Gardner Disses Obama Hard One Last Time

As caught on camera by The Hill yesterday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is snarling mad at outgoing President Barack Obama over the commutation of whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence as the clock ticks down toward Donald Trump’s inauguration:

REPORTER: And what about the Manning commutation?

GARDNER: The, I’m sorry?

REPORTER: The Chelsea Manning commutation.

GARDNER: Uh, look. The last actions Barack Obama has made is to stab Israel in the back with passage of the U.S. resolution, now he’s stabbed the American people in the back by pardoning a traitor. [Pols emphasis]

It could have been worse, we suppose. We’ll refrain from speculating how lest we give Gardner any ideas.

Reporters should press Colorado’s Congressional Republicans on replacement for Obamacare

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Rep. Mike Coffman.

The Colorado Republican congressional delegation is talking a lot about a “replacement” for Obamacare, as if they have something in mind, without actually pointing to an actual factual replacement–or even any details leading in the direction of a replacement.

Reporters should be extra careful to point out that Republicans have no replacement plan, because all the talk about one can easily confuse already confused people into thinking that Colorado Republicans have a plan.

As an example of how Republicans try to disguise their absence of a plan as a plan, check out this passage from a Jan. 13 Denver Post opinion piece, authored by all of Colorado’s GOP members of Congress (with the glaring exception of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.)

And speaking of replacement plans, the narrative that Republicans have offered no plan to replace Obamacare is false. Republicans have introduced multiple alternative health care plans since 2010, and we encourage you to review them. The most recent replacement plan was offered by the Republican Study Committee, called the American Health Care Reform Act. The Empowering Patients First Act was a plan put forth in the 114th Congress by future Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Tom Price. Our Better Way Agenda also includes a blueprint for replacing Obamacare that is centered on more choices, lowers costs, and greater flexibility.

Many plans does not mean you have a plan. Gentlemen, which plan do you favor, if any?

Even though Gardner didn’t join his colleagues in the Denver Post opinion, he made a similar statement on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13 (audio below):

Gardner: We have introduced several bills — hundreds of bills, really — small and big over the past several years to replace Obamacare. Some are very targeted, some are much more comprehensive: legislation by Tom Price –soon to be the Secretary of Health; legislation by Dr. Grasso, a Senator from Wyoming who is a physician; legislation from Bill Cassidy, a physician himself from Louisiana that will be introduced next. These are all going to be considered as part of the replacement once it’s repealed.

Hundreds of bills! Small and big! Very targeted! All will be considered! (But, alas, still, no plan.)

But, it’s worth noting, and it’s in fact newsworthy, that  Colorado’s congressional Republicans are saying the Price plan is in the mix, because analysts say that millions of people would lose their health insurance under Price’s proposal. And Price is Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Cassidy plan, also mentioned by Gardner, would leave millions of people uninsured or underinsured, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 18)

Your job ends on Friday and you have to move out of your house; kind of a weird way to end eight years as President. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Donald Trump can replace the “-elect” from his title on Friday when he is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Meanwhile, officials in Washington D.C., Colorado, and across the country are preparing for a weekend of protests and marches. As the Denver Post reports:

Thousands of Coloradans plan to make the nearly 1,700-mile trek to the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington; more are expected to attend sister marches in Denver and across the state.

Hailing from all walks of life, and marching for a variety of causes, several participants said it was their wish that the demonstrations help weave together the spectrum of activists looking to oppose Trump over the next four years.

“Marches make a difference. Activism makes a difference. If you don’t like what’s happening in Washington, then get involved,” said Polly Baca, a former Colorado state lawmaker who participated in the 1963 March on Washington.

While many Democratic elected officials are skipping Trump’s inauguration, Colorado Democrats such as Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) are planning on attending Trump’s big day on Friday. Perhaps Polis and Bennet just want to see if the band “3 Doors Down” really is still alive.

