Friday Open Thread

“A sovereign’s great example forms a people; the public breast is noble or vile as he inspires it.”

–David Mallet

BREAKING: GOP Sens. Tate, Baumgardner Accused of Harassment

Randy Baumgardner.

KUNC’s Bente Birkeland breaks more ugly news from the Colorado General Assembly–this time two members of the Republican state Senate majority accused of harassing lobbyists–and, in at least one case, an intern working for a member from across the aisle:

New claims of sexual harassment have been brought up at the Colorado legislature involving Sens. Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate. Both, in comments to us, strongly deny any wrongdoing, although they refused to answer our specific questions directly.

Megan Creeden, an intern who was 25 at the time, told us she had many uncomfortable encounters with Baumgardner during the 2016 legislative session. She said Baumgardner often pressured her to drink with him in his office and she didn’t want to be with him in his office alone because she didn’t know him…

Six other female lobbyists and staffers who declined to be named for this story, fearing going public would affect their work relationships at the Capitol, said they also avoid Baumgardner. Some said they won’t work alone with Baumgardner and only go to his office in pairs or urge male colleagues to work with him instead. Baumgardner chairs the Senate Transportation and the Senate Capital Development Committees.

The allegations against Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs are not surprising to many people in the Capitol we’ve spoken with–in fact it was only surprising that it took so many days after the initial allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the General Assembly came out almost one week ago for Baumgardner to become part of the story.

That’s a nice way of saying that Baumgardner’s reputation for this kind of thing is not a well-kept secret.

Jack Tate.

The case of Sen. Jack Tate, representing a substantially less safe suburban Denver Senate district, though, was perhaps less expected:

The former intern, who was 18 at the time, spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, because she could be involved in an unrelated sexual assault case involving a different person. She claims Tate was inappropriate with her repeatedly over a period of two-and-a-half months last year…

At one point, she alleged, Tate said to her, “if she wanted to move up in the world, give him a call.” [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, eww. That’s the trademark blending of the professional with the skeezy you never, ever want to see.

In response to these new-but-not-really-new allegations, GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham released a new statement, overriding previous carefully-worded missives about “proactively” taking on the problem of sexual harassment. Now that Republicans are under the microscope, the Senate GOP leadership is officially clamming up:

We take every allegation of harassment or misconduct seriously. We ask those who feel they have been victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior at the General Assembly to file an official complaint, in confidence that their anonymity and rights will be protected. Going forward, Senate Republican leaders cannot and will not be responding to unsubstantiated or anonymous allegations against members appearing in the press, which the existing complaint process is designed to handle… [Pols emphasis]

Can you imagine the outcry if this had been House Speaker Crisanta Duran’s first response?

As you can see, the next phase of this troubling but very much necessary storyline appears to be underway. Stand by for updates tomorrow.

Dr. Chaps, Once Again a CCU Prof, Defends Roy Moore


Today, former Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs appeared at a high-profile press conference to defend the embattled U.S. Senate campaign of former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. Moore, beset by a growing body of allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted underage women while serving as a district attorney in his 30s, has been nominally disowned by Republicans including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado in his capacity as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)–who said after several days of bad press that Moore should be expelled from the Senate if he prevails in next month’s special election.

In his speech today, ex-Rep. Klingenschmitt lavished praise on Moore for standing behind Klingenschmitt during his legal drama stemming from illegally appearing at a White House protest wearing his Navy uniform. As Buzzfeed reports, Klingenschmitt went directly after the women now accusing Moore of impropriety:

Gordon Klingenschmitt…quoted the Ten Commandments — “Thou shalt not bear false witness” — as he described Moore’s accusers. He went on to mention Beverly Young Nelson’s stepson, who used a baseless conspiracy theory to question his stepmother’s account of her assault, and an inaccurate Breitbart story attempting to depict Leigh Corfman’s mother as saying that the Washington Post coerced the story from her daughter. Corfman’s mother had told the Washington Post that she was “horrified” when her daughter told her of her experience with Moore.

So much for believing the women–not that we expected much better from “Dr. Chaps.”

