Little Love For Owen Hill In Poll That’s Great For Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Ernest Luning at the former Colorado Statesman reports:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn holds a 10-point lead over Darryl Glenn in the crowded 5th Congressional District’s Republican primary race just two weeks before mail ballots go out, according to a new survey released Wednesday by GOP polling firm Magellan Strategies.

Lamborn, seeking his seventh term, tops the field of five Republicans, with 37 percent of likely primary voters picking the incumbent if the election in the Colorado Springs-focused district were held today. Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, follows with 27 percent, and state Sen. Owen Hill comes in third with 10 percent support.

Tyler Stevens, a former mayor of Green Mountain Falls, and Bill Rhea, a former Texas state judge, bring up the rear at 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

With two relatively well-known GOP primary challengers this year in the form of El Paso County commish and 2016 U.S. Senate nominee Darryl Glenn alongside state Sen. Owen Hill, this poll reflects what’s setting up once again as a best-case scenario for incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn. Lamborn’s undistinguished record in Congress leads to discontent just about every election from CD-5’s conservative Republican base, but the challengers never seem to quite have it together.

This year looks to be no different. Lamborn’s 10-point lead over Glenn, who is turn in a surprising 17 points ahead of Owen Hill, means that once again the opposition to Lamborn is fatally split between multiple primary challengers. Because most voters in this overwhelmingly Republican congressional district would write-in Donald Duck before voting for any Democratic candidate, the net result is another two years of rubber-stamp mediocrity in a district that would support far more inspiring Republican representation.

We don’t mind admitting we’re a little surprised by Sen. Hill’s weakness in this race, since those who know him from his service in the state senate would consider him to be the more formidable challenger to Lamborn. That’s credit you have to give to Glenn, just like we did in 2016 when he won the GOP Senate primary–even if it doesn’t change the end result.

Better luck in 2020 is all we can wish to Colorado’s foremost conservative stronghold.

This is Really Not a Good Year for Incumbent Republicans

Clockwise from top left: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo. Springs).

Four states held Primary elections on Tuesday (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia), and perhaps the biggest takeaway from those results is this: 2018 is a terrible year to be an incumbent Republican.

As the Washington Post reports:

Republican members of the House fared especially poorly Tuesday in primaries across four states, offering fresh evidence that this fall will bring another change election and a new batch of outsiders promising to shake up Washington.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger was felled by former Baptist pastor Mark Harris despite a massive spending advantage, an outcome that caught D.C. Republicans off guard. Harris portrayed the third-term lawmaker as a creature of “the swamp” and relentlessly hammered him over his March vote for the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Pittenger is the first incumbent of either party to be forced out of Congress this year.

In the primary to take on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), wealthy businessman Mike Braun won an upset over two GOP congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who have been rivals since college and spent months beating the tar out of each other.

In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) lost to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

The fifth Republican Member of Congress (from Tuesday alone) who will not be returning to the House in 2019 is Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who won the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate in unspectacular fashion; Renacci managed just 47% of the vote against four unknown candidates despite plenty of campaign support from President Trump.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza includes all Members of Congress in his list of “Losers” from Tuesday, though we’re really only talking about Republicans here:

There was a time when being a sitting member of Congress was a major advantage when running statewide. You had a political base and a fundraising base. Those days are done — at least for now.

Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is regularly fighting for his political life, but 2018 may be his toughest challenge yet should Jason Crow emerge from the Democratic Primary (which is likely). Polling results released in February showed Crow with a 5-point lead over Coffman, marking the first time a public poll showed Coffman trailing anyone since he was first elected in CD-6 in 2008.

Recent polling also shows Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) to be in serious trouble this fall, thanks in large part to his support for the Great Republican Tax Cut for Rich People and his regular enthusiasm for gutting health care benefits.

In CD-5, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) almost failed to make the June Primary ballot altogether, though he’ll still have a tough fight for his seat against three four Republican challengers. Our final incumbent Republican is Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who is probably safe because of a combination of relatively-weak Democratic challengers and a sustained effort to build a more “independent” image; still, it’s worth pointing out that Buck seriously considered abandoning his seat in CD-4 last fall in order to run for Attorney General.