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper wants Colorado lawmakers to consider a couple of proposals designed to raise more money for public education. As Brian Eason reports for the Denver Post:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday asked Colorado lawmakers for a 50 percent increase in sales taxes on recreational marijuana starting July 1 to send an additional $42 million to public schools.

The Democrat wants to increase the recreation sales tax on pot to 12 percent effective July 1, the same day the levy is scheduled to fall to 8 percent. The current tax rate is 10 percent.

The move is part of his plan to fill a $135 million shortfall in school funding caused by a constitutional provision that mandates a cut in residential property taxes — a primary source of money for local classrooms.

In addition, Hickenlooper proposed to cut the senior homestead property tax exemption in half, freeing another $68 million for schools. The shift would allow seniors to claim a tax break on the first $100,000 in their home value, rather than the first $200,000 allowed in current law.

Republican legislators are instinctively opposed to doing anything that would increase revenue while they wait for the Free Market Fairy to fix all of our problems.

 

► Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander is all but carrying Betsy DeVos across the finish line as she seeks to secure approval as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education:

After postponing the secretary of education nominee’s hearing for a week, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (known as HELP) rescheduled it for last night at the very unusual time of 5 p.m. (It then started 15 minutes late.)…

…Despite howls of protest from every Democrat on the committee, Alexander allowed each member to ask five minutes of questions. He permitted just one round of questioning, compared to the three rounds that Rex Tillerson and Jeff Sessions faced last week. Most committees also give members 10 minutes per round, not five…

…Furthermore, Alexander scheduled DeVos’s grilling before the U.S. Office of Government Ethics has even completed a review of her potential conflicts of interest. Eight years ago, Republicans insisted that every Barack Obama nominee be cleared by the OGE before a hearing was held.

As the Washington Post reports, DeVos made a number of very strange statements in her first confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Senate Republicans may be rubber-stamping Trump’s cabinet picks, but they aren’t in any hurry to complete their work; Trump will begin his first term as President on Friday with less than half of his proposed cabinet approved for work by the Senate.

 

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

Gardner Obamacare Repeal Misdirection Continues

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

We took note of word last Friday that Sen. Cory Gardner was in town for the long holiday weekend, and expressed hoped that the local press would be able to press him for answers about the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act–a process that began last week with Senate votes presided over by Gardner, who had the job of gaveling down Democrats attempting to lodge a protest to the action.

On Monday, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark did manage to extract this quote from Gardner:

Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who would not commit to having an Affordable Care Act replacement that covers everyone with insurance now:

“What we’re trying to is make sure that we fix the mess that Obamacare created. In Colorado, hundreds of thousands had their insurance canceled, despite the promise that they’d get to keep the plans that they liked. So if you heard Mike Enzi (a Republican Senator from Wyoming) on the floor of the Senate, when the first step to repeal and replace Obamacare was taken, he talked about building a transition to make that sure people who are currently enrolled are taken care of while we build a replacement plan that we can move to that’s better than Obamacare.”

As we’ve noted many times in this space, Gardner’s reference to “hundreds of thousands” of Coloradans who had their “insurance cancelled” is fundamentally misleading. In virtually all such cases, these were notices to renew to plans that comported with the ACA’s coverage standards. Those affected did not lose their health coverage, they renewed to plans that were compliant with the ACA.

And that’s key to understand. The rate of uninsured did not go up in Colorado under the ACA, it went down. Dramatically.

But what’s going to happen when Gardner repeals Obamacare? That’s the part we don’t know–but it’s a very good bet that the “replacement” will not cover as many people. And that means there will be Coloradans who are covered by Obamacare now who will lose their coverage. Lose it–and unlike the “cancellations” Gardner has grandstanded on for years, not get it back. That’s the difference between Gardner’s rhetoric and the reality of repealing the ACA, and no reporter should accept Gardner’s line about “hundreds of thousands of Coloradans having their insurance cancelled” under Obamacare without asking this obvious followup question.

