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.

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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…

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Beet-Red Colorado Springs Faces Big Shutdown Impact (Again)

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Tom Roeder reports, a familiar story as the possibility of a shutdown of the federal government grows–Colorado’s biggest conservative stronghold reminded once again how much their livelihoods depend on government cheese:

Hurried shutdown planning meetings began at military bases across the Pikes Peak region Wednesday as leaders prepared for federal budget gridlock that would come if a deal isn’t approved by Friday.

The biggest impact of a federal shutdown would hit at the five bases, where as many as 6,000 civilian employees face furloughs, troops could see pay delays and amenities like military grocery stores and daycare centers could shutter until a budget accord is reached…

During the last shutdown on Oct. 1 2013, more than 6,000 civilian Defense Department workers were off the job in Colorado Springs, veterans disability claims piled up and federal parks closed.

The suffering of 2013 may have been at its worst at the Air Force Academy, where a civilian employee in charge of ordering toilet paper for dormitories was furloughed, creating a temporary crisis for cadets.

As was the case in 2013, public opinion polls show clearly that majority Republicans will take the blame for any disruption caused by shutting down the government due to failure to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the proverbial lights on through mid-February. If anything the situation is worse for Republicans today than in 2013, since they can’t lay the blame at the feet of a hostile administration.

In a town where fully half of the pay earned by residents is connected to to the government via defense or many other public sector facilities located along the Ronald Reagan Highway, we have to believe there’s at least a chance in these moments for a recognition–that maybe “the government” isn’t the externalized evil conservatives like to portray it as. In very real terms in El Paso County, the government is an integral part of the economy.

That’s why, while talk radio conservatives gleefully say “shut it down,” in Colorado Springs they’re having emergency meetings.

Mike Coffman May Very Well Be Hosed in 2018

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

We know what you’re going to say: You’ve heard it all before.

Politicos from both sides of the aisle have been predicting doom for incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman since re-districting changed the makeup of CD-6 after the 2010 Census, yet Coffman has endured. Here at Colorado Pols, we’ve certainly been guilty of erroneously anticipating Coffman’s demise on more than one occasion. Indeed, we’ve been pessimistic about the odds of Democrat Jason Crow defeating Coffman in 2018 because we’ve learned that Coffman has an inexplicable way of maintaining support among Aurora-area voters.

But as much as recent history tells us to pump our brakes on Democratic hopes in CD-6, the numbers emerging from a national climate hostile to Republicans are becoming too striking to ignore. It doesn’t just look increasingly likely that Coffman might lose in 2018…it’s beginning to look as though it might be virtually impossible for Coffman to win re-election this time around.

According to Harry Enten of 538.com, Democrats should now be considered the favorites to win control of the House of Representatives in 2018 in a rising wave that even Coffman may not be able to overcome:

…the Democratic advantage in the FiveThirtyEight generic ballot aggregate is up to about 12 points, 49.6 percent to 37.4 percent. That average, like the CNN poll, also shows Republicans in worse shape right now than any other majority party at this point in the midterm cycle1 since at least the 1938 election…

…Their current advantage is larger than the lead Republicans had at this point in the 1994 cycle, the lead Democrats held at this point in the 2006 cycle or the lead Republicans had at this point in the 2010 cycle. Those were all years when the minority party won control of the House. And a 12 percentage point Democratic advantage in the national House vote come next November would likely be more than enough for the House to flip again. I’ve previously calculated that the Democrats need to win the national House vote by 5.5 to 8 points to win the House.

As Enten explains, 2018 looks to be a rough year for the 58 incumbents who aren’t sitting in seats with “a partisan lean of more than 12 points in favor of Republicans.” In 2012, Coffman narrowly avoided an upset loss to Democrat Joe Miklosi, winning re-election by a slim two-point margin (47.8% to 45.8%). Democrats thought they had the better candidate in 2014 with former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, but Coffman upped his margin of victory to nearly 9 points (51.9% to 43%). Democrat Morgan Carroll performed slightly better than Romanoff two years later, but Coffman still breezed to victory by more than 8 points (50.9% to 42.6%) — despite the fact that Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outperformed Republican Donald Trump by 9 points in CD-6.

“Among GOP leaders, however, there is widespread concern heading into 2018. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said privately that both chambers could be lost in November.”
     – Politico (12/21/17) 

Congressional Republicans were already historically unpopular even before they unified in support of a tax plan that was the most overwhelmingly-despised piece of legislation in decades. Coffman has never faced a political climate like the one that is brewing in 2018; instead of adjusting his course, Coffman is leaning directly into the headwind.

