This is a Math Problem, not a Message Problem

Would I still be smiling like this if I really wanted to take away your healthcare?

Sally has two apples. Mitch comes along and takes both of those apples. How many apples does Sally have now?

The answer, obviously, is none. Sally has no apples. This is not a complicated story problem.

But, wait! Suppose that Mitch informs Sally that he is only implementing an “apple reallocation strategy” in relieving her of her two apples. Now, how many apples does Sally have after this “reallocation?”

Yup. Still no apples.

You can probably see where we’re going with this. You could tell Sally that her apples have been “reallocated.” You could tell Sally that her apples were stolen by the Russians. You could take Sally’s apples and offer no explanation whatsoever. However you go about removing Sally from her apples, the result is the same: Sally once had apples, but now she has none.

Republicans have been getting positively blistered by media outlets across the country ever since Senate leaders introduced their healthcare legislation on Thursday. Senate leaders are calling it “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) and in describing the different facets of the legislation, they are employing numerous adjectives and phrases to make their plan sound less horrible than it really is.

The Senate healthcare proposal is a breathtakingly mean-spirited and awful piece of legislation that would be devastating to any American who is not rich and/or young and healthy. Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove mightily of the central tenets of BCRA. Republicans are being deluged with protests, letters, and phone calls from people who are legitimately scared of the harm that this proposed legislation would cause.

Republicans seem to understand that their healthcare proposal is not being well-received, yet they appear completely oblivious as to the reasons why. In fact, when you listen to Republicans such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner discuss the bill, you get the distinct impression that they think they are merely facing a “messaging problem” with their healthcare proposal.

Take a look at this Thursday story from Denver7:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday that he was taking his first look at the Senate’s version of the replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which he helped craft, and that the bill “deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.”…

…He said he was “beginning to carefully review” the bill and to look at ways to “rescue” Colorado from what he called the “negative impacts” the Affordable Care Act across the U.S.

Senator Gardner is a member of the “working group” that was assigned to craft the Senate healthcare legislation. Gardner would like you to believe, however, that he hadn’t seen any text of the proposed legislation until it was released to the public on Thursday. Gardner has acknowledged being a member of the healthcare “working group,” and unless he participated in these discussions while wearing a blindfold, it is inconceivable that the language was a complete surprise to the Yuma Senator.

You can see how individual Senators such as Gardner are trying to spin, spin, spin their way out of this problem. As the Washington Post writes on Friday, this is also the strategy for the bill as a whole:

Republicans have gone to enormous lengths to obscure the plan’s profoundly regressive features. They have endlessly told the lie that no one will be worse off (because everyone will have “access” to affordable coverage), and they’ve developed numerous cleverly designed talking points designed to create the impression that, by slowly phasing in the loss of coverage for millions over time, this will create a painless transition to … well, to a blissful state in which everyone, again, has “access” to affordable coverage. Among these: “Smooth glide path.” “Rescue mission.” “Bridge to better health care.” “Soft landing.”

But it’s important to understand that this scam has multiple layers. The slow phase in isn’t merely about creating the impression of a painless transition. It’s also about deferring accountability. This is particularly the case with the Senate version of the bill, which must appear softer than the House bill in order to get the support of key Republican moderates who represent states with large Medicaid expansion populations.

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans rely on Medicaid for healthcare. If the current Senate bill ultimately goes into effect, literally millions of people will lose healthcare. Republicans are arguing over how long of a period they should stretch out the death of Medicaid – they call it a “transition period” – but the end result is that many people who have healthcare coverage today will not have it at some point in the near future.

Republicans are desperately trying to come up with new ideas to explain their Medicaid cuts as a “bridge” to something else, but there’s only one thing on the other side of that abyss: Fewer people with health care. If you had something before – like, say, apples – and you don’t have it later, it can be described as a “reduction” or a “cut” or whatever other phrase tickles your fancy. But it doesn’t make any difference what phrase you employ, because no words will change the math here.

The GOP isn’t dealing with a “message problem;” they are dealing with a “people are going to die so that we can cut taxes for the wealthy” problem. If you make life worse for most Americans, they aren’t going to console themselves in your boast that you repealed Obamacare.

As the headline of that Washington Post story referenced earlier states, this is “How Trump and Republicans may get away with hurting millions of people.”