We’re still six months out from the General Election, but disdain for GOP incumbents partnered with a growing blue wave should make the rest of 2018 very uncomfortable for at least two long-tenured Republican Members of Congress in Colorado.

Lamborn Makes The Ballot Because Election Law Means Squat

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

That’s the word from Denver7’s busy political reporter Blair Miller:

Six-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn will get the chance to try for a seventh term, as a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Lamborn should be on the Republican primary ballot in Colorado’s 5th congressional district.

U.S. District Court of Colorado Judge Philip A. Brimmer made the ruling Tuesday afternoon, a day after Lamborn’s attorney argued that Colorado’s residency requirement for signature gatherers violated the U.S. Constitution…

The group that had originally petitioned to get Lamborn off the ballot will appeal to the 10th Circuit and hope that ballot certification will be postponed further, a spokesman for the group, Kyle Fisk, told Denver7.

“We are disappointed that a federal chose to overrule the unanimous decision of the Colorado Supreme Court as well as overturn the will of the people of Colorado as expressed by their elected representatives,” Fisk said in a statement sent to Denver7. “We have filed an immediate appeal to the 10th Circuit. We have also requested that Secretary Williams not be allowed to certify the ballot until the 10th Circuit hears the appeal.”

It’s a decision that effectively upends Colorado law on petition signature gathering, and there will be fallout from this decision that could seriously weaken the ability of not just Colorado, but other states to regulate their own election processes. At the same time, there’s the argument, apparently successful in federal court, that a six-term incumbent member of Congress should not be forced off the ballot by a technicality.

For the record, we don’t buy that argument for a minute. And the can of worms opened today, just so Colorado’s least beloved member of Congress can get another two years of uninspired representation of Colorado’s foremost conservative bastion, will in all probability not be worth the trouble.

Why Lamborn? Because Petitions Suck And So Does Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews offers a revealing look at the backstory behind what appears to be a serious effort to do away with Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress–Rep. Doug Lamborn, who has plodded along as conservative Colorado Springs’ undistinguished representative for over a decade mostly by dividing his opposition into manageable factions:

If U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn loses his seat in Congress because of a courtroom fight, the Colorado Springs lawmaker can point a finger at a few supporters of Republican rival Owen Hill…

Hill, a state senator who worked with [attorney Michael] Francisco in 2016 to challenge rules against “ballot selfies,” took a similar tact.

Asked whether he had a connection to the lawsuit, Hill said, “I’m not touching anything” to do with it.

Interest in these players has spiked in the aftermath of Monday’s major decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that found Lamborn broke the rules when he tried to qualify for the June 26 primary.

Matthews explains a number of pertinent facts in the story of Lamborn’s imperiled re-election. Yes, there are individuals connected to the lawsuit challenging Lamborn’s petitions who support Lamborn’s primary challenger Sen. Owen Hill. But more importantly, Matthews explains the longer history of Lamborn’s perennially dicey re-election in his safe Republican district as lingering bad blood among fellow Republicans combines with Lamborn’s uninspiring small-ball record in Congress. Lamborn’s record contains more many more embarrassments than highlights, and Lamborn’s automaton partisan voting has not been enough to shield him from criticism that he’s just not a good leader in a district that would support charismatic conservative leadership.

As a result, Lamborn has had to fight hard in Republican primaries in most elections since 2006, surviving more than once only because opponents split their votes between multiple primary challengers. Although Lamborn’s seat is safe for the GOP, Lamborn has been the member of Colorado’s delegation most personally vulnerable in every election year.

So, there’s that. Combine that weakness with the continuing scandal over petition signature gathering in Colorado, which exploded in 2016 with the flameout of Jon Keyser’s Senate campaign and has safe to say has not been resolved despite being addressed legislatively in 2017, and what you have here is a perfect storm lining up to take out an incumbent member of Congress. When gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton requested that his petitions collected by the same contractor as Lamborn’s be invalidated due to fraud, Stapleton pulled the rug out from under the Lamborn’s re-election campaign. Nobody forced Lamborn to ditch the caucus process and petition on to the ballot–he did that because he knew from experience the caucuses wouldn’t go well.

