Phil Weiser Puts Down One Hell of a Marker in AG Race

Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser raised roughly $355,000 in the fundraising quarter that closed last week, his campaign announced Wednesday, setting a record for donations under Colorado’s current campaign finance laws. [Pols emphasis]

The former CU Law School dean and one-time Obama administration official said he plans to report more in contributions in a quarter than any other attorney general candidate has in a non-election year since the imposition of strict campaign finance limits on state races more than a decade ago…

…The highest reported quarterly haul by an attorney general candidate in a previous off year was the $69,394 raised by incumbent Republican Attorney General John Suthers in the second quarter of 2005. (Suthers had been appointed to the seat at the beginning of the year after its previous occupant, Democrat Ken Salazar, won a race for the U.S. Senate.)

We’ve written plenty of times in this space about the importance of early fundraising in shaping the perceptions of campaigns. Fundraising isn’t just about money; it is a good way to gauge the potential level of support for a campaign, particularly when the candidate is not well-known to the general voting public.

We don’t know how much money any of the other Democratic candidates for Attorney General raised in Q2, though it will be difficult to compare totals — to some degree — because none of the other Democrats had a full quarter in which to raise money (Joe Salazar, for example, couldn’t really raise money in earnest until after the legislative session ended in May). Weiser’s campaign has obviously thought about this, because they took pains in their announcement to note that Weiser didn’t formally declare for AG until May 11 (though we would presume Weiser had already paved the road for many of those checks).

Regardless of comparisons, Weiser’s impressive fundraising numbers are good news for Colorado Democrats in general.

Good News! June 23-30, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about healthcare and the resistance to the BCRA Wealthcare bill.  We’ve come too far to give up now. Keep our eyes on the prize:  A public healthcare system like every other industrialized country has.

Healthcare, the ACA, and the Senate Wealthcare bill

The Senate Democrats fought hard to keep the BCRA, aka Trump’s Wealthcare bill, from being voted on without hearings or public input. It was good to see some Senate backbone on display.

Hawaii’s Maisie Hirono led  filibustering on the Senate floor.

Our own Senator Bennet spoke at length,  outlining what’s at stake in this health care bill.

But – we don’t know what Cory Gardner really thinks about the Senate healthcare bill he supposedly helped to draft. Right now, he looks to be in the “Yes on BCRA” camp, because he pretends that insurance costs will go down with the Senate bill.  However, Cowardly Cory will not give his constituents the courtesy of in-person meetings or town halls to discuss his position. Even when said constituents try really, really hard.

To keep the heat on, keep contacting

Senator Bennet: Contact Us

Senator Gardner: Contact Cory*

More good news about healthcare in Colorado: we get to keep all of our insurance brokers next year, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. No Colorado counties will be without an insurance provider, according to the Summit Daily News.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 20)

We know that there are probably a number of days this year that have already seemed like they would never end; today really is the longest day of the year. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

It’s deja vu all over again.

Senate Republicans don’t yet have an actual healthcare bill, let alone a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and a majority of GOP Senators reportedly still have no idea what might be included in any potential legislation…but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving ahead with plans for a potential floor vote by the end of next week. The Washington Post elaborates on the details:

…the secrecy adopted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is explicitly designed to shield the Senate GOP health-care bill from as much debate and public scrutiny as possible. The text of the bill will be available for all of one week before it is likely to be voted upon, after having been drafted in such secrecy that even Republican senators complained that they were being kept in the dark. There have not been, and apparently will not be, any hearings before the vote.

What’s more, lawmakers and the public may have only two or three days to absorb the details and significance of the CBO’s conclusions. Given that this will be the most rich and detailed empirical analysis available of the bill’s likely impact on tens of millions of people and one-sixth of the U.S. economy, you’d think this document would be deserving of extensive consideration in all its complexity.

But this rolling scandal doesn’t end there. This compressed schedule is not only designed to limit debate on the bill. As the Journal reports, the vote is being rushed for the express purpose of getting it done before the July 4 recess, because the failure to do so “could open Republican lawmakers up to pressure from constituents,” some of whom might be “concerned about losing their health coverage.” Thus, the schedule is also explicitly designed to shield lawmakers from public exposure and questioning about the immense human toll the measure they are considering could have — before they vote on it.

A new CBS News poll finds that the public broadly wants a more open process. Americans say, 73 percent to 25 percent, that Senate Republicans should discuss their plans publicly rather than privately. More than three-quarters of independents agree.

Vox.com has more analysis on how the Senate can potentially succeed with their secret plan…as well as several scenarios under which it will fail miserably.