Get More Smarter on Friday (June 23)

Trumpcare and Russia: That’s pretty much the extent of the news today, but here are a few more headlines worth following. 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…

► Senate Republicans on Thursday released their plan to kill as many Americans as possible make massive changes to healthcare in this country. Vox.com breaks down the Senate Trumpcare bill — officially called “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” — into a handful of “winners” (rich people) and “losers” (pretty much everyone else). As Sarah Kliff explains in a separate story for Vox.com, the Republicans’ primary argument for supporting its healthcare efforts is a complete sham:

Republican lawmakers consistently claim that the Obamacare marketplaces are collapsing, so they need to pass a bill to repeal and replace the health law…

…The marketplaces, though, have refused to cooperate. They are not working perfectly — but they are far from ruinous demise, experts say. But the Republican replacement plan, introduced Thursday, could change that. It contains several provisions that could accelerate the crumbling of the marketplaces and leave millions of Americans with no health care options.

“Honestly, the marketplaces are in okay shape,” says David Anderson, a research associate at Duke University who studies the individual market. “The amount of competition isn’t where some people would like it to be, but this isn’t collapse.”

Republicans such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are all over the place on their talking points; Gardner, for example, was part of the Senate working group on the healthcare legislation, yet he insists that he never saw any of the bill’s proposed language until it was released to the public. And then there’s this nonsense from Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

 

► Jennifer Rubin, the conservative columnist for the Washington Post, doesn’t understand what Republicans are doing with Trumpcare:

Instead of getting run over by the right wing of their party, as their House counterparts did, Senate moderates have the chance to strike out on their own and come up with reforms that bolster the exchanges and that improve Medicaid. They can test Democrats’ promise to work constructively across the aisle. Conservatives, meanwhile, should understand that the bill is nothing more than a repudiation of their seven-year fight to repeal the ACA. They will leave a legacy that amounts to: Obamacare, but worse!

 

President Trump announced on Thursday that there are no tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director Jim Comey. Trump Tweeted the news a full 41 days after he first floated the idea on Twitter that such tapes might exist.

The Washington Post does a deep dive into how the Obama administration handled (or failed to handle) information that Russia was trying to influence the 2016 election. Regardless of how Obama handled the information, it is indisputable that Russia’s meddling was intended to help Trump win the Presidential election.

 

► Vice President Mike Pence is in Colorado Springs today to speak at a “Focus on the Family” anniversary event. Not everyone is happy to see the VP.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Gardner Desperate To Control Trumpcare Damage

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The past few days leading up to the formal release yesterday of the U.S. Senate’s so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the latest version of long-sought legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care overhaul the Affordable Care Act, have been a major disaster politically both for the Republican Party generally and the highest-ranking Republican in Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner.

Gardner was once considered one of the prime movers in a select panel of Republican Senators drafting that chamber’s version of an Obamacare repeal after the House’s much-celebrated bill was declared DOA owing to its…well, for lack of a better term, its casualty count. The failure of Republicans to craft legislation to repeal Obamacare without doing tremendous harm to the millions who have directly benefitted from the law is a growing political nightmare for Gardner, who campaigned heavily on the whole slate of factually-dubious arguments against Obamacare that were popular during the Tea Party movement of 2009-2010.

Yesterday, as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, the bad news continued to rain down on Gardner:

Gardner told Denver7 Wednesday he hadn’t seen a text version of the bill despite being one of a handful of Republicans working in small groups to craft the bill. Senate Republicans wrote their own bill after the House of Representatives passed its version, the American Health Care Act, in early May…

Gardner slammed those who he said were jumping to conclusions about the bill without fully analyzing it.

“It’s frustrating that instead of actually reviewing the legislative text some have decided to immediately oppose the bill before it was even introduced,” Gardner told Denver7 in a statement. “This deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, after the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency have been dominated by debate over the repeal of Obamacare, it’s absurd to claim that any reaction to this latest bill is “knee-jerk.” Everyone following this debate understands what Republicans are working toward here, and the overwhelming public opposition to basically every part of this repeal process is not going to be quelled by the relatively minor differences from one bill to another.

Somewhere in the midst of yesterday’s busy news cycle, it appears Team Gardner realized that “knee-jerk reaction” statement was itself not very well thought out. We quoted yesterday from a Denver Post story by reporter Mark Matthews, which frankly questioned Gardner’s complaints in the context of his purported leadership role in the drafting effort. Sometime yesterday afternoon, the story we quoted from was completely removed from the Denver Post’s website, and replaced with a new story at the same URL that contains none of the previous story’s context. Gardner’s “knee-jerk reaction” quote is nowhere to be found in the new story, in which Gardner is now quoted as wanting to slow down the process–and implying without any real confirmation from Gardner that he might oppose the bill he allegedly helped create.

