Gardner Stops Pretending that He’s Voting for Coloradans

UPDATE (2:00 pm):

Despite Gardner’s support, the bill failed by a 45-55 margin.

Sen. Cory Gardner can’t hide his true colors anymore.

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Cory Gardner isn’t even pretending anymore.

The Republican Senator from Yuma once touted himself as a moderate voice who would always protect the interests of Coloradans in the U.S. Senate, using this carefully-crafted centrist message to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in 2014. We’ve written plenty of words in this space about “Con Man Cory” and his endless slithering around taking definitive policy positions, but now that the healthcare legislation debate has finally reached the Senate floor, Gardner’s actions and votes have exposed him as nothing more than a partisan yes-man for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senate Republicans needed Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote on Tuesday just to allow them to formally discuss healthcare legislation on the Senate floor. We’re now in the “vote-o-rama” stages of healthcare policy sausage-making, and Gardner is voting “YES” on everything Senate leadership tells him to support — including supporting BCRA legislation with the “Cruz amendment” that would have all completely gutted Medicaid (the proposal failed on the floor Wednesday night, despite Gardner’s support).

As the Denver Post writes, Gardner is still comically evasive in answering questions even as he casts one “YES” vote after another:

After voting with his Republican colleagues Tuesday to begin debate on GOP plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the Colorado lawmaker refused to reveal which of the competing proposals he found most appealing: a straight repeal, some version of the repeal-and-replace bill that Senate Republicans have discussed for weeks or a new idea to remove just a few parts of the ACA, also known as Obamacare…

…The ambiguity is in line with how Gardner has approached the debate overall. For weeks, Gardner has spoken mostly in generalities; one exception was his recent support of per capita caps on Medicaid spending.

On Wednesday morning, 9News aired an interview (we highly recommend watching the entire interview) with Gardner in which the Senator directly contradicted some of his previous comments on healthcare policy. Few politicians are able to make their words more meaningless than Gardner:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) signaled a willingness to repeal the Affordable Care Act without enacting a replacement plan, telling 9NEWS in a Wednesday morning interview that he’d support a plan that put the nation “on a path” to an acceptable replacement for President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Gardner voted in favor of a repeal-and-replace plan in the Senate, which ultimately failed due to lack of Republican support. Looking forward, he would not rule out other options on the table in the Senate, like repealing the ACA in the hopes of replacing it within the following two years…

…His answers on this point Wednesday morning contrast with what he said earlier this month on conservative radio station KNUS, in which Gardner expressed a preference to replace the healthcare law with a new one during its repeal—suggesting that such a plan could lead to unintended problems.

In his interview with 9News, Gardner refused to commit to preserving Colorado’s expanded Medicaid program, which is used by 1 in 5 Coloradans. You may recall that Gardner promised to protect Medicaid as recently as February, when he signed a letter along with several other Senators pledging to protect the healthcare program.

Gardner is breaking promises on healthcare at such a rapid pace that it’s difficult to even keep up with his contradictions. With that in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile to note some of the few specific answers Gardner has given on healthcare in the past couple of months. Gardner is walking right into a buzzsaw of John Kerry-esque proportions.

“We need to make sure the people with pre-existing conditions continue to have coverage and continue to have access to affordable coverage.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (Denver Post, 5/22/17)

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Gardner interview with Denver7 (6/21/17)

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“While he has called for changes to the process – any vote he takes isn’t on process but is on if the measure is good or bad for Colorado.”

— Gardner spokesperson Casey Contras (Denver Post, 7/25/17)

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Gardner interview with Denver7 (6/21/17)

 

Gardner interview with Denver7 (6/21/17)

 

Gardner interview with Denver7 (6/21/17)

Why won’t Gardner have a serious conversation about what he’s doing in Washington?

If you’re a reporter, what to do with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)?

Assuming he gives you an interview (it took 9News weeks to get one), you’re facing a politician who’s apparently committed to not discussing any of the details of the GOP’s landmark Obamacare replacement bill. He won’t say what he likes, what he doesn’t like, or how he’d vote. Even if he’s voted on the exact same Obama-care repeal bill previously.

Today, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman boiled it down to a simple, “Are there any deal breakers? Are there things you do not want to see in any legislation?”

