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.

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.

 

 

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

Tell Colorado’s U.S. Senators to reject Neil Gorsuch

The time has come for Coloradans to speak out against Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because Gorsuch is from Colorado, the spotlight is on our state, and it is absolutely critical that Coloradans make our voices heard at this moment.

Tell Colorado’s U.S. Senators to oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.

Neil Gorsuch is just the latest in a series of horrible choices by Donald Trump. Gorsuch’s fringe views on health care and contraception make him an enemy of Colorado women. On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a vote to roll back women’s rights, environmental protections, and hard-won protections against discrimination in the workplace. Gorsuch has even been endorsed by the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT extremist group. Gorsuch may hail from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to Colorado values.

The simple fact is that this Supreme Court appointment was stolen from President Obama last year in a shameful act of political treachery. No Democrat should in any way cooperate with or otherwise enable Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, including Colorado Democrats. To do so would only hand Donald Trump another undeserved victory.

We will not stand by and allow Donald Trump to steal this Supreme Court seat, and install a Justice who would skew our law toward injustice for generations. We will not be silent while a judge who has a proven disregard for the rights of women, working people, and even the terminally ill–who Colorado voters overwhelmingly voted last year to give compassionate options to ease their suffering at the end of life.

Sign our petition calling on both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators to reject Gorsuch. We will deliver this petition to both Sen. Cory Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet before they vote.

Thank you. We’ll update with more ways to take action as Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings get underway.

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.

Gardner Proposes Working Around Congressional Budget Office

(Nobody drives in both lanes like Cory Gardner — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In response to the growing outcry over the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 24 million Americans could lose their health insurance under a proposed GOP replacement plan, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) told a conservative talk radio host today that the Trump Administration should step up repealing the national health care law by taking actions that “won’t ever be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.”

“We also, I believe, need the Administration to move forward with some of its executive actions [to repeal parts of Obamacare],” Gardner told KHOW 630-AM’s Ross Kaminsky. “Those executive actions they can take won’t ever be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s not what the Congressional Budget Office does. But if they take those actions, it could result in significant improvement in the current system.”

Gardner is referring to Trump Administration actions that, analysts say, could throw the national healthcare law into a “death spiral,” even without any action by Congress. Broadly, those actions, some of which have already been taken, would undermine enforcement of the requirement that Americans buy health insurance, undermining the core of the law. At the same time, Trump could make it more difficult and less attractive for people to buy insurance through the exchanges.

With respect to Gardner’s previously stated desire for the Obamacare replacement to provide more stability for those on Medicaid, Gardner said he wants to see unspecified changes in the proposed House bill to address his concerns, released in a joint letter.

(more…)

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…)

Trumpcare Would Leave 24 Million Without Health Coverage

Vice President Mike Pence announcing support for Trumpcare last week (Sen. Cory Gardner is on the left of the photo)

The numbers are in! As the Associated Press reports, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reviewed the House Republican healthcare plan, also known as Trumpcare, and the math doesn’t look good:

Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and that figure would grow to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts projected Monday. [Pols emphasis] The figures dealt a blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry.

The report by the Congressional Budget Office flies in the face of President Donald Trump’s aim of “insurance for everybody,” and he has been assailing the credibility of the CBO in advance of the release. Administration officials quickly took strong issue with it.

Congressional Republicans and The White House had anticipated poor marks from the CBO, which is why they spent much of the last week talking about how little confidence they had in the CBO’s forecasting abilities. But today’s CBO report may be much worse than Republicans could have predicted; remember those claims that Obamacare is unstable and on the verge of collapse? Yeah, not so much:

“Insurance for everybody!”

— President Trump speaking about GOP healthcare plans in January.

 

It also undercuts a central argument that he and other Republicans have cited for swiftly rolling back former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul: that the health insurance markets created under the 2010 law are unstable and about to implode. The congressional experts said that largely would not be the case and the market for individual health insurance policies “would probably be stable in most areas either under current law or the (GOP) legislation.”

“Nobody will be worse off financially…”

— Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, speaking about Trumpcare on Sunday.