When Coffman voted YES on the tax bill, he handed Democrats perhaps the most cogent opposition message the party has ever had in CD-6. In one vote, Coffman flushed away the pretend-moderate image he had so carefully crafted for years so that he could lash himself firmly to a sinking Republican ship. Coffman used to say that he didn’t support a partial repeal of Obamacare in any tax reform plan, but then he went and voted for the GOP tax debacle anyway. Now Coffman is even talking openly about backing significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

The ridiculous GOP tax plan is an unmistakable albatross around Republicans’ necks. Take a look at what former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum wrote about the political ramifications in a column for The Atlantic:

The Republican tax bill lands like a hammer on upper-income professionals in blue states. Highly compensated attorneys, doctors, accountants, and financial-service professionals will lose tens of thousands of dollars in deductions for their heavy state and local taxes and costly coastal mortgages, without getting much in return…

…States like California and New York desperately need a competitive Republican Party—especially at the state level—to challenge the lazy and often corrupt practices of local Democratic machines. This new tax law will have the opposite effect, wrecking whatever little remains of GOP strength in the states that motor American innovation and growth. It threatens to push New Jersey, Colorado, and Virginia into single-party blue rule as well, by painfully demonstrating that the party of Trump is not only obnoxious to their values but implacably hostile to their welfare. [Pols emphasis]

While Republicans slap each other on the back over the tax bill, new political warnings are brewing. Both Politico and the Washington Post reported on Thursday that numerous Republican strategists are warning President Trump that a mid-term bloodbath is coming. As Jonathan Martin writes for the New York Times:

Officials in both parties believe Democratic gains in the House, where Republicans enjoy a 24-seat majority, could reach as high as 40 seats if the political environment does not improve for the Republicans.

And, as of now, it only appears to be worsening.

So, yes, you’ve heard the stories about Coffman’s vulnerabilities before, but never quite like this.

A lot can change before the 2018 election, but if this current trajectory continues, it may not even be possible for Coffman to win re-election next November.

Cory Gardner Doesn’t Want to Talk About Tax Bill

I’m doing good, right?

Earlier this week Congressional Republicans rammed through a tax plan that ranks as the most unpopular piece of legislation to pass through Capitol Hill in literally decades. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) opposed the measure — as did all Senate Democrats — and has not been shy about voicing his concerns. Colorado’s other Senator, Republican Cory Gardner, voted YES on the tax plan but isn’t really all that interested in talking about it.

Senator Bennet spoke with Colorado Public Radio (CPR) on Thursday and did not mince words about his disgust with the legislation:

“…the way I look at this is that they’ve been kind enough to spread some crumbs around for middle America to make it appear like there’s a middle-class tax cut, when the reality is they’re borrowing money from the middle class to finance these massive tax cuts for the wealthiest people the country. I don’t think that’s satisfactory. In fact I would say this is the worst piece of legislation that I’ve seen in the nine years that I’ve been in this job.” [Pols emphasis]

There’s certainly no mistaking Bennet’s position here, but why is Sen. Gardner supporting a tax plan that offers little help to middle-class Colorado families? That’s a good question…without much of an answer. As radio host Jo Ann Allen explained after Bennet’s interview on CPR:

“We’ve asked Republican Senator Cory Gardner numerous times for an interview on the tax bill and other topics. So far, he has not set aside the time.” [Pols emphasis]

Gardner isn’t just ducking Colorado Public Radio — he’s been noticeably silent on the tax plan since it really started picking up steam in November. Gardner issued a generic statement of support after the vote this week, but otherwise he hasn’t been very eager to talk about his enthusiasm for legislation that the entire country dislikes.

It’s not a huge political mystery as to why Gardner supported the GOP tax plan. Gardner is the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and his anemic fundraising is setting off alarm bells all over Washington D.C.; he is absolutely desperate to win back the support of major Republican donors before his entire political career goes up in flames, and if that means supporting legislation that his constituents don’t like…well, whatever, right?

Still, is it really too much to ask for Gardner to actually defend his position on the only significant legislative accomplishment for Congressional Republicans in 12 months?

Don’t answer that.