One question that local observers will find curious in Klingenschmitt’s speech today, at the beginning, was his claim that he is currently a professor at Colorado Christian University. That’s an important point, since in last year’s HD-15 primary, Bob Beauprez’s hit group fronted by Dede Laugesen and employing Dan Njegomir now of the Colorado Springs Gazette played up the fact that Klingenschmitt was not an employee of CCU:

The controversial first-term state legislator and televangelist from Colorado Springs—under scrutiny for over $1 million that was raised since 2010 through a tax-exempt charity he operates—calls himself “Dr. Chaps” in his public persona and touts a litany of advanced degrees. His Wikipedia page states, “Klingenschmitt is a part-time college professor, serving as affiliate faculty at Colorado Christian University in the division of Biblical Studies.” A website he uses to promote his political campaigns states, “He earned his PhD in Theology at Regent University, and also holds Doctor of Divinity, M.B.A., M.Div, and B.S. Political Science degrees, and is a College Professor.”

However, a representative of Lakewood-based Colorado Christian University issued a statement via email to Colorado Government Watch this week confirming Klingenschmitt is in fact not teaching at the school.

“I can confirm that he has taught classes for Colorado Christian University in the past, but is not teaching at the present time and is not scheduled for future classes,” stated the email from Earl Waggoner, dean of biblical studies and theology at CCU’s College of Adult & Graduate Studies. Waggoner did not elaborate on why Klingenschmitt no longer is teaching at the campus.

Well folks, now it’s time for CCU to “elaborate” on why Klingenschmitt is back–and dropping the institution’s name in defense of Roy Moore!

We assume the respectable Republicans in CCU’s orbit will want to know.

Another Jeffco Republican Won’t Finish Elected Term

Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier

Walking out of an elected office before the end of your term has become something of a perverse tradition among Republicans serving in Jefferson County government. Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin is the poster child for Republicans gaming the system for partisan benefit, but the problem is deeply-rooted in Jeffco…and it’s happening once again.

Earlier this week, a press release from Jefferson County announced that Commissioner Donald Rosier would be resigning his post in January 2018 in order to take a top job with an expensive new mixed-use development in Douglas County called Sterling Ranch. If Rosier’s name sounds somewhat familiar, you may recall that he was briefly (and laughably) a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Rosier was term-limited next year, but his early departure will allow a Republican vacancy committee to appoint a new County Commissioner. The early favorite for the vacancy appointment is Tina Francone, who was already running for Rosier’s seat but will likely now get to campaign as a semi-incumbent against Democrat Lesley Dahlkemper. Former legislator Libby Szabo got the same head start in 2015 — appointed Commissioner just two months after being re-elected to the legislature — which came a few years after Republican John Odom won the vacancy lottery in 2011 (Odom didn’t even bother to finish his partial term after losing to Democrat Casey Tighe in 2012).

Jefferson County has three County Commissioners who can each serve two four-year terms (if elected). The last time a Republican County Commissioner in Jefferson County completed a full two terms? That was back in 2005, when both Michelle Lawrence and Patricia Holloway were term-limited out of office.

So, Uh, This Republican Tax Plan…

UPDATE (11:45 am): Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed their version of The Tax Turducken. From the Washington Post:

The House passed its version of the Republican tax overhaul Thursday, notching a key win for President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). But obstacles remain in the Senate, which is refining its own version of the legislation amid objections from key GOP senators.

The bill passed with 227 votes in favor and 205 against. 13 Republicans voted against the bill. No Democrats voted for it.

—–

This shirt is more than middle class families can expect to receive from the GOP tax plan.

Congressional Republicans are working feverishly (or thereabouts) to pass a massive tax cut for the wealthy before the end of the year, and the House may hold a floor vote as soon as today. There is a lot of information floating around about the House and Senate tax proposals, and it’s a lot to digest (take this list of differences between the House and Senate versions of tax reform, for example). Thankfully, we’re here to, uh, reconstitute that information in a more accessible format.

Here’s what you need to know about the “tax reform” proposals currently getting greased up in Washington D.C.

 

Raising Taxes on the Middle Class

Let’s go right to the Washington Post with today’s big headline:

The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts. [Pols emphasis]

Gah!