Today’s report also undercuts statements made by President Trump just this morning, when he said, “Things are gonna be very bad this year for the people with Obamacare. They’re gonna have tremendous increases.” As it turns out, according to the CBO, Trumpcare would cost Americans much more than Obamacare:

…The budget office found that average premiums for individuals would rise in 2018 and 2019 by 15 percent to 20 percent compared to current law, because Republicans would eliminate the penalties designed to induce people to buy insurance coverage.

Aside from the fact that Trumpcare will leave 24 million people uninsured and will be more expensive for those who can still manage to get coverage, this is a great piece of legislation!

Coffman would vote for GOP health care bill “in its current form”

(Coffman commits to “Trumpcare” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #2: Rep. Diana DeGette weighs in strongly on the CBO’s new analysis:

“The truth is now plain for all to see: This Trumpcare bill will take a terrible toll, both in human and financial terms,” DeGette said. “It will deprive 14 million people of insurance in its first year alone, and 24 million by 2026. Premiums will spike by 25 percent 2018 and 20 percent in 2019, on top of projected increases under the current law. It will raise health costs on the middle class while giving tax breaks to the very wealthy, while pushing working families out of health coverage altogether.

“Rather than jamming this bad bill through the House for a lopsided, party-line vote as the majority leadership is trying to do, we should sit down together and work on bipartisan solutions to improve what we already have.”

—–

POLS UPDATE: Apropos, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the GOP health care bill Monday.

Rep. Mike Coffman should have kept his mouth shut.

An estimated 14 million Americans could lose their health care coverage in 2018, and 24 million by 2026 under a Republican bill to replace Obamacare, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday in an analysis that could make the controversial legislation even tougher for GOP leaders to push through Congress…

The number of Americans who lose their coverage could rise to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026 as the GOP plan phases out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, the CBO said.

“In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the analysis said.

The CBO report came as Republican leaders in Congress were already scrambling to keep their fractious caucus together on the bill. Some conservatives have denounced the plan as “Obamacare lite,” arguing that it does not go far enough in scrapping the Affordable Care Act and creates new entitlements by replacing the current law’s federal subsidies for low-income people with tax credits. At the same time, some moderate Republicans in the Senate fear their low-income constituents will lose coverage because the legislation phases out the expansion of Medicaid that Obamacare helped fund in many states.

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

If passed, the health care law put forward by congressional Republicans would probably mean six to 15 million Americans would lose their health insurance, according to various outside analysts.

Particularly at risk are people who’ve gained insurance under Obamacare, and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Aurora) own district has 14,000 such people, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And it could be even worse, if you believe U.S. House Democrats, who report that 37,800 Medicaid recipients in Coffman’s district could lose their Medicaid health insurance under an Obamacare repeal.

Yet, on KNUS 710-AM Saturday, Coffman said he’d vote for the GOP healthcare bill, “in its current form,” if it came up for a vote today.

Silverman: If you had to vote today, would you vote for the bill that Speaker Ryan has put forth with the blessings of Donald Trump?

Coffman: …In its current form right now, I would vote for it. Obviously, I’m 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 to vote today on the form that’s there, I would support it.

Coffman’s endorsement of the GOP’s American Health Care Act comes before the Congressional Budget Office is set to release this a much-anticipated analysis of the costs and impact of the GOP bill.

Coffman’s office told 9News last month that he wanted to maintain coverage for people who received it under Obamacare, but the GOP bill does not guarantee this.

“Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans,” 9News Brandon Rittiman reported Feb. 21.

Coffman’s stance on the Republican bill will surely invite questions from low-income residents of his competitive district.

And it might draw more attention to the image of Coffman exiting early the back door of a library full of people waiting to talk to him about health care.

In their report, Democrats on U.S. House Committees state that the uninsured rate went from 15.8 percent to 7.9 percent in Coffman’s district since Obamacare became law (here at page 99).

Listen to Coffman on KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman Show March 11:

“This isn’t fake!” writes lawmaker about an article from a newspaper he once called “fake news”

Ray Scott cites sentinel non fake news 3-17State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) calls the Grand Junction Sentinel “fake news“–until he finds a Sentinel story he likes. Then the fakeness is conveniently forgotten.

“Denver water attorneys against farmers,” wrote Scott on Facebook last week, referring to a Sentinel article by Charles Ashby about a bill stalled in the state legislature.