Echoing Trump, Gardner says passage of tax bill will be a “great Christmas celebration across the country”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sounding much like Trump, who last week called the Republican tax bill “one of the great Christmas gifts to middle-income people,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) told a conservative radio listeners Friday:

Gardner: “And what a great Christmas celebration across the country, as we pass a bill that would grow wages, cut taxes, and get this country competitive again.”

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that, in fact, the GOP tax bill will not deliver Christmas gifts equally to all Americans:

“But the fine print [of the tax bill] reveals that some will get a much nicer gift than others, the benefits will change over time, and some will be left out in the cold,” reports the Times. “Real estate developers and technology companies could see big tax cuts, while low-income households and people buying health insurance could lose out.”

I left a message for Gardner, asking why he and Trump could believe the tax bill will be such a great Christmas gift for Americans, even when independent analyses and most Americans think otherwise.

He didn’t return my call but fortunately KHOW 630-AM host Ross Kaminsky put the question to Gardner in a slightly different way on Friday, asking why the ill-informed public doesn’t understand how great the Republican bill is.

Kaminsky: One of the key things I think you and I both have been frustrated with for years is that even when the GOP is on the right side of the issue, the public doesn’t seem to understand it that well.  And the tax bill, for example, it doesn’t poll nearly as well as I think it should. And I wonder what you think Republicans, conservatives can do to improve the public understanding, to turn a positive economic thing into also a positive political thing.

Gardner: You know, over the ten day course of the tax bill debate it went from being “some people opposed to it because they thought they didn’t like tax cuts” to “this is going to kill thousands of people” to “this is the biblical end of times and the rapture is just around the corner”. I think those kinds of hyperbole and rhetoric have gone completely over the top. And when, next year, when American workers are starting to see tax relief in their home, in their household…the fear of, you know, the Biblical times is simply not going to materialize.

As the tax bill has moved through Congress, Gardner has dodged answering specific questions about it, including whether he believes taxes should be cut for those earning $1 million or more.

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REPORTS: Paul Ryan to Hang Up His Gavel

House Speaker Paul Ryan points to exit

House Speaker Paul Ryan has apparently had enough of this shit.

As Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade report for Politico today, it appears that Ryan is not going to run for re-election in 2018:

Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018. [Pols emphasis]

The Politico story makes it sound like Ryan is pretty close to definitive on his Congressional future…but he doesn’t want to say it out loud just yet:

The speaker can’t afford to admit he’s a lame duck—his fundraising capacity and deal-making leverage would be vastly diminished, making the House all the more difficult to govern. When asked at the end of a Thursday morning press conference if he was leaving soon, Ryan shot a quick “no” over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.

Ryan still wants to push forward with his big entitlement reform plan, which is a big reason why he is being so quiet about his political future, but it sounds like he’s just plain sick of Washington D.C. and the current state of the Republican Party. As Alex Shepard writes for New Republic:

He’s unsurprisingly tired of dealing with all of the crap that being speaker entails, including the never-ending power struggles and infighting. According to the report, Ryan would use his final year as speaker attempting to fulfill the dream he’s had since he was going to keg parties in college: entitlement reform.

There is an element of “you can’t fire me, I quit!” to all of this. Ryan is on the verge of passing sweeping tax reform, but he is also heading into the toughest stretch of his speakership. He’s facing a tougher than expected challenge from Randy Bryce, who has become a darling of the left over the past several months. And, perhaps most importantly, he’s about to oversee an expected bloodbath in the 2018 midterms.

It’s only going to get worse from there, which Ryan’s friends and associates acknowledge: “The best part of this scenario, people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020,” Politico writes. [Pols emphasis]

Well, yeah, there’s that. Nobody wants to play with President Trump anymore — particularly when there is a massive Democratic wave on the horizon.

Republicans Say They Have a Tax Plan…Plan

Perhaps someone will type this up before Republicans try to vote on their tax plan.

As the Washington Post reports, Congressional Republicans are indicating that the House and Senate have come to some sort of agreement on a tax plan that could (potentially) make it through both chambers to the desk of President Trump:

House and Senate Republican leaders have reached an agreement in principle that would lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent beginning in 2018, a person briefed on the discussions said, part of a compromise $1.5 trillion tax plan they hope to vote into law by next week.

The agreement would also lower the top tax rate for families and individuals to 37 percent, a change that would deliver a major tax cut for upper-income households…

It’s unclear if all Senate Republicans support the changes, and Republicans can only afford to lose one GOP more vote if they hope to pass the agreement next week, as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) already opposes the measure. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has expressed concern about lowering the top tax rate, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has complained that Republicans did not do more to further expand the Child Tax Credit. But neither has said whether they would oppose the bill.

