Alamosa Official Won’t Resign After Writing ‘Republicans hate poor people’

(The foot remains in the mouth – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Alamosa residents decried Councilor David Broyles’ assertion that “Republicans hate poor people,” before calling for his resignation at last night’s city council meeting, which also included a discussion of a possible recall election.

Broyles admitted to being the author of the Alamosa County Republicans’ controversial post on its Facebook page Friday. He has since resigned from his position as Vice Chair of the Alamosa GOP, but remains in his public office as city councilor for Alamosa’s Ward 2. 

The full city council meeting can be viewed online here. The links in the paragraphs below jump directly to the statements being discussed.

Alamosa GOP Facebook post by then-Vice Chair David Broyles

South Alamosa resident Scott White asked directly for Councilor Broyles’ resignation: “We should as a city, ask for Broyles’ resignation as a clear show of support for the poor people that he claims Republicans hate. We are some of the poorest counties in the state and we need to support our people and not encourage or defend hate speech. I ask that Councilor Broyles resign as a city councilperson.”

Following comments from the public that included requests for his resignation, Councilor Broyles apologized for the post, saying in part,

“I made the posting. It doesn’t represent who I am and it doesn’t represent the platform of the Republican party. I sincerely apologize to the public and to the Republican Party. All I can say is that I will show you in the months ahead that my heart really is centered with helping the poor. My whole life has been with working with the poor. One of these days I’m going to write a letter to the editor to tell you everything I do to work with the poor.” 

(more…)

Caption This Photo of Sen. Kevin Lundberg Tripping Out

The Colorado Senate GOP is celebrating passage of this year’s budget in an almost schizophrenic way:

Got that? $600 in “new spending proposed by the Democrats.” But then the very next two Tweets:

Because the debate was never about “new spending” by Democrats–there’s simply more money in the budget this year! Everybody who follows Colorado politics knows that, or at least should know that, so it makes you wonder who Senate Republicans think they’re kidding. It’s an old joke that in Washington, Republicans only care about deficits when a Democrat is President. In Colorado where we’re not allowed to run deficits, it appears the only good spending is GOP majority-approved spending.

Though to Sen. Kevin Lundberg, especially on whatever he’s smoking in the image above, we honestly believe that Democratic and Republican spending all looks the same.

Trippy, man.

Repealing Fuel Economy Standards–Because Trump Can!

Gas guzzlers.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Jace Marmaduke reports on the latest head-scratcher from the Trump administration–a proposal from embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards:

The average Colorado household could miss out on up to $2,700 in gas savings by 2030 after a planned rollback of Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy standards, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists analysis.

Union of Concerned Scientists calculated a household’s potential savings if the standards were kept in place, even factoring in a potential increase in vehicle prices due to manufacturers updating models to meet the current federal standards.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced this week that he plans to relax the standards, which currently include an average fuel efficiency target of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

“The Obama administration’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a press release. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set the standards too high.”

ThinkProgress explains the backstory:

In 2012, the Obama administration approved new auto emissions standards, with 2018 model year vehicles required to average 38.3 miles per gallon of gasoline and 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The 2025 target was set as part of a compromise reached between the Obama administration and the auto industry.

Environmental and energy efficiency groups accused Pruitt of siding with the fossil fuel industry by seeking to weaken the fuel efficiency standards…

“There’s no good reason for these standards to be sabotaged,” Evans said. The Alliance to Save Energy is a bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental, and consumer groups that works to expand the economy while reducing energy consumption.

ThinkProgress reports that although the auto industry was good with these higher mileage standards when they were hashed out with the Obama administration, they’re just as happy with seeing them relaxed! As long as people keep buying cars, which we’re pretty sure under just about any foreseeable circumstance they will. After all, automakers won’t have to spend the money to improve their cars now. And while the oil and gas industry might say they’re all about efficiency, we suspect they’ll be just fine without it too.

Who loses? Well, who always loses when the the current generation stops caring about the next one?