“This isn’t fake!” wrote Scott on Facebook.

Scott’s hypocrisy is so brazen yoScott Nov. 6 Wikileaks fake newsu honestly wonder how he could possibly justify trotting it out on Facebook.

But there Scott is, like Trump, undermining journalism by making sweeping and unsubstantiated accusations about the Sentinel one week. and then he’s using a Sentinel article he likes to promote himself and his agenda the next week. (The publisher of the Sentinel may sue Scott for damages.)

So crazy.

But as I’ve noted before, prior to his fake-news outburst last month about the Sentinel, Scott regularly posted Sentinel articles on Facebook–when he agreed with the reporting or found it useful.

And the truly sad part of all this: Scott still has actual fake news posted on his Facebook page! I doubt you’re surprised, but still. He’s not responded to numerous emails and phone calls from me asking that he remove it, like other lawmakers have.

Maybe Scott thinks his fake news, which informs us that “Hillary sold weapons to ISIS,” is real? I don’t think he even believes it, to be honest. But you’d think he’d remove it from Facebook, just to take the spotlight off his own ridiculous double standard.

You Don’t Want This Endorsement, Jeff Hays

Eek!

We couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at this story from the Colorado Springs Gazette about a new endorsement in the race for the next Chair of the State Republican Party:

Jeff Hays’s campaign for Colorado GOP chair circulated yet another letter from a Republican notable Thursday — state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — in support of his bid. Hays’s rival for the state party’s top post, George Athanasopoulos, meanwhile dismissed Coffman’s gesture as coming from “the political class.”

Coffman’s letter, distributed to GOP state Central Committee members and other Republicans statewide, continues a full-court press being mounted by Hays’s team to dial in the party’s headliners. Coffman casts Hays as the one who can get things done.

Why is this so amusing? Because the last time Attorney General Cynthia Coffman endorsed a candidate for State Party Chair, things got weird in a hurry. Coffman backed Steve House for GOP Chair in early 2015, and just three months later, she was part of a ham-handed blackmail/extortion plot orchestrated to get House to resign as State Chair.

What came next was a long, confounding story stemming from a secret meeting at the Warwick Hotel in Denver, which ultimately led to Coffman having to state explicitly why her actions did not meet the legal definition of blackmail (when you have to explain yourself in that much detail, things have gone well off the rails). House remained on the job as GOP Chair, though several local party officials were forced to resign in shame as the State Republican Party was dragged through months of bad press that even drew national attention.

So, anyway, good luck with all that, Jeff Hays.

Colorado Week in Review: 3/10/17

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 10)

Fifty. That’s how many days Donald Trump has now been in the White House. Let’s go ahead and see if we can 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…

► Congressional Republicans are nervously awaiting the results of a Congressional Budget Office assessment of Trumpcare. As Politico reports:

The fate of Obamacare may lie in the hands of a number-crunching Republican appointee whose bottom line might single-handedly blow up the GOP quest to repeal and replace it.

Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall was handpicked two years ago by top Republicans in Congress — including now Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price — to lead a nonpartisan office that will soon release its estimate of how many Americans the Republican health care bill will cover and whether it shrinks or balloons the federal deficit…

…Hall, in the post for two years, has already signaled that his office won’t soft-pedal the coverage assessments. If a health plan doesn’t have comprehensive benefits, it won’t count as coverage. Fearing a bad CBO “score,” Republicans facing backlash in their drive to gut Obamacare are turning the budget agency and its team of professional economic analysts into a punching bag as they try to discredit it. [Pols emphasis]

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are finding that it is difficult to enact new healthcare legislation at the same time that President Trump is sowing widespread confusion with differing remarks on a potential compromise policy.

 

► Colorado business leaders (and the Denver Post editorial board) are praising a potential legislative compromise that could place a tax increase for infrastructure improvements on the November ballot. As the Denver Business Journal reports, that doesn’t mean some conservative Republicans won’t continue to oppose the idea:

Conservative politicians and organizations savaged a bipartisan transportation-funding bill Thursday as offering a burdensome tax hike without commensurate spending cuts, while liberal groups gave it better reviews, despite the proposal containing less transit funding than they had sought.

