Bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Here’s my list of key questions for Gardner. Please add yours in the comment section.

What’s the highest number of people in Colorado who’d be projected to lose health insurance under the senate bill—and you’d still vote for it?

You’re not yet accepting the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate that 22 million people would lose health insurance under the senate bill. If not the CBO, who will you trust to analyze the bill?

Your opponents accuse you of sabotaging Obamacare. Here’s one example they point to. Back in 2013, you and U.S. Sen Marco Rubio of Florida opposed “bailouts” of insurance companies as part of Obamacare. They were referred to as risk corridors. Is it fair to say that withholding those payments destabilized the marketplace? And now, experts say, Republican are proposing insurance-company bailouts for the same reason, to stabilize the marketplace. Are you okay with voting for the bailouts in the current bill?

You’ve said an Obamacare replacement should lower premiums. The nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation says that, under the current bill, premiums would rise faster than under Obamacare. Would you vote for a senate bill if the Kaiser Foundation found that under the senate bill, premiums would rise faster than under Obamacare.

Please talk about your roll in drafting the bill. People don’t understand how you were a drafter of the bill, especially the Medicaid part, but never saw drafts of it.

You’ve said that if the senate doesn’t pass a bill, the only alternative to Obamacare is a single-payer system. Why do you think this?

The nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute estimates that Colorado would lose at least $14 billion in federal Medicaid funds during the first 10 years after passage of the senate bill. How would you cut Colorado’s Medicaid program in future years as federal funds decrease and lawmakers will have to reduce services?

Should Colorado pick up the tab for lost Medicaid funding, or should the next governor and state legislature push people off the rolls or cut services?

Along these lines, if the senate bill passes, would you support a tax increase in Colorado, so that the state could afford to cover children, seniors, and people with disabilities?

Federal law mandates that hospitals accept sick people in emergency rooms. So are you okay with pushing people off Medicaid and, in effect, forcing hospitals to pick up the tab for emergency room by, at least, some of them?

You’ve said you want to make Medicaid sustainable. Are you saying you want to cut Medicaid to make it sustainable? If not, how else would you achieve your goal of making it sustainable?

You will not reveal if you’d vote for the senate legislation as drafted. But do you support the framework of the bill, which is to take health insurance away from Medicaid recipients and give a tax cut to wealthy Americans?

Your opponents are concerned that Republicans want to all insurance companies to sell so-called “junk” plans, which require lots of out-of-pocket payments. If the senate bill lowers premiums for some people, but raises out-of-pocket costs for most everybody, does that mean that insurance is less expensive or more expensive?

Will you vote for the senate bill if there are no hearings and regular order, as you’ve promised?

Rural hospitals depend on Medicaid funding. Are you willing to assure rural Coloradans that no rural hospital will close, if the the senate bill became law?

Will you hold a town hall meeting on health care, and if not, why not?

Unlike Koch gathering, Western Conservative Summit won’t try to muzzle journalists

If you’re a progressive, you can criticize the ultra-conservative Centennial Institute for a lot of things, like being homophobic, Islamophobic, and more, but being scared of a open debate is one thing the organization is not.

Centennial Institute founder, John Andrews, began the tradition of inviting questions and discussion, and the current director, Jeff Hunt, is carrying it on.

For example, he’s enlisted a longtime Denver reporter Joey Bunch, now leading the political news site ColoradoPolitics, to ask questions of gubernatorial candidates at the July 21-23 Western Conservative Summit, billed as the “largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C.

And Hunt has put no restrictions on his questions.

Contrast that with approach taken by the conservative billionaires, Charles and David Koch, when they held a big shindig in Colorado Springs last month of Republican politicians and donors associated with the Kochs’ Seminar Network.

As they’ve done in the past, the Kochs set ground rules for reporters, whom they invited to cover the event. One rule prohibited journalists from reporting on who was there, unless they were part of a formal program or the attendee gave permission to a reporter, according to Bunch. In other words, the presence of a person was off the record, unless permission was given or they were on the program.

Bunch said no thanks.