In short, Colorado has a petition problem. But in addition, Colorado Springs has a Doug Lamborn problem, and the two storylines are distinct even as they intertwine to make Lamborn’s re-election suddenly less likely. That the ballot in Colorado can be accessed via fraud as a substitute for popular support allows weak politicians like Doug Lamborn to thrive to the detriment of everyone.

Don’t weep for Doug Lamborn. From either angle, his is a bed long in the making.

Rep. Doug Lamborn Appears to be Finished

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is hosed.

As the Denver Post reports, incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is about to get retired:

Six-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs should not be on the Republican primary ballot this year, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The ruling finds in favor of a lawsuit that contended Lamborn didn’t properly petition his way onto the ballot…

…A lower court earlier this month largely sided with Lamborn that he had enough signatures to be on the ballot, but the opposition appealed, leading to the Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled a circulator for Lamborn’s campaign did not meet the state’s residency test and the signatures he collected from voters are “invalid and may not be considered.” Without the signatures, Lamborn fell short of the 1,000 needed to make the ballot, the court ruled.

This is a surprising turn of events for Lamborn, if only because recent history has shown that Colorado courts tend to rule on the side of ballot access in disputes over petition signatures. We would imagine that Lamborn’s campaign will do whatever it can to appeal this decision, but he may be out of luck. Marshall Zelinger of 9News happened to catch this reaction from state Sen. Owen Hill, one of two Republican candidates challenging for Lamborn’s seat:

State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates

With both the Democratic and Republican state assemblies/conventions now behind us, we’ve made a multitude of updates to The Big Line. If you’re looking for information on who made the ballot and who didn’t, you’ll find those updates in The Big Line. If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Colorado, you will not find that information in The Big Line. If you’re looking for an analysis of the 2018 races for Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Congress…it’s in The Big Line.

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

Wait, What? (Doug Lamborn Edition)

(Not) Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, there is a legal challenge underway that could knock incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn off of the June Primary ballot if successful:

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by five Republican voters is asking a judge to remove U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn from the 5th Congressional District’s GOP primary ballot, alleging petition circulators hired by Lamborn didn’t meet legal requirements to gather signatures for his campaign.

The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, claims Lamborn fell more than 400 signatures short of the 1,000 needed to qualify for the June primary. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said last week that Lamborn had submitted 1,269 valid signatures.

The highlight of this story, however, might just be this completely weird response from Lamborn’s campaign:

In a statement, Lamborn’s campaign dismissed the lawsuit’s argument.

“The campaign for Lamborn for Congress stands by the determination of the Secretary of State’s office that the signatures are sufficient,” a campaign spokesperson who refused to give his or her name wrote in a text message to Colorado Politics. [Pols emphasis]

Well, okay then.

The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner

Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

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

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

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

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

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

House Passes Final GOP Tax Bill

UPDATE: The star-crossed story continues:

The House is expected to have to vote again Wednesday on Republicans’ sweeping tax legislation after several provisions were ruled out of order in the Senate.

However, it is not likely to stop the momentum for long, with the legislation still on track to be delivered to President Donald Trump this week. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday night after striking the provisions, which relate to expanding tax-advantaged college savings accounts and taxing college endowments.

The stumble is an embarrassment for Republicans, who just hours before were celebrating on the House floor and getting kudos from Trump for passing the landmark bill and sending it to the Senate. It also plays into the hands of Democrats who have been saying the speed with which Republicans are pushing the plan through is a recipe for chaos.

—–

Just in time for Christmas, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

“While distractors will spell every myth and scare tactic under the sun, at the end of the day, this bill will help working and middle-class families by doubling both the child tax credit and the standard deduction,” said [Rep. Mike] Coffman in a statement prior to the vote.