But it’s okay, because Scott Pruitt–and Donald Trump–will be long gone.

The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner

Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

After briefly threatening a veto — and randomly asking Congress to give him line item veto powers (and eliminating the filibuster) — President Trump today signed a massive $1.3 trillion spending deal that includes changes to background checks for gun purchases that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) opposed to the very end. If that sentence seems complicated…well, it is. There’s no easy way to unpack the giant omnibus spending bill rammed through by Congress early this morning.

Let’s start things off with the Washington Post reporting from the White House:

Just hours after threatening a veto, President Trump said Friday afternoon that he had signed a “ridiculous” $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress early Friday and averted a government shutdown…

…But speaking to reporters at the White House about four hours later, Trump said he had decided to sign the bill despite his reservations, arguing that it provides much-needed funding for the military, including a pay increase for troops and new equipment.

In his remarks to the media today, Trump was in full angry old man mode. From the New York Times:

In a rambling and disjointed 20-minute statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room, Mr. Trump denigrated the bill, which was rushed through the House and the Senate by members of his own Republican Party, as “crazy” and vowed to never “sign another bill like this again.”

“Nobody read it,” Mr. Trump said of the sweeping funding measure drawn up by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. Echoing criticism from those who voted against the measure, Mr. Trump added, “It’s only hours old.”

Trump specifically addressed his anger about the 2,322-page spending bill that lawmakers could not have possibly even begun to have read before voting on the measure. The House version of the bill made it to the floor on Thursday after just 16 hours of debate; all four Colorado Republican members of Congress voted to end discussion, moving things along with a narrow 211-207 result. Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) were ultimately able to vote “YES” and “NO” on the proposal (Coffman and Buck voted YES on the procedural move before pressing the “NO” button on the final vote).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Over in the Senate, the spending bill passed with 62 votes; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was a “NO.” Gardner’s vote is particularly interesting because the bill included the “Fix NICS” background check provision that Gardner had been blocking for weeks. The next time Gardner pretends to be concerned about gun violence, remember that he prevented the popular background fix measure from being debated in the Senate and ultimately voted against its final approval.

What else do we know about the giant omnibus spending bill? As CNN’s Gregory Krieg explains, it’s important to consider everything that was NOT bundled into the legislation, such as: 1) DACA and immigration reform, 2) Billions of dollars for Trump’s border wall, and 3) Serious attempts at preventing gun violence, including no new limits on gun purchases.

How did this all happen so quickly? As Sarah Binder writes for the Washington Post, this was Republican strategerie at work:

One of the reasons GOP leaders were keen to rush the bill to a vote is that they didn’t want their partisan base to notice that it both funds innumerable Democratic priorities and blocks the Trump administration from doing such things as expanding detention of immigrants, defunding sanctuary cities, and ending federal funding for the arts, to name a few. [Pols emphasis] The Trump White House and many conservatives wanted deep cuts to domestic programs. Party leaders ignored that. The more quickly the two chambers vote, the less time potential opponents have to unearth details that could outrage the GOP base, who might pressure their representatives to vote against the deal.

To summarize, Congressional Republicans rammed through a humongous spending bill that they didn’t read and didn’t really like that does very little to address their political vulnerabilities on gun violence and immigration reform…and will also likely anger their base of supporters.

House Passes Omnibus Bill Nobody Had Time to Read

UPDATE #2: All four Republicans in Colorado’s Congressional delegation sided with leadership on a narrow 211-207 vote to move the discussion forward. As CNN explains:

The internal GOP backlash to the amount of spending and the process of rushing the measure through just 16 hours after it was released was on full display on the House floor on Thursday. Twenty-five House Republicans broke with their leadership and opposed the usually party line procedural vote bringing up the legislation. But the measure narrowly passed 211-207.

After the vote to move the omnibus debate forward, the House approved the bill with a 256-167 margin…with Republican Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) conveniently voting “NO.” In other words, Coffman and Buck voted “YES” before they voted “NO.”