“A reporter’s most valuable asset is his independence,” Bunch told me via email. “It’s a tall order to tell a reporter he can’t report what he sees for the price of admission. I was very appreciative of the invitation, don’t get me wrong, and I knew I was risking losing some stories, maybe big stories, but it didn’t feel right at the gut level, so I asked and my editors backed me up. I was proud of that. A lot of editors would have said, ‘No. we want the scoops.'”

Judging from the reaction to similar, if not identical, restrictions imposed by the Kochs at other gatherings, journalists differ on whether the benefits of attending such events, even with the restrictions, outweighs the downsides.

I’d rather have a partially muzzled reporter in the room with the Kochs than none, but journalists who attend such events should inform us that restrictions were placed on their reporting, as outlets such as USA Today and the Washington Post have done in the past.

But I couldn’t find any reference to media restrictions in the coverage of last month’s Colorado Springs Koch event, including in reporting by the Associated Press, Denver Post, NBC News, Politico, and others.

Emails to the Associated Press, Denver Post, and Politico were not immediately returned. I’ll update this post if I they respond.

In any case, I wouldn’t expect the Centennial Institute to try to do this, especially at a gathering of 4,000 people, of course, but at any forum.  Hunt says there are not restrictions on journalists. They even let Samantha Bee loose at last year’s Summit.

And Hunt’s choice of a journalist to interview gubernatorial candidates at its upcoming Summit is along the same lines of openness to honest debate.

At the Summit, each Colorado gubernatorial candidate will be allowed a five-minute speech, and Bunch will ask ten minutes of questions to the group. Attendees will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite candidate, just as they did among vice presidential hopefuls last year, choosing former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The results will be announced later.

Among the Republican candidates, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler and businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson accepted invitations to attend so far. The only Democrat to respond is U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who’s declined.

Why did Hunt pick Bunch to do the interview segment of the program?

“We’re doing the gubernatorial race,” replied Hunt. “Let’s get someone who really knows Colorado politics.  I’ve done a number of interviews with Joey, and he’s fair, and he knows Colorado really well. And he’s real entertaining. So let’s put him up there.”

But Hunt wouldn’t put just any journalist on the stage.

He said that some outlets like CNN, New York Times, and Washington Post “seem hell bent trying to delegitimize the President instead of reporting the news.”

That’s why he’s glad Trump is fighting reporters.

“Donald Trump is teaching conservatives again how fight against the media,” Hunt said, whose Centennial Institute is associated with Colorado Christian University. “Frankly, we need to learn how to fight those types of aggressive attacks against us.”

Hunt doesn’t accuse all journalists as being unfair. He said the Denver weekly Westword is one of the “fairest newspapers” he’s dealt with so far in Colorado. He also likes 9News anchor Kyle Clark, Denver Post Editor of the Editorial Pages Chuck Plunkett, and others.

Conservatives should give journalists (mainstream, left, or right) a chance and not initially look at media outlets as if they are “out to get me,” Hunt said.

As the media world implodes, that’s also good advice for progressives or anyone.

Gardner Remains Committed to Obamacare Repeal

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Citing the case of an English child with a degenerative brain disease, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) remains committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare, and he’s “been told” the U.S. Senate has made progress toward writing viable legislation.

“And the alternative is a single-payer healthcare system, and look what happened in England, right now, with that child,” Gardner added Wednesday on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis, referring to a child who’s so sick that multiple doctors and courts have concluded–over the parents objections–the child’s best interest is served by taking him off life-support. “The parents, who no longer have the ability to determine their child’s state, because it’s in the hands of the government.”

With respect to the health-care bill, Gardner said that “you have started to see positive directions from the bill, dealing with stability of the marketplace, dealing with driving down healthcare costs. You can see that.”

Gardner said on air that he’s “been told” that “additional legislative language has been sent to the Congressional Budget Office.”

Gardner again cited rising health insurance costs as his main problem with Obamacare, but he has yet to explain how this reason for opposing Obamacare squares with nonpartisan data showing that health-insurance premiums will increase more under the Senate’s replacement bill than they would under Obamacare.