“This pro-growth and pro-family bill will put more money into the pockets of hard-working Coloradans,” he added.

The tax measure, which has flown through both houses of Congress in recent weeks, has attracted widespread opposition for the tax breaks it provides to corporations and the wealthy, as well as the $1 trillion it’s expected to add to the federal deficit.

No  taking it back now–apparently none of the changes to the bill, including those that undid key defenses Rep. Mike Coffman himself had offered for voting yes, were enough to persuade Coffman to stand in the way of paying back the donors. With this vote the U.S. House in 2017 can finally lay claim to something resembling an accomplishment. So there’s that.

Now the voters will judge Coffman’s actions, and based on the polling that doesn’t look promising.

Coffman, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn Give Wind Power The Shaft

From top left: Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Rep. Scott Tipton.

A press release before the holiday break from American Wind Energy Association condemns passage of the GOP-controlled House version of the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”–which contains a provision that won’t be good for jobs in one important industry to Colorado:

The U.S. House of Representatives missed an opportunity to stand up for 60,000 American workers and preserve $50 billion in private infrastructure investment. The tax reform bill passed by the House retroactively changes how businesses can qualify for wind energy’s primary investment tools, the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which are already on a path to phase out by 2019.

“The House tax bill, far from being pro-business, would kill over half of new wind farms planned in the U.S. and undermine one of the country’s fastest growing jobs,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The wind industry tax reformed ourselves with bipartisan agreement in 2015. The Senate tax proposal gets it right by respecting those terms. Congress must act immediately in conference to drop the House provisions on the PTC and ITC, to restore the confidence of businesses ready to pour billions of dollars into job-creating American infrastructure.”

The House bill undermines wind development by implementing a retroactive change to qualification rules for wind energy tax credits. Because businesses can’t go back in time to requalify for the credits after ordering wind turbines and inking construction contracts, tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment could be lost, and new business has stalled. The House bill would also terminate an inflation adjustment, significantly cutting the value of the PTC.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), with wind power turbines in a 2014 campaign ad.

In an op-ed in the Pueblo ChieftainJohn Purcell of Houston-based Leeco Steel calls out Republicans who voted to kill the wind energy production tax credit:

By breaking its promise to the wind industry, Congress wouldn’t just hurt the investors, manufacturers and developers whose deals are undermined. The harmful effects of the House bill would have a ripple effect across the wind energy supply chain, ultimately harming thousands of American workers and families.

No American job is safe if Congress can change the terms of business contracts years after agreements are signed and billions of dollars are spent. That’s not pro-growth tax reform, that’s bad business.

The people who benefit from wind energy in this country are not strangers. They are the backbone of our communities, our returning veterans, our teachers, nurses, neighbors and family members.

Voting to hurt the wind power industry is a particularly toxic vote for Colorado Republicans. Rep. Scott Tipton’s district includes the Vestas wind tower manufacturing plant, and Rep. Ken Buck’s hometown of Windsor is home to a Vestas blade factory. Numerous smaller companies in Colorado support the wind power industry, from manufacturing to installation to operations.

And yet all four Colorado Republicans in the House voted to kill the wind power production tax credit. Don’t you think somebody should ask them why they voted directly, transactionally to kill Colorado jobs for the sake of tax cuts for the richest Americans?

In the Senate, the current tax “reform” legislation under debate does not include cuts to the wind power production tax credit. Although there are Republicans in that chamber who have paid lip service to supporting wind power including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, it’s anybody’s guess whether Senators beholden to the fossil fuel industry will try to reinsert this provision–or if it does get out of the Senate with the wind power production credit intact, when the next attempt to slow down renewable energy will be made.

But we do know four Colorado Republicans who voted against this industry with a crucial role in Colorado’s economy one week ago. And they can’t take it back.

Just How Safe Is Colorado’s Most Worthless Congressman?