With that said, we’re glad to see any questions being asked. Keep that up.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 17)

This was not a good weekend to be named “Mike Coffman.” It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) made national news over the weekend thanks to an ill-advised decision to bolt out the back door despite dozens of constituents waiting to talk with him about his support for repealing Obamacare. Coffman’s staff tried to play up the Saturday fiasco as a “political stunt” driven by Obamacare supporters, but this appears not to be an “astroturfed” event but rather an organic display of local anger and concern about how Congress is dealing with health care issues. As the Denver Post reports:

During a celebration Monday for civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Coffman was heckled by protesters who were upset by his vote Friday that laid the groundwork for a repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act. At one point, a steady refrain of “No repeal” almost drowned out his words.

The chants followed a flare-up during a weekend meeting Coffman took with constituents, a get-together that ended in disappointment for many as Coffman held small conferences rather than a large town hall…

…David Flaherty, a Republican pollster in Colorado, said it’s possible the politics will boomerang against his party.

“They are really playing with fire,” he said. “I think the Democrats will probably score some points. It’s not easy to replace this thing.”

This is the new reality for Republicans who continue to push forward on gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Polling results are now consistently showing widespread opposition to a blind repeal of Obamacare…while Republicans continue to be elusive about specific plans for ACA replacement options. Hundreds of people showed up for a rally on Sunday in Denver to voice their opposition to repealing the ACA.

 

► Congressional Republicans have plenty of other problems when it comes to repealing Obamacare. President-elect Donald Trump tossed in his own monkey wrench on Saturday when he Tweeted out cryptic nonsense about a new health care plan being formulated by his administration. Today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a sobering report on what is at stake in health care talks:

At least 18 million people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan, estimates a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The number of people without insurance would grow to about 32 million within the first decade if congressional Republicans follow a 2015 plan to repeal the health-care law without an alternative, the new report says.  It also estimates that health insurance premiums for people buying individual non-group coverage would double within a decade, further complicating GOP promises that people will not lose coverage under their plan.

 

► Senate Democrats are voicing opposition to Donald Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary. As CNN reports, Tom Price may have broken the law by buying stock in a company that stood to benefit from legislation he sponsored:

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also called for an investigation of Price after CNN reported that Price bought up to $15,000 worth of stock in Zimmer Biomet — a medical device maker — and then introduced a measure that would have directly benefited the company. One week after Price bought the stock, he put in a measure that would have delayed a new regulation that would have harmed the company.

 

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

Coffman “Not a Town Hall” Fiasco a National News Story

UPDATE: As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports, it didn’t go any better for Mike Coffman at yesterday’s MLK Day event:

U.S. Rep Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, ran into trouble with the audience when he stepped up to the microphone. As he began speaking, several people in the crowd began to heckle him with chants of “No repeal!” a reference to the congressman’s stated desire to dismantle the Affordable Care Act spearheaded by Obama.

Coffman didn’t acknowledge the interruptions during his short speech, which lasted little more than a minute or two. At one point, the heckling almost drowned out the congressman’s words.

—–

The Coloradans are restless.

The story of this weekend’s public outreach event held by Rep. Mike Coffman at the Aurora Public Library main branch, which witnessed an enormous turnout of upset constituents seeking answers about their health care followed by Coffman sneaking out the back door, went national over the long MLK Day weekend. Here’s a brief roundup:

The Denver Post’s Tamara Chaung:

On Friday, Coffman joined three other Republican U.S. representatives from Colorado in Denver Post opinion page piece about why they would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Some people who showed up for the event were there to talk about the act, according to their social media posts.

According to Coffman’s events page, the Congressman held monthly meetings with constituents at area libraries during the first half of 2016. Saturday’s event was the first since June.

The crowd appeared to be “frustrated” because many didn’t get to meet with Coffman, according to 9NEWS. And before time ran out on the 90 minute meeting, Coffman left. “While more than 100 people were waiting to meet with him, Mike Coffman sneaks out early from his own community event,” Garcia tweeted.

TIME picks up the story:

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman left a regularly scheduled meeting early on Saturday, leaving more than 100 frustrated constituents waiting at the Aurora Public Library in Colorado to talk about his party’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act…

“Unfortunately, we only reserved the room at the Aurora Central Library for 90 minutes, which is usually plenty of time to see everyone,” [Coffman’s staffer Ben Stein] wrote.

But Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern did some checking, and that’s not a valid excuse:

(more…)

Huge Crowd Confronts Coffman, Who Flees Event Early

UPDATE (Sunday evening): Via Twitter, the campaign staff for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) feed the fervor with exactly the wrong response. First, Coffman and staff said “activists” were just trying to “make a show” out of trying to talk to Coffman during his publicly-announced open office hours. Then they went here:

The problem with this response is that it isn’t true — not even a little bit. A bevy of recent polls have shown the same thing over and over: Americans most definitely DO NOT want to see Obamacare gutted. From The Hill:

Only 18 percent of voters think Congress and President-elect Donald Trump should fully repeal ObamaCare, a new poll released Thursday finds. Another 47 percent said only some of ObamaCare should be repealed, while 31 percent said it should be left untouched.

As Rasmussen Reports noted last week, public opinion about repealing Obamacare is rapidly moving in the opposite direction of Congressional Republicans:

Just 30% now think Congress and the president should repeal the entire health care law and start over again, down from November’s high of 40% and matching the lowest finding in tracking since July 2014. Fifty-six percent (56%) say Congress and the president instead should go through the law piece by piece and improve it, the highest finding to date. [Pols emphasis] (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These results are consistent no matter how Republicans try to frame the question. As Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn learned firsthand earlier this month (via CBS News):

Twitter account of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) in early January.

 

Poll after poll after poll show the same thing: A majority of Americans DO NOT support what Congressional Republicans are trying to do with Obamacare. The American public increasingly understands that the GOP has no plan for replacing Obamacare, and people aren’t holding their tongues anymore. This isn’t a “political stunt.” This is the new reality.

—–

UPDATE: Video from 9NEWS’ Nelson Garcia of Rep. Mike Coffman’s ignominious exit:

Safe to say, not the finest hour for statesmanship.

—–

“Sorry, that’s all the time we have.”

9NEWS reports on a “meet your congressman” event hosted by Rep. Mike Coffman yesterday that did not go the way he and his staff expected: with hundreds of constituents showing up hoping for answers on what Republicans under President-elect Donald Trump are plotting on a host of issues.

Kronda Seibert just wanted Coffman to hear her concerns. But, she ended up trying to organize the crowd that gathered outside the large community room.

“The Representative didn’t have a plan. They expected just a small handful of people to show up,” Seibert said. “We were under the understanding it was a town hall meeting and they were only allowing four people in at a time.”

Coffman’s chief of staff, Ben Stein, sent a statement addressing what happened Saturday afternoon. The statement says the Congressman’s community event was not a town hall…

State Rep. Paul Rosenthal was there, and had this to say in a Facebook post:

Joined an unbelievable crowd of about 200 people today who wanted to see their Congressman, Mike Coffman, at a public library in Aurora. He planned it so only a few people could individually meet him at a time, so many people were turned away. It seems to me he learned that turnabout was about to be fair play after how the Tea Partier right wing fanatics lied and rallied and disrupted Democratic town halls in 2009. This crowd was passionate and respectful though, and we sang America the Beautiful, and I got us going on We Shall Overcome… [Pols emphasis]

All of this was apparently too much for Coffman, who quietly exited the event before its scheduled conclusion:

While the crowd was waiting inside the lobby, singing and chanting, Aurora Police officers are putting up crime scene tape to create a perimeter outside of the library. This allowed Coffman to leave secretly at about 3:24 p.m. unbeknownst to those still waiting to see him. The community event was scheduled from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This practice of only meeting with small groups of constituents instead of holding an open forum more like a traditional town hall is not new for Coffman, who has been very conscious of being confronted by displeased constituents ever since his district was redrawn to be a diverse battleground in 2011. It serves him well for avoiding negative press–except when his constituents are angry enough about something to show up in large numbers, in which case the strategy breaks down.

That appears to be what happened yesterday.

The past week has seen an uptick in protest actions targeting Republicans over the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act, along with other concerns mounting as the GOP takes total control over the federal government next Friday. In all cases–last week’s large protests outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver and Greeley offices, and now this overflow crowd at Rep. Coffman’s carefully managed “outreach” event–the response from the public has exceeded organizers’ expectations. That’s a very good sign for the much bigger demonstrations planned for next Saturday in Denver and cities around the nation, the day after Trump takes office.

With that said, we’re a little reticent to use the 2009 “Tea Party” protest movement as a yardstick to measure what’s happening now. There’s no nice way to say this, but the underlying motivators of the Tea Party were…well, they did not have what well-adjusted people would call a factual basis. There’s an argument that protests driven by ignorance and unfounded hyperbolics–with an ugly foundation of racism lurking just beneath the surface–can’t really be used to measure other protest campaigns without cheapening them.

But there’s one thing about the Tea Party protests in 2009 that is certainly relevant to this debate, and will become more relevant going forward if this outbreak of protest proves more than inauguration season fashion. And that’s what they led to in the 2010 elections.

“It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changing.”

Radio host drops the ball in interview with Gardner, who signals support for Tillerson

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In an appearance on KNUS 710-AM Thursday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is “somebody that a president should be able to have on his cabinet.”

Gardner also said he was “very impressed” with Trump’s education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos (SSSP).

But Caplis dropped the ball by not challenging Gardner on his comments about Russia.

Gardner: “One of the biggest threats that we had created ourselves is the fact that the U.S. presented weakness over the last eight years. And when we present weakness, we embolden our enemies.  As a result, we’ve seen an emboldened Russia, we’ve seen an emboldened Iran, we’ve seen emboldened terrorists around the globe, and you know, from the Middle East to North Korea.   So, that’s got to change.  And I believe it will change based on the conversation [in hearings] with Rex Tillerson yesterday and what we’re hearing out of the new administration,  that it will be a strong, engaged U.S. foreign policy that shows that the United States will be an active strength and will support our friends and will take it to our enemies.”

Right now we’re having a conversation about whether the next president is actually subject to blackmail by the Russian government, and the next president seems to be entertaining a new policy of capitulating to the Russian position on sanctions, Syria, and Ukraine.

Talking to Caplis, Gardner is saying that an emboldened Russia is a problem, and it’s Obama’s fault for not being tough enough.

But Gardner just participated in a hearing with a nominee for Secretary of State who admitted that he hasn’t talked with Trump about Russia, and this is what Gardner has to say?

You could be Gardner’s very best friend, like Caplis seems to want to be, and still ask Colorado’s U.S. Senator more pointed questions about Tillerson, Trump, and Russia. But Caplis was mum.

Get More Smarter on Friday (January 13)

Superstitions like “Friday the 13th” seem like they belong in a simpler time — when reality wasn’t so scary. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►As the Obamacare repeal-and-we-swear-we-have-a-plan-for-replacement debate rages on in Congress, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is finally getting a bit more attention from local media outlets. Gardner is fully onboard with plans to repeal Obamacare – replacement be damned — and is doing his best to pretend that his constituents in Colorado actually want this mess…nevermind the fact that constituents are not able to get through to Gardner’s office at all. As the Associated Press reports today, Senate Republicans still seem to be no closer to even having a plan for replacement.

Polling results are continually showing that repealing Obamacare without a replacement in place is HUGELY UNPOPULAR with Americans. From The Hill:

Only 18 percent of voters think Congress and President-elect Donald Trump should fully repeal ObamaCare, a new poll released Thursday finds.

Another 47 percent said only some of ObamaCare should be repealed, while 31 percent said it should be left untouched.

According to a separate poll from NPR/Ipsos, only 14% of Americans support repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. 

 

► When President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated next week, he will assume office as the most unpopular incoming President in modern history. From “The Fix”:

Just four in ten people polled by Gallup say they approve of the way Trump is handling his transition — a stand-in for presidential approval in this odd three-month interregnum.  Those are the lowest marks ever measured by Gallup for an incoming president. They are also half — yes HALF — as high as the 83 percent of people who approved of how then President-elect Barack Obama handled his own transition in late 2008/early 2009.  And Trump’s numbers even track well below those of George W. Bush, whose transition was cut short by an extended recount that left lots of the country unconvinced that he had actually won! [Pols emphasis]

Wow. Worse than Dubya?

The Colorado Springs Independent has a handy list of local events related to the January 20th Inauguration.

 

► In his State of the State address on Thursday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called on the legislature to ask voters to approve a tax hike for transportation and infrastructure needs.

“We’ve had this debate for too long. If talk could fill potholes, we’d have the best roads in the country.”

 

 

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

Cory Gardner Sighted in Denver While Obamacare Debate Rages

UPDATE: Real Clear Politics’ James Arkin has more quotes from Gardner during the repeal debate in the U.S. Senate:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of Republicans’ Senate campaign committee, said he thought Democrats’ efforts – emphasizing their push to preserve the Affordable Cart Act – would backfire.

“They have no strategy, they have no message,” Gardner told RCP during the votes. “They’re flailing around and it comes down to using silly political amendments to help America remember that they support Obamacare. They are doubling down on Obamacare tonight. What you will see are red state Democrats voting for Obamacare.”

…For Gardner’s part, he argued the GOP would put forward a replacement, and it would be incumbent on Democrats to support it. “[If] they oppose it and decide they would rather have nothing rather than a replacement, this is not going to work out well for them.”

But how many will the replacement cover? How many will lose their coverage? That’s the question that matters, and also the question Gardner isn’t answering.

—–

Heads up, local reporters! If you’re hoping to get quotes from Colorado’s junior Sen. Cory Gardner, who presided this week over the initial votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, he was sighted moments ago in downtown Denver headed for the Colorado state capitol. Pics or it didn’t happen is the rule, so:

We don’t know what his schedule is, but we sincerely hope it includes some press avails. We’re happy to report that the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews finally got some Gardner quotes added to an AP wire story about the repeal votes, giving locals a precious little morsel of feedback as Gardner embarks on sweeping changes to a program affecting millions of Americans:

Ahead of that vote, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., described the Affordable Care Act as a “disaster for Colorado” in an interview with The Denver Post — citing a slew of healthcare plans that were canceled in the state following the law’s adaption in 2010.

Despite the cancellations – often due to new rules set by the Affordable Care Act — the number of Colorado residents without health insurance fell by more than half between 2011 to 2015: from nearly 15.8 percent to 6.7 percent, according to the Colorado Health Institute.

Much of that drop is due to an expansion of Medicaid under the law. Gardner said he had concerns about the growth of that program and wanted Congress instead to pursue a private-sector approach. [Pols emphasis]

“I think consumers are much better spending their own dollars than any government ever could be,” he said.

That’s some important content buried well below the lede of this story: Matthews correctly explains that the rate of uninsured dropped dramatically in Colorado under the ACA, at the same time Gardner was deceptively grandstanding about “cancellations” which were in fact notices to renew to ACA-compliant policies. This is critical to understand because when Gardner signs on to a GOP “replacement for Obamacare” that very likely throws large numbers off the insurance rolls, he’s going to compare that to his “cancellations” that really weren’t cancellations.

The second highly notable point inserted into this story is Gardner’s stated desire for a “private-sector approach” to address the growth of Medicaid. Mack in March of 2014, then-Politico reporter Manu Raju wrote about a meeting between then-Rep. Gardner and a woman on a breathing tube who told Gardner that Medicaid has literally “kept me alive.”

“We got to protect Medicaid,” Gardner told her. [Pols emphasis]

Right after this, Raju reported, Gardner said he opposed the Medicaid expansion that has protected thousands of Coloradans–perhaps even the woman in this story, a striking moment of hypocrisy among a multitude in 2014 that nonetheless didn’t prevent his election to the U.S. Senate.

Well folks, the time has come for Gardner to get what he wants. Let’s hope an intrepid reporter this weekend is able to have a conversation on the record about what that means.

Cory Gardner Presides Over Obamacare Repeal Instigation

While you were sleeping, as the New York Times reports:

Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage.

One by one, Democrats rose to voice their objections. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington said that Republicans were “stealing health care from Americans.” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was voting no “because health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy.”

The presiding officer, Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, repeatedly banged his gavel and said the Democrats were out of order because “debate is not allowed during a vote.”

That’s right–late last night, Colorado’s own Sen. Cory Gardner presided over the initial votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. With no replacement plan in a state of readiness, this was a vote to strip millions of Americans of health coverage–including hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. And we’re not talking about the fake “cancellations” that Gardner has been misleadingly railing against for years, “cancellation notices” that were actually notices to renew–to policies that comply with the additional protections and coverage requirements of the ACA.

This time, Americans and Coloradans may lose their health coverage and not get it back.

Given Gardner’s promises in out-of-state media that Obamacare would be “replaced” with a “better” system while refusing to give any details, and the very serious potential harm to Gardner’s constituents that could result if Obamacare is repealed and not replaced with a system that covers as many people, we are increasingly dumbfounded as to why our local media is basically ignoring Gardner’s large role in this process. Where the hell is Mark Matthews? Where the hell is Kyle Clark? How is it that Colorado’s Senator manages to get quoted by everyone except the Colorado media?

Serious shit is going down in Washington, D.C., right now, and Sen. Gardner should be answering for it.

Call Your Senator – Refuse Rex Tillerson as Sec/State

Rex Tillerson, Exxon CEO and Trump’s Nominee for Secretary of State, Accepting the Order of Friendship from Vladimir PUtin in 2013. Wikipedia Russia

Today, January 11, 2017, was the first day of hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFR) on the confirmation of Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. Tillerson evaded direct questions about if he would continue to press for removal of sanctions against Russia. He refused to denounce Russia’s human rights abuses of Syrian civilians.  He equivocated about whether climate change is caused by human activity. He seemed clueless about world affairs, outside of Russia. He played dumb about Russian hacking. And he gave little indication that he would act independently of his boss, Donald Trump.

The hearing will continue Thursday, January 12, and from that point the SFR can decide to move the nomination to the entire Senate for an up or down vote, or stall it in committee, effectively killing the nomination. We want Tillerson’s nomination to die in the SFR committee. If the SFR Senators get enough calls from their constituents, it can happen. Public pressure has prevented complete gutting of the Government Ethics Office, and has postponed several hearings that Trump originally wanted on 1/12/17


Five Reasons to Call Your Senator Now to refuse this nominee

  1. Exxon is the world’s #1 contributor to climate change. The company has known for 40 years that fossil fuel extraction and burning contribute to climate change, and it has spent 35 of those 40 years actively denying the science and lobbying to prevent worldwide action on climate change.  Meanwhile, Exxon factored warming seas into its calculations on Arctic oil extraction.
  2. Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State, would enter with huge conflicts of interest. Tillerson could reverse or make policy decisions about U.S. sanctions against Russia. Reversing sanctions would allow a $500 billion Arctic oil exploration deal to go forward, making Exxon and Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft rich, even if it makes the U.S. less safe. Tillerson himself owns $218 million in Exxon stock.
  3. The Arctic climate is fragile. It’s not just the risk of spills; methane and black carbon pollution from offshore oil development will increase global warming.

    Polar Bear on Arctic ice

    Expanded drilling would increase Arctic ice melt and decrease wildlife habitat. – Credit: Wikimedia Commons

  4. Tillerson has no experience in diplomacy . World diplomacy is not one giant business deal – there are very delicate situations in the world that need tact, knowledge, and patience.
  5.  Tillerson cannot be trusted to put the USA’s interests ahead of Russia’s or of Exxons –  as intelligence expert Malcolm Nance asked on MSNBC’s Joy Reid show, “Do we want a secretary of state who is going to be working hand in hand first and foremost for the U.S. and Russian petrochemical industries?”