Gardner did not mention the 22 million people who’d lose health insurance nationally over 10 years under the Senate legislation, according to the CBO, including 630,000 in Colorado, according to the Colorado Health Institute.

Gardner has yet to say if there’s an upper limit to the number of Americans or Coloradans who could lose health insurance under the Senate bill–above which he’d vote against it.

Gardner also said on the radio that he opposes the suggestion of U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NB) to repeal Obamacare first and replace it later.

“I think that if you repeal it now, with nothing in its place, what happens if you don’t find that replacement?” Gardner told Caplis. “What happens if you don’t reach that agreement? And I think that we ought to move forward with an idea now, and put a solution foward to the American people.”

“Look, this is something that Republicans and Democrats ought to find common ground with, because if Democrats refuse to find a solution to a failing Obamacare, shame on them!” said Gardner.

(more…)

Gardner “CONFIRMED” to appear at giant conservative summit

(Gardner confirmed to appear somewhere in North America! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Centennial Institute’s “Western Conservative Summit” bills itself as the “largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington, D.C.,”  drawing thousands from across the country. Trump even spoke there last year.

But this year, one of the biggest draws is apparently U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), whose photo is featured in an online ad for the event along with the word, “CONFIRMED.”

Gardner’s appearance at the conservative gathering may draw progressives to the event along with others who’ve been clamoring for an in-person town hall meeting with Gardner–even going so far as to direct questions to a cardboard cutout of Gardner at Denver School earlier this year.

Ticket prices at $200 for the weekend-long event (July 21-23) may dissuade folks who aren’t committed to the conservative cause, but day passes ($120) and “Patriot” passes ($100) for those under 30 (and educators, military, and others) are available.

Gardner is the only member of the Colorado congressional delegation who has not held a town hall meeting since the election of Trump. He’s spoken to numerous private groups, however, and he’s held a conference calls with thousands of constituents.

Trump has been invited to this year’s summit event, the theme of which is “Making Goodness Fashionable.”

Brauchler Calls CBO Estimate on Healthcare Bill a “Little Ridiculous”

(George Brauchler is now an expert on the CBO — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler weighed into the contentious debate about health care today, telling a conservative talk radio host that he’d “like to see them not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and get something done here.”

“I’d like to see the Republicans move forward, hopefully with Democrat help,” Brauchler told KNUS 710-AM’s Casey Bloyer, who was substituting for Dan Caplis. “And I’d like to see them not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and get something done here.”

Brauchler did not say if this means he’d support the U.S. Senate bill as written.

Brauchler said the CBO estimate that 22 million people would lose health insurance under the GOP bill was “a little ridiculous.”

“Now, that CBO scoring thing is a little ridiculous,” Brauchler told Bloyer. “If you’ve done any research on it, you can see that that 22 million people that won’t have insurance anymore, it’s not the same thing as kicking 22 million disabled and poor people off the rolls. That’s not what’s happening. So, I’d encourage people to go look at that.”

Brauchler did not say how many of the 22 million are legitimately disabled or poor.

Brauchler cited the political imperative to get Obamacare repealed.

“And this will be the sine qua non issue they use to try to tie everyone to Trump and try to blow up Republicans across the state,” Brauchler said on air. “And that is the failure of healthcare — either to get it done, or to do it wrong.”

Also during the interview, which is available here, Brauchler distinguished himself from some of his opponents by saying he did not come from a dynasty.

Here’s is Brauchler’s full statement on the health care bill.

Brauchler: “I think there’s a real battle here going on out in DC between those who want to get it as close to perfect as possible and those who feel like, ‘Look, we have got to do something. If we don’t live up to this promise –and the longer we delay, we feel like that’s in jeopardy — the more we’re going to call into question our ability to lead, given the fact that we have our hands on all the levers of government, and what is that going to look like as we head into 2018.”

Their ability to strike and get things done is narrow. It’s not all the way through November of 2018. I mean, by the time we hit the fourth quarter here of 2017, campaigns are going to be in full mode. You already see people jumping in on the Democrat side [for] every seat in Colorado, and they’re going to start to ramp up the rhetoric.