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports–Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who has weathered numerous primary challenges ever since winning his own cut-throat Republican contest to succeed now-long retired (and fondly remembered) Rep. Joel Hefley, has stepped into scandal just as he prepares to face a whole pack of fresh Republican faces in 2018:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs bought shares of stock in a company at the center of a recent congressional ethics investigation into possible insider trading involving one of his House colleagues…

Lamborn and his wife bought stock in the company in 2016 and again in 2017. Financial disclosures show the couple currently owns between $30,000 and $102,000 of Innate stock.

But the six-term congressman is refusing to answer questions from The Denver Post about his stock purchases, declining multiple interview requests through a spokesman.

An inauspicious development for sure, as Frank points out the trouble:

The ethics investigation comes at a precipitous time for Lamborn. Four fellow Republicans are now challenging him in the party’s 2018 primary, including state Sen. Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner and unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn.

For readers who haven’t followed the primary machinations in what is traditionally considered Colorado’s safest Republican congressional district, Lamborn won his congressional seat in 2006 in that year’s GOP primary. Two years later, Lamborn survived a narrow and contentious victory over activist Jeff Crank that was largely the result of opposition to Lamborn being split between Crank and a third candidate, former Gen. Bentley Rayburn. Since that time Lamborn has used the power of incumbency and rubber-stamp support for anything the military-industrial backbone of his district’s economy wants to ward off primary challengers. And naturally, whatever Focus on the Family wants too.

The problem for Lamborn is that he has failed to distinguish himself in any meaningful way after over a decade in Congress–much like his service in the Colorado legislature, where he was best known for his campaign to swap the names of Mount Democrat and Republican Mountain so the latter would be taller. He has not significantly advanced in House leadership, and has essentially no legislative accomplishments to point to. With an ideologically strident electorate in El Paso County, this is a seat that could support a far more vocal and agenda-driven conservative leader.

Instead, they’ve had the opposite. And the big pack of comparatively big names coming after Lamborn in 2018 is strong evidence of dissatisfaction. Lamborn’s insipid and uninspiring brand of leadership is just not what today’s energized conservative base wants and everybody knows it–including Lamborn’s own handlers.

Add in a little scandal, and Lamborn could easily be shown the door.

The biggest obstacle for CD-5 conservatives looking to rid themselves of their milquetoast congressman, just as in 2006, is that Lamborn’s opposition is splitting behind too many (meaning more than one) qualified opponents. As of now, the most likely outcome of the battle for second place emerging between Sen. Owen Hill and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn is another term for Doug Lamborn. It’s not like anybody can dictate to these ambitious politicians what’s best for the district, but if they could flip a coin or something and the winner gets to go head-to-head against Lamborn they’d be doing their overall cause a favor.

We would suggest arm-wrestling, but Hill is going to lose.

The Greatest Tax Reform Proposal in the History of Never

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to press the ‘NO’ button on the budget today.

The House of Representatives today passed its 2018 budget resolution in a party-line vote, the first step for Congressional Republicans are they endeavor to mold some sort of amazing tax “reform” policy. Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Doug Lamborn (R-Imbecile), and Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) voted in favor of the budget; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to vote ‘NO,’ where he was joined by all three Democrats from the state’s delegation.

As The Hill reports:

In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate…

…The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections.

Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated. [Pols emphasis]

Trouble? Wait…you mean to say that Congressional Republicans aren’t unified about how to overhaul the nation’s tax laws?

The problem Republicans are facing with tax reform legislation is strangely similar to what they ran into with repeated attempts at repealing Obamacare: Lawmakers are starting to understand that what they’re being sold by GOP leadership is vastly different than what the tax proposal would actually accomplish. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Trump are in general agreement on a set of talking points that are about as authentic as a Rex Tillerson press conference. Trump and friends are trying to sell a 1988 Ford Taurus with talking points from a Ferrari dealership, and Republicans aren’t buying it:

Senator Paul is far from the only Republican confused by this new tax proposal. As NPR reports:

President Trump and congressional Republicans have pitched their tax plan as a boost for the middle class.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with lawmakers in mid-September.

But analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who studied the proposal reached a very different conclusion. They predict that nearly three-quarters of the savings from the tax overhaul would go to the top 20 percent of earners — those making more than $149,000. More than half the savings would go to the top 1 percent — people who earn more than $732,800. [Pols emphasis] The tax breaks are even more tilted to the wealthy by the 10th year of the overhaul, when the Tax Policy Center projects nearly 80 percent of the savings would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

Republican leaders want to sell this proposal as a huge — YUGE! — benefit to the American middle class, but the math doesn’t add up. It’s no wonder that Senate Republicans are trying to get rid of a rule that requires a CBO score of legislation to be made public for at least 28 hours before a vote. Again, from NPR:

The tax benefits for the rich in the GOP plan are direct, obvious and easily quantified. Many of the promised benefits for the middle class, on the other hand, are indirect, speculative and uncertain…

So how do the tax plan’s supporters claim that it’s focused on the middle class? By highlighting speculative, indirect gains that are supposed to result from economic growth…

…Rather than simply promise that the government will cut the tax bill for working families — many of whom pay little income tax already — the GOP is arguing that its tax plan will promote growth, which in turn will boost employment, and over time result in higher wages. Break any link of that chain and the middle-class “winnings” end up in someone else’s pocket. [Pols emphasis]…

And so on, and so forth, until the middle class becomes so obscenely wealthy that they have to start lobbying for another round of tax cuts for rich people like them. This theory of “supply side economics,” or as it came to be known in the Reagan era, “trickle-down economics” does not work. We don’t have to speculate about whether or not it could work. It doesn’t. There is plenty of data to prove this. It is (again) no wonder why President Trump’s administration recently suppressed a 2012 report from the Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) that essentially lays bare the fact that this tax proposal would do the exact opposite of what Trump claims would happen.

The NPR story we cited above is an excellent resource for understanding the ins and outs of the Republican tax plan, but it’s a bit of a long read. For an even more briefer-er look, we put together this graphic to help you understand Republican math on healthcare and tax reform. If any of this makes sense to you, then you might be a Member of Congress:

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 17)

On this day 11 years ago, it was 2006. 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…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) isn’t up for re-election until 2020, but he has a LOT of work to do just to win back his Republican base. Conservative writer Jennifer Rubin absolutely dismantled Gardner in a column yesterday in the Washington Post titled “Cory Gardner Has a Choice: Voters or Trump.” Here’s an excerpt:

Gardner has sacrificed his integrity and betrayed the confidence voters place in him to be an independent-minded voice. And for what? His reputation has suffered, his profile has fallen…

…It’s Gardner’s moral absenteeism that reminds all voters how unworthy of office are Trump and his go-along Republicans. Anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats should get ready for 2020 — they can and should have the chance to knock him out of office.

Yikes! It has not been a good week for Sen. Gardner. Maybe he’ll feel better tomorrow after he hosts a fundraiser tonight in Denver along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

President Trump is on a mission to burn every bridge imaginable, and it may only be a matter of time before he is forced to answer his own phones in the White House. As Politico reports, Trump is essentially just an orang-er version of that angry old man down the street who shakes his fist at kids for running on his lawn:

President Donald Trump’s decision to double down on his argument that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven in part by his own anger — and his disdain for being told what to do…

…The controversy over his response to the Charlottesville violence was no different. Agitated about being pressured by aides to clarify his first public statement, Trump unexpectedly unwound the damage control of the prior two days by assigning blame to the “alt-left” and calling some of the white supremacist protesters “very fine people.”

“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting.”

That thing about the old guy down the street? We take that back. Trump is 9-years-old. You’re not the boss of me!!!

Never content to let a divisive issue settle, Trump is now raging about the removal of statues that celebrate the Confederate Army. From the Washington Post:

President Trump on Thursday mourned the loss of “beautiful statues and monuments” in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville during a white supremacist demonstration protesting the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee.