The reaction — particularly a statement from state House Republican leaders that they will “aggressively oppose” the plan — showed that House Bill 1242, introduced late Wednesday, will have tough roads to travel even to get onto the November statewide ballot.

That path is difficult enough, in fact, that the Colorado Contractors Association, one of the primary supporters of this and past road-funding measures, will go ahead and file its own tax-increase ballot measure on Friday as a back-up plan in the event that the Legislature kills HB 1242.

The Denver Post has more on the predictable knee-jerk reaction from conservative Republicans who don’t have a solution of their own to Colorado’s transportation problems but simply oppose any effort to raise taxes for any reason whatsoever.

 

► Politico takes a look at the prospects for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico, which may or may not end up being built out of Legos:

Trump is claiming that the ambitious — and hugely controversial — construction plan is “way, way, way ahead of schedule,” but in reality, there is growing evidence that Trump’s central campaign pledge is in political peril…

…As the issues mount, several prominent Republicans are making their concerns more explicit.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told constituents during a telephone town hall Wednesday that “billions of dollars on a wall is not the right way to proceed” to secure the border, according to audio obtained by POLITICO on Thursday. “I don’t support a tariff to pay for any kind of wall.”…

…”We shouldn’t just build a wall and add billions of dollars because that’s what somebody said should be done,” Gardner said.

Federal budget gurus are trying to figure out the most cost-effective material for a wall, but they still haven’t even begun to deal with the “eminent domain” problem that could skyrocket the potential price tag.

 

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

Colorado Pols Regular Gets “SLAPPed”


Pete Kolbenschlag.

We’re obliged to bring to our readers’ attention a distressing situation affecting one of our longtime readers and guest bloggers, Paonia-based environmental activist Pete Kolbenschlag. For years, Kolbenschlag has provided our community with insightful commentary on energy and conservation issues affecting Colorado’s energy-rich Western Slope.

But as the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reported this week, Kolbenschlag has been hit with what’s known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by energy company SG Interests over comments he made on an online news story:

Pete Kolbenschlag says the suit brought by SG Interests against him is unfounded and an attempt to silence him. He has raised more than $10,000 from more than 150 donors in just four days in an ongoing crowd-funding effort to pay for his defense.

SG Interests sued Kolbenschlag Feb. 21 in district court in Delta County over a comment he posted on the Glenwood Springs Post Independent website about a Nov. 28 article in that newspaper. The article said SGI planned to sue the federal government over the Bureau of Land Management’s cancellation of 18 SGI leases in the Thompson Divide southwest of Glenwood Springs, based on evidence of alleged collusion between the Obama administration and environmentalists to reach a predetermined political conclusion.

SGI proceeded with suing over the lease cancellations on Feb. 10.

The company says Kolbenschlag falsely stated in response to the Nov. 28 article that while SGI alleges collusion, “let us recall that it, SGI, was actually fined for colluding … to rig bid prices and rip off American taxpayers.”

And as Webb continues, Kolbenschlag appears to be right:

Kolbenschlag’s comments were a reference to allegations by the Justice Department that SGI and Gunnison Energy Corp. colluded in acquiring four leases covering some 3,500 acres in the Ragged Mountain area of Delta and Gunnison counties. The companies agreed in 2013 to pay a combined amount of more than $1 million to settle a civil antitrust action and alleged violations of the False Claims Act in the case. [Pols emphasis] Neither company admitted wrongdoing.

The fact that the companies settled without admitting wrongdoing appears to be the basis for the libel claim by SG Interests, which strikes us as extremely dubious–if not legally than certainly morally. Moreover, there’s no reason to believe that a comment on an online news story of a small-town paper would be injurious to this large energy company. The tactic of large companies filing libel or other such civil suits against individual critics is deeply controversial even with far nastier subject matter.

We can’t forget that this is the same SG Interests who Rep. Scott Tipton admitted to letting directly author large portions of legislation he introduced addressing the conflict over drilling in the Thompson Divide area:

In an interview, Tipton confirmed its origin, and documents obtained by The Denver Post show that Tipton’s draft legislation duplicates — word for word — entire sections of the proposal offered by SG Interests.