You can see people coming after Gardner. He’s not even up for reelection till 2020! But they want him, Coffman, the two open seats now — because there two other Congressmen who are jumping in to the Governor’s race. Both of those have multiple Democrat candidates vying for them. And this will be the sine qua non issue they use to try to tie everyone to Trump and try to blow up Republicans across the state. And that is the failure of healthcare — either to get it done, or to do it wrong.

So it’s a little bit of a precarious position. I’d like to see the Republicans move forward, hopefully with Democrat help. And I’d like to see them not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and get something done here. Now, that CBO scoring thing is a little ridiculous. If you’ve done any research on it, you can see that that 22 million people that won’t have insurance anymore, it’s not the same thing as kicking 22 million disabled and poor people off the rolls. That’s not what happening. So, I’d encourage people to go look at that.

Gardner is mad about insurance costs, but they’d go up more under Obamacare replacement than under Obamacare

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

On a national conservative radio show Tuesday, guest hosted by Denver’s Ross Kaminsky, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) cited increased health-insurance costs and stated that the “most important thing we can do for this country is to make sure we have a replacement for Obamacare.”

But neither Kaminsky nor Gardner pointed out that under the U.S. Senate’s proposed Obamacare replacement, insurance rates are projected to go up more than they would if Obamacare remained in place, according to figures released by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Gardner must not be reading The Denver Post, because Kaiser’s Colorado-specific facts were presented there, in an article by John Ingold:

[Under the Senate bill,] for a 40-year-old making $50,000 a year, a mid-level “silver” plan on the state’s insurance exchange would cost:

$1,930 more per year in Mesa County.
$0 more per year in Denver.
$910 more per year in Yuma County.

For a 60-year-old making $30,000 a year, the same level plan would cost:

$3,230 more per year in Mesa County.
$2,710 more per year in Denver.
$2,820 more per year in Yuma County.

For a 27-year-old making $20,000 a year, the same level plan would cost:

$700 more per year in Mesa County
$550 more per year in Denver.
$580 more per year in Yuma County.

Overall, the Kaiser report projects marketplace enrollees to pay 74 percent more in insurance premiums.

Kaiser Family Foundation: “Overall, marketplace enrollees would pay on average 74 percent more towards the premium for a benchmark silver plan in 2020 under the BCRA [Senate bill] than under current law (Table 1). Younger enrollees would see modest increases on average (10 percent for those under age 18; 17 percent for those ages 18 to 34), while average premiums would more than double for enrollees ages 55 to 64.

On the radio, Gardner said insurance “executives” told him that the Senate bill will “bend the cost curve down,” and they will be able to “reduce rates.”

This is in line with what he told Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews Monday.

“Over the weekend I had conversations with CEOs (including at least one official at) Blue Cross Blue Shield, who said their support for the bill is robust,” Gardner said of the health insurance giant. “They believe that it would markedly help stabilize the market, so I’ve got to go through each and every one of those arguments and see whether or not this achieves that.”

Gardner’s DC office did not return my call seeking the names of the insurance executives he spoke with and an explanation of why he would believe them more than the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

This post was updated with Gardner’s statement to The Denver Post Monday about his conversation with insurance industry CEOs.

Reporters should be clear about who’s backing the baker who discriminated against a gay couple

In wide coverage of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a Colorado case in which a bakery refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, reporters are almost universally failing to mention that the powerful legal organization backing the bakery has a long history of opposition to same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, abortion, and other rights that are under attack by the Christian right.

The organization, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has a stated mission to “to keep the doors open for the Gospel by advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family,” as pointed out in an excellent Colorado Independent article yesterday.

But it’s actually more fair, in view of prevailing social norms and values, to label ADF as anti-LGBTQ organization that’s fundamentally opposed to the civil rights of gay people. That’s what the organization is about–and it should be described as such in the context of this case, especially because ADF is trying to present itself as defending the rights of the baker, Jack Phillips, to express himself as an artist and religious devotee.

“The government in Colorado is picking and choosing which messages they’ll support and which artistic messages they’ll protect,” Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Denver Post yesterday. An ADF legal counsel, writing in today’s Denver Post, ludicrously referred to Phillips’ bakery as an “art gallery of cakes.”

ADF has no demonstrable interest in protecting artists. In fact, ADF has been on a crusade against homosexuality since its founding by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and others in 1994. The organization’s anti-choice and anti-LGBT stances, including its efforts to overturn state laws banning discrimination against LGBT people, are widely documented, including the fact that ADF has backed efforts to criminalize homosexuality abroad. As illustrated here, ADF sits at the center of America’s network of Christian right groups. The SPLC officially added the organization to its anti-LGBT hate group list.

In a 2015 handbook designed to help religious entities discriminate without facing legal repercussions, ADF equates bestiality and incest with being LGBTQ–or even with participating in adultery, and using pornography.

“We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female,” states the handbook. “These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.”

The handbook continues: “We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)”

Here in Colorado, the face of ADF has long been Michael J. Norton, who left ADF recently to start the Colorado Freedom Institute, but he apparently continues to represent the group on occasion.

Norton, who drafted a 2006 amendment that voters added to the Colorado Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, testified frequently at the state capitol and has been an outspoken advocate for anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ campaigns.

As I blogged previously, in Colorado, ADF was embraced by 33 Republican state legislators in 2015 to push for an investigation of Planned Parenthood. The lawmakers, who appeared to be led by State Rep. Dan Nordberg of Colorado Springs, included State Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa and State Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton.

In the Post’s opinion piece today, ADF’s lawyer writes that Phillips should “have his cake and freedom too.” Actually, it’s gay people who should have their wedding cake and freedom too. But they won’t, if ADF succeeds in blocking their basic human rights.

A baker, who discriminated against a gay couple, is very happy that U.S. Supreme Court will hear his case, lawyer says

(What Jesus would do? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Since 2012, conservative talk-radio hosts and lawmakers in Colorado have wrapped their loving arms around a baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.

A federal appeals court, as well as a string of Colorado courts, have found Masterpiece Cakeshop’s action in violation of  Colorado’s public accommodations law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear the Masterpiece case, and the baker’s Colorado lawyer, Nicole Martin, said on KNUS 710-AM Monday that she “did a little jig” when she heard the news.

Asked by host Dan Caplis how the baker, Jack Phillips, reacted, Martin said, “He was very happy and I think humbled, and he always had faith in God’s plan. And that showed. But, yes, it is a profound moment for him, as you could imagine.”

“I think we have an excellent shot at winning,” said Martin on the radio. “I do.  Even with Kennedy, we feel that we will be vindicated. And, you know, at the end of the day, it is compelling that Jack will finally have his day in court.  When you start  in an administrative body, especially when you’re dealing with complex issues of First Amendment jurisprudence and Free Exercise jurisprudence, and you’re starting in a local Colorado administrative court, it is very hard to feel like you ever had your real day in court. It is very hard to feel that you ever had actual due process. So, this is an important vindication, that the Colorado Supreme Court, I think,  passed up a great opportunity. This is an important vindication that these issues need to be decided by judges that have the wisdom, experience, and expertise to decide these types of cases.”

In a news release Monday, a coalition of progressive groups, called Freedom for All Americans, spoke out against the Masterpiece baker’s discriminatory actions.

“As people of faith from many traditions, we are grounded in a common teaching, love your neighbor as you love yourself,” said Amanda Henderson, Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. “In our communities and in our country, all people should have the right to be treated equally under the law, and served in any establishment no matter who they are, what they believe, or who they love.”

Laura “Pinky” Reinsch, Political Director at One Colorado, added: “All hardworking people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, should be treated fairly and equally under the law. When they walk into a business that’s open to the public, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against. Let’s be clear, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is about a business turning customers away simply because they were gay, which violates longstanding Colorado law.”

In Colorado, in the wake of the Masterpiece controversy, GOP lawmakers tried repeatedly to pass legislation allowing discrimination against gays and others.