Republican leaders seem to be fairly confident that they have an agreement in place, though it’s not yet clear if they have the votes to support a final proposal that is expected to be approved by a “conference committee” made up of leaders from both chambers. Staffers are also still working to finalize a draft bill, which would need to be examined by the Joint Committee on Taxation to ensure that it abides by Congressional budget rules.

Republicans are hoping to hold a vote on their wildly-unpopular tax plan sometime next week — before Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is sworn in to replace Republican Luther Strange in the Senate.

Classic “Con Man Cory” Two-Step On Net Neutrality

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CBS4 Denver reported on a rally this weekend urging the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission to reject a proposal to weaken FCC rules mandating “net neutrality”–in general, the requirement that all internet traffic be routed equally with no preferential treatment of origin:

A rally downtown on Saturday was the latest attempt to raise awareness for “Net Neutrality” days before a vote by the Federal Communications Commission expected to reverse the policy, supporters say the move will affect how consumers see online content…

The rally at Skyline Park featured multiple speakers in the afternoon arguing the internet is a utility that should available to all. Companies could charge content providers to get their material available at a faster rate, supporters say. Smaller businesses or independent sites may be at a disadvantage against larger corporations or major media outlets.

“What Net Neutrality protections, if they are overturned, would do is essentially make it so the internet is no longer a free and open place,” said Caroline Fry, another rally organizer.

But if Colorado internet users were hoping U.S. Senator Cory Gardner will intercede on their behalf, guess again:

“The FCC’s rule not only circumvents the lawmaking process, but also the very people who are responsible for the Internet’s evolution and success,” said Sen. Cory Gardner in a statement back in 2016.

Gardner has also said in past statements that the internet should not be regulated by a government agency using old rules but instead new legislation should be passed to address concerns of slowing speeds or blocking content to consumers.

With only a few days now until the FCC votes on net neutrality, if Sen. Gardner wants to provide an updated statement now is the time. The most recent response on the issue we could find is from a few months ago, in a response to a constituent as posted to reddit:

While I support consumers’ ability to access the Internet, [Pols emphasis] I had serious concerns that the FCC’s 2015 attempt to prevent Internet companies from blocking or slowing consumers relied on a 1930s portion of law, which was never intended to regulate the Internet. Using outdated regulation to police Internet companies threatens innovation and investment in the Internet. The FCC’s latest decision provides a new opportunity to find a way forward on bipartisan legislation that permanently prevents companies from blocking or slowing consumers…

Sen. Michael Bennet’s straightforward response in the same post, “I believe we should work together to protect net neutrality” and praising the 2015 FCC rules now under threat, is much more reassuring for activists working to protect net neutrality than Gardner’s view–shared by basically no one–that this proposal is a “new opportunity” for the most dysfunctional Congress in modern American history to pass legislation to protect net neutrality after it’s rolled back.

If you understand that Cory Gardner is making promises nobody has any expectation of keeping, this is fine.

But especially after the year we’ve had, let’s please not be under any delusions.

Felon Elected to Greeley City Council – Opponent Sues

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eddie Mirick was just elected to the at-large seat on Greeley’s City Council.  Mirick  has a 1978 felony conviction for forgery, which he lied about when he filled out the paperwork to run for City Council.  The charter of Greeley, a “home-rule” city, specifically does not allow anyone convicted of a felony to be elected to City Council. Yet Mirick was elected, and City Council members have seated him, and are letting the court decide whether he will be allowed to serve.

Mirick’s eligibility to serve on City Council will be decided in District Court, pending the result of a lawsuit filed by the campaign manager of Mirick’s opponent, Stacy  Suniga.

Mirick (3rd from left) on Greeley for a Stronger Economy’s FB ad

The makeup of Greeley’s City Council will affect the balance of power between oil and gas interests vs. the public health of residents, in one of the most fracked cities in America.

Mirick is a veteran, and lives with physical disabilities. He is active in charities and community groups. And he strongly supports oil and gas development in Greeley.  Mirick benefitted from over $65,000 spent for cable TV ads from a shadowy Denver group: “Greeley for a Stronger Economy (GSE)*”.  Mayor John Gates, and two other candidates for Greeley City Council:   appointed member Brett Payton, who won his seat against opponent Lavonna Longwell by a grand total of 2 votes. (after recount), and Ward 3 candidate Michael Fitsimmons were also promoted by GSE advertising.