What happened here, you ask? It’s pretty obvious, really, and we want to be clear that we’re not trying to beat up Matthews in calling this out. In the business of politics and political journalism in particular, a common tactic is known as “working the refs”–aggressively either courting or lambasting journalists as needed to cast a story in the most favorable frame possible. Matthews’ original version, which we have reprinted in its entirety after the jump for educational purposes, clearly did not please Gardner or his aides, and they took action to get it replaced.

Prevailing upon a reporter to completely rewrite a critical story into a much less critical one, especially after thousands of people saw the original, to us demonstrates clearly how nervous Gardner and his team is over this legislation. Gardner’s swiftly-eroding approval in his home state is most certainly weighing heavily on his mind, even with re-election still a few years away. As the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Gardner can also see the damage this is doing to candidates he has to get re-elected next year. This is not just a needle has has to thread for himself, but for his whole party. We’ll never know if Team Gardner was nice to Matthews about it, but to the news-consuming public, that’s not what matters.

The only thing that matters is what they read in the paper today. The original story in question follows.

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Will Gardner slip by reporters again on Planned Parenthood?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner built his political career in Colorado, and rallied grassroots Republican support, by opposing abortion, even for rape and incest. Part of that, of course, has meant that he’s opposed and vilified Planned Parenthood.

Now it appears that the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement legislation would remove federal funds for Planned Parenthood, just like the House version did.

And you’d expect Gardner to be fully on board with this.

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood two years ago, Gardner said,

“We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis in 2015.

He said the move would provide “more access” to men and women across the state, even though many low-income woman want to go to Planned Parenthood clinics for specific and understandable reasons, like privacy, trust, and convenience.

And even though no federal funds are used for abortions at Planned Parenthood, the organization provides abortions. In contrast, community health centers don’t offer abortion services that many woman obviously want available at their clinic of choice in the year 2017.

But Gardner apparently doesn’t think women care. When confronted with his extreme anti-choice positions during the 2014 election, Gardner responded by saying Democrat Mark Udall was trying to “distract voters” from the real issues.

Now Gardner should face the same question from reporters. Does he think women in Colorado care about Planned Parenthood? About the U.S. Senate’s and the Republican Party’s assault on abortion rights?

Gardner may try to say his opposition to Planned Parenthood isn’t about opposition to Planned Parenthood, just like he tried to say, during his last election campaign, that his support of abortion-ban legislation wasn’t support for an abortion ban.

Despite heroic efforts by journalists to untangle Gardner’s wordpile on his support for an abortion ban, packaged at the time as “personhood,” Gardner got away with it. He’s Colorado’s Senator.

Will he slip by again on Planned Parenthood?

Gardner Hasn’t Seen Healthcare Bill, Can’t Answer Specific Questions

UPDATE: The editorial board of the Denver Post essentially calls on Gardner to grow a spine:

Gardner needs to demand more transparency from his colleagues and be one of the two “no” votes that could stop this nonsense. The senator is a member of the panel that helped draft the bill, which put him in a place to demand much of the legislation. We’re told he’s been working behind the scenes to take input from the medical providers and experts in Colorado to make sure their concerns are reflected in the final version of the bill.

“Working behind the scenes?” That’s pretty generous to Gardner based on the Senator’s own words below…

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) posing with whatever is left of his credibility.

Blair Miller of Denver7 has been quietly making noise on the political beat in Colorado for several months now, but today he made a career quantum leap with a detailed interview with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) about the Senate healthcare legislation currently — and mysteriously — winding its way through Capitol Hill.

Among the many significant revelations in Miller’s interview with Gardner comes this stunning revelation: Gardner admits that he hasn’t even seen the text of the Senate healthcare legislation. Think about that for a minute. For months we have been led to believe that Gardner was heavily involved in crafting the Senate healthcare bill as one of the original “Group of 13” organized by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This was the next logical question to ask on the healthcare debate after Utah Sen. Mike Lee — also allegedly among the “select group” of 13 — admitted that he didn’t know what was in the legislation that McConnell is reportedly trying to rush to the floor before the July 4 holiday. Denver7’s Miller asked that question, and much, much more:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who is one of a handful of Senate Republicans working in small groups to craft the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act, said Wednesday he has still not seen a text version of the bill just a week before the full chamber is set to vote on it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday the text of the Senate’s version of the bill will likely be released Thursday, and that a vote on the bill is likely to happen before Congress goes on its July 4 holiday recess.

Gardner confirmed that he knew only what McConnell has so far said about the timing of the bill’s release and a vote.

“I have not [seen the bill’s text],” he told Denver7. “And what I’ve been told is a discussion draft will be released tomorrow, but I’ve not seen language or finalized language.” [Pols emphasis]

This is absolutely not a good look for Gardner, who has spent weeks championing a theoretical Senate bill on Trumpcare that he may or may not have even played a role in crafting.

Denver7 has posted a full transcript of Miller’s interview with Gardner, which apparently took place at 10:00 am (Mountain Time) this morning. We’d strongly encourage you to read the entire interview yourself, but after the jump we’ll break down some of the key pieces of this explosive discussion…

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“Con Man Cory” Finally Feeling The Heat

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports–as the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate prepares to unveil their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act tomorrow, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of the select group of GOP Senators allegedly involved with drafting the bill, is finally starting to buckle under the intense backlash against both the legislation and the secretive process by which it was written:

“It should be more open,” said the Colorado Republican in a brief interview. “I think there should be (Senate) hearings on this.”

But, Gardner said, the fault lies with U.S. politics writ large, rather than with him and other Senate Republican leaders, who are writing the bill and control the chamber’s agenda. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m disappointed that we have a Washington, D.C., so fundamentally broken that both sides of the aisle can’t come together to fix” health care, said Gardner, whose role as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee makes him one of the top GOP officials in the Senate…

Asked about the lack of Senate hearings, Gardner said it wasn’t his preference.

“I would love to see the Senate hold hearings. I would love that. I have said that before. I have said that for months,” Gardner said.

Unfortunately for Gardner, Matthews didn’t take his word on that last part:

Following the interview, his staff was asked to identify when exactly Gardner had called publicly for hearings; the response was that Gardner had done so whenever he had been asked about it, though no specific examples were cited. [Pols emphasis]

This new attempt by Gardner to distance himself from a process he was previously quite proud to identify as a leader of is a telling sign that things are not going well–and also that the fierce pushback Republicans are getting over this legislation is having an effect. As our readers know, Gardner has used the Affordable Care Act as his foremost political grandstand ever since his first run for Congress in 2010. Gardner relied on rank misinformation about “policy cancellations” to vilify the law, and even blamed the failure of health co-op organizations on Obama after he himself sponsored legislation to kill their funding. Through all of this, Gardner has relied on his ability to fast-talk and smile his way through the contradictions.

But now, the time for talk is over. The Senate’s repeal bill will be unveiled tomorrow, and just yesterday it became apparent that Gardner may not have been as involved in the drafting of the new legislation as we were led to believe. Regardless, how can Gardner complain about the lack of bipartisan cooperation on repealing Obamacare after his own years of provable deception about the law’s effects? How can Gardner claim the process “should be more open” when he won’t even meet with constituents to discuss it? And if Gardner truly wants hearings on the bill, why doesn’t he demand them?

Gardner has been successful in part because of his ability to stay just ahead of political disaster, making wholesale changes to his professed agenda to suit the politics of the race he’s running in. Today, though, Gardner is out of maneuvering room. It’s about to be painfully obvious how Gardner has deceived voters for years, and how the promises to replace Obamacare with “something better” were never intended to be kept.

As they say in the con man business, “the jig is up.”

Does Cory Gardner Even Know What’s In The Bill?

UPDATE #2: Via Talking Points Memo:

Rank-and-file Senate Republicans had one thing in common with their Democratic counterparts in the health care debate Tuesday: Most did not know exactly what is going to be in the GOP Obamacare repeal legislation expected to be unveiled Thursday and put up for a vote as soon as next week.

“Nobody really has a finalized health care bill. I don’t think anybody’s seen any kind of final text,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 3 in Senate GOP leadership, told reporters Tuesday…

…Asked Tuesday morning if lawmakers would see the text of a bill later this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I don’t know.”

Asked if she knew who is drafting the bill, Sen. Susan Collins (R-MN) said, “I do not.”

If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it…

—–

UPDATE: Local activists who have been in touch with Sen. Cory Gardner’s office recently, Tweeting since we posted this blog, would seem to confirm that Gardner is not in the loop for the latest iteration of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort despite allegedly being a member of the working group:

Seems like a really good question for the next reporter who gets Gardner on the line…

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, as our readers know, is one of a group of thirteen select Republican U.S. Senators who are allegedly crafting the Senate’s version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors–this despite repeated and explicit promises from Sen. Gardner that they would not do so.

