Get More Smarter on Friday (February 24)

It’s cold outside — colder than the reception you might receive if you tried to talk to Sen. Cory Gardner. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has almost made it through the workweek recess without actually having to answer questions from real constituents about, well, anything. But Gardner’s consistent refusal to engage with the people he is supposed to represent is escalating into a full-out disaster for the first-term Senator, and the problem is only getting worse. On Thursday, multiple videos of Gardner evading a woman and her baby in a Broomfield hotel lobby became national news, with Gardner consistently brushing off questions by telling her — and other constituents — to just “go to my website” instead.

Gardner’s constituent indifference has become a national story.

 

► Once upon a time (also known as January), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) promised to hold a big town hall meeting before Congress votes on a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Coffman didn’t make any effort to hold a town hall meeting during the current President’s Day recess, but as Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Statesman, Team Coffman says there will be an event in April:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman plans to hold a traditional town hall in April, when the Aurora Republican will be at home in his district during a scheduled congressional recess, his aides said Friday.

Coffman spokesman Daniel Bucheli told The Colorado Statesman that Coffman is looking for the right venue and nailing down the date for a town hall, likely sometime during the second full week of April. He was confirming an announcement made by campaign aide J.D. Key Friday morning at a GOP breakfast meeting in Highlands Ranch.

The immediate question, of course, is whether or not this means that Congress will not be voting on a potential repeal of Obamacare in the next 6-8 weeks; Coffman promised to hold a big town hall meeting before a potential vote on repealing the healthcare law. Coffman could have just been blowing smoke up everyone’s you-know-what, which the Congressman has been known to do, but this promise would be harder to walk back given the steady crowds trying to contact their elected officials across the country.

 

► It would not be a complete surprise if Congress is unable to take action on repealing Obamacare, as Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) seemed to indicate earlier this week. Former House Speaker John Boehner was widely quoted on Thursday laughing at the idea that Republicans could coalesce around a single idea on health care reform. Meanwhile, Politico reports on a new draft document outlining another potential GOP healthcare plan:

A draft House Republican repeal bill would dismantle Obamacare subsidies and scrap its Medicaid expansion, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by POLITICO.

The legislation would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high-risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020.

The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the Obamacare “Cadillac tax” that Republicans have fought to repeal.

Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that Republicans would introduce repeal legislation after recess. [Pols emphasis] But the GOP has been deeply divided about how much of the law to scrap, and how much to “repair,” and the heated town halls back home during the weeklong recess aren’t making it any easier for them.

The basis of the leaked plan is, essentially, to tax healthcare plans for “cost containment” while doing nothing to address coverage. This won’t end well.

 

► The Trump administration on Thursday made it clear that the President plans to crack down on the recreational marijuana industry.

 

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Deep Jeffco Bench Ready For Perlmutter’s Next Move

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Ernest Luning at the Colorado Statesman reports on the next generation of Colorado Democrats in Jefferson County, waiting to move up in the event Rep. Ed Perlmutter makes the decision to run for Governor in 2018:

Two Lakewood Democrats say they’re likely to run next year for the 7th Congressional District seat represented by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter if the six-term incumbent Democrat jumps in the race for governor.

State Rep. Brittany Pettersen told The Colorado Statesman this week that she will run for the suburban congressional seat if Perlmutter seeks the gubernatorial nomination in 2018, and state Sen. Andy Kerr told The Statesman he’s “very seriously looking at it.”

The two legislators share many of the same constituents — Kerr held Pettersen’s House District 28 seat for three terms before winning an open seat in the upper chamber in 2012 — and both say their ability to win in their own swing districts means they’d be contenders for Perlmutter’s suburban swing seat.

Although Rep. Perlmutter’s seat is on-paper competitive, his strong leadership and deep ties to his Jefferson County constituents have made CD-7 completely unwinnable for the GOP since defeating Rick O’Donnell for Bob Beauprez’s open seat in 2006. The last real attempt at the seat was in 2012, when the late Joe Coors lost to Perlmutter 53-41%. Since then Perlmutter has faced only B-List opposition.

With that said, we do expect that Perlmutter giving up the CD-7 seat to run for Governor would embolden Republicans to make another attempt. Either Sen. Andy Kerr or Rep. Brittany Pettersen would make for excellent general election candidates against any Republican we could think of who might run–especially in potential matchups against Tim Neville, Lang SiasLibby Szabo, and other early names that have been floated.

With the biggest variable everyone is waiting on being Rep. Perlmutter’s next move, we don’t expect to see any major updates in this race until he makes his decision–a decision that reportedly depends on whether former Sen. Ken Salazar decides to run for Governor. But if Perlmutter does jump, there is a deep bench in Jefferson County waiting to fill resulting vacancies all the way down the ticket.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 22)

If George Washington were still alive today, perhaps he would celebrate his birthday in a fashion that befits “National Margarita Day.” Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

► Colorado’s ongoing budget problems and the need for TABOR reform has not gone unnoticed by Republican lawmakers. Unfortunately, GOP leaders at the State Capitol — including Senate President Kevin Grantham — are not at all interested in doing anything about the problem.

 

► Is anybody home at the State Department? As CNN reports, foreign policy experts are concerned about the radio silence from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his debut on the international stage over two days in Europe last week — and said less than 50 words in response to press questions, according to pool accounts. On Wednesday, he departs for Mexico — a trip Americans first learned of from the Mexican press…

…That silence may reflect ongoing upheaval in the Trump White House, administration power struggles, Tillerson’s personal inclinations or the growing pains of a former ExxonMobil CEO adjusting to running a governmental organization. Regardless of the reason, diplomats, analysts and current and former State Department officials say there are risks if the dead air continues.

A voiceless State Department, they say, allows other countries to set the narrative about US policy and events, unsettling allies and potentially shortchanging US businesses, citizens and interests overseas.

 

► A 9News “Truth Test” uncovers something you probably won’t be surprised to learn: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) does not have anything resembling a plan for the repeal and/or replacement of Obamacare, despite what you may have heard from some paid media ads running in the Denver area. More paid media could be in the works as well, as the Washington Post reports:

The American Action Network, founded by veteran GOP fundraisers to support the speaker’s agenda, will spend $2.2 million on TV and digital buys over the next two weeks to promote GOP efforts related to overhauling the law across two dozen media markets. That’s in addition to $5.2 million already spent on Obamacare-related advertising since the start of the year…

…Politically, lawmakers are trying to soothe fears among voters that they are going to scrap the law without a clear roadmap for what comes next. While some of the opposition efforts at town hall meetings are being organized by progressive outside groups, there is also organic anxiousness. Our reporters who have fanned out across the country report back that many people they’re interviewing have never before attended these sorts of meetings.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that SUPPORT for Obamacare continues to rise in the United States.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 21)

You have only one shopping day left until George Washington’s birthday. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

► Congress is taking a break for its annual President’s Day Recess, but that doesn’t necessarily mean elected officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are likely to make themselves available to constituents. As the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, local residents are so incensed with Gardner’s inaccessibility that they are planning their own town hall meeting as protest. The Denver Post has more on Friday’s town hall meeting (sans Gardner):

Organizers invited U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who declined, but Farnan said it’s important to hold it anyway so that residents can share their ideas and demonstrate that town halls still matter.

“You should be standing in front of your constituents and hear what they have to say as long as it’s civil and respectful,” Farnan said.

Aides to Gardner said the Republican senator has meetings this week with the Colorado Space Coalition, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Colorado Health Care Association — to name a few — but no public forums. [Pols emphasis]

But they defended his outreach efforts and noted his past use of telephone town halls, a tool that has become an increasingly popular substitute on Capitol Hill.

You may not have any real access to your own U.S. Senator, but if you’re lucky, you might get invited to listen to him talk on the telephone! That’s pretty much the same, right?

Unfortunately for Sen. Gardner, this routine is wearing thin across the state. In the meantime, Colorado residents show no sign of letting up on demonstrations and protests.

 

► Before leaving Washington D.C. last week, House Republicans released a vague outline of a proposal about what to do with Obamacare if they end up repealing the health care law. On Monday, former South Carolina governor and current Rep. Mark Sanford admitted in a television interview that he could not guarantee that the Republican health care plan would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance coverage.

As The Hill explains, Republicans may have a hard time convincing constituents that this vague new plan is even half-baked.

 

► We all know that campaign finance loopholes are big enough to accommodate whatever metaphor you prefer, but some paid campaigns are so brazenly sketchy that it’s hard to believe they could exist. For example, this barrage of advertisements promoting Walker Stapleton’s campaign for Governor apparent interest in term limits. The intent is so obvious that even Republican-aligned groups like Compass Colorado can’t help but applaud the name recognition boost for Stapleton.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 17)

Have a nice President’s Day Weekend; try the meatloaf. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

► As the Associated Press reported this morning, President Trump is considering mobilizing the National Guard — as many as 100,000 troops — to undertake mass deportation efforts across the country. Colorado is one of the states listed in the draft memo obtained by the AP.

Again: The President of the United States of America is considering deploying the military to conduct mass roundups and deportations across the country. This is all kinds of wrong.

 

A “shit sandwich.” That’s how Vice Admiral Robert Harward viewed an offer from President Trump to become the next National Security Adviser — an offer Harward publicly declined — which leaves the Trump administration scrambling to find another candidate for one of the most important jobs in the White House. The resignation of former NSA Michael Flynn highlights a massive credibility problem among national security experts, as the Washington Post explains:

Multiple former national security experts conjectured that the hang-up specifically was Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, a TV commentator who has not served in government since the Reagan era. Few foreign policy professionals consider her qualified for the job. [Pols emphasis]

…Harward certainly knows the struggles that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson have had hiring their own staff — neither has an announced deputy; Harward was not about to subject himself to the same micromanaging from the White House. Former State Department official and vocal Trump critic Eliot Cohen says, “It makes it very difficult for any serious person to take the job under less reasonable conditions than Harward seems to have demanded, i.e., control of staffing.” He explains, “No sane person would take this extremely important and difficult job without (a) control of staffing, and (b) eliminating or neutering Bannon’s shadow NSC staff.” …

…Harward’s decision reflects how far the president and this administration have fallen in the eyes of esteemed national security experts, including current and former officials. The White House is without an experienced chief of staff or normal internal decision-making procedures. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Congress is preparing for its annual President’s Day recess, which will keep lawmakers out of the nation’s capitol until February 27. Before he skipped out of town, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) released a video in which he declares that he will not support a repeal of Obamacare without a concurrent replacement plan. The New York Times on Thursday reported on a potential new GOP healthcare plan that would redirect money from the lower- and middle-class to the benefit of the wealthy in America.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 16)

It would certainly be hard for things to Get More Dumber at this point, so let’s see if we can’t 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…

► So…that didn’t go well. President Trump held his first solo press conference as a resident of the White House, and it’s almost like he’s daring someone to declare that he is unfit for office. Put it this way: If you had to place a bet on whether or not Trump would make it through his first term in office, would you really put big money on “YES”?

Did you vote for Donald Trump for President?” could be the most important question for Colorado political candidates in 2018. That’s one big orange albatross we’re talking about.

 

► President Trump has a new nominee for Labor Secretary. Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, on account of the fact that he had no chance of winning confirmation from the Senate. The new nominee is Alexander Acosta, dean of the Florida International University School of Law and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board.

The Washington Post takes a look at how Puzder’s nomination went so completely off the rails, while Politico previews trouble ahead for the new nominee.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) thinks that we should investigate the FBI after the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. From CBS Denver:

Rep. Mike Coffman agrees with Republicanson the House Ethics Committee who don’t think President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn needs to be investigated for ethics violations following his ouster over interactions with Russian officials…

…Controversy still lingers over the White House’s handling of the brief tenure of Flynn, who continued to advise the president weeks after the Department of Justice warned the administration of Flynn’s conduct on the phone with Russia’s ambassador.

“I want to see that transcript to see if there are other conversations that he had is worthwhile finding out, but I also think it’s important to move on,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Move along!

 

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Running for Office in 2018? “Did You Vote for Trump?”

Victor Mitchell (seen here before he turns into a bat).

John Frank of the Denver Post takes a look at the gubernatorial candidacy of Republican Victor Mitchell, and the interview includes a very important answer to what will likely be the most-asked question of 2018:

His pitch may draw comparisons to President Donald Trump, but Mitchell didn’t vote for the Republican nominee. Instead, he voted for third-party candidate Evan Mcmullen. [Pols emphasis]

“I’ve been a lifelong Republican, but I couldn’t get there,” he said. “My son’s a West Point cadet. And the way (Trump) spoke about women was very concerning.”

Mark this down in your political notebooks, friends. With Mitchell on the record saying he didn’t vote for Trump, there is no place for any other 2018 candidate to hide when asked about their 2016 choice for President. “Did you vote for Donald Trump?” is an absolute no-brainer question for every candidate seeking public office in the next couple of years.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 15)

Welcome, comrades! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

► National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may be gone, but the Russian cloud enveloping the White House isn’t dissipating one bit. As the New York Times reports today in its lead story:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election…

…The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

As the Washington Post writes this morning:

The credibility gap – maybe chasm is a better word at this point – keeps widening for Donald Trump and his White House.

And what does President Trump have to say about all of this? As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

Trump’s response to these serious allegations, which have already cost him his national security adviser and now threaten the foundations of his presidency, has been decidedly flippant.  In a tweetstorm Wednesday morning, Trump blamed the “fake news” media and Hillary Clinton for the stories and sought to pivot the conversation to how the information regarding the contacts between his campaign and the Russians leaked out…

…Given the seriousness of those allegations, tweets about the Clinton campaign or the “fake news” aren’t going to cut it.  Congressional Republicans are getting more and more worried that this situation is spinning out of control and has the possibility to do serious damage to the entire party less than a month into the Trump presidency.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — has been rather quiet about the White House Russia scandal. In an interview with Denver7 on Tuesday, Gardner said…well, nothing, really. Gardner seems to be falling apart in general under the strain of his 100% voting record with Trump.

Meanwhile, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) is pushing for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also pushing for an official inquiry.

 

► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Boulder County for its unwillingness to open up its lands for oil and gas drilling.

 

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Late-Night Hearing on Abortion Bills: Majorities Matter

The Durango Herald’s Luke Perkins reports on the long, drawn-out death last night in the Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee of Republican-sponsored bills to restrict abortion rights–bills that were always going to die in the Democratic-controlled House, but highlight the new threat to abortion rights from a federal government more hostile than ever to them:

House Bill 1086, which would mandate providing women information about ways to reverse chemical abortions, was heard by the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee.

After nearly five hours of testimony, the bill died on a 6-5 party-line vote, with Democrats disputing the viability of research backing the reversal option.

Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, said the lack of scientific support was a serious obstacle for mandating that information. “We searched for data supporting this, and the only thing we could find was a case study that had six cases in it,” Lontine said.

The “abortion reversal” push is a relatively new attempt to shoehorn in obstructions to abortion rights, and if anything has even less scientific backing than the usual fare:

In recent years, the rise of medical abortion has led some anti-abortion activists and lawmakers to claim that the process can be reversed with an emergency treatment after the first pill. But even if they succeed at turning that myth into law, the truth is that science is not on their side…

It is impossible to find reliable sources for the notion that medical abortions can be reversed. The Louisiana bill’s sponsor, Rep. Frank Hoffman, told WWL that he heard about it from George Delgado, the medical director of an organization called Abortion Pill Reversal (APR), at a Right to Life Conference in New Orleans.

Obviously, to institute a legal requirement regarding a medical procedure with so little medical basis is extremely bad policymaking. Even the unscientific studies put forward in support of the idea only indicate a fraction of such “reversals” are successful, and the procedure could itself be dangerous to a woman’s health.

And as Perkins continues the action didn’t stop there:

In addition to H.B. 1086, House bills 1085 and 1108 were also scheduled to be heard Thursday. H.B. 1085 requires facilities that offer abortions to file registration forms with the attorney general of Colorado, detailing how many procedures they have performed and a list of all the doctors who performed abortions at the facility. H.B. 1108 makes the termination of an unborn child a Class 1 felony.

Abortion registrations, and a simple bill to make abortion a felony. The latter bill we’ve seen more or less yearly in the Colorado legislature. Generally we have regarded this legislation as much more damaging to the Republican brand with moderate voters than it was ever worth in terms of motivating the pro-life base to support Republican candidates.

What’s different this year? In Colorado, not much. Our state’s Democratic House majority and Democratic governor are a solid bulwark against these kinds of abortion restriction bills passing into law here. But Coloradans can no longer ignore the fact that hundreds of similar restrictions have passed in state legislatures throughout the country.

As for the DOA abortion felony bill, it’s meant to be a vehicle for a state challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion rights once and for all. Before Donald Trump became President on a promise to see Roe repealed, this was little more than a remote and hypothetical threat–something you could imagine, but not reasonably consider possible based on political reality.

Well, folks? Notwithstanding Colorado, that political reality has changed. Now we have a U.S. Supreme Court rapidly tilting right, the most anti-abortion Congress and Executive Branch in modern history, and state legislatures controlled by Republicans across the nation ready to serve as guinea pigs.

In short, the abortion rights Coloradans have taken for granted for decades have never been more in danger–and every election, state and federal, should be considered a last line of defense.

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday; you don’t have to panic just yet. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

Treason. That’s the story today and probably for a good deal of time in the near future, after the Washington Post reported late Thursday that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may have violated the Logan Act by illegally negotiating with a foreign government (in this case, Russia). Vice President Mike Pence might have gotten burned here as well.

 

► President Trump has rejected Rex Tillerson’s choice to be his right hand at the State Department because Elliott Abrams once said some things that weren’t very nice about Trump. From CNN:

President Donald Trump met with Abrams and the sources said that the meeting went well but when the President learned that Abrams had criticized him during the campaign, the President nixed Abrams as Deputy Secretary of State, according to the sources.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to convince Trump to offer the job to Abrams despite the criticism because he felt he needed Abrams’ experience.

Republican sources also say White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner also strongly supported Abrams, and tried to convince the President to reconsider.

“This is a loss for the State Department and the country and for that matter for the President,” said one Republican source.

 

► Another federal court has rejected President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, and the big orange guy is not pleased.

 

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Republican Legislators Can’t Keep Healthcare Talking Points Straight

State Sen. Jimmy Smallwood

As you may have heard, President Trump and Congressional Republicans would like to repeal Obamacare…except that they have no idea what to do for a replacement plan. Here in Colorado, GOP lawmakers have their own proposal to tank the State Health Exchange, part of a nonsense plan that would rely on the Affordable Care Act to pick up the slack at a federal level (of course, the ACA may or may not continue to exist under the current Congress).

As John Frank of the Denver Post reported earlier this week, state Sen. Jim Smallwood is leading Republican efforts to repeal the state health exchange. Take a look at how he explains the GOP rationale here:

Sen. Jim Smallwood, a health insurance broker, is leading the effort to repeal the state exchange, a move that would send Colorado residents to the federal marketplace to buy insurance. The bill is not expected to advance through the Democratic-led House, but the GOP is rallying to the cause.

The freshman Republican lawmaker from Parker is adamant that his bill is not a political statement or “a vendetta against President Obama.” [Pols emphasis] Instead, he argues, the measure is designed to save the state money by eliminating a tax break for insurance companies and preventing future fees on health care plans…

…”There appear to be some obvious failures systemically within the gut of our state-based exchange, and my thought was, would the same thing happen if we were on healthcare.gov?” Smallwood said in a recent interview.

According to Sen. Smallwood, local efforts to eliminate the state health exchange have nothing at all to do with partisan rancor over Obamacare.

State Sen. Owen Hill

Except…well, that’s not what state Sen. Owen Hill says in an Op-Ed for the Colorado Statesman this week:

It won’t be easy, but Republicans have promised the American people a better way on health care, and our state and national leaders must deliver. [Pols emphasis]

Voters have elected a Republican majority in D.C., expecting them to repeal Obamacare…

…I’m proud that my fellow Republicans in Washington are determined to fulfill their campaign promise to repeal the ACA. But this is no mere public policy debate because real people’s lives and jobs are on the line. The GOP Congress and President Trump must also keep another of their campaign promises — to do right by American workers — if they want this repeal to truly improve the lives and health care of the American people.

When Republicans in Congress repeal Obamacare as they have pledged, they must make sure to replace it with a fair and free market where the government plays by the same rules as the rest of us. This means paying fair market value for health care services. Washington D.C. has mismanaged Medicare and Medicaid for years, forcing the rest of us to pick up the tab in other ways.

Republican legislators are saying two totally different things in response to concerns about trying to eliminate the state health exchange. Sen. Smallwood says this has nothing to do with the ACA and that his bill would allow the federal insurance market to pick up the slack for Colorado. Sen. Hill says this has everything to do with the ACA and is hopeful that there won’t even be a federal marketplace for healthcare sometime soon.

This entire exercise is completely idiotic, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the State Senate Majority can’t even keep their talking points straight.

Good news: State Republicans aim to improve their relations with Colorado journalists

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Republican leaders at the Colorado State Capitol are trying to improve their media relations, with off-the-record happy hours, weekly press briefings, and more, according to Feb. 6 report by Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland (included below).

That’s great news! I’m serious, because journalists can actually help facilitate good policy making, if Democrats and Republicans help them do their job.

Rep. Chris Holbert (R-Colorado Springs) says he and Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) want to be more “open and inclusive” and get to know the press better.

Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) told Birkeland that Republicans “think there’s a liberal media bias, and then when you kind of see it in little things” it reinforces the perception. But Everett thinks better personal relationships lead to better stories.

He’s right.

Here are five tips for Republicans. Obviously these are offered from a progressive perspective, but I don’t think serious conservatives would disagree with me on this (plus I wrote a book about it):

  1. Don’t make sweeping generalizations about journalism, as some Republicans do when they complain openly about “liberal media bias” when they see a story they disagree with. There’s no study or proof of any “liberal media bias” at the local level, and making the accusation is rude. So be very specific about your complaints about coverage, and you’ll find reporters will be receptive to your criticism.
  2. Be factual. This is key. Journalists look for the truth, supported by facts. They don’t want to hear unsupportable statements like blaming Obamacare for Colorado budget woes.
  3. Don’t be boring. Think about your visual appeal.
  4. Don’t blow up your long-term relationships over a disagreement. Today’s news is history tomorrow.
  5. Don’t compliment Trump’s media-relations strategy, as Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) did in Birkeland’s piece, when he expressed admiration for Trump for calling journalism fake news. As wrote in a post yesterday, don’t insult reporters by calling their work “fake news,” even if they make a mistake.

Oh, and can progressive journalists attend those happy hours?

Colorado GOP Leaders Love Trump…Even if They Don’t Know Why

Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Cañon City).

There’s a fascinating new story in the Colorado Statesman from Ernest Luning about how Colorado Republican leaders view the state’s electorate entering the 2018 cycle. As Luning reports from a GOP donor luncheon last month in Denver, Colorado legislative leaders have totally bought-in to the Donald Trump phenomenon — not that they understand any of it:

Leading Republican lawmakers told a group of GOP donors that the party is poised to capture the Colorado voters who swung to Donald Trump last fall but cautioned against assuming they’re in the bag just yet…

…Colorado Republicans have the chance to bring Trump voters into the fold, [Senate President Kevin] Grantham said, as some elements of the traditional party coalitions appear to be up for grabs.

“It’s going to be simple, but it won’t be easy,” he said…

There are some interesting things happening in this discussion, but the central theme is the same: Colorado Republicans want you to know that they are pro-Trump because they think you are also pro-Trump. But they don’t know why:

Noting that Trump did unusually well among blue collar and union workers in Colorado, Grantham said that figuring out how the billionaire businessman peeled them away from the Democrats would be the key to adding those voters to the Republican coalition.

“Why Pueblo? Why Wisconsin? Why Michigan? Let’s latch onto that and carry it into the next cycle,” Grantham said. “We need to start looking for a governor candidate who can speak to these folks,” he added.

As Luning points out, of course, Democrat Hillary Clinton actually carried Colorado by five points over Trump — the third straight victory for the Democratic Presidential candidate in our state. Democrats have been pondering the loss of Wisconsin and Michigan since Election Day, and apparently they are not alone in their confusion as to what happened and why. Colorado Republicans don’t seem to know what happened here.

Nevertheless, there will be giant heaping helpings of red meat. And lots of Trump. You had better like both.