And Gardner dodged.

Rittaman followed up with a specific example of what could be a deal breaker: “What about the people on expanded Medicaid in Colorado, because a lot of new people got coverage that way. Is it important that they can keep the coverage they got under Obamacare?”

And Gardner dodged.

Rittiman asked Gardner if he’ll hold “any sort of town-hall meeting” during the August recess.

And Gardner dodged.

So what do you do with Gardner?

How about something like, “Hey, let’s stop playing this game, Sen. Gardner. It’s clear you won’t talk about specific elements that you favor or oppose in the healthcare bill. Why?

“Why do you have nothing to say about the substance of the bill or any parts of it? Do you think serious questions will hurt your negotiating position? Anger your constituents or Republican donors?

“Why won’t you have a serious conversation about what you’re doing in Washington?”

Former GOP official: suggestion to “disembowel” columnist was “figurative”

(How do you ‘figuratively’ disembowel someone, anyway? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Roesener littwin 7-2017A prominent Garfield County Republican told me that he was being “figurative” when he wrote on Facebook this week that “someone should disembowel” Mike Littwin, a columnist for the Colorado Independent, a progressive news outlet.

“You Mike Littwin, are such a nefarious, full of mendacity individual, someone should disembowel you on the stairs of the State capitol,” wrote Ron Roesener, who gave up his position of GOP Garfield County Chair this year.

“Well, it was figurative,” he told me when asked about the Facebook post, which was obtained from a source. “I am not going to come down there with my gun and shoot him. Don’t worry.”

That’s good news, and I believe him.

Roesener, who ran for state house in 2012, went on to toss out more commonly heard verbal assaults, calling Littwin a “spineless person.” He alleged that Littwin refused an invitation to come to Garfield County to debate a local Republican. Roesener called Littwin a “1960’s hippie” who should get a “promotion to CNN.”

I asked Littwin via email if he’s getting more extreme or threatening messages lately.

“There is more anger generally at the media today than any time I’ve seen, but that was growing, as I don’t have to tell you, long before Trump’s phony-baloney war on the press,” he wrote. “In most cases today, despite the occasional call for ‘figurative’ disemboweling, and despite congressmen who body-slam reporters, and despite presidents who accuse journalists of being enemies of the people, most of the angry mail I get is to accuse me of creating fake news and most of the nasty stuff I get on Facebook, at least when I post my Colorado Independent columns, is from a small group of trollers. I figure, at least they’re reading.”

As you’d expect to hear from a great writer who’s been at it for more than 30 years, Littwin has seen worse missives than Roesener’s.

“When I worked at the LA Times, at a time I wasn’t yet a full-time columnist, this one guy would write me long unsigned letters blasting every piece I wrote. When I left to become a columnist at the Baltimore Sun, I got a hand-delivered letter in Baltimore from this guy the day after my first column ran at the Sun. It was pretty creepy. But I never heard from the guy again. Such is the life of a columnist. I used to get a lot of really disgusting, anti-Semitic mail, just foul Nazi-style, skinhead stuff. When I wrote a part-time column for the Virginian-Pilot in my youth, I’d get a lot of what I called long-haired, n-loving, commie, pinko mail. I got a lot of that in Baltimore, too. Before anonymous email, you’d get anonymous snail mail, with pretty laughable (I hoped) threats to kill me or worse.”

You want to laugh when someone threatens you, but, as Littwin says, all you can do is hope.  I wish everyone would read about the horrible deaths and torture of reporters across the globe (46 died last year), from Mexico to Afghanistan to Turkey.

(more…)

Buck: Russia-Trump collusion investigation has “no substance”

(Drain the swamp, comrade! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The last time U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) compared the Russia investigation with the conspiracy around Obama’s birth certificate, Buck left open the possibility that evidence of Trump colluding with Russia may still emerge.

Buck stated in May that he hoped Trump would be cleared, adding: “I also think that politically, people are going to be raising this issue just like people raised the birth certificate or other issues on President Obama that I didn’t think were credible but that some people did. And they kept gnawing at it.”

Buck’s comment led Colorado Politics’ Dan Njegomir to offer this interpretation:

Njegomir: What Buck also seemed to be saying is that the Russia allegations — whether they ultimately prove true, are somehow debunked or remain inconclusive — have assumed a life of their own. They have become a mantra of the left much as the former president’s country of origin assumed mythic proportion for the birthers on the right.