Trump’s string of morning tweets made clear the president was not willing to back down over his claims Tuesday that some of the demonstrators had legitimate grievances over the loss of Southern “history,” and that “both sides” were to blame in the mayhem that left a woman dead and at least 19 more injured. Trump made those claims a day after he had belatedly condemned the neo-Nazi and Klux Klan groups that organized the Unite the Right rally. Politicians from both parties have criticized the president for inflaming racial tensions and failing to provide clear moral leadership for the nation.

History may well show that Trump’s Presidency truly did collapse this week. Hell, even Brick Tamland Rep. Doug Lamborn is condemning Trump’s comments about white supremacists in no uncertain terms.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Even Doug Lamborn Is Dissing Trump Now

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, that’s everybody:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn pushed back against President Donald Trump’s Tuesday comments that “there is blame on both sides” for weekend violence in Virginia, saying any statements that in any way embolden white supremacists are wrong.

“The KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and nationalists are abhorrent,” the El Paso County Republican said. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong.”

Trump remarks on his home turf at Trump Tower in New York City backtracked on a more deliberate statement he made Monday in Washington condemning those hate groups. He angrily placed blame on liberal groups on Tuesday in addition to white supremacists for the Charlottesville, Va., violence. Some of those protesting the rally to save a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were “also very violent,” he said.

“There are two sides to a story,” he said. He added that some facts about the violence in Charlottesville still aren’t known.

Not to be gratuitously insulting to the Republican representative of deep-red El Paso County and Colorado Springs, but Rep. Doug Lamborn has a well-earned reputation for not being, you know, the sharpest knife in the proverbial drawer. Lamborn has had his own racially-tinged gaffes, like his unfortunate reference to President Barack Obama as a “tar baby” he’d rather not hug–an incident that may in retrospect may have been more clumsy than than it was intentionally racist.

Either way, President Trump has now given even the most gaffe-prone politician a wide-open shot at rehabilitation, simply by jumping on the bandwagon of condemning Trump’s increasingly undeniable and unapologetic racism–and even a bunch for whom the offenses were not ‘gaffes’ at all. After doubling down on horrifying initial remarks after the violence in Virginia last weekend that everyone thought the White House would try to walk back–and indeed, they tried–there’s just not much for Republicans to do now other than minimize the collateral damage.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that more or less the whole Republican Party expressed its disapproval of Trump–and considering they did so just a couple of weeks before he won the election, their sincerity is not real easy to gauge.

Unless that prior behavior tells you everything you need to know.

Darryl Glenn to Join Primary Race in CD-5

Darryl Glenn

The Unicorn rides again! Ernest Luning has the scoop for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the Republican nominee for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat last year, notified GOP insiders on Friday that he plans to run for the 5th Congressional District seat held by six-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in next year’s election, Colorado Politics has learned.

“Colleagues, I want to give you a courtesy heads up before the rumors start that I will be jumping into the Congressional District 5 race within a few weeks,” Glenn said in a text message sent Friday morning to prominent Republicans and obtained by Colorado Politics. “A lot has happened over the last week to move me to running. Have a great day. Darryl”

Glenn becomes the third candidate in the race in the GOP Primary in CD-5, just one day after state Sen. Owen Hill announced a record fundraising haul for Q2 in his own bid for Congress.

Incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) was first elected in this ultra-safe Republican district in 2006. Lamborn has since been re-elected every two years, but he is such an unpopular dolt that he can never seem to prevent a Republican Primary. Hill jumped into the race in early April and seems to be off to a good start…yet, we’ve been here before. Over the last decade Lamborn has always found a way to crawl into the General Election, where there is virtually no chance of a Republican candidate losing in November.

Could 2018 be different? Lamborn may have a more difficult road to re-election now that a third candidate with strong name ID among Republicans has entered the fray. We’ve said many times in this space that Glenn is the worst statewide candidate in Colorado history; you can make an argument for others (we’re looking at you, Dan Maes), but it’s fair to say that you can’t discuss this topic without including Glenn at the very top of your list. However, Glenn should be familiar to Colorado Springs-area voters after serving two terms as an El Paso County Commissioner prior to his surprise GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Whenever you have a primary with at least three known entities on the ballot, strange things can happen. Enjoy the ride.