—–

UPDATE: House Republicans rammed through the omnibus bill without even waiting for every member to vote. Here’s more from Politico.

—–

Via @RepJayapal

Chris Cillizza of CNN takes note of the absolutely massive new omnibus spending bill that Congress is trying to pass before tomorrow’s deadline for funding the federal government:

On Wednesday night, congressional leaders unveiled a spending bill that will fund the entire federal government through September — at a whopping estimated cost of $1.3 trillion. The bill is 2,322 pages long. It has be to be passed through both chambers of Congress by midnight Friday or else the government shuts down. Again.

Some quick back-of-the-envelope math shows that if every lawmaker stayed up for 48 straight hours — the time, roughly, between when the so-called “omnibus” bill was unveiled and when it needs to be passed — they would need to read an average of 48 pages per hour, every hour, to read the entire thing. Which seems, um, unlikely.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is a big fan of pretending to read bills before he votes on them, but it’s going to be tough for him to continue that lark with a new omnibus bill that might be taller than the Congressman himself.

As a freshman in Congress in 2009, Coffman had a speaking role in Republican efforts to promote “transparency” and a “read the bill” initiative. Just last March, Coffman Tweeted a photo of himself “reading” Obamacare repeal legislation at his desk in Washington D.C. — at about the same time he was promoting a radio appearance in Colorado to discuss his support of said legislation.

Perhaps we should give Coffman the benefit of the doubt and assume that he has a superhero-esque ability to read and digest complex information in a matter of minutes. Or, perhaps, there is a simpler explanation here.

Trump Does Tariffs

As the New York Times (and everyone else) reports:

President Trump defied opposition from his own party and protests from overseas on Thursday as he signed orders imposing stiff and sweeping new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. But he sought to soften the impact on America’s closest allies with a more flexible plan than originally envisioned.

After a week of furious lobbying and a burst of last-minute internal debates and confusion, Mr. Trump agreed to exempt, for now, Canada and Mexicoand held out the possibility of later excluding allies such as Australia. But foreign leaders warned of a trade war that could escalate to other industries and be aimed at American goods…

…Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, said on Thursday that a plan to impose broad tariffs that hit allies was “dangerous” and could undermine national security.

“If you put tariffs against your allies,” Mr. Draghi said at a news conference in Frankfurt, “one wonders who the enemies are.”

The tariffs will officially take effect in 15 days.

Bennet Deservedly Takes Heat Over Banking Bill

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, sometimes you’ve just got to shake your head and wonder:

A bill that would weaken oversight of the banking industry is up for debate this week in the U.S. Senate, where Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet’s support of the measure is drawing heat from its liberal opponents who warn the proposal could lead to a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

Bennet was one of more than a dozen Democrats who joined with the Republican majority on Tuesday to help the measure clear a procedural hurdle and set up a final vote in the coming days.

Its advance drew fire from Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who said the legislation was “all about helping big banks.”

The New York Times’ Mike Konczal sums up the dismay of liberal Democrats over the number of Democrats who joined with the GOP majority in the Senate to advance this legislation:

Why would some Democrats provide support for a rollback of Dodd-Frank? Proponents argue that this bill provides much needed relief for community banks and credit unions, which, these proponents claim, face enormous difficulties. They also say that it doesn’t endanger financial reforms aimed against the largest and most dangerous players.

But that view is mistaken: This bill goes far beyond the health of community banks and credit unions. It removes protections for 25 of the top 38 banks; weakens regulations on the biggest players and encourages them to manipulate regulations for their benefit; and saps consumer protections.

What do Democrats get in return? Nothing substantive that they should want. They could demand better funding for regulators or an appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — or a vote on gun control…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was particularly vocal in her criticism of Democrats who voted for the bill:

Although Sen. Michael Bennet isn’t up for re-election for a number of years, it’s a problem to see him voting with Republicans once again on an issue for which his record has demonstrated a persistent blind spot. And it’s not just problematic for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s consumer watchdog allies. As a moderate Democratic Senator who has always tried to bring opposing sides to a compromise on issues like protections for finance-product consumers, Bennet is co-sponsoring legislation that overwhelmingly aggrieves one side. Either Bennet is unaware of the staunch opposition to the bill he’s sponsoring or he doesn’t care, and neither seems likely to ingratiate the side of this debate he should be trying to persuade.

And we’ll say it as nicely as we can: although Bennet has little to lose in the short term, collaborating with Republicans to weaken banking protections over the loud objections of a possible 2020 presidential candidate isn’t the way to rally base Democratic voters ahead of the 2018 elections. We would encourage, to the extent a course change for Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator is possible here, that it be considered.

“Full Frontal” on TABOR and Doug Bruce

Colorado was a big topic of discussion on the TBS comedy show “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” on Wednesday. If you haven’t already seen it, you need to stop whatever you are doing and watch the full six-minute bit below.

The segment features Mike Rubens exploring Colorado’s fiscal problems thanks to TABOR titled “Doug Bruce Ruined Colorado.” The video includes Governor John Hickenlooper in a plum-colored shirt, as well as the following verbatim quotes from Doug Bruce himself:

“People would be very foolish to say that civil rights just has to do with benefits to black people…hispanics, blacks, orientals, whatever.”

“Martin Luther King and I are both…” [pause while Bruce burps — literally] “…freedom fighters.”

“‘Communal’ is a word…the derivation of which is ‘commune,’ which is…’communism.'”

“I wasn’t aware that this proceeding was going to turn into a homosexual encounter.”

 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 7)

It’s not officially Springtime just yet, but it sure feels that way. 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…

► Democrats turned out for their Party caucus in huge numbers on Tuesday. In the race for Governor, Cary Kennedy appears to have the early lead among caucus-goers with 50 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Jared Polis. According to the Colorado Democratic Party, more than 23,000 Democrats turned out for Tuesday’s caucus, which amounts to a nearly 400% increase from the last mid-term election year (2014).

Elsewhere, Democratic turnout for Tuesday’s primary election in Texas has Republicans worried. As NBC News reports:

Democrats hoping for a blue wave in November were buoyed, if not jubilant, Tuesday as Texas voters cast the first ballots in this year’s midterms in closely watched primaries for Senate, House and governor.

While final turnout numbers were not as strong for Democrats as heavy early voting had suggested, more than 1 million party members in Texas cast ballots — the first time Democrats topped that figure in a primary since the 2002 midterms…

…Democratic turnout was up 84 percent from the last midterm primary, in 2014, while Republican turnout increased about 14 percent, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. GOP turnout was the highest since the 2010 midterm.

 

► Colorado Senate Democrats renewed their call for a hearing on an expulsion resolution for Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who faces multiple charges of sexual harassment. Senate President Kevin Grantham, meanwhile, continues to respond to allegations of harassment by three Republican Senators in the absolute worst manner possible.

 

President Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is resigning over disagreements about Trump’s proposals for expansive new tariffs on steel and aluminum. Wall Street did not react well; the Dow took a sharp dive in early trading on Wednesday.

As the New York Times reports, Cohn’s resignation is a major indicator of a growing rift on trade in the Republican Party

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Trump’s Top Economic Adviser Resigns

I’m out!

As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump’s top economic adviser resigned on Tuesday, leaving the White House after losing a major battle with other aides over the implementation of protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminum.

White House National Economic Council Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, leaves a Trump administration that has pivoted sharply from last year’s business friendly tax cuts towards a much more protectionist approach.

In the past week, Trump has said he will impose tariffs that hit imports from Canada, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Turkey, South Korea, and a range of other countries, threatening to escalate the penalties if any nation dare to retaliate.

This came after Cohn spent months trying to steer Trump away from tariffs and trade wars, with Trump eventually being outmaneuvered by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, trade advisor Peter Navarro, and ultimately Trump himself.

Larry Kudlow is the early favorite in the clubhouse to succeed Cohn.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 20)

You’ll have another 3-day weekend soon. Hopefully. 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…

► The question of whether or not Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election is no longer really a question after special prosecutor Robert Mueller announced on Friday the indictment of several Russian nationals for election-related meddling. And as several local news outlets have examined, particularly John Frank of the Denver Post, Colorado was a prime target of Russian efforts aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 election. Make sure you take a moment to read Frank’s entire story for the Post:

It’s difficult to tell how many Colorado users interacted with the Russian accounts or amplified their messages on Twitter. But The Post’s review of the database shows the Russian trolls took interest in the state’s political news, sending hundreds of tweets about Colorado and retweeting local conservative activists when the message dovetailed with their propaganda…

…The Colorado-related tweets — sometimes reshared through the state’s political Twitter hub #copolitics — fit the same pattern in an attempt to manipulate the conversation. The Russian accounts promoted tweets from Colorado that showed good poll numbers for Trump and long lines to attend his campaign rallies in Colorado. One troll helped distribute a fake news story about a Trump supporter being attacked outside a Colorado rally and another circulated messages that appeared to demonize Muslims.

Other times, the Russians retweeted Colorado conservatives who attacked Clinton about the FBI investigation into her emails and suggested she helped rig the party primary to defeat Sanders.

Trump did not defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Colorado, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by many Russian-related interests.

Meanwhile, Mueller’s investigation continues to add new names to the list of people being investigated about potential collusion between Russian interests and the Trump campaign.

 

Donald Trump spent President’s Day weekend taking his Twitter habit to new levels of horrible, connecting last week’s tragic school shooting in Florida to the Russiagate conspiracy. Students from Parkland, Florida did not hold back in their responses to the Twitterer-in-Chief:

► According to the results of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, a majority of Americans believe that Congress and President Trump are not doing enough to combat gun violence in this country:

While the poll illustrates the differences in the country over how to respond to gun violence, it also highlights the intense frustration with the lack of any policy response coming out of Washington despite a series of horrific shootings in recent years.

In a sign that this pressure may be weighing on President Trump, the White House announced Monday that he is “supportive” of efforts in Congress to improve background checks for gun purchases.

A 77 percent majority says Congress is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings and 62 percent say the same of Trump, according to the poll. At least half feel “strongly” that Congress and the president have not taken adequate action. Majorities across party lines express frustration with Congress, while views of Trump are more divided. More than 8 in 10 Democrats and two-thirds of independents say the president is not doing enough. More than 6 in 10 Republicans say Trump is taking sufficient action to prevent mass shootings, although more than one-quarter of fellow partisans, 28 percent, say he is not.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Why Colorado Can’t Have Nice Things, Megan Schrader Edition

Megan Schrader of the Denver Post editorial board.

As the battle in the Colorado legislature once again heats up over a bill to create a paid family leave program for Colorado workers akin to what exists in California and and several other forward-thinking states, we were struck by a recent column from Megan Schrader of the Denver Post editorial board on the subject that helps illustrate why the pace of change on a broad range of issues can be so agonizingly slow. It’s a lesson applicable to many settings, but Schrader’s self-defeating logic on the FAMLI bill is remarkable for its expenditure of words in the service of…well, nothing:

Lawmakers in Colorado are considering the FAMLI Act, which would create a $568 million to $1.6 billion income tax to fund paid family leave benefits for working Coloradans who are dealing with a long-term illness or caring for a sick family member, a newborn or newly adopted child.

The bill has been considered before and is modeled after a 0.9 percent income tax in California, in place since 2004, that offers several weeks of partially paid leave to employees.