The satirical news site The Onion also hits the nail on the head:

Headline from “The Onion” today.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the original 13 Republicans appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to craft a Senate version of Trumpcare, but Gardner clearly doesn’t want to talk about any of this. The big question for Gardner relates to whether he will ultimately support legislation that could gut Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. You can call potential Medicaid cuts whatever you want — a “glide path to stability” is a favorite explanation of Gardner’s — but large-scale Medicaid cuts are not going to go over well with the 1.4 million Coloradans who rely on it for healthcare.

And as we said yesterday in this space, it’s also a fair question to ask whether or not Gardner even understands whatever secret legislation the Senate is crafting.

Elsewhere, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) outlined many of the problems with the proposed GOP healthcare bill in a press conference on Monday. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is also becoming increasingly outspoken about Republican plans for Trumpcare; Hick says the process taking place is “kind of crazy.”

 

► It is fitting that one of the longest special elections in recent memory will be decided on the longest day of the year. The New York Times has an extensive preview of Election Day in Georgia’s sixth congressional district.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Michael Dougherty Makes Three for A.G.

Michael Dougherty

As Joey Bunch writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette, Democrats now have three candidates for Attorney General in 2018:

“As attorney general, I will do what I have done for my entire career, fight for what is right,” Dougherty said in a statement. “Our attorney general should share the same values of everyday Coloradans, such as protecting our water, environment and public safety.

“The attorney General has to be above politics and do the right thing for all the people of Colorado. Consumer protection, public safety, and transparency of government are non-partisan issues and I plan to work with people from all across Colorado to make real progress.”

Before joining the DA’s office in Golden, Dougherty ran the criminal justice Section of the Attorney General’s Office, supervising special prosecutions, environmental crimes, financial fraud and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Unit, according to his website.

He also represented the office in hearings and meetings with the legislature. Before taking over the Criminal Justice Section, Before that, he supervised the the Colorado DNA Justice Review Project for the AG’s office.

State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) and University of Colorado Law Professor Phil Weiser have previously announced their intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in 2018. Incumbent Republican Cynthia Coffman continues to threaten to run for Governor, but she is more likely to run for a second term instead.

Hick Declines Oil and Gas Lawsuit Appeal; Coffman Goes Rogue

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Important news today from the Denver Post’s Bruce Finley, Gov. John Hickenlooper has come out against an appeal of an important recent court court decision obliging the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to stop issuing drilling permits pending a review to ensure their activity doesn’t impact he environment, public health, or climate change:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered state authorities not to fight a court ruling requiring protection of public safety, health and the environment by the state as a precondition before allowing oil and gas drilling…

Hickenlooper late Wednesday sent an e-mail message to Deputy Attorney General Laura Chartrand instructing state attorneys not to proceed with an appeal of the ruling, which reinterprets the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to a letter sent Thursday to Hickenlooper by Coffman.

The COGCC on May 1 decided to fight the ruling. Hickenlooper contends that decision, based on a unanimous vote, was “only advisory” and that the COGCC lacks statutory authority to challenge a court’s interpretation of its mission.

But in a twist we might have seen coming, Colorado’s Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman isn’t going to cooperate with Gov. Hickenlooper’s request:

[Attorney General Cynthia] Coffman now is arguing that Hickenlooper is legally incorrect in trying to stop the COGCC, whose members he appointed…

“I understand that sentiment runs high surrounding oil and gas development in our state, even more so in the wake of the tragic house explosion that claimed two lives,” she wrote. “This appeal is not intended to be a statement on complex energy policy issues. Rather it is a legal challenge to a court decision that stands to have a profound effect on regulation and administrative decision-making by government entities.”

It’s a significant development for Hickenlooper to override a unanimous decision by the COGCC and recommend this case not be appealed. And since energy-friendly Gov. Hickenlooper is no “fracktivist” seeking to halt oil and gas extraction in Colorado, we have to assume that his recommendation to not appeal the decision means there would be a path for the industry to comply with the ruling and whatever remedy it prescribes.

Unless, of course, the industry has an even more energy-friendly Republican AG they can turn to! In the wake of the recent home explosion in Firestone blamed on neglected oil and gas well pipelines, Coffman’s stubbornness could be as politically damaging to her as it is beneficial to Hickenlooper to not be a part of it.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 18)

Snow? Again? What is this, Russia? It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Mueller!

It is not difficult to picture a sullen President Trump shaking his fist and softly mumbling the name of  former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the man who will lead a special investigation into potential Trump ties with Russia. The White House issued a bland statement last night in response to the news of Mueller’s appointment, but it wasn’t long before President Twitter took to social media to vent his rage.

From the New York Times:

President Trump lashed out on Thursday, saying he was the target of an unprecedented witch hunt, a day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate ties between his presidential campaign and Russian officials.

In a pair of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump cited, without evidence, what he called the “illegal acts” committed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and the campaign of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton — and said they never led to the appointment of a special counsel.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling counsel.