Republicans are trying to fund massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations by increasing taxes for everyone else. This is not just some ginned-up liberal talking point. Much like Congressional Republican attempts at repealing Obamacare in the first half of the year, one analysis after another is showing that the GOP tax plan will harm infinitely more people than it could possibly help. The talking points write themselves for Democrats.

 

The Tax Turducken

Republicans are cramming as much crap as they can into one massive tax bill, including the big news Wednesday that the legislation will include a provision to roll back the individual mandate in Obamacare. This provision would effectively end healthcare coverage for some 13 million Americans.

Both the House and Senate versions of the legislation already include “Personhood” language, a bizarre attempt to establish some sort of legislative foothold for the anti-choice crowd that has absolutely nothing to do with, you know, taxes. The provisions that are related to taxes, meanwhile, can largely be characterized as handouts to specific lobbying groups.

 

Republican Cracks

Many Congressional Republicans been quiet for weeks on publicly endorsing or refuting aspects of the tax reform proposals. That changed on Wednesday, when Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson announced his opposition to the current versions of both the House and Senate tax plans.

Republican Governors, meanwhile, are worried that an unartful Congressional tax reform plan will only increase the strength of a potential blue wave in 2018. Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a potential U.S. Senate candidate, recently expressed his concern that Congress will fail to make any meaningful changes because they are putting all of their eggs in the same proverbial basket. As CNN reports:

Scott was also critical of how Congress is handling tax reform, saying lawmakers should “quit having a grand bargain” and “do what you can get done today.”

“These ideas that you’ve got to have this gigantic change never happens. These grand bargains never happen,” Scott said.

 

Tax Increases to Pay for Tax Cuts

The math doesn’t lie for Republicans: It’s not possible to make permanent tax cuts for corporations and rich people and regular Americans while not completely exploding the national debt, so Republicans will just worry about corporations and rich people for now.

Congress is not allowed to enact legislation that would add to the federal deficit after 10 years, so Republicans have crafted a way around this problem: They’ll just turn off most of the tax cuts for non-rich people in a few years. As Politico explains:

Senate Republicans are on the defensive after proposing to only offer temporary tax cuts to millions of Americans as part of a revised plan to overhaul the tax code.

While they want to make a host of business tax cuts permanent, they would make reductions in tax rates, expansions of the standard deduction and child tax credit, and other provisions expire after 2025.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Politico about the individual tax cut provisions: “I’d like to make them permanent, but we’ll just come back at them again [later].”

In other words, middle class Americans can get bent while the GOP tax cut for the wealthy adds $1.5 TRILLION to the federal deficit in the next decade. Neat!

 

No Relief for You, Colorado

Check out some of these numbers from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy regarding how the Republican tax proposals will (not) benefit Coloradans:

♦ Roughly 18% of Colorado families, most of them middle-class families, will ultimately see their taxes increase as a result of the legislation.

♦ About 75% of the tax cuts will go to the top 20% of Coloradans (46% of the total will benefit just the wealthiest 1% of Coloradans).

♦ The number of households in Colorado that will benefit from repealing the estate tax is about 70. That’s 70 total – not a percentage.

♦ At least 235,000 Coloradans would lose health insurance coverage by 2025 if the GOP tax plan passes.

 

Americans Aren’t Buying What GOP Is Selling

Results from a new poll out Wednesday from Quinnipiac University follow the same trend as their predecessors in recent weeks. Voters now disapprove of the GOP tax plan by a greater than 2-to-1 margin:

American voters disapprove 52 – 25 percent of the Republican tax plan. Republican voters approve 60 – 15 percent, with 26 percent undecided. All other party, gender, education, age and racial groups disapprove. [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps most troubling for Congressional Republicans is the fact that Americans aren’t accepting the GOP narrative of middle class tax relief:

The wealthy would mainly benefit from this tax plan, 61 percent of American voters say, while 24 percent say the middle class will mainly benefit and 6 percent say low-income people would mainly benefit.

American voters say 59 – 33 percent that the Republican tax plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle class.

Only 16 percent of American voters say the Republican tax plan will reduce their taxes, while 35 percent of voters say it will increase their taxes and 36 percent say it won’t have much impact on their taxes.

Said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll:

“The sentiment from voters: The GOP tax plan is a great idea, if you are rich. Otherwise, you’re out of luck.”

And there you have it.

Poll: Cary Kennedy Would Kick Tom Tancredo’s Butt

Cary Kennedy.

Ernest Luning writing for the former Colorado Statesman:

A new statewide poll of likely Colorado voters shows Democrat Cary Kennedy ahead of Republican Tom Tancredo by 16 points in a general election match-up between the leading gubernatorial candidates.

According to the survey, conducted over the past week by Colorado-based Democratic polling firm Keating Research and obtained exclusively by Colorado Politics, Kennedy, a former state treasurer, leads Tancredo, a former congressman, 50-34 percent, with 13 percent undecided and 3 percent saying they’d vote for another candidate even when pressed to choose between the two. No other candidates were listed in the poll…

Though partisan pollsters, Keating Research and the North Carolina-based Democratic firm Public Policy Polling were the most accurate pollsters in Colorado for last year’s presidential election, predicting Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the state by 5 points — almost precisely her margin on Election Day — according to Real Clear Politics.

Among Democrats Keating Research has an excellent reputation for accuracy, so these are definitely numbers that anyone following the Democratic gubernatorial primary should be paying close attention to. Luning also refers to another recent poll showing Rep. Jared Polis also ahead of Tom Tancredo, though by a much smaller margin. Because the Keating poll didn’t include other candidates besides Cary Kennedy, a methodological apples-to-apples comparison isn’t really possible here–we would speculate that other Democrats would also score well against Tancredo had they been matched up.

With that said it’s certainly a good data point for Kennedy’s campaign to circulate, and it highlights the danger Tancredo poses in the long term to Republicans. Ever popular with the ideological base that decides GOP primaries, Tancredo’s liabilities only truly emerge in the general election. That’s where the party in Tancredo’s case would presumably end.

Of course, we said that about Donald Trump too.

Well That’s Embarrassing, Colorado Senate GOP Spox Edition

UPDATE: The offending Tweet has now been deleted, but thanks to the magic of screenshots (see below) it has the opportunity to live on in infamy. You’re welcome.

—–

Sean Paige, the communications director of the Colorado Senate Republican Majority Office, doesn’t know what Google’s problem is this morning:

Contemporaneous with news this morning out of Harare, Zimbabwe that longtime president/tyrant Robert Mugabe has been removed from power following a military coup, it appears that the director of the Colorado Senate GOP wants to know why Mugabe is being “honored” by Google via the presence of the stylized logo you can see above.

The only problem here, which you can discover if you click the little “share” icon next to the image–preferably before you Tweet about it? That’s not Robert Mugabe.

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958), often considered his best, is the most widely read book in modern African literature. He won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.

We know, cut Sean Paige some slack, right? After all they’re both…oh, wait.

Yes, this really just happened.

If you’ve ever wondered why communications out of the Colorado Senate GOP office sometimes fall almost comically flat, almost like it was on purpose, well, here you go. It’s not easy to shoot yourself in the foot with such deadly precision.

Sometimes things just fall apart, gentle readers.

Thursday Open Thread

“In the last analysis, our every right is only worth what our lawyer makes it worth.”

–Robert Kennedy

Bad Policy, Clever Politics for Victor Mitchell

Victor Mitchell

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell today released a new online ad to jumpstart an idea he has been pushing for a few months now: Going after elected officials who campaign for a new job while maintaining their old position. From a press release:

The Victor Mitchell campaign has unveiled a new web-video explaining his support for a new law that would require Colorado candidates holding full-time state or local elective offices to resign before seeking a higher office. “Taxpayers should not be forced to continue to pay the salaries of officeholders who are seeking promotion to a higher office,” says Mitchell, the businessman and former state legislator. “Campaigning is almost a full-time job these days and we can’t expect an officeholder to run for a different office without neglecting their current office responsibilities.”

“This law would not prevent anyone from seeking any office they choose. It would merely prevent neglect of duty and taxpayer subsidies of campaigners,” continued Mitchell. “I don’t like corporate welfare, and I don’t like welfare for politicians, either.”

“In the same spirit that “Term Limits” has constrained political careerism and TABOR has promoted financial accountability, Resign-To-Run will help keep the political insiders accountable to the people that elect them,” contends Mitchell. “Don’t expect the establishment to embrace this new idea, but I am already seeing that the people of Colorado believe it’s a welcome check on political ambition.”

The web video itself is very well done and could be an effective message for Mitchell. Take a look:

We actually like the strategy of what Mitchell is trying to do here, but we have to point out the unworkability of the policy idea. Requiring elected officials to resign from office if the are running for another elected office isn’t going to solve the alleged problem here of officials who aren’t getting their work done. Frankly, it could make the situation worse.

But, of course, this is an advertisement designed to help Mitchell win a Republican Primary, and to that end it will probably work well. Mitchell doesn’t have the name ID of many of the other top GOP candidates, so he needs to differentiate himself in some way. He does that here with what he doesn’t say: That Republican gubernatorial candidates such as State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman –and, before he dropped out of the race on Monday, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler — are part of the problem while Mitchell is seeking the solution (though in Stapleton’s case, he could just say that he was never showing up to work in the first place).

Positioning yourself as a regular Joe Businessman running against a bunch of career politicians is a tried and true political tactic. With public polling showing consistently that people aren’t particularly happy with their elected officials, this could be the kind of spark that gets Mitchell’s campaign going.

Victor Mitchell Hits Cynthia Coffman on Abortion

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell stated on Facebook that the Colorado Republican Party “should nominate pro-life candidates” and to do “otherwise is to abandon our values.”

Mitchell’s comment on Facebook came in response to a news report Friday that Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who’s also running for the GP gubernatorial nomination, is pro-choice.

The report, by CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd, prompted KNUS radio host Dan Caplis to denounce Coffman and to speculate that she lied about her pro-choice stance during her campaign for attorney general.

Caplis’ hostility reflects the opinion of what appears to be a sizable segment of GOP voters who participate in primary elections. Their position on the abortion issue precludes many pro-choice Republicans from running at all.

In fact, one pro-choice Republican, Ellen Roberts, dropped out of consideration for the U.S. Senate race in 2015 after denying that she’d described herself as pro-choice, when in fact she had done so on the floor of the Colorado Senate.

In taking a pro-choice stance, Coffman could be targeting an unknown number of unaffiliated voters who could participate in this year’s Republican primary. But in doing so, she risks alienating anti-abortion Republicans, who’ve demonstrated their grassroots abilities to push much of their agenda into the GOP platform in Colorado and who’ve seen it adopted by most GOP elected leaders here.

Poll: Will They Really Expel Roy Moore?

Roy Moore, Cory Gardner.

The Denver Post’s editorial board lavished undeserved praise on Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado yesterday, excessively lauding Gardner’s belated call for the U.S. Senate to expel Alabama’s Roy Moore if he survives the sexual molestation scandal currently waylaying his campaign and wins:

We’re pleased to see Colorado’s junior senator, Cory Gardner, use his prominence among Senate Republicans to present a clear, moral argument against the accused child molester. Those inflamed by the politics of the scandal should consider his wisdom. As head of the Republican’s Senate campaign arm, Gardner announced last week the group would cease fundraising efforts for Moore’s Senate bid and said that if allegations of molestation were true, Moore should drop out of the race. This week Gardner stood with multiple accusers and argued that if Moore refuses to step aside and goes on to win in the special election next month, the Senate should expel him.

Always tripping over themselves to shield Sen. Gardner from criticism, the Post completely glosses over the politically toxic delay between last week’s “if true” deflection of the story by Gardner and his harder line taken this week. That initial response, echoed by many other Republicans, was roundly condemned as inadequate–and it was that condemnation which forced Republicans like Gardner to take a stronger position.

Not really what you’d call a profile in courage.