Both programs are intended to operate like short-term disability insurance policies. In Colorado, to avoid required voter approval for tax increases, the mandatory employee payroll deduction would disingenuously be called a “premium.” I’m not buying that — voters should have the say on what is obviously a huge tax increase…

Last fall as Gov. John Hickenlooper prepared to call a special session of the legislature to address a glitch in a major fiscal bill that was costing special tax districts millions of dollars in tax revenue, Schrader wrote a column agreeing with Republicans that the glitch couldn’t be legally fixed under the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights without a statewide vote. But then Schrader went on to complain to Republicans:

Nitpicking over this interpretation of TABOR, at this time, does not support their cause.

Do we really want a government so crippled by technicalities that it cannot fix a simple mistake without going to a vote of the people?

The thing of it is, Schrader was the one doing the “nitpicking”–or at least validating the Republican position before weakly coming around at the end and saying their politics are misplaced. Of course, no Republican bothered to read past the part where she told them they are right–and Schrader’s column was used to justify their actions even though way down below the fold, it really didn’t.

Fast-forward to Schrader’s latest column:

…but that doesn’t mean the FAMLI Act is bad public policy. [Pols emphasis]

Again we see the exact same formula. Schrader declares the solution now up for debate to solve the problem unworkable–then proceeds to pay lip service to the need for a solution! Again, no Republican reading this column is going to care about her arguments in favor of the FAMLI bill as good policy. They’re going to stop cold where she calls the bill “disingenuous” and says “voters should have the say.”

Bottom line: Megan Schrader was wrong when she insisted the pot tax glitch could only be fixed by a vote of the people. Even Republicans have moved past that argument and are passing legislation to accomplish the goals of the special session. We believe that given recent Colorado Supreme Court decisions on TABOR’s narrow language that the FAMLI insurance program is perfectly constitutional as well.

And at the end of the day, this maddening habit of Schrader’s to trash specific solutions with Republican talking points, then contradict herself by validating the problem, does everyone a disservice. The only thing accomplished is obstruction, and the only ones happy don’t even agree that there is a problem to solve.

In that case, it might be better to not write a column at all.

Modernizing overtime in Colorado

We’re all familiar with the headlines boasting Colorado’s preeminent position as one of the country’s strongest state economies, but there’s another headline creeping into the public discourse. It’s one that could have serious implications for the 2018 election year: Wages, it seems, have yet to bounce back from the Great Recession.

Even the Denver Post editorial board has taken notice. Notably, they wrote, “[d]espite what appears to be a roaring economy and bull market, the American system is failing to live up to a basic promise to workers. The villains are all about us, from the marbled halls of elected office to the panel walls of corporate boardrooms.” Yesterday’s follow-up editorial by the Post praises some small gains workers are experiencing, but that improvement is relative when squared with just how low wages have been since the Great Recession. We also can’t ignore the recent minimum wage increase is factored into some of those gains.

According to Colorado Center for Law and Policy (CCLP), median wages have been flat and half of all Colorado workers have actually experienced a 2 percent decrease in pay since 2000. This fact is underscored by recent data published in our Guide to Economic Mobility, which shows, when adjusted for inflation, average weekly wages have only risen $33 over the last 17 years. How is this squeezing hardworking Coloradans? Over the same period, rent for an average Colorado apartment went up by $260 per month after adjusting for inflation.

This wage stagnation becomes even more pronounced when combined with the expenses bleeding voters’ wallets. According to our report, average tuition costs for postsecondary education have increased about 100 percent between 2000-01 and 2014-15, surely contributing to Colorado’s $24.75 billion in student debt. Privately purchased health insurance premiums will go up 38 percent this year. Colorado renters must make $21.97 per hour to afford rent and utilities, but the average renter wage in Colorado is only $17.13 per hour. It costs over $15,000 a year for infant care in a Colorado Child Care Center, up from $9,123 in 2006.

(more…)

Ivanka’s Family Leave Shell Game Parodies Serious Efforts

Ivanka Trump.

Politico reported this weekend on a refloated idea from First Daughter Ivanka Trump along with Sen. Marco Rubio, creating something Ivanka Trump has paid a great deal of lip service to since her father took office without much success–a paid family leave benefit system for American workers.