Moments later, Mr. Trump added, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

And yet, the bell tolls.

As Chris Cillizza summarizes for CNN:

Republicans — from Donald Trump on down — will now live or die by what Mueller finds out.  Full exoneration is now possible. But so too is full guilt or blame.  Republicans’ political fate — in 2018 and perhaps 2020 as well — is now largely in Mueller’s hands.

► Oh, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly expressed concern last summer that Trump was on Russia’s payroll. From the Washington Post:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

 

► Colorado Republican officials had been largely quiet about President Trump as his administration unravels, but the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor appears to have finally shaken many of their media malaise. As Jason Salzman writes, Trump talk is also dominating the Republican gubernatorial primary.

 

► The oil and gas industry is directing millions of dollars to Colorado Republicans as concerns grow about the safety of drilling practices near communities. According to a new report, the amount of money pouring into GOP coffers from O&G interests provides the industry with enormous political clout — much more than had been previously considered.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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New Poll Shows Tough 2018 Road for Colorado Republicans

Magellan Strategies, a Colorado-based polling firm that is known to lean-Republican, released a fresh new batch of polling numbers in Colorado today. For Republicans hoping to see better results after an awful Keating Research poll in March…

Well, let’s just say that things are looking up — but only because Republican numbers are essentially upside-down.

Magellan Strategies polled 502 “likely 2018 General Election voters in Colorado” on April 26 and 27, and the results are pretty dismal for Republicans. Take a look at some of the “key findings” as presented by Magellan:

♦ Among likely 2018 voters, 47% approve and 49% disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President. Among unaffiliated voters, 40% approve and 53% disapprove of the job he is doing.

♦ The generic Congressional ballot shows voters prefer the Democrat candidate to the Republican candidate by a 5-point margin, 39% to 34% respectively. Among unaffiliated voters, the generic Democrat candidate leads the generic Republican candidate by a 13-point margin, 34% to 21% respectively.

♦ Among all respondents, 34% approve of the job the Republicans in Congress are doing and 58% disapprove.

♦ Among likely 2018 voters, 40% approve of the job Senator Cory Gardner is doing, 37% disapprove, and 23% do not have an opinion. Among unaffiliated voters 37% approve of the job Senator Gardner is doing and 35% disapprove.

President Trump’s approval ratings are definitely upside-down in Colorado. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is right on the precipice of being flipped on his head, but remember here that Magellan Strategies generally tilts rightward in its poll results.

Gardner should also be worried that he continues to poll far below Trump among likely Republican voters. In the Keating Research poll from March, Gardner had a 63% approval rating among Republicans compared to 83% for Trump. According to Magellan Strategies, Gardner has a 59% approval rating among Republicans compared to 85% for Trump. In short, Gardner is losing support among Colorado Republicans at the same time that Trump is slowly gaining favor.

There are a lot of reasons why Gardner is losing favor among voters, including Republicans, and it starts with his disinterest in speaking with constituents. It doesn’t help that Gardner is getting splinters in his pants from regularly riding the fence on issues while he bends over backward to show deference to Trump on subjects that are supposed to be right in his wheelhouse.

The only good news for Trump and Gardner is that they won’t have to appear again on a Colorado ballot until 2020. But for Republicans campaigning in 2018, these numbers must be absolutely terrifying.

Stan Garnett Opts Not To Run For AG

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

A bit of a surprise from the Longmont Times-Call’s John Fryar:

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has decided not to make a second run for Colorado attorney general in next year’s statewide election, he announced this morning.

Garnett, a Boulder Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for AG in 2010, is in the first year of his third four-year term as the district attorney in Colorado’s 20th Judicial District. He the state AG’s job would “fit well with my background.”

However, Garnett said, after consulting with his staff, he decided the time it would take to conduct a statewide campaign for the AG’s post over the coming year and a half could prove to be “a huge distraction” from his oversight of the programs he’s launched or is expanding in the Boulder DA’s office.

Stan Garnett’s decision to not run for attorney general and focus on his work as the Boulder County DA is good news for Rep. Joe Salazar, who announced his run for AG already and was facing a tough primary:

[Garnett] said he filed his candidacy affidavit…to avoid any potential legal challenges under campaign finance laws about whether his public statements on any criminal justice issues might be interpreted as an AG’s candidate’s positions.

Garnett said he had called Salazar on Saturday to tell him of his decision not to run for attorney general.

“I had a nice conversation with Joe,” Garnett said.

It’s certainly possible that another Democrat could emerge to make a run at this office, but in the short run this gives Salazar some much-needed head room to consolidate support.

As for Garnett, he’ll have more opportunities to advance.