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Americans Really, Really Hate GOP Tax Plan

In a nutshell, here’s what Americans think of the Republican tax plan.

The Republican tax plan has a whole lot of problems. According to a new poll, Americans absolutely don’t like the GOP tax scam — and that was before news came out that Senate Republicans screwed up language in the bill that could ultimately make corporations fare worse than ever before.

Business Insider sums up the results of a new CBS poll out today:

The Republican tax bill just got hit with another doozy of a poll on Thursday, adding to the growing amount of data showing Americans don’t like the bill.

A new CBS News poll found that 35% of Americans approve of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), while 53% disapprove. While approval was unsurprisingly split along party lines, independents were also opposed to the plan, with 33% approving rate and a 52% disapproving…

…The poll also suggested that Americans weren’t buying into the GOP argument that the plan was designed as a middle-class tax cut. Only 31% said it would help the middle class, while 69% said it would help wealthier Americans most and 76% said it would benefit corporations.

Also, just 28% said they believed businesses would create more jobs because of the TCJA, while 64% said they would not.

As John Harwood reported for CNBC earlier this week on a different poll from Quinnipiac University, Republicans are not seeing a political benefit to their sloppy bill-drafting:

The poll shows Americans oppose the Republican tax-cut effort by nearly two-to-one, as 29 percent approve and 53 percent disapprove. That’s a worse showing than Obamacare ever recorded, and more unpopular than former President Bill Clinton‘s tax increase plan when it passed in 1993. [Pols emphasis]

Just as daunting are results showing that most Americans don’t buy the core arguments Republicans have offered for their plans. Moreover, debate over the issue has harmed the party’s reputation…

…As a result, consideration of the matter has handed Democrats a fresh advantage over Republicans. In August, Americans split evenly over which party handles tax issues better. Now, Democrats hold an eight-percentage-point edge, 47 percent to 39 percent.

Watch out for that wave, Republicans.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (December 7)

A date which will live in infamy. 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…

President Trump is trying to preemptively blame Democrats in the event of a government shutdown this weekend, once again banking on media outlets to pretend that Republicans don’t already have majorities in both the House and Senate. As the Washington Post reports, a potential government shutdown would be YUGELY costly to the American economy:

America could lose billions of dollars in economic activity if the federal government shuts down this December, a new report says.

On Wednesday, S&P Global analysts said a shutdown would cost the economy about $6.5 billion per week, or about 0.2 percent of gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, as the impact of furloughing federal employees ripples across the country.

“If a shutdown were to take place so far into the quarter, fourth-quarter GDP would not have time to bounce back, which could shake investors and consumers and, as a result, possibly snuff out any economic momentum,” the report says. “The timing could not be worse.”

Lawmakers have until the end of Friday to reach an agreement to avert the shutdown. The House is slated to vote Thursday on a short-term deal to keep the government open while a longer spending agreement is negotiated, but the risk of shutdown looms.

 

► The tax plan that Senate Republicans rushed through in a floor vote early Saturday is apparently chock full of conflicting and confusing proposals that may actually make things worse for corporations in the United States.

Dylan Scott of Vox.com explains how Senate Republicans apparently screwed up language about the corporate alternative minimum tax.

 

President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — a decision that has significant foreign policy repercussions. Protests quickly broke out in Jerusalem following the announcement.

 

► Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken will resign his seat in the coming weeks in the wake of more sexual harassment accusations.

From Franken’s pending resignation, to Alabama’s Senate election and a decision by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen to seek an open seat in Tennessee, there’s already a lot of movement to consider for 2018. Chris Cillizza and Eric Bradner take a look at the shifting Senate landscape in a story for CNN.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Gardner Gets Mercilessly Mocked on “Tonight Show”

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was introduced to a national late-night audience when he was lampooned in a caricature on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” on Monday.

An actor portraying Gardner appeared during host Jimmy Fallon’s monologue to “answer” a few questions about the Republican tax plan approved by the Senate in the early hours on Saturday. Fallon asks the mock Gardner several questions about who benefits from the GOP tax plan; in response, Gardner’s character mutters a bunch of nonsensical phrases, such as “tax breaks” for “dolphinfluffin” and “gastrointestinal strudel noodle.” The joke is that Gardner cannot actually articulate concrete reasons for supporting the Senate tax plan — which, of course, is not that far removed from reality.

Jump ahead to about the 2:00 mark below for the Gardner bit: