Get More Smarter on Friday (February 3)

Can we demand a recount in Punxsutawney? How do we know that the groundhog wasn’t paid off by “Big Winter” to keep it cold for another six weeks? 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…

► That big wall between Mexico and the United States that President Trump has repeatedly promised is running into plenty of opposition from Congressional Republicans. As CNN reports:

A growing number of congressional Republicans are objecting to the cost and viability of a proposal that was a rallying cry for the billionaire businessman during his insurgent campaign. Interviews with more than a dozen GOP lawmakers across the ideological spectrum suggest Trump could have a difficult time getting funding for his plan approved by Congress.

Many bluntly told CNN they’d likely vote against any Trump plan that is not fully offset with spending cuts, while others questioned whether Trump’s vision would adequately resolve the problems at the border.

“If you’re going to spend that kind of money, you’re going to have to show me where you’re going to get that money,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a key swing vote who has already broken with Trump over his nominee for secretary of education.

“I don’t see how you can get a bill like that through (Congress) without offsets,” she added. “I don’t see how that’s possible.”

At a projected cost of $12-15 billion, it’s not hard to see why so-called “fiscal conservatives” would be freaking out a little bit.

 

► Remember Bowling Green!?

Don’t remember Bowling Green? You’re not alone. But here’s what President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway told Chris Matthews of MSNBC on Thursday:

“Two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people didn’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

Conway is correct that this didn’t get covered…primarily because it never happened. From the Washington Post:

In defending President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees, immigrants and citizens from Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries, Conway referred to something that didn’t happen — the “Bowling Green massacre.” (She also incorrectly said that Obama “banned” Iraqi refugees, which we have previously fact-checked as false.)

Conway was on her way to a Four-Pinocchio rating when, about an hour and a half after The Fact Checker sent her a query about her remarks, she tweeted that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists.”

Alternative facts.

 

One of the foremost charter school advocates in the United States says that Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is absolutely not qualified for the position and is urging the Senate to reject her nomination. Despite a series of shaky performances during the confirmation process, DeVos is still moving forward in the process but will have to sweat out a full floor vote on Monday.

 

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

Quick! Throw Some Cold Water on Sen. Kevin Lundberg

Sen. Kevin Lundberg

Nothing gets state Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) frothing at the mouth like “abortion.” Just say the word within earshot, and Lundberg reacts like Pavlov’s dog. You can practically see the ripples of electrical activity inside that ham sandwich between his ears.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, Sen. Lundberg is a member of the powerful and important Joint Budget Committee (JBC), a seat from where he’s happy to waste time on pointless discussions of imaginary abortion-related problems. As Lundberg happily explained to constituents via an email newsletter this week, he took the opportunity during a Jan. 25 JBC meeting to voice his opposition to funding school clinics because of some mysterious belief that school “nurses” might be referring sick kids to abortion providers. From Lundberg’s newsletter, dated Feb. 1:

During a Joint Budget Committee hearing several weeks ago I asked the Colorado Department of Education a question they found rather uncomfortable.  The Department was asking for additional funding for school clinics. In the description of school clinics it stated that they primarily provide referral services for medical care. [Pols emphasis] 

The question was: “do school clinics ever refer students to abortion clinics?” The Department said they do not know. My next question was what policy they have in place concerning this issue. Weeks later they essentially admitted they have no policy.

I asked this because the Colorado Constitution (Article V Section 50) prohibits any state funds from being used directly or indirectly for abortions. Referring a student to an abortion clinic is indirectly participating in the abortion.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg’s most recent constituent email update.

Maybe Lundberg has uncovered some vast new conspiracy.

Or…or maybe the Department of Education doesn’t actually have a formal policy that their school clinics are forbidden from referring children for abortions because why would they??? 

We went back to the recordings of the JBC meetings on Jan. 25 so we could hear Lundberg’s concerns firsthand. Here’s the play-by-play:

Sen. Lundberg: “I, consequently, will not vote for any funding or any reimbursement for funding … until their policy is clearly in coordination with the colorado Constitution [regarding abortion]…”

Rep. Young: “…this is for children with disabilities… some were wheelchair bound and needed transfers just for basic care…”

Sen. Lundberg: “Thats why it is important to be cleared up. I believe they need to act on this. I dont believe we should move forward with any funding or reimbursement of funding until they do the right thing.”

And finally, Lundberg’s closing statement:

“Until I see substantive evidence that they have a policy that says we dont go down the road of indirect funding for abortions … until that occurs, I dont see any reason for additional funding coming in any way.”

So…until we can assure Sen. Lundberg that school clinics are not recommending abortions to students, he cannot in good conscience approve any increased funding for children with disabilities.

Got it?

Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 2)

You dirty son of a groundhog! Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter after emerging from his palace this morning and seeing his shadow. 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…

► There are growing concerns about President Trump’s mental and emotional fitness, and it’s becoming a problem in international relations. On Wednesday, President Trump hung up the phone during a conversation with the Australian Prime Minister. From the Washington Post:

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

Also on Wednesday, Trump may or may not have threatened to send U.S. troops into Mexico.

Trump has a position on a topic, and everything else is wrong. If you are concerned about any of this, President Trump says, “Just don’t worry about it.

 

► President Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric may be fun for campaigns and television shows, but it may actually backfire in International diplomacy. From the Washington Post:

President Trump and Iran traded sharp statements Thursday, with Trump amplifying warnings over Tehran’s missile tests and a top adviser to Iran’s leader saying it was not the first time an “inexperienced person has threatened” his country.

The exchanges reflect the Trump administration’s toughening stance on Iran, but also point to wider changes in the White House as it advances a combative and iconoclastic ­foreign policy. The shifts appear to ­sideline traditional diplomacy and concentrate decision-making among a small group of aides who are quickly projecting their new “America first” approach to the world.

Just before the Senate confirmed Trump’s new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday, national security adviser ­Michael Flynn made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to deliver a stern warning to Iran over its most recent ballistic missile test.

Trump bangs his fists, and Iran shrugs.

 

► It’s an icy day in Metro Denver, which is something Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is growing quite accustomed to feeling. After a series of shaky performances during the confirmation process, DeVos may need a tie-breaking Senate vote from Vice President Mike Pence to make it into the Department of Education. As we noted in this space yesterday, DeVos has lost the support of two Republican Senators after demonstrating during the last few weeks that she has very little understanding of what her proposed job entails.

As the Colorado Statesman reports, a growing number of state lawmakers are also voicing their opposition to DeVos.

 

The fight is on over the Supreme Court now that Donald Trump’s nominee has been announced. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) wasted no time in sitting down for a meeting with Judge Neil Gorsuchwhich is more than Gardner would even consider for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016.

 

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

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 1)

You wanna march? Let’s march on that damn groundhog tomorrow so that we can hurry up and get to Spring. 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…

► Rules? Rules?!? We don’t need no stinking rules! Republicans in the U.S. Senate have decided to abandon rules and decorum and all that crap so that they can hurry up and ram through appointments for Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Republican leaders are trying hard to blame Democrats for this mess, conveniently ignoring the fact that the GOP started well down this road last year when it refused to hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

From Politico:

Democrats said they were boycotting the confirmation proceedings because of concerns that Price and Mnuchin had misled the committee, and that the nominees needed to provide more information.

Republicans slammed Democrats as being obstructionists and downplayed their concerns with the nominees.

 

► As expected, President Trump on Tuesday nominated Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) managed to squeeze in a meeting with Gorsuch at his office this morning in Washington D.C. — something Gardner refused to do for Obama nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.

For Senate Republicans, Gorsuch represents something of a reward for their 2016 efforts at preventing Garland from donning the black robes of a Supreme Court Justice. The Denver Post has more reaction from Colorado officials.

 

► Republican legislators in Colorado are trying to repeal Colorado’s health insurance marketplace at the same time that Connect for Health Colorado is seeing a record surge in people signing up for coverage. A large crowd gathered at the State Capitol on Tuesday to speak out against GOP efforts to dismantle the state health exchange.

 

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

Idiotic Sanctuary City Bill Not Ready For Prime Time

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports on a bill introduced by freshman Rep. Dave Williams, the successor in HD-15 to former Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, that claims to enact civil and criminal penalties for public officials in Colorado who creates or operates a “sanctuary jurisdiction.”

State Rep. Dave Williams said Monday he plans to introduce “The Colorado Politician Accountability Act” this week, legislation aimed at holding officials criminally liable for the “carnage” committed by some immigrants.

“As the first Latino elected to Colorado House District 15,” said Williams, who was first elected to the heavily Republican district in November, in a statement, “I think it’s important that we do all we can to uphold the rule of law and ensure all communities, regardless of race or ethnicity, are protected from dangerous policies that are forced on us by radical, out-of-touch politicians who continually sell out to an unlawful agenda that increases the number of criminals, and needless deaths among our fellow citizens.”

…The proposed legislation drew sharp criticism from state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, who is planning to introduce legislation of his own this week called “The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act,” named after the Colorado governor who defended Japanese-Americans subject to internment during World War II.

“His bill is grounded in ridiculousness, surround by ignorance, covered in prejudice and overall is tone-deaf to what is happening in our country,” Salazar told The Statesman. “If Rep. Williams wants to serve as a human dogwhistle for Trump, I imagine his time as a legislator will be considered wasted.” [Pols emphasis]

So there are two major effects of this legislation if it were to become law: allowing* (see below) civil suits against government officials who create “sanctuary jurisdictions,” and creating the new class 4 felony charge of “rendering assistance to an illegal alien through a sanctuary jurisdiction.” Now obviously, anyone can write a bill establishing new crimes–but in the case of civil suits against government officials, that’s another matter entirely. Public officials are immune from most civil lawsuits under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. The bill says officials can’t claim immunity in “sanctuary jurisdiction” cases, but that would be vigorously challenged in court.

None of which really matters anyway, since this bill doesn’t have a hope in hell of passage. Some of our longtime readers will recall Rep. Williams’ checkered history in El Paso County politics, including an ill-fated run for El Paso County GOP chair that ended in defeat after local Republicans judged Williams to be too homophobic and generally unpleasant even for them. As you can read above, Williams trades heavily on his own Latino heritage to justify his sponsorship of one of the uglier pieces of anti-immigration legislation we’ll see in Colorado this year.

Some people, we suppose, just have a lot to “prove.”

House Debate Underway on Resolution Condemning Trump

UPDATE: Peter Marcus at the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado’s House Republican leader on Tuesday defended President Trump’s temporary refugee and select immigration bans, saying the orders are a prudent move to understand threats facing the nation…

“I don’t think there is any disagreement that we are a nation of immigrants. This is simply a temporary halt in some of the most dangerous areas. That’s all the executive order is,” Neville said.

He went on to draw upon his experiences as a soldier in Iraq, suggesting that his life “depended on my Muslim friends,” but was also “threatened by Muslim enemies.”

…Neville also stated that most Americans support taking the time to develop policies that aim at protecting American lives, despite nationwide protests and bipartisan opposition to Trump’s directives.

—–



A press release from the Colorado House Democratic Majority on a new resolution calling out Donald Trump, and daring Republicans in the Colorado legislature to defend him:

House Democrats are introducing a resolution today opposing President Donald Trump’s recent executive order pertaining to various visa holders that is currently roiling the country. House Democrats also indicated that they would bring forward more measures in the coming days responding to Trump’s offensive against minorities, immigrants, refugees, women and others.

“In so many ways, Donald Trump is implementing a policy of separating the United States from the rest of the world,” said Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver. “The risks of a new American isolationism are immense. This is unnecessarily divisive and warrants our immediate attention.”

The resolution, sponsored by Reps. Hansen and Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, recalls America’s history as a nation of immigrants, especially its long record of accepting refugees fleeing war, famine and oppression. It calls on President Trump to rescind or Congress to overturn​ his Jan. 27 executive order banning citizens from seven mostly Muslim nations, even those individuals who already have permanent residency or other U.S. visas.