(more…)

Obamacare Replacement Legislation Aims to Block 30,000 in CO from Accessing Planned Parenthood Clinics

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) President Vicki Cowart announced figures last week that the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement bill would “block more than 30,000 women, men and young people in the Rocky Mountain region alone from accessing the trusted reproductive health care they rely on.”

“We will not stand by while politicians play these types of political games with the health care and livelihood of more than one third our patients,” said Cowart.

In a move long backed by anti-abortion groups, the Senate bill would cut federal funds that account for about 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget.

“The expectations of the pro-life movement have been very clear: The health care bill must not indefinitely subsidize abortion and must redirect abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to community health centers,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, and Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, said in a statement, quoted by the New York Times.

Beginning around the time the House passed its Obamacare replacement legislation in May, PPRM has enlisted 800 new Planned Parenthood activists, organized monthly events, and targeted U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner with letters and petitions demanding that he stop the GOP Obamacare-replacement bill.

The Planned Parenthood defunding effort may prove to unwind the Republican legislation, as GOP Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have strongly objected to it. If three GOP Senators vote against the health care bill, it would lose, as Senate Democrats unanimously oppose it.

Senate rules may block the defunding effort, according to PPRM and some political observers.

Will Gardner slip by reporters again on Planned Parenthood?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner built his political career in Colorado, and rallied grassroots Republican support, by opposing abortion, even for rape and incest. Part of that, of course, has meant that he’s opposed and vilified Planned Parenthood.

Now it appears that the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement legislation would remove federal funds for Planned Parenthood, just like the House version did.

And you’d expect Gardner to be fully on board with this.

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood two years ago, Gardner said,

“We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis in 2015.

He said the move would provide “more access” to men and women across the state, even though many low-income woman want to go to Planned Parenthood clinics for specific and understandable reasons, like privacy, trust, and convenience.

And even though no federal funds are used for abortions at Planned Parenthood, the organization provides abortions. In contrast, community health centers don’t offer abortion services that many woman obviously want available at their clinic of choice in the year 2017.

But Gardner apparently doesn’t think women care. When confronted with his extreme anti-choice positions during the 2014 election, Gardner responded by saying Democrat Mark Udall was trying to “distract voters” from the real issues.

Now Gardner should face the same question from reporters. Does he think women in Colorado care about Planned Parenthood? About the U.S. Senate’s and the Republican Party’s assault on abortion rights?

Gardner may try to say his opposition to Planned Parenthood isn’t about opposition to Planned Parenthood, just like he tried to say, during his last election campaign, that his support of abortion-ban legislation wasn’t support for an abortion ban.

Despite heroic efforts by journalists to untangle Gardner’s wordpile on his support for an abortion ban, packaged at the time as “personhood,” Gardner got away with it. He’s Colorado’s Senator.

Will he slip by again on Planned Parenthood?

Buck Blasts U.S. Chamber of Commerce

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The schism between business groups and some members of the Republican Party in Colorado came into sharp focus Saturday when U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), speaking on conservative radio, lit into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview about his book Drain the Swamp, Buck was asked by KNUS 710-AM’s Chuck Bonniwell about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Listen, hour 3, at 15 min)

“They are one of the big problems in Washington DC,” replied Buck. “They affirmatively go after conservatives. Tim Huelskamp lost his seat in the western district of Kansas because of the U.S. Chamber targeting Tim as a conservative, and defeating him. They play, and they play very hard. We have some groups on the right, like Club for Growth, that also target folks. But, you know, the Chamber is a corporate cronyist organization that promotes corporate interests at the expense of conservative values. There are a lot of stories to tell about the swamp, and if I didn’t mention the Chamber, they certainly deserve to be mentioned.”

A spokesman from the Chamber promised to return my call with the Chamber’s decision on whether to respond to Buck.

Syndicated right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin, who resides in Colorado, has a similar view of the Chamber, writing in 2014. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a politically entrenched synod of special interests. These fat cats do not represent the best interests of American entrepreneurs, American workers, American parents and students, or Americans of any race, class, or age who believe in low taxes and limited government. The chamber’s business is the big business of the Beltway, not the business of mainstream America.”

Buck’s comments came after some Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly appeared to anger business groups by voting against a measure that classified a hospital fee as a business enterprise within the Colorado budget, freeing millions of dollars for health, transportation, and other state priorities.

After his vote against the legislation, which passed, State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Alamosa) alleged that the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce was so angry at him that the organization refused to read Scott’s letter about the General Assembly session at an annual breakfast.

Scott wrote on Facebook that he’s either “chopped liver” or, according to Scott, “they wanted to see how many would notice” [his absence from the meeting].

Gardner Still Evasive on the Real Question About Medicaid

(Roughly 1.3 million Coloradans rely on Medicaid today — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner continues to talk about making Medicaid “sustainable” and stable, but the key question Gardner needs to answer is, Will Colorado Medicaid recipients lose health insurance under the GOP’s Obamacare replacement?” And if so, how many? And how long a “glide path” until they’re cut out?

That question cuts through Gardner’s vagaries about what will happen to Medicaid under the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement bill, which Gardner is helping to draft in secret. On this topic, Gardner has said:

Gardner June 15: “If you don’t have a sustainable Medicaid program, then you risk the Medicaid programs.”

Gardner June 14 (at 9 min 30 sec). “A health care plan that focuses on … making sure that we make Medicaid sustainable and allow a program that gives greater functionality and flexibility to the sates to manage that program in a way that the states know how to do better for their people than Washington does….”

Gardner also frequently says he wants to pass a law that’s “better than Obamacare.”

Great. But in the name of alleged improvement, sustainability, and stability, how many Coloradans will lose health insurance?

About 400,000 Coloradans gained insurance under Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to include adults, without children, who earn less than $16,000 per year. Under the Obamacare-replacement bill passed by the U.S. House, 14 million Medicaid recipients would lose coverage within a year, and 12 million more would be dropped within 10 years. Within five years, most of the 400,000 who gained insurance in Colorado are expected to lose it.

Back in March, Gardner was tagged as a defender or Medicaid when he signed a letter, along with Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, stating that “we will not support a [Obamacare replacement] plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.”

Again, the key question is, how many Coloradans will lose coverage in the name of “stability?”

Gardner links protests at his office with the shooting in Washington DC

(Does this mean they’re not “paid protesters” anymore? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In an appearance on conservative radio Thursday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner pointed to prop-filled protests at his office as examples of rhetoric that should be toned down in the wake of  Wednesday’s shooting in Washington DC.

In an apparent reference to die-ins and other demonstrations staged in front of Gardner’s office to illustrate the point that GOP Obamacare replacement would actually result in deaths of people who lose health insurance, Gardner linked the DC shooting to “people showing up with coffins in offices around the country” and “people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office.”

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

Since Trump’s victory in November, activist groups have staged die-ins in front of Gardner’s office. One May 9 “die in,”  organized by Protect Our Care Colorado, Denver OFA, and Front Range MoveOn, was promoted on Facebook this way:

“Bring your signs and noisemakers and wear slings, back braces, and other visual reminders that Trumpcare will seriously injure our country’s health care system! Feel free to dress in black and bring posters written like gravestones that list the reason you died: (i.e., RIP: Lack of Maternity Care, RIP: Coverage Denied, RIP: High Premiums, RIP: Cancer, Denied Coverage).”

Other Denver-based activist groups, including Indivisible Denver, have staged die-ins and funerals at the State Capitol to oppose the repeal of Obamacare and other Trump initiatives.

Activist group representatives could not be reached for comment Friday.

It’s a fact that, along with the loss of health insurance resulting from the repeal of Obamacare, would come deaths. Experts differ on the scope and the trade-offs involved, but it’s objectively a legitimate point being made protesters with props and costumes, which are clearly aimed at grabbing attention. And for good reason, activists say.

On the radio, Gardner didn’t address deaths that would be caused by potential Obamacare repeal.

“You’ve got people in coffins showing up to the offices,” Gardner told KCOL’s morning host Jimmy Lakey Thursday. “It’s almost as if they’ve allowed politics to become some sort of religion, and anyone who disagrees with them is a challenge to their faith. That is not a good situation for the discourse of this country.”