In his latest comment on the topic, on KVOR on Saturday, Buck completely dismissed the Russia investigation, making Njegomir’s charitable interpretation hard to defend.

Buck said the investigation has “no substance” and “diverts attention from the real issues that we need to address.”

Here you go:

HOST JEFF CRANK: Let me ask — on the Russia issue — you alluded to it. I’ve talked about it here. I think it is just the grand diversion of the left. And when I say the left, it’s the Democrats and it’s the media who doesn’t like Donald Trump. There’s not been a shred of evidence that there is collusion. But we’re talking about Russia constantly. Your thoughts on that?

U.S. REP. KEN BUCK: Well, I think that’s right. I was a prosecutor–as you know, Jeff – for 25 years. And I go to the town hall meetings and people keep on bringing up Russia. To me it is the equivalent of the far right conspiracy theory about Pres. Obama’s birth certificate. I think it has no substance. I think it diverts attention from the real issues that we need to address. And we are going to regret in 10-15 years — when we go off the fiscal cliff, when we can’t afford to do the things they we’re doing right now, when we can’t borrow money to keep our government going in this artificial way – we’re going to regret the fact that we didn’t spend time and focus as a country on the important issues and problems that we have.

Listen here:

Kent Thiry Won’t Run for Governor, In Case You Still Cared

All for one, none for Governor

As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver PostJames Bond villain Kent Thiry won’t seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018:

Flamboyant DaVita Inc. CEO Kent Thiry announced on Monday that he would not join Colorado’s crowded race for governor — ending months of speculation about his political ambitions.

Instead, Thiry said in a statement that he would focus on other pursuits, such as supporting “centrist candidates” and “common sense causes” in next year’s election, though he did not elaborate on whom or what. [Pols emphasis]

Thiry may have decided not to make a run at statewide office in 2018, but he certainly seems to have mastered the kind of political gibberish that would make Sen. Cory Gardner proud. In fact, you can probably point to this platitudinal nonsense as a big reason why Thiry isn’t running for Governor; he didn’t have a particularly good reason to want to be Governor other than to perhaps find out if he could.

Thiry spent at least $2.5 million in 2016 to successfully advance two ballot measures that make it easier for Unaffiliated voters to participate in partisan primaries. Late in the 2017 legislative session, Thiry leaned heavily on lawmakers — and Secretary of State Wayne Williamsto implement those measures in a very specific manner, which further fed speculation that Thiry somehow believed he could use the new process to advance his own political fortunes in 2018. It is not clear that allowing Unaffiliated voters to participate in a Republican Primary would have given Thiry a significant advantage in 2018, but political consultants who stood to make a lot of money on his campaign seem to have had him convinced. Again, from the Post:

He also changed his registration from independent to Republican in March and booked the political firm EIS Solutions to give him advice.

“Kent had a unique path in the race — social moderates, independents, fiscal conservatives and disaffected voters who are just tired of it all,” said Kate Roberts, one of Thiry’s advisers at EIS Solutions, in a statement. “Those are still his voters [Pols emphasis], and Kent is still deeply committed to pursuing real change on their behalf.”

If Thiry had run for Governor, “his voters” would have also heard a lot about some very questionable business practices related to DaVita, the Denver-based company where he serves as CEO and swordfighter-in-chief. Thiry and the rest of the leadership team at DaVita were no doubt seriously concerned about those storylines being endlessly repeated in television commercials.

Thiry’s “path” to becoming Governor was to be the wealthy businessman — which isn’t particularly useful in a Republican field for Governor that already has two wealthy businessmen in the mix (Victor Mitchell and Mitt Romney’s Nephew), and another one on the way (Walker Stapleton).

Is Gardner divulging his healthcare stance in his private meetings?

In public venues and sporadic interviews with reporters, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) still isn’t saying publicly how he’ll vote on legislation repealing Obamacare–or even what amendments or elements of a bill he favors.

Is he offering more insight into his thinking at private meetings?

In one such meeting, at the Pioneers Medical Center in Meeker July 6, Gardner didn’t offer his opinion but, instead, listened.

“It was more like a listening tour,” said Margie Joy, the Director of Business Development at Pioneers Medical Center, who said she attended the meeting.

“We did explain that Medicaid cuts would be very harmful to the rural community. That is a big concern,” she said.

In a newsletter article, Gardner characterized his meeting at Pioneers in Meeker differently, describing it as an opportunity to “discuss challenges rural hospitals are facing under the Affordable Care Act.”

Another private meeting occurred with Blue Cross Blue Shield “executives,” including one from Blue Cross Blue Shield, who told Gardner the repeal-and-replace legislation would help reduce costs and stabilize the insurance market, according to Gardner. Data from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation contradicts this.

Did Gardner tell the insurance executives his stance on the healthcare bills? A call asking this question wasn’t returned.

Richard Monger, a Democratic Routt County Commissioner, declined to offer details about his private conversation with Gardner about healthcare earlier this month.

One powerful Republican fundraiser in Colorado, Guy Short, indicated Gardner would vote for a final GOP healthcare bill, if there is one, no matter what’s in it.

“In the end Colorado conservatives know that Cory Gardner is going to vote to repeal Obamacare and when there is a final bill Cory Gardner is going to be there,” Short told The Denver Post July 8.

Short did not return a phone message seeking to know how Short knows this. Did Gardner assure him privately that he’ll vote for the final bill?

 

Shawn Mitchell keeps it classy!

So while the rest of the country, Democrat and Republican alike, were honoring the service of Sen. John McCain and wishing his well as the news of his diagnosis of brain cancer was announced, Colorado’s own class act Shawn Mitchell was busy dancing on a grave not yet dug for the war hero (in spite of what President Trump may think).  So what did Mitchell think of the news?  Well here is what he wrote on his facebook page in a post he has since removed:

“Am I bad I don’t feel sad about McCain’s brain cancer?” Mitchell wrote on Facebook Wednesday night. “I don’t wish him a short or painful life. He’s had a long one. I just think his constructive, helpful life ended long ago. He is a smug, self righteous condemnor of political opponents. No, only Republican political opponents. He is always respectful to Democrats.”

In keeping with the spirit of kicking them when they’re down, I’ll just remind everyone that perhaps Mitchell is experiencing a relapse of an inability to focus or perhaps he’s still wrestling with his own personal demons.

http://www.westword.com/news/shawn-mitchell-lawmaker-admits-inability-to-focus-and-personal-demons-affecting-his-work-5856830

Former state representative will consider removing fake news from her Facebook page

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

marsha looper posts fake news about muslim rape 7-17Former state Rep. Marsha Looper (R-Calhan) shared a fake news item on her Facebook page recently, with flat-out falsehoods and exaggerations about a rape that did not occur, as alleged, in Idaho

The Idaho Statesman reported:

The incident touched off months of turmoil in Twin Falls after the story was spun into a fake news account that exaggerated or flat-out falsified many of the details, including that a knife was present, the attack was perpetrated by a Syrian gang of adult men, that a rape had occurred and that the attack was celebrated by the perpetrators’ families as city officials orchestrated a cover-up.

Snopes also determined the item to be “mostly false.

See Looper’s post, from “SilenceIsConsent.net,” above.

Looper, who left office in 2012, told me today that she’d review the fact checks of the item and, if she agrees, remove it from her Facebook page.

Gardner has yet to answer his own questions about repealing Obamacare

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is now undecided on whether he’d support GOP legislation to repeal Obamacare without replacing it first, but he thinks the U.S. Senate should vote on an Obamacare measure, even if it’s likely to fail.

“I don’t think I’m going to speculate on [a straight repeal bill], because I don’t know that’s what would come up and I don’t want to say that I’m going to vote for this, that or the other before I see it and before I know what’s in it,” Gardner told The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews.

Gardner, who’s voted multiple times over the years to repeal Obamacare, sounded last week as if he was opposed to the repeal-only approach. During a radio interview, he posed questions about a repeal-only measure that he has yet to answer.

Here are Gardner’s questions that Gardner hasn’t answered:

“I think that if you repeal it now, with nothing in its place, what happens if you don’t find that replacement?” Gardner asked on the radio.

“What happens if you don’t reach that agreement?” Gardner asked on the radio.