Writing at this blog and elsewhere, Kolbenschlag has been highly critical of SG Interests, their large donations to Tipton, and Tipton’s role as a vehicle for their desired policies. We’d say it’s likely that the comment Kolbenschlag is not anything close to the most serious allegation he has made about the company–it’s just the one they decided they could sue over.

With all of this in mind, we hope our readers will head over to Kolbenschlag’s legal defense fund page and consider helping him out as he readies for his David vs. Goliath legal battle. As of this writing, the page is up to $16,175. Legal defense isn’t cheap, and nobody has deep pockets like the energy biz.

Good luck to Mr. Kolbenschlag, and thanks again for all the great posts.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 8)

Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s go ahead and see if we can Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Trump has joined with House Republicans to promote a major healthcare policy change that some Republicans are calling “Obamacare-lite” (in order to conserve letters, we’re just going to stick with “Trumpcare”). Despite any happy talk you may hear from individual lawmakers, the conservative backlash is well underway. Today, the American Medical Association announced that it could not support Trumpcare, either.

Good luck trying to find consensus on Trumpcare among Colorado’s Republican delegation to Congress. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has been a vocal supporter of the new health care legislation — even before he had a chance to read the draft document. Coffman is excited about what he calls a massive entitlement reform that would quickly eliminate Medicaid. Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to insist that he is opposed to any proposal that would gut Medicaid.

Politico examines seven specific pitfalls that could derail Trumpcare entirely, including a poor reception from the healthcare insurers and providers. Many conservative Republicans are also not happy with the plan being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

 

► House Republicans are moving quickly as they try to enact Trumpcare. As the Washington Post explains, outside groups are being left to figure out the details:

The House GOP is moving so fast — with debate starting in the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee less than 48 hours after they unveiled their bills — that lawmakers have not yet received any estimates from congressional budget analysts of how much the plans would cost or, significantly, how many Americans could be expected to gain or lose insurance coverage…

…An analysis by S&P Global predicts the legislation would lead to a loss of coverage for 2 million to 4 million of the roughly 16 million Americans who bought their own health plans through the ACA’s marketplaces or separately. More adults 35 and younger would gain coverage, while fewer adults 45 and older would be insured, according to the analysis…

…The GOP plans also would undo an ACA rule that allows insurers to charge their oldest customers no more than three times what they charge their youngest and healthiest ones. Instead, insurers could charge five times as much…

…Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said more low-income people would have a hard time affording benefits under the Republicans’ American Health Care Act. “There will be more losers than winners,” he said.

It’s not all bad news — Trumpcare is great if you are already rich.

 

► The Colorado legislature could end up convening a special session this summer if Trumpcare makes it through Congress.

 

► Women haven’t disappeared in Colorado, but this is what it might look like if they did.

 

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

Coffman Pumps Health Care Bill, Reads Text Later

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) puts the cart before the horse.

Republicans will have to pass a healthcare bill in order to find out what it says. This has been a popular joke around Capitol Hill recently, and like any good yarn, it is one that has its roots in reality.

According to a Tweet from Rep. Mike Coffman’s office this afternoon, the Aurora Republican was hunkered down at his desk reading the new House Republican bill to repeal destroy Obamacare. But just this morning, as Coffman’s office also Tweeted, the Congressman went on “The Ross Kaminsky Show” on 630AM to offer his full-throated support of legislation that he may not have even read yet.

In a healthcare-centric interview, Coffman tells Kaminsky that the legislation represents a “massive reform” to Medicaid, promising to end the program altogether in four years (Coffman cites “political reasons” for not trying to end Medicaid sooner). Says Coffman:

“It actually goes much further than the Affordable Care Act.  This is a major entitlement reform.  It is a major reform to the entire Medicaid system.  And I think that that has not been part of the discussion..

…”As long as enough republicans stay together, we can get this passed and on the President’s desk.”

Coffman is apparently all-in on the House legislation, which has received public support from President Trump. Coffman’s endorsement of cutting Medicaid, however, doesn’t square with what Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) said on Monday, when he said he couldn’t support healthcare legislation that did not protect Medicaid.

Check out the Big Media Blog for more from Coffman’s interview this morning.