All this time, we’ve been operating under the assumption that, as one of the small group of Senators tasked with writing up this new bill to replace the House’s “mean” and dead-on-arrival ACA repeal bill, that Sen. Gardner knew what was in it–and was keeping voters in the dark for political reasons.

But based on new public complaints from Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, another member of the “select group” allegedly authoring this bill, we’re wondering if Gardner has even seen the legislation he’s touting:

“Even though I’ve been a member of this working group assigned to help narrow some of the focus of this, I haven’t seen the bill. It has become increasingly apparent over the past few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing this bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us. It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate. [Pols emphasis] So, if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration wholeheartedly.”

Got that? Here we have a U.S. Senator, like Gardner in the small group allegedly working on this bill, who claims he has not seen the bill. Lee says the Senators publicly fronting this effort are not writing the bill at all, but that staffers for Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are the authors. And that presents a very straightforward question: how “in the loop” is Cory Gardner, really? For all of Gardner’s insistence that the bill “he’s” working on will be better than Obamacare, does he even know what’s in it to know if that’s true?

If it turns out that Gardner has been lying about his role in this process, it’s a severe hit on his credibility. And if it’s true that he hasn’t been involved in the drafting, he could be in the highly uncomfortable position of having to sell a bill that fails to meet his own stated benchmarks–like protecting the Medicaid expansion population.

Like we said last week, Gardner is rapidly approaching the moment of truth in terms of his years of factually-dubious demonization of Obamacare against the growing certainty that the GOP’s “replacement” is a disaster that will hurt millions of people.

If Gardner is flying blind like Mike Lee while insisting everything is fine, it’s going to end very badly for him.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 20)

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

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

It’s deja vu all over again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Headline from “The Onion” today.

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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A Few More Words About Political Violence in the Age of Trump

“Antifa” protester challenges Denver GOP at Denver Pride Parade.

The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports on an incident that local Republicans are super-eager to let you know about–some black-clad idiot who harassed Denver Republican marchers at yesterday’s Pride parade in Denver:

A masked protester accosted Denver Republicans preparing to take part in Sunday’s annual PrideFest Parade, yelling obscenities while attempting to remove a banner featuring a Donald Trump quotation from the county party’s parade entry, the party’s chairman told Colorado Politics…

“We had just started rolling with the parade and were handing out literature, when all of a sudden this young lady rolls up, all dressed in black and throws her face mask on and starts yelling,” Viano said, quoting a near-constant stream of obscenities, “as three others dressed just like her stood on the periphery. Then she grabbed our lit out of the vehicle, along with a black bag and a glass bottle of juice — she grabbed that and threw it on the ground, breaking the glass.”

Viano said bystanders helped retrieve the county party’s fliers, which reproduced the same Trump quotation depicted on the banners: “‘As president, I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens from attacks from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.’ Donald Trump, July 21, 2016, at the RNC.”

The woman tried to rip one of the banners from the side of the car but was unsuccessful, he said.

Denver Republicans released a 12-second video of this young woman accosting them, in which she most certainly made a bloody ass of herself and may well have committed misdemeanor assault by trying to rip literature out of the hands of a GOP parade marcher. Apparently she found the irony of Republicans marching in the Pride parade to be too much, even though they’ve been doing so for years now as Republicans have tried to present a “kinder face” on the issues of LGBT rights and marriage equality.

As the pendulum of popular anger has swung against Republicans in recent months, there’s been a tremendous pushback against what they perceive to be “liberal intolerance” of Republicans and the GOP’s agenda. Last week’s attack on Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virgina, carried out by a petty criminal with a record of anti-Trump and anti-GOP social media postings, has given Republicans an opening to bemoan “liberal violence” and turn public sympathy back towards themselves.

But as the AP reports today, liberals have no intention of being cowed:

Liberal groups resistant to Republican policies say they have no plans to change their tactics or approach after a gunman apparently driven by his hatred of President Donald Trump opened fire at a GOP baseball practice, grievously injuring a House Republican leader and several others…

[O]nline and on talk radio, several conservatives questioned whether aggressive opposition to all things Trump had created a dangerous climate, and some faulted those on the left. Rush Limbaugh said the shooter represented the “deranged base of the Democratic Party” and Michael Savage tweeted in caps, “I warned America the Dems constant drumbeat of hatred would lead to violence.”

“…It’s a real small percentage of people” on the left who ever engage in violence, said Yong Jung-Cho of the group All of Us. “This is the challenge of large social movements — there’s a lot of people in them.”

And liberals note that Trump praised people at his rallies who assaulted protesters and invited singer Ted Nugent, who once said Obama should “suck on my machine gun,” to the White House. Murshed Zaheed, political director of the liberal group Credo, said it took Trump three days to tweet about a white supremacist who allegedly fatally stabbed two men in Portland, Oregon, who had tried to get him to stop harassing Muslim women on a train. In contrast, Sanders delivered his Senate speech within hours of the shootings; he said Hodgkinson apparently was a former campaign volunteer.

“It’s not really an even-handed situation where you can compare both sides,” Zaheed said. [Pols emphasis]

It was inevitable that the swing of popular discontent to the Republican Party following President Donald Trump’s election would lead to plaintive charges from the right that Democrats were escalating into political violence. With that said, there are enormous differences between the rhetoric Democrats have used to motivate supporters recently versus Republicans during the Obama presidency. Abortion is one useful comparison: when abortion opponents claim with no qualifiers that “abortion is murder,” they are making an allegation that has no parallel among leftists. The demand for justice for “unborn babies murdered by abortion providers” is not equivalent to stating that, for example, throwing people off Medicaid will result in preventable deaths.

And that reminds us, has any Democratic lawmaker praised last week’s shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise like Rep. JoAnn Windholz praised the Planned Parenthood shooter? It’s not like we relish pointing this stuff out, but there is really no comparison between the sides here. To suggest otherwise obliges us to revisit a vast body of unpleasant evidence.

There’s no question that both sides have employed strong, even sometimes excessive rhetoric in today’s divided political climate–but it’s simply wrong to claim that there is equivalency between the two sides. What Ted Nugent has said about President Obama eclipses anything that Michael Moore has ever said about President Bush or Trump. And when it comes to political violence, the right has innumerable Robert Dears and Dylann Roofs to acknowledge before asking the left to take ownership of last week’s violence in Alexandria.

Because it’s a two-way street, folks.

Day of Reckoning Nears For Gardner’s Health Care Hypocrisy

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday joined several other Republican and Democratic governors in criticizing the House-passed version of the bill, saying it does not adequately protect millions of Americans and needs fixing.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, joined Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker (R), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in signing the letter criticizing the House version of the bill.

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. All the governors are from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The governors say that the House-passed version of the bill “calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington:

The concerns from Democrats come at a crucial moment for the AHCA, as the group of 13 Republican senators, including Gardner, continue to craft their bill in secrecy…

Gardner has been mostly mum on the bill, but in an interview with Colorado Politics published Friday, he said he wants to preserve protections for Medicaid recipients, which the House version gutted, and again said that the Affordable Care Act was “collapsing.”

He also told Colorado Politics that the Affordable Care Act was “passed in the most partisan of fashions” and that “not a single Republican vote was part of it,” despite Democrats holding months of open hearings while crafting the bill.

In February, Gardner himself said, “It’s important to me that this debate be open and that the American people see what’s happening and taking place,” according to a transcript from HuffPost. “I think as this committee hearings and legislation is being drafted, it’s not going to be something behind closed doors. Everybody is going to be a part of it.”

Sen. Cory Gardner’s first election to Congress in 2010 was built around fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. After Gardner won election, he returned to the legislation over and over as a centerpiece in his personal message against both health reform and the Obama administration in general. Gardner falsely claimed that hundreds of thousands of Coloradans had their “coverage cancelled” by Obamacare, when in truth those consumers were being migrated to plans that included Obamacare’s requirements for better coverage. Colorado’s rate of uninsured did not grow despite Gardner’s complaints about “cancellations,” instead dropping to historic lows as thousands gained coverage from the insurance marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid.

Before Trump’s election made repeal an actual possibility, Gardner routinely voted for bills that would have repealed Obamacare without any considerations for the Medicaid expansion population, persons with pre-existing conditions, or others who have benefited. At the same time, Gardner voted for various proposals that severely weakened Obamacare, like refusing to fund health co-ops and then blaming Obama for their insolvency.

After all of that, successful politics even though it has been a fundamentally deceptive campaign of bad faith and self-fulfilling prophecy, we finally have arrived at the moment Cory Gardner and the GOP has been working toward since 2010: where Republicans have total control in Washington and can replace Obamacare with whatever they want.

And it’s not working out, folks. The House celebrated passage of a bill that the Senate immediately declared DOA due to its devastating effect on millions of people now reaping the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate’s closed-door working group of 13 Republicans claims to be close to finalizing their completely different legislation, which reportedly offers only small concessions from the House bill–the full effects being unknown because the bill is being drafted in secret, exactly what Gardner promised would not happen.

This untenable situation looks ready to come to a head. If Gardner’s group can’t produce a bill that the conservative House will approve, the entire exercise is colossal a waste of time. But Gardner can’t produce a bill the House will pass without breaking even more promises than the promise to not do this behind closed doors. Either way, six years of Gardner’s misinformation and scare tactics are about to meet reality. And Gardner has nowhere to point the finger now except himself.

It’s one of those things that politicians should always consider–what happens if this works? There’s no question that Cory Gardner’s crusade against Obamacare helped him in his rise to one of the most powerful members of the United States Senate.

But now, literally and figuratively, the bill is due.

Gardner links protests at his office with the shooting in Washington DC

(Does this mean they’re not “paid protesters” anymore? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In an appearance on conservative radio Thursday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner pointed to prop-filled protests at his office as examples of rhetoric that should be toned down in the wake of  Wednesday’s shooting in Washington DC.

In an apparent reference to die-ins and other demonstrations staged in front of Gardner’s office to illustrate the point that GOP Obamacare replacement would actually result in deaths of people who lose health insurance, Gardner linked the DC shooting to “people showing up with coffins in offices around the country” and “people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office.”

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

Since Trump’s victory in November, activist groups have staged die-ins in front of Gardner’s office. One May 9 “die in,”  organized by Protect Our Care Colorado, Denver OFA, and Front Range MoveOn, was promoted on Facebook this way:

“Bring your signs and noisemakers and wear slings, back braces, and other visual reminders that Trumpcare will seriously injure our country’s health care system! Feel free to dress in black and bring posters written like gravestones that list the reason you died: (i.e., RIP: Lack of Maternity Care, RIP: Coverage Denied, RIP: High Premiums, RIP: Cancer, Denied Coverage).”

Other Denver-based activist groups, including Indivisible Denver, have staged die-ins and funerals at the State Capitol to oppose the repeal of Obamacare and other Trump initiatives.

Activist group representatives could not be reached for comment Friday.

It’s a fact that, along with the loss of health insurance resulting from the repeal of Obamacare, would come deaths. Experts differ on the scope and the trade-offs involved, but it’s objectively a legitimate point being made protesters with props and costumes, which are clearly aimed at grabbing attention. And for good reason, activists say.

On the radio, Gardner didn’t address deaths that would be caused by potential Obamacare repeal.

“You’ve got people in coffins showing up to the offices,” Gardner told KCOL’s morning host Jimmy Lakey Thursday. “It’s almost as if they’ve allowed politics to become some sort of religion, and anyone who disagrees with them is a challenge to their faith. That is not a good situation for the discourse of this country.”

Asked by KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer whether the “nasty political rhetoric the cause of this type of violence,” Gardner said, “We’ve got more to learn.” He went on to say,

Gardner: You know, The Hill is reporting that FBI officials told The Hill that the shooting appeared to have been planned and, on the surface, appeared politically motivated. And you know, that the rhetoric, the discourse, is elevated to a point where, you know, left, right—you know, both sides have to stop this rhetoric. I mean, when you have people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office, — when we have people showing up with coffins in offices around the country, when you have people holding up the head of the president — decapitated head of the president, when you — you know, when you have people who are, you know, accusing other people of killing people.

In 2009, Tea Party activists dressed as the Grim Reaper to denounce Obamacare and the liberal agenda.

(more…)

Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

(more…)

Gardner promised Obamacare replacement wouldn’t be drafted “behind closed doors”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During a conference call in February, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner assured worried constituents that they would have plenty of opportunities to weigh in on any legislation to replace Obamacare.

“It’s important to me that this debate be open and that the American people see what’s happening and taking place,” said Gardner. “So Sandy, I think as this committee hearings and legislation is being is drafted, it’s not going to be something behind closed doors, everybody is going to be a part of it. It’s important that we get this right.”

Now, about four months later, the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate, which includes Gardner himself, has no plans to hold public hearings on their Obamacare replacement legislation, currently being drafted in secret by 13 senators, including Gardner.

As U.S. Senate President Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained this week after invoking a rule that would move the health-care bill to a full Senate vote with little or no chance for amendments:

“We’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years. It’s not a new thing,” McConnell said, arguing that there was little new left to be discussed in a public forum.

“Nobody’s hiding the ball here,” he said. “You’re free to ask anybody anything. But there have been gazillions of hearings on this subject, when they were in the majority, when we were in the majority. We understand this issue pretty well and we’re now working on coming up with a solution.”