​“This administration is way out of step with Colorado,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet. “Whether it’s directing the construction of an unnecessary, costly and stigmatizing wall on the Mexican border, whether it’s him threatening DACA recipients and DREAMers, whether it’s his attacks on women or his unconstitutional executive order targeting Muslims, we cannot and will not stand for these actions.”

“It seems clear that we have not seen the last Trump action that violates America’s values and laws,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County. “I am deeply concerned that among his next steps will be to order the deportation of children who have grown up in this country and are protected under the DACA program. I will support an inclusive Colorado and an inclusive America, and I’ll oppose every reckless attempt coming out of Washington to divide us.”

“These misguided policies do nothing to keep us safe,” said Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder. “We cannot stand by while policies that violate our constitution and values are pushed through by overreaching executive action.”

The resolution is being scheduled for floor debate on Tuesday. Other Democratic actions to protect against broad federal overreach are expected in the coming days.

Debate on this resolution is underway on the floor of the Colorado House right now (click here to watch live). House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is leading the defense of Trump:

We’ll update with coverage as it comes in.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 31)

So long, January! 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…

► President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday for supporting the Constitution over the demands of the President. From the Washington Post:

In a news release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” Trump named in her place Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Boente said he would enforce the president’s directive until he was replaced by Trump’s attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala)…

…The move came just hours after Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s immigration order, declaring in a memo that she was not convinced the order is lawful. Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” the big story isn’t that Trump fired Yates — it’s how he went about it:

There’s no problem with the Trump White House disagreeing with the past administration’s stance on immigration. That is, of course, their right. But, again, the scorched-earth condemnation of Yates strikes me as rhetorically overboard and, dare I say it, not terribly presidential…

…What Trump’s statement, viewed broadly, teaches us — or, maybe, re-teaches us — is that this president sees only two kinds of people in the world: Loyal friends and disloyal, terrible enemies.  Principled — or occasional — opposition is not part of that equation. You are either all the way for him or all the way against him. Black and white. No room for grays. [Pols emphasis]

And, thus, the reinvention of politicians such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). The website FiveThirtyEight has come up with a nifty formula to track Congressional votes in the age of President Trump. Yes, that’s Gardner with a 100% “Trump Score.”

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) says President Trump’s Muslim travel ban is “an embarrassment.” From the Denver Post:

During a brief interview Monday at Reagan National Airport, Coffman said, “I certainly would agree with the president that Islamic terrorism is a real threat to our national security.

“But I think the policy was poorly thought-out and badly executed and I think it’s just an embarrassment,” he said. “It seemed that it was more crafted by campaign operatives than national security experts.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) also had strong words for Trump’s travel ban on Monday, saying that it “needlessly antagonizes our allies around the world.”

Elsewhere, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) finally issued a statement about the travel ban that was just a nonsense word salad. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) remains the only member of Colorado’s delegation to refuse to comment on the travel ban.

 

► The Denver Post takes a look at Denver Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is reportedly a finalist to be named by President Trump to the Supreme Court. Trump is scheduled to announce his Supreme Court nomination this evening. The Boulder Daily Camera has more on the potential nomination of Gorsuch.

 

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

Get More Smarter on Monday (January 30)

Forget travel bans; if Donald Trump continues on this same path in the White House, soon nobody will want to come to America anyway. 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…

► President Donald Trump says he will unveil his choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court at 6:00 pm on Tuesday in the season premiere of “The Apprentice: White House.” Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are uniting in opposition to Trump’s potential nominee. From Politico:

Senate Democrats are going to try to bring down Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick no matter who the president chooses to fill the current vacancy.

With Trump prepared to announce his nominee on Tuesday evening, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick that is not Merrick Garland and that the vast majority of his caucus will oppose Trump’s nomination. That means Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”

It’s a move that will prompt a massive partisan battle over Trump’s nominee and could lead to an unraveling of the Senate rules if Merkley is able to get 41 Democrats to join him in a filibuster. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also reminded her Twitter followers on Sunday night that Supreme Court nominees can still be blocked by the Senate minority, unlike all other executive and judicial nominees.

Any senator can object to swift approval of a nominee and require a supermajority. Asked directly whether he would do that, Merkley replied: “I will definitely object to a simple majority” vote.