Another question is, if you can’t answer these questions, how could you or anyone vote to repeal Obmacare?

I left a message for Gardner asking him to respond to his own questions, but I did not get a response.

Gardner wants the U.S. Senate to vote on Obamacare, one way or the other.

The Post reported:

But [Gardner] echoed other Republican leader in arguing the Senate should vote no matter what, even in the face of likely defeat.

“I don’t see why anybody should be concerned about fighting for legislation that they believe will do better than what we have,” Gardner said. “If you look back at history and you see what (Democrat and former Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid did by trying to protect his members from tough votes and making decision on big issues, it did not work.”

Gardner is scheduled to appear at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver today, an event billed as the largest gathering of conservatives outside of Washington DC.

Protests are planned outside of the event, at 14th and Stout Streets in Denver, beginning at 4 p.m.

Cory Gardner Outdoes Himself

UPDATE: In a separate story in the Denver PostJohn Ingold reports that any Senate decision to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan would virtually destroy the healthcare market in Colorado:

The repeal, as proposed in the Senate, would end in 2020 the tax credits that help many people in the individual market pay for their premiums. Also that year, it would end the extra subsidies that help low-income people pay for deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

But insurers, knowing that major changes are coming to the individual market, could begin pulling back this year — or asking to charge even higher rates.

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Sen. Cory Gardner doesn’t understand why Senate leaders don’t stand up for what they believe in. No, seriously, he really said that.

We’re not breaking any news when we say that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been consistently full of shit when it comes to talking about Senate GOP efforts to create the worst-possible healthcare legislation imaginable. Local media outlets have increasingly figured out Gardner’s game on discussing healthcare — which is to pretend that he doesn’t know anything about anything when he gets a tough question — but Gardner is always ready to ratchet up the nonsense to another level.

Gardner spoke to Mark Matthews for a story in the Denver Post, and, well…let’s just say that you should stretch out your eyeballs so you don’t pull a muscle:

Since being named this spring to a 13-member Republican group assigned to tackle the issue, Gardner hasn’t spoken substantially about dueling plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — not once revealing whether he would support any of the draft versions circulating on Capitol Hill…

Gardner, for his part, said he remains undecided on both proposals, though he voiced a preference for legislation that did more than simply unwind the 2010 health care law. [Pols emphasis]

“I would prefer a solution that would be a replacement for the failing Affordable Care Act,” Gardner said.

He would not say, however, whether he would vote for a straight repeal bill — even if it were a carbon copy of the 2015 legislation that he backed while President Barack Obama was in office with the power to veto it. [Pols emphasis]

“I don’t think I’m going to speculate on that, because I don’t know that’s what would come up and I don’t want to say that I’m going to vote for this, that or the other before I see it and before I know what’s in it,” Gardner said.

Okay, get ready to roll those eyes. Here it comes…

But he echoed other Republican leader in arguing the Senate should vote no matter what, even in the face of likely defeat.

“I don’t see why anybody should be concerned about fighting for legislation that they believe will do better than what we have,” Gardner said. [Pols emphasis]

You read that correctly, folks! Cory Gardner says he doesn’t understand why anyone would be afraid to stand up for what they believe is right…just after he refuses to tell the Denver Post anything about what he believes should be done on healthcare legislation.

We don’t even know what else to say here.

Colorado Republicans Dismayed by Early Gubernatorial Sparring

GOP gubernatorial candidates: Victor Mitchell, Mitt Romney’s Nephew, and George Brauchler

As Jesse Paul writes for the Denver Post, the race for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018 is starting to get a tad prickly:

Victor Mitchell came out swinging this week in the Republican primary for Colorado governor, questioning the fundraising practices of one GOP rival and irking another by saying attorneys “shouldn’t be anywhere near the executive branch of government.”

It’s one of the first times that a candidate has gone negative in the fledgling fight for governor, and Mitchell, a millionaire businessman who served one term in the state legislature, said he doesn’t regret criticizing fellow Republicans Doug Robinson and George Brauchler.

“We have to be level with the citizens of Colorado,” Mitchell said. “The voters of Colorado deserve honest, straight-talking elected officials. We’ve got to stop pandering and start leading.”