Asked by KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer whether the “nasty political rhetoric the cause of this type of violence,” Gardner said, “We’ve got more to learn.” He went on to say,

Gardner: You know, The Hill is reporting that FBI officials told The Hill that the shooting appeared to have been planned and, on the surface, appeared politically motivated. And you know, that the rhetoric, the discourse, is elevated to a point where, you know, left, right—you know, both sides have to stop this rhetoric. I mean, when you have people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office, — when we have people showing up with coffins in offices around the country, when you have people holding up the head of the president — decapitated head of the president, when you — you know, when you have people who are, you know, accusing other people of killing people.

In 2009, Tea Party activists dressed as the Grim Reaper to denounce Obamacare and the liberal agenda.

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Gardner promised Obamacare replacement wouldn’t be drafted “behind closed doors”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During a conference call in February, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner assured worried constituents that they would have plenty of opportunities to weigh in on any legislation to replace Obamacare.

“It’s important to me that this debate be open and that the American people see what’s happening and taking place,” said Gardner. “So Sandy, I think as this committee hearings and legislation is being is drafted, it’s not going to be something behind closed doors, everybody is going to be a part of it. It’s important that we get this right.”

Now, about four months later, the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate, which includes Gardner himself, has no plans to hold public hearings on their Obamacare replacement legislation, currently being drafted in secret by 13 senators, including Gardner.

As U.S. Senate President Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained this week after invoking a rule that would move the health-care bill to a full Senate vote with little or no chance for amendments:

“We’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years. It’s not a new thing,” McConnell said, arguing that there was little new left to be discussed in a public forum.

“Nobody’s hiding the ball here,” he said. “You’re free to ask anybody anything. But there have been gazillions of hearings on this subject, when they were in the majority, when we were in the majority. We understand this issue pretty well and we’re now working on coming up with a solution.”

Despite his previous promises, Gardner hasn’t objected to the secrecy–and it doesn’t appear that reporters have asked him about it.

But U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has objected, saying she “has a problem with it” and the secrecy is “just not a good way to handle something that is as significant and important as health care.”

In fact, Gardner has said very little of substance about the senate bill. But based on what he has said, he’s apparently not fighting to keep 400,000 Coloradans on the Obamacare health insurance rolls but instead is advocating for throwing them off slowly, in a “glide path.”

Gardner is doubling down on hypocrisy here, because he’s been apoplectic for years over what he says was Democrats’ failure to offer sufficient public input into the formulation of Obamacare, even though, in 2009 with Democrats in control, the full U.S. Senate debated the Obamacare bill for 25 straight days, the Senate Health Committee held 60 hours of public hearings, and the Senate Finance Committee considered 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes.

“This President [Obama] has claimed to be one of the most transparent in history, yet his health care overhaul was passed behind closed doors and ended up cutting $500 billion from Medicare,” Gardner said in 2013. “The American people deserve better than that.”

And Gardner repeated this false accusation just three months ago on KNUS 710-AM.

“This is an idea [the Obamacare replacement] that will go through regular order, through committees, and have an opportunity to be openly debated and talked about — something that is completely different than what happened six years ago when the Affordable Care Act was written behind closed doors and the leadership offices, and then crammed down on the Senate floor directly,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger. “So, this is something that is going to go through an open process — regular order.”

Gardner is in a good position to influence the senate’s health-care bill, not only due to his Senate leadership role but also as a member of the committee of 13 senators selected by McConnell that’s drafting the senate’s Obamacare replacement in secret. Gardner was among a group of senators who had lunch with Trump Tuesday to discuss the legislation.

Gardner continued to keep his cards close to his chest this week, saying he’s not seen any text of the bill and not offering any details.

It appears that Senate Republicans plan to send their legislation to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for a “score.” A quick vote by the House Republicans last month came before the CBO analysis, which later showed that 14 million more people uninsured next year and 12 million more within 10 years.

On conservative talk radio in March, Gardner suggested that the dismantlement of Obamacare should begin without a CBO analysis, thus avoiding public outcry over the prospect of so many people losing health insurance.

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