Senate Republicans are already crying foul here, but it’s hard for the GOP to generate much sympathy after the Senate refused to even hold a hearing on President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court in 2016.

It is still unclear just who might be Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, though a handful of names seem to be emerging as finalists. Depending on who you ask, Trump could be leaning toward Thomas HardimanWilliam H. Pryor, or Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch.

 

► Backlash continues to grow around President Trump’s weekend Executive Order banning immigrants to the U.S. from several largely-Muslim countries. Donald Trump’s  Twitter Account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world, has been busy trying to defend his poorly-received travel ban.

Meanwhile, Republicans are breaking ranks and openly criticizing Trump’s travel ban, as Politico reports. The list of outspoken GOP lawmakers includes Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who said that “a blanket travel ban goes too far.” Colorado Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are still not commenting on Trump’s travel ban.

And as the New York Times reports, the Trump administration left several key officials in the dark in its weekend rush to enforce the “don’t-call-it-a-travel-ban” travel ban.

 

► Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) says he is adamantly opposed to the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Said Bennet on Friday:

“The U.S. Attorney General must ensure equal justice under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Jeff Sessions has repeatedly opposed efforts to protect the rights and liberties of all Americans. I cannot support his nomination.”

 

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

Protests Erupt at DIA, Nationwide Over Trump Muslim Ban

UPDATE: Lots of statements as the Trump administration appears to be badly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Sen. Michael Bennet set the mood soon after the announcement, with a statement we think speaks for the Democratic delegation:

“The President’s executive order on refugees will harm, not enhance, our national security and marks a significant departure from our nation’s proud history of welcoming people in need of protection,” Bennet said. “To halt completely or to shape our refugee program by religious or ethnic preferences betrays the values that have made our country strong.

“Refugees are fleeing the same violence and extremism that threatens our nation’s security and are more thoroughly vetted than any other group of people entering the United States. In addition, targeting certain religions and groups will undermine our counterterrorism efforts by stoking anti-West sentiment among ISIS followers and other extremists.

“Instead, we should focus on addressing the security gaps in the Visa Waiver Program. We should implement a stronger strategy for countering ISIS propaganda in order to degrade its ability to radicalize and recruit. Finally, we should pass the 2013 immigration reform bill, which included measures to secure our borders and enhance interior enforcement. Addressing these vulnerabilities and investing in smart security solutions will help make us safer and remain true to our values.”

And finally late today Sen. Cory Gardner is following Bennet’s lead in criticizing the order, albeit still very gently, which for us is nonetheless a significant sign that Donald Trump’s support is evaporating:

We expect the next few days to be highly eventful. Stay tuned.

—–

Your deliberately oversimplified glance at what happened in Colorado this week.

Denver7:

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Denver International Airport Saturday in the wake of President Donald Trump’s orders to temporarily ban refugees from entering the U.S.

“I am here to stand in solidarity with the immigrants and green card holder, students, professional and people who came to the United States for legitimate reasons,” said Samantha Reynolds. “Suddenly, they’re being denied access to the place they call home, with no due process, as far as I’m concerned.”

“There are four (kinds of) people in the world,” said Shauna Johnson. “There are bullies. There are the bullied. There are the silent and there are the defenders.”

“These people,” she said pointing toward the crowd, “are the defenders.”

State Reps. Joseph Salazar and Leslie Herod were on hand for the protest at DIA last night, with Salazar talking to authorities at several points to ensure things didn’t get out of hand:

After about three hours the protest at DIA ended, declaring a measure of victory after a federal judge partially halted President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel for the next 90 days from seven Muslim-majority nations. Travelers with valid visas who were detained in the U.S. will not be removed from the country, and travelers on route to the U.S. will be allowed to complete their journeys.

The ruling doesn’t address the larger question of affected legal U.S. residents who were caught traveling abroad at the time of the order but were not “in transit,” or the overall constitutionality of Trump’s order–though it does say that in the judge’s opinion the government is not likely to prevail. Going forward, there is a serious risk to people from Iraq and Syria in particular who have earned a trip to the U.S. for collaborating with American forces. At the very least, this situation creates a major disincentive to cooperate with America going forward for residents of these nations.