But as Seung Min Kim reports, there’s one hell of a catch:

Marco Rubio is starting to strategize with Ivanka Trump to win over skeptical Republicans on a traditionally Democratic issue: paid family leave…

Rubio has barely started crafting a paid leave bill, much less a broader legislative strategy. But he envisions an idea that has recently gained traction in conservative circles: allowing people to draw Social Security benefits when they want to take time off for a new baby or other family-related matters, and then delay their checks when they hit retirement age.

For instance, a person who would begin receiving full benefits when he or she turns 67 years old but wants to take six weeks of paid leave wouldn’t draw Social Security checks until six weeks after his or her 67th birthday.

In short, this latest idea would create a massive new obligation for already overtapped Social Security funds to provide for, with theoretical repayment occurring decades later by the delay of Social Security retirement checks–an arrangement that cannot possibly improve Social Security’s overall solvency. The human costs in terms of forcing families to choose between paid family leave now and retirement benefits later would be delayed, but very real once they retire.

It’s unlikely that even this stingy “revenue neutral” plan would be able to pass in the current GOP-controlled Congress, unless Republicans are willing to set aside all their alleged concerns about the “growth of entitlements” and the long-term stability of Social Security “for those who truly need it.” Closer to home, this bad deal stands in stark contrast to the proposed Family Medical Leave Insurance Program in the Colorado legislature up for its first debate this week. The “FAMLI” program proposed by Democrats in Colorado would be directly funded by employee contributions (limited to .1% of wages) instead of siphoning off dollars from another program.

Meaning it’s designed to actually work, not create more problems down the road.

Despite this, there’s a good chance that Colorado Republicans will use Ivanka Trump’s bad idea to argue that Colorado Democrats’ good idea is unnecessary. When that happens, remember the very large devil in the details.

And when Ivanka’s idea crashes and burns in the Republican Congress, remember that too.

Get More Smarter on Friday (January 19)

The last time there was a federal government shutdown with one party in control of both Chambers of Congress and the White House, Jimmy Carter was President. 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 looking increasingly likely that the federal government will shut down when money runs out at midnight tonight. The Senate does not appear to have enough votes to approve a Continuing Resolution (CR) passed by the House on Thursday evening. Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump, are desperately pushing a narrative blaming Democrats for a potential shutdown, but Americans aren’t buying it. As the Washington Post reports:

By a 20-point margin, more Americans blame President Trump and Republicans rather than Democrats for a potential government shutdown, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A 48 percent plurality says Trump and congressional Republicans are mainly responsible for the situation resulting from disagreements over immigration laws and border security, while 28 percent fault Democrats.

As for that House CR passed on Thursday, it would fund the government for a whole four weeks. Or as Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) said after the vote, it would give “the American people the certainty they need and deserve.” For four weeks.

More than 90,000 Coloradans will lose health coverage if Congress does not re-authorize funding for CHIP as part of a spending bill.

 

► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) met with a group of reporters on Thursday to explain that they were still working on trying to construct a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. President Trump said last week that he would support a broad immigration plan if it landed on his desk, though he has since backed off from that statement. Bennet says that he will not vote for a budget resolution that does not include support for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

Elsewhere, federal employees in Colorado are crossing their fingers that a shutdown will be averted at the last minute. As Politico reports, the looming government shutdown is making morale even worse in the White House.

 

► According to the results of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, President Trump now owns the record as the most unpopular President after one year in office. From NBC News:

Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Trump’s job, including a majority of respondents — 51 percent — who now say they strongly disapprove, which is a record high for Trump in the survey. That’s compared with 26 percent of Americans who strongly approve of the president’s job…

…Trump’s overall approval rating of 39 percent in the NBC/WSJ poll is lower than George W. Bush’s (82 percent), Bill Clinton’s (60 percent) and Barack Obama’s (50 percent) at this same point in their presidencies.

Trump’s job rating in last month’s NBC/WSJ poll was 41 percent.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)