Despite his previous promises, Gardner hasn’t objected to the secrecy–and it doesn’t appear that reporters have asked him about it.

But U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has objected, saying she “has a problem with it” and the secrecy is “just not a good way to handle something that is as significant and important as health care.”

In fact, Gardner has said very little of substance about the senate bill. But based on what he has said, he’s apparently not fighting to keep 400,000 Coloradans on the Obamacare health insurance rolls but instead is advocating for throwing them off slowly, in a “glide path.”

Gardner is doubling down on hypocrisy here, because he’s been apoplectic for years over what he says was Democrats’ failure to offer sufficient public input into the formulation of Obamacare, even though, in 2009 with Democrats in control, the full U.S. Senate debated the Obamacare bill for 25 straight days, the Senate Health Committee held 60 hours of public hearings, and the Senate Finance Committee considered 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes.

“This President [Obama] has claimed to be one of the most transparent in history, yet his health care overhaul was passed behind closed doors and ended up cutting $500 billion from Medicare,” Gardner said in 2013. “The American people deserve better than that.”

And Gardner repeated this false accusation just three months ago on KNUS 710-AM.

“This is an idea [the Obamacare replacement] that will go through regular order, through committees, and have an opportunity to be openly debated and talked about — something that is completely different than what happened six years ago when the Affordable Care Act was written behind closed doors and the leadership offices, and then crammed down on the Senate floor directly,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger. “So, this is something that is going to go through an open process — regular order.”

Gardner is in a good position to influence the senate’s health-care bill, not only due to his Senate leadership role but also as a member of the committee of 13 senators selected by McConnell that’s drafting the senate’s Obamacare replacement in secret. Gardner was among a group of senators who had lunch with Trump Tuesday to discuss the legislation.

Gardner continued to keep his cards close to his chest this week, saying he’s not seen any text of the bill and not offering any details.

It appears that Senate Republicans plan to send their legislation to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for a “score.” A quick vote by the House Republicans last month came before the CBO analysis, which later showed that 14 million more people uninsured next year and 12 million more within 10 years.

On conservative talk radio in March, Gardner suggested that the dismantlement of Obamacare should begin without a CBO analysis, thus avoiding public outcry over the prospect of so many people losing health insurance.

(more…)

Gardner Wants To End, Not Protect, Insurance Coverage For 400,000 Coloradans

(Words mean things – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Back in March, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner joined fellow Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, in stating that “we will not support a [Obamacare replacement] plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.”

Since then, Portman and Capito have added a measure of definition to this vague statement by endorsing a seven-year phaseout of Obama’s Medicaid expansion, which provided over 400,00 Coloradans with health insurance. Portman called it a “glide path” that would gradually reduce federal Medicaid funding to the states beginning in 2020.

But Murkowski and Gardner are refusing to discuss their current thinking on the Medicaid expansion. The Hill asked Murkowski twice last week if she’d agree to a gradual phaseout, and she declined to say.

In May, Gardner declined to answer a direct question from The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews about whether he supports the plan, in the Obamacare replacement bill passed by the House, to begin the Medicaid-expansion phaseout in 2020.

But Gardner did tell Matthews,“We need to have a glide path that works for the states.”

In the absence of more details from Gardner, journalists are on solid ground reporting that Gardner is on board with ending the Obamacare Medicaid program that covers over 400,000 Coloradans. The only question is the time frame, the number of years in the glide path.

And journalists are also completely justified in reporting that Gardner’s phaseout doesn’t square Gardner’s promise to defend the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, as stated in the The Denver Post’s March 6 article headlined, “Sen. Cory Gardner defends Medicaid expansion as GOP reveals Obamacare replacement.”

During the 2014 campaign, and ever since the first Ryan budget introduced a partial privatization of Medicare, the often repeated message from Gardner was that making dramatic cuts to health programs was a way to protect them for future generations.

Now Gardner is talking about a “glide path.”

These sort of policy justifications can make sense within their own inverted logic, but the plain meaning of the words are likely lost on the average voter. Journalists have the burden of making sure the facts are presented alongside the spin.

Caption This Photo: Cory Gardner Shown To Scale!

A photo that appeared on the Twitters this week, from a middle school tour of the U.S. Capitol hosted by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner–like putting a quarter (or a banana) into a photo to provide some objective measurement of size:

Never realized Gardner was such a “small businessman,” did you? After all, it’s so rare to see him in public.

Well folks, now you know. Big hair. Small Cory.