Even Republican state Sen. Larry Crowder gets it, making a stronger statement against Trump’s order than many fellow Republicans up the food chain:

Compare that to Sen. Cory Gardner’s non-response this weekend via CBS4:

Gardner also says Congress will be methodical on immigration reform. He also says that Executive Action is not the way to do it.

“People shouldn’t be afraid, I don’t think, in this country. We should be proud. We should take pride in the differences of opinion in this country. But never use that or let fear interfere with making this country stronger or fighting for your viewpoints,” said Gardner.

Rep. Mike Coffman manages to state his principles a little more clearly:

“While I’ve supported heightened vetting procedures for those wanting to travel to our country, I have never, nor will I ever support a blanket travel ban for people solely based on ethnic or religious grounds.”

The only trouble is, as Denverite’s Erica Meltzer astutely observes, is nobody knows if Coffman is referring to Trump’s actual order, because:

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan supported this order, despite opposing a Muslim ban before the election, because it’s just a ban on people from certain countries. Who happen to be Muslim.

“This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told the Washington Post.

That kind of parsing leaves Coffman’s statement open to interpretation. [Pols emphasis]

Which, we suspect based on experience, is just the way Coffman likes it.

The ban on travel to the United States from numerous Muslim-majority nations is a fulfillment of a campaign promise from Trump, much like the headlong drive to repeal Obamacare, the halt to the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, and other orders issued by Trump in his first week in office. Each of these kept promises by Trump are a fresh disaster for Democrats and the majority of American voters who opposed him, growing the sense of outrage that has fueled protests from last week’s record-setting Women’s Marches to last night’s spontaneous protest at DIA.

We can’t tell you where this all ends, but it shows no signs of stopping.

URGENT: Rally Next Tuesday To Stop Repeal of Colorado’s Insurance Marketplace

We urgently need your help next Tuesday at the Colorado State Capitol.

Far-right Republicans in the Colorado Senate, following the lead of Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress in Washington, have introduced legislation to repeal Colorado’s hugely successful health coverage marketplace. It hasn’t been a perfect system, of course, but the rate of uninsured in our state has plummeted to historic lows. Across the state, medical providers are expanding their facilities and service offerings due to a brighter financial outlook and burgeoning demand.

Repealing the insurance marketplace would have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who have gained coverage since the system went live several years ago.

We don’t know what’s going to happen in Washington under President Trump, but one thing we do know is that lives of Coloradans have been saved by coverage they’ve obtained through Connect For Health Colorado.

Colorado won’t give up the gains we’ve made in health coverage. Join us next Tuesday at 1PM on the West Steps of the Colorado Capitol Building as we rally to STOP Senate Bill 3.

WHAT: Rally to stop the repeal of Colorado’s insurance marketplace
WHEN: Tuesday, January 31st at 1:00PM
WHERE: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax, Denver

Click here to RSVP via Facebook.

After the rally, we encourage everyone to stay for the Senate hearing on Senate Bill 3 and make your voices heard. If you are one of the thousands of Coloradans who would be uninsured right now without coverage obtained through Connect For Health Colorado, we want to hear your story. Drop us a line at resist@progressnowcolorado.org and tell us about yourself. In addition to next Tuesday’s hearing, we’re working on a variety of media projects to help tell your story to a broader audience.

Thanks as always for taking action on short notice. This is just one of the many hard battles we face in the coming months, but it’s critical that we stand together now to protect the historic gains in coverage Colorado has achieved under the Affordable Care Act. We can’t go back to the way it was before. Too many of our neighbors, friends, and family are counting on us.

Get More Smarter on Friday (January 27)

Donald Trump is finishing up his first full week as President. Things are not going well in the White House. 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…

► President Donald Trump is embarking on what could end up being a full-scale trade war with Mexico. As the Denver Post reports, this makes plenty of Coloradans very nervous:

The Trump Administration on Thursday raised the possibility of imposing a 20 percent levy on Mexican imports to help pay for a border wall, a move that could cause Mexico to retaliate.

But any kind of trade war would put Colorado’s ranchers, manufacturers and natural gas producers most at risk, while also raising costs for U.S. consumers, trade experts said Thursday.