But the barbs have touched a nerve among some Republican insiders, who said Mitchell’s early turn toward the negative does the party no favors.

Politicos regularly groan about the potential negative effects of trading barbs in a primary, while some contend that a heated debate only serves to strengthen the winning candidate heading into a General Election matchup.

What say you, Polsters?

Beauprez-Backed Organization Still Fighting Court Ruling

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s been three months since a Denver judge ordered Colorado Pioneer Action (CPA), a political committee run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), to pay a $17,735 fine for violating campaign finance laws and to register formally as political committee, requiring CPA to disclose its donors.

But Beauprez hasn’t produced the cash or the names of the donors. What’s up?

After Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer issued his ruling that CPA failed to register and file reports as a political committee during the last election, CPA appealed, and Matt Arnold of Campaign Integrity Watchdog (CIW), which brought the case against CPA, guesses the case won’t be heard for a few months, at the earliest.

After the appeal was filed, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office issued an “enforcement order and stay of action.”

“We have stayed the action in CPA pending appeal,” said Suzanne Staiert, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State (SOS), who signed the order, via email. “This is required under our rule. If CPA is unsuccessful, then our practice is to invoice for payment. We have no reason to believe that CPA would not pay if they lost the appeal.”

Arnold thinks Williams office should have invoiced CPA for the fine immediately after the ALJ decision, even though the case was appealed, telling me on Wednesday, “Upon imposition of the penalty, the Secretary of State should have immediately invoiced CPA for the fine, and it’s not discretionary.”

Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, also reads the applicable SOS rule as only barring “enforcement actions (i.e., lawsuits to enforce the order in district court) and not referral to collections.”

“My opinion is that the Secretary has discretion to file or not file an enforcement action in district court, but that he does not have discretion to refrain from issuing a fine invoice and referring it to collections if unpaid – unless a stay is issued by the ALJ or the Court of Appeals,” Toro told me via email.

“The bottom line is that yes, unless the ALJ or the Court of Appeals issues a stay, the Secretary should send out an invoice for the unpaid fine and refer it to collections if not paid. But CIW is not prevented from filing its own enforcement lawsuit, and in fact that’s what the law contemplates when the Secretary fails to act to enforce an ALJ decision.”

Arnold is concerned that even if Beauprez loses his appeal, filed by high-powered Holland Hart, Williams won’t instruct the state collections office to get the funds from CPA.

Asked if her office has instituted a policy not to collect fines, Staiert wrote, “We do not have a policy ‘not to seek the collection of such fines’, rather we look at the assets of the committee to determine if collection is viable only after a failure to pay.”

Toro pointed out that the letter from Williams’ office “doesn’t say that Matt Arnold can’t file his own enforcement action, in fact, I read it as saying that he can do so.”

The enforcement mechanism, which could compel CPA to pay its fine, register as a political committee, and disclose its donors, is a lawsuit in district court.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 20)

Get outside and enjoy the weather — just don’t forget your sunscreen. 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…

► Republicans in Washington D.C. are angry and frustrated over their inability to craft any sort of plausible legislation for repealing Obamacare, and President Trump voiced his displeasure in person during a luncheon at the White House on Wednesday. Later in the day, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of a Senate proposal to repeal — but not replace — Obamacare, and the numbers just keep getting worse. This proposal is similar to legislation that Senators voted on in 2015, and as the Washington Post explains, it’s pretty terrible:

Congressional budget analysts estimated Wednesday that a Senate plan to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act with no immediate replacement would increase the number of people without health coverage by 17 million next year and 32 million at the end of a decade. The forecast by the Congressional Budget Office of the impact on coverage of the Senate GOP’s latest health-care legislation is nearly identical to estimates the CBO made in January based on a similar bill that passed both the House and Senate in late 2015 – and was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

For those Americans who don’t lose healthcare under this proposal, premiums would DOUBLE within the next few years.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Denver to take part in the right-wing ALEC legislative conference. As Luke Perkins writes for the Durango Herald:

Hundreds of Coloradans protested U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit in Denver on Wednesday, largely criticizing her stance on using tax dollars to fund private schools.

DeVos is in Denver to speak at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 44th annual meeting Thursday. The exchange council is a conservative organization focused on providing “model legislation” for lawmakers across the country. Like DeVos, it supports privatizing public schools.

The protest had hallmarks of a Republican versus Democratic showdown, using DeVos’ visit as the catalyst. It quickly went beyond attacks on the secretary of education and the GOP and to attacks on anyone who had promoted efforts to move funds away from traditional public schools…

…“Betsy DeVos is the worst example of these so called ‘reformers,’” said state Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs. “She has never attended, worked in nor sent her children to public schools. She has no government experience and no experience in running a bureaucracy or a large organization.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also making an appearance at the ALEC conference and will stick around to take part in the Western Conservative Summit this weekend.

 

► Attorney General Jeff Sessions is responding to some pretty negative words from President Trump. As CNN reports:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he plans to continue in his job despite President Donald Trump’s comments that he’d have picked someone else had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

“We love this job. We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” he told reporters Thursday.

In a New York Times interview published Wednesday, Trump second-guessed his decision to nominate Sessions, an Alabama Republican who was the first sitting senator to back the real estate mogul’s presidential bid.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the President,” Trump said, referring to himself. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.” [Pols emphasis]

Trump was referring to Session’s decision to recuse himself from overseeing the FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The attorney general made his decision after it became public that he had previously met on behalf of the Trump campaign with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during an event at the Republican National Convention, and later in his senate office.

As Vox.com reports, Trump’s interview with the New York Times demonstrates his complete disregard for the rule of law.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Health Care – The Start of the Republican Civil War

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Today the House Freedom Caucus announced it will seek either permission from Speaker Ryan but if that fails a discharge petition to bring a repeal bill to the floor in September to repeal Obamacare. It is a mirror image of the 2015 bill President Obama vetoed. If they go for a discharge petition, they will need 218 signatures from members of the House. Although the success of the petition is unlikely, it is their purpose that strikes me.

Congressman Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the Freedom Caucus, wants to put moderate mainstream Republicans on the spot to see if they will vote against the same repeal they voted for in 2015 when they knew President Obama would veto it. Undoubtedly, any moderate Republican who won’t sign the discharge petition or vote for complete repeal on the floor will be targeted by the so called conservative donors and groups in the 2018 primaries.

They are going down this path even though 50% of the public supports Obamacare and far less than half that number want it repealed.

They are going down this path even though repeal will mean 32 million people will lose their health insurance according to the projection from the CBO. Many of those people reside in bright red districts, especially in the South and Midwest.

They are going down this path even though repeal means many rural hospitals in America will be forced to close leaving millions of Americans without emergency hospital services which are absolutely necessary to save lives. In many places, hospital care will be hours away.

They are going down this path even though they know that the newly uninsured will fill hospital emergency rooms which will cause insurance companies to raise the premiums of for those who have purchased insurance just so hospitals in cities can financially survive.

They are going down this path even though they know the free market will not provide affordable health insurance.

That raises the question why in the face of such awful facts, the Freedom Caucus and Mitch McConnell want to vote on a complete repeal of Obamacare which may very well cost them the majority in both houses in 2018? In both the House and Senate the purge is beginning. The so called conservatives will not tolerate or compromise with their moderate members. Any moderate who won’t vote in support of repeal will be targeted next year in the Republican primaries. Blinded by ideology they prefer civil war within the party and defeat in the next general election. It is mindless politics.

Q2 Fundraising Lessons: Nobody Cares About State Treasurer

Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, there doesn’t appear to be much interest from donors in the open seat for State Treasurer:

State Rep. Justin Everett, a Littleton Republican, raised the most in contributions and had the most money in the bank at the end of the 2nd quarter, but Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, also a Republican, and state Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat, didn’t lag far behind.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, the Republican incumbent, faces term limits after next year’s election and is expected to announce he’s running for governor in coming months.

Everett posted $20,348 in contributions for the statewide race and reported $18,306 on hand at the end of the quarter. Horn raised $17,655 and had $11,183 remaining. Lebsock received $14,014 in donations and had $7,354 left after campaign expenditures.

These are pretty poor numbers across the board. Republican State Rep. Polly Lawrence entered the race after the Q2 fundraising period had ended, and Republican State Sen. Kevin Lundberg may not be far behind. If Republican Brian Watson does indeed enter the race at some point, he’ll likely have the advantage on the money side.