Call your Senator on the  Foreign Relations Committee

Contact info:

  1. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)  @ Next election: 2022
  2. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee)(Chairman) Next election: 2018
  3. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) Next election: 2020
  4. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) Next election: 2022
  5. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) Next election: 2018
  6. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) Next election: 2020
  7. David Perdue (R-Georgia) Next election: 2020
  8. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) Next election: 2022
  9. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) Next election: 2022
  10. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) Next election: 2018
  11. Todd Young (R – Indiana) Next election: 2022
  12. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) (Ranking Member) Next election: 2018
  13. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) Next election: 2018
  14. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) Next election: 2020
  15. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) Next election: 2020
  16. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) Next election: 2020
  17. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) Next election: 2018
  18. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) Next election: 2018
  19. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) Next election: 2020
  20. Cory Booker (D- New Jersey) Next election: 2020
  21. Jeff Merkley (D- Oregon) Next election: 2020

Local Press AWOL While Gardner Makes Big Obamacare Promises

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Yesterday, as we and not very many other people reported, large protests outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver and Greeley offices called on Gardner to protect the expansion of access to health coverage created by the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare.” In Washington, D.C., the process of repealing the law has already begun–actions that are going to have a very large effect on thousands of Coloradans, very likely a negative effect as health coverage they’ve obtained through the law is put in jeopardy.

Sen. Gardner will play a major role in the repeal of Obamacare–but you wouldn’t know that from local news coverage, where Gardner is drawing a pass both from having to comment and from coverage of protests against repeal. But syndicated television news source Grey DC once again scoops local reporters:

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner says Republicans will be ready to replace.

“When it’s repealed it will be replaced there is no doubt it will be replaced with an idea that is better than the disastrous results of Obama care,” Gardner (R-CO) said. [Pols emphasis]

Everybody take note, this is Sen. Gardner promising to have the Obamacare replacement ready at the time of repeal–something Republicans are by no means unanimous on, and may well prove impossible both practically and politically.

Meaning it’s important, and the local press should be telling you about it.

Meanwhile, Vox’s Sarah Kliff expounded a little on her run-in with Sen. Gardner yesterday, which ended with Gardner running away rather than answering whether a replacement plan would cover as many people as Obamacare:

I spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill, talking to Senate Republicans about whether they expected their replacement plans to cover as many people as the Affordable Care Act. The answers were … not plentiful.

I put the question to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who told me, “We’ve got to have a plan that is better than Obamacare. Obamacare has failed on its initial goals, the promises that were made, so I look forward to having a plan in place that will actually work for the American people.” I repeated the question about coverage specifically, at which point he turned around and walked away.

The biggest reason Gardner’s ongoing promises and statements about Obamacare repeal and replacement need to be reported locally now is the strong likelihood they will be misreported down the road. In terms of offering a replacement “better” than Obamacare in the ways health care consumers will care about–and certainly on the dicey question of having a replacement ready to go along with repeal–Gardner is making promises that he simply doesn’t have the power to ensure are kept.

In the likely event that happens, voters need to know. And they won’t know unless they know he made the promise to begin with. So please, local reporters. Do your damn jobs. It’s always important, but right now it’s critical.

You might even say lives hang in the balance.

Colorado Rallies To Save Obamacare While Cory Gardner Hides

A big protest in Denver was organized at noon today outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s offices on 17th Street, calling on Colorado’s junior Senator to back off his promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Photos via the Twitters:

And another healthy (pun intended) crowd at Gardner’s Greeley office:

But based on the response Gardner had for Sarah Kliff of Vox in Washington today:

It appears Sen. Gardner doesn’t know what to say! Like so many in his party struggling with a dogmatic vow to “repeal Obamacare,” regardless of what that would actually mean for their constituents, suddenly the reality of what Republicans have promised is now upon them.

And it makes them want to hide.