Cynthia Coffman Trolls Race for Governor

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is almost certainly not running for governor in 2018, but she would really like it if you would pretend that she might. This is very, very lame…

“You know I am at least looking at governor” [Pols emphasis]. This is what Coffman told Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews today in Washington D.C. If you are unaccustomed to the language of politics, please allow us to translate:

I don’t actually plan on running for governor, but please float my name so that I can use these rumors to generate support for my re-election bid for Attorney General. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

We noted back in January that Coffman was trying to gin up interest for a potential bid for governor. From everything we’ve heard, that effort didn’t go anywhere and Coffman has since indicated privately that she will seek re-election as Attorney General. That won’t stop her from continuing to troll the rest of the potential field for 2018, however.

Coffman may not particularly like her current job as AG, but there is no path for her to win a Republican primary for Governor. Coffman is not what you’d call a beloved figure in the Colorado GOP — certainly not enough to elbow her way into a Republican Primary that is already expected to include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler (in addition to a wealthy self-funder in former legislator Victor Mitchell). It’s also important to note that Coffman’s biggest financial backer in 2014 was the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that obviously doesn’t care about the Colorado race for Governor.

Now, if Coffman could figure out a way to create an office of “Chief Troll” for Colorado, she’d have to be considered a frontrunner.

Bipartisan Resolve To Defend Marijuana Proves Sessions’ Folly

Molon labe.

As Brian Heuberger reported for the Colorado Statesman this week, there may be Republicans in Colorado willing to publicly support parts of the new administration’s agenda–but on the subject of Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, which is under direct threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is no daylight between Colorado Republicans and Democrats:

With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting that the Trump administration might intensify the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Colorado leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to the defense of the state’s legal marijuana industry in an uncommon show of solidarity in what many consider to be divisive political times of unmatched proportion.

High-level Colorado politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have both publicly defended what has become a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for the state. And many other state officials have joined them in contending that Colorado has a constitutional right to legalize marijuana and that the regulations established by the state have been statistically proven to have been effective so far.

Supporters are quick to emphasize the positive economic impact the industry has had in Colorado and the likely downward economic spiral that would occur should that now-bustling industry be tampered with by the federal government.

Likewise, both Rep. Mike Coffman and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman are promising to fight any move by Sessions to clamp down on marijuana in Colorado:

Rep. Mike Coffman is suggesting he might use the power of the purse to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry…

If Sessions does take action Coffman said he’d “have to fight the Attorney General on this.” He suggested he’d do so through congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.

Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman—a legalization opponent who says she would defend state law against Sessions—speculated, “It sounds like there is room for states to have legalization … But what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines.”

The reason why you have all of these public officials in both parties standing shoulder-to-shoulder on marijuana, despite the fact that most of them opposed legalization to begin with, is that the experience of legalized marijuana in Colorado has rendered the issue moot here. Public support has grown, not declined, since Colorado led the way into a legalization trend that has now grown to numerous states–including all-important California, the most populous state in the nation.

In short, on this issue, our local Republicans and Democrats are responding to the clear wishes of their constituents. They know that to join Sessions on a crusade against legal pot would be politically disastrous for Colorado Republicans at this point. And the fact is, if Sessions does decide to shut down Colorado’s billion-dollar legal marijuana industry and in the other legalized states, Republicans could pay dearly at the polls in the next election all over the country including Colorado–regardless of what local Republicans do to oppose it.

So be at least a bit reassured, stoners. For the moment, both parties have got your back.

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.

Rep. Joe Salazar Runs for Attorney General

UPDATE: FOX 31’s Joe St. George updating via Twitter that Boulder County DA Stan Garnett has also filed to run for AG, but hasn’t formally committed yet:

—–

Rep. Joe Salazar.

FOX 31 reporting Friday afternoon:

“I will be fearless in standing up to bullies like Donald Trump, who would use their power to restrict our freedoms and undermine our civil rights.”

This is how Democratic State Representative Joe Salazar began his informal announcement for his candidacy for Colorado Attorney General Friday.

Salazar has filed the required paperwork to establish his candidacy and plans a more formal announcement later in the year.

Salazar is in his third term representing House District 31, which includes parts of Thornton and unincorporated Adams County. He serves as Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Joe Salazar’s decision to run for Attorney General narrows the Democratic field in the 2018 gubernatorial race, where he had longed been rumored as a possible contender. Salazar would likely enjoy the support of the Bernie Sanders wing of the Colorado Democratic Party, after vocally supporting Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary.

Salazar’s chances of advancement are much better in the AG race in 2018 than a crowded gubernatorial primary in which he would have likely been overmatched by senior competitors. But don’t rule out a primary in this race either, between Salazar and one (or more) other interested Democratic contenders.

With that said, Joe Salazar is a well-qualified candidate who’s not afraid to scrap.

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…)

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.

 

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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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