“Colorado firms rely on North American supply chains, and this import tariff will ultimately be passed on to the American consumer. Worse, it could lead to Mexico enacting retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods going into Mexico,” said Karen Gerwitz, president of the World Trade Center Denver.

The Denver Business Journal has more on the potential impact on Colorado businesses should relations with Mexico continue to deteriorate. But it’s not just Colorado where concern is rising; newspapers across the country are panning Trump’s proposed tariffs with Mexico. Trump spoke by telephone today with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto less than 24 hours after Nieto cancelled a planned meeting with the White House.

 

► Congressional Republicans are privately fretting about actually repealing Obamacare since they don’t have a plan to replace the legislation. As the Washington Post explains:

Republican lawmakers aired sharp concerns about their party’s quick push to repeal the Affordable Care Act inside a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post.

The recording reveals a GOP that appears to be filled with doubts about how to make good on a long-standing promise to get rid of Obamacare without explicit guidance from President Trump or his administration.

Senators and House members expressed a range of concerns about the task ahead: how to prepare a replacement plan that can be ready to launch at the time of repeal; how to avoid deep damage to the health insurance market; how to keep premiums affordable for middle-class families; even how to avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood, the women’s health-care organization, as many Republicans hope to do with the repeal of the ACA.

“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

 

► Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans are moving forward with plans to eliminate the State Health Exchange and direct Coloradans to a Federal Health Exchange that may or may not exist in the near future. As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, GOP Sen. Jim Smallwood doesn’t quite have his talking points in order, however:

Still, Smallwood, who said he doesn’t oppose all aspects of Obamacare, said he couldn’t guarantee that eliminating the state exchange and forcing people to use the national exchange would help lower their premiums or give them more options. [Pols emphasis]

“Unless we have parallel universes, we’ll never know what would have been better one way or the other,” he said. “I think we can look to other states that made the transition, like Kentucky and Nevada, where they have seen a slightly improved marketplace because of that transition. The way I look at it is, I don’t think that it could be any worse.”

The bill is scheduled for its first hearing on Tuesday.

This might actually make things worse, but let’s do it anyway!

 

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

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 26)

Happy Australia Day! You may want to start getting more familiar with foreign holidays considering the way things are going in the Trump administration. 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…

► President Donald Trump is going to have trouble “Making America Great Again” if he can’t even manage to find loyal and competent people to work for him. Less than a week into his Presidency, Trump is already facing massive leaks from the White House categorizing him as a “clueless child.

Trump can’t be happy about his leaky ship, but at least people are still actually working in the White House. There’s breaking news this morning of a mass exodus of senior leadership from the State Department as many career officials are choosing the great unknown paycheck over toiling under Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In the meantime, Trump continues to push the canard that his Inauguration was witnessed by gazillions of people.

Oh, and for good measure, Mexico’s President has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Trump. Mexico probably just wants more time to write that giant check for the border wall that Trump is promising.

 

► The Denver Post reports on President Trump’s efforts to clamp down on so-called “sanctuary cities” with a look at the potential impact on Denver and Aurora.

 

► For the third consecutive year, state lawmakers have killed legislation from Republicans designed to allow people to discriminate based on religious views.

 

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Schrader column should inspire more aggressive reporting on Medicaid

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reporters covering the Medicaid debate at the state Capitol should read Denver Post opinion writer Megan Schrader’s column today and act on it.

Schrader: “It’s simply disingenuous to imply that there are easy cuts to be made in the Medicaid portion of the budget, or to blame the state budget’s woes on the expansion pushed by Obama and adopted by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”

Translation for journalists: When Republican leaders blame Medicaid for state budget woes, reporters should ask them how they want to cut the state-federal program, which offers healthcare for children, elderly, the disabled, and other poor people.

Last year, Republicans, led by then State Senator Bill Cadman repeatedly claimed Medicaid was siphoning money from “every other program” in the state budget, including roads and schools.

Cadman told 9News: “[Democrats] have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the Constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program.

But in an epic fail, journalists never really reported how Cadman or other Republicans proposed cutting Medicaid or saving money on the program through higher fees or the like. They reported the attack on the program but let the details slide by.

In her column, Schrader encourages Democrats and Republicans to try to find savings, and she acknowledges the difficulty in talking about them–which is precisely why reporters should be asking for specifics, especially from Republicans, who, unlike Democrats, are arguing that Medicaid cuts are a major part of the path out of Colorado’s budget woes.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 25)

Today’s “Get More Smarter” is being read by more people on earth than any other website ever. EVER! 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…

► Got concerns? Calling the office of Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will only get you to a voicemail box…if you are lucky enough for the voicemail to even pick up. Senator Gardner seems rather nonplussed by the fact that his constituents can’t reach his office. Jonathan Romeo of the Durango Herald has a detailed story on the rising anger of constituents who are flabbergasted that they can’t even reach Gardner’s office.

The Denver Post has a primer on how to go about trying to contact your Congressional representatives.

 

► President Donald Trump is proving to be the world’s sorest winner as he continues to make completely unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump plans to ask “for a major investigation” into allegations of widespread voter fraud, as he continues to claim without providing evidence that he lost the popular vote in November’s election because millions of illegal votes were cast, according to tweets posted Wednesday.

The White House has yet to provide details, but Trump said in back-to-back tweets that the investigation would cover “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal” and “those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” Trump used all capitals — VOTER FRAUD — for emphasis.

“Depending on results,” Trump tweeted, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

So, uh, you know how people call you President Trump now? That’s because you won. You can’t win the 2016 election again.

Election officials in Colorado, meanwhile, continue to reiterate that there is absolutely no reason to suspect large-scale voter fraud.

 

► President Trump was set to sign Executive Orders today that would theoretically lead to the beginning of construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Mexico totally isn’t going to pay for in any way whatsoever. Trump is rolling out a few other immigration-related measures today.

 

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Rep. Tim Leonard Works Out His Personal Problems Legislatively

State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) in his off-season attire.

Last December, GOP Rep. Tim Leonard had the unusual dishonor of being an incumbent state legislature sent to jail for two weeks on a contempt of court charge–a ruling that reportedly stemmed from Leonard’s defiance of court orders giving his ex-wife full educational decisionmaking authority over their minor children.

Well, as the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports, Leonard is working the “problem” that resulted in his incarceration from an end most citizens don’t have access to–the legislative end:

State Rep. Tim Leonard, who spent a couple weeks in jail last month on contempt charges stemming, in part, from his effort to opt his children out of certain state tests, has introduced a bill to eliminate some of those same tests for all Colorado public school students.

The tests are known as the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, or CMAS. They are given to students in grades three through 11.

Leonard’s bill would eliminate CMAS testing in social studies and do away with all CMAS assessments for ninth-graders…

House Democrats have not yet made a decision on whether to sanction Leonard for his problems in family court. He was Colorado’s first sitting lawmaker in at least four decades to spend time in jail.

They have, however, protested that Leonard was appointed to the House Education Committee, pointing out that he would be making decisions about public education despite the fact that he is barred by court order from making educational decisions for his own children.

After Rep. Leonard was ruled in contempt of court last October, he complained bitterly about the supposed problems in state law he blamed for the situation, such as the fact that “the school requires two signatures on a form” to opt children out of state tests. Of course, the real issue was Leonard refusing to comply with the court order to stay out of his kids’ educational matters, including his wife’s decision to not opt his children out of testing.

Isn’t Leonard a lucky guy to have this kind of recourse after being sent to jail? The questions this chain of events invites are why some observers speculated that Leonard might not want to be a lawmaker anymore after his release. But as Joey Bunch at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, Leonard apparently feels no conflict about voting on education policy, even now:

[Rep. Sue] Lontine is sponsoring a bill to impose a statewide ban on corporal punishment in public schools, state-licensed child care facilities and specialized group homes. House Bill 1038 passed the House Education Committee Monday afternoon, 11-2. Republican Reps. Justin Everett of Littleton and Tim Leonard of Evergreen voted against it.

With all due respect, here’s hoping that vote was not motivated by experience.