With that said, the real problem with this overly-generous editorial may not be evident until after Roy Moore wins the Alabama Senate race. It’s a matter of record that Sen. Gardner called for Donald Trump to pull out of the presidential race in October of 2016, after the Access Hollywood recordings of Trump bragging about committing sexual assault became public. But when Trump emerged victorious on Election Day, Gardner ditched his supposed convictions and embraced the President-elect with his trademark smile.

A poll follows–is there any reason to believe it’ll be different this time?

And why is that exactly?

Will Republican Senators vote to expel Roy Moore if he wins?
Yes
No
Not sure/other
View Result

Colorado to HHS: #HandsOffMyBC

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose) speaks at the Denver #HandsOffMyBC rally.

Coloradans filled the streets in downtown Denver today as part of rallies in numerous major cities across the nation in opposition to the recent decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to allow almost any employer to eliminate contraceptives from employee health coverage. ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, joined with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), the American Civil Liberties Union, the Interfaith Alliance, Indivisible Denver, Indivisible Front Range Resistance, New Era Colorado, C.A.P.E. Denver, Together We Will, concerned residents, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle to rescind this order and ensure women stay covered.

“Men and women, Republicans and Democrats, communities of faith from across Colorado all say with one voice that access to birth control is off limits to cynical DC political games,” said Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail. “Contraceptive coverage as mandated by the Affordable Care Act has helped to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy in Colorado and throughout the nation. The public health benefits of contraceptive coverage have been proven again and again, but more importantly, people have a fundamental right to access contraception within the health coverage they already pay for.”

“Since the beginning of this new administration, American lives have been at stake,” said Rev. Tammy Garrett-Williams. “The Affordable Healthcare Act otherwise known as Obamacare has been threatened from every angle. Now we’re here to defend women and teen girls who are being affected by taking away basic care when it comes to prevention of unplanned pregnancies. There is no mention of abortion in our Bible anywhere, but there is clear reference to not judging another person—spoken specifically by Jesus. This decision takes a judgmental action by implying that women are not capable of making decisions with their own bodies. This decision will cause more problems by increasing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Take your hands off our birth control!”

“Increasing access to reproductive health care means access to birth control,” said Adrienne Mansanares of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “It is unconscionable that a woman’s decision to access birth control can now be made for her by her boss. This is a message to American women that they can’t be trusted to make their own health care decisions, and must get permission from an authority figure first. Nothing should come between women and the health care they need.”

“Colorado is an incredible success story when it comes to reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy through access to contraceptives,” said Taylor Holden of ProgressNow Colorado. “Part of that success has been the requirement that employers offer contraceptive coverage as part of every insurance plan. We know from experience in Colorado that having access to birth control leads to better planning, happier children, and stronger families. We’re calling on HHS to immediately rescind the new policy allowing almost any employer to end contraceptive coverage. Colorado knows what success looks like, and we don’t want this.”

For more information on today’s rally in Denver and other major cities across the nation, click here.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 15)

Koningsfeest is a fun word to say. 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 have decided to push ahead with legislation to cut taxes for rich people that also now includes a repeal of the individual mandate connected to Obamacare. As the Washington Post reports, this kitchen sink tax bill is a big gamble:

Congressional Republicans are reaching for a booby-trapped bag of cash as they scramble to try to pay for their tax overhaul. 

House and Senate Republicans are moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — a surprise turn that would yield more than $300 billion in much-needed revenue even as it revives the toxic politics of the GOP’s summertime drive to gut the landmark law.

Senate GOP tax writers incorporated the high-stakes maneuver into the latest version of their plan (see full text here), released late Tuesday night. They applied the new revenue to making permanent the deeply-slashed 20 percent corporate rate at the heart of the tax plan; doubling the child tax credit to $2,000; and expanding access to a deduction for pass-through businesses. But the updated bill sunsets individual rate cuts at the end of 2025 to help the package comply with strict budget rules — a move that Democrats seized on to blast the GOP for prioritizing corporate interests over working people. 

The Post notes that House Republicans are not nearly as excited about the idea of trying to repeal the individual mandate within a tax reform bill that has already been taking on water for weeks. Earlier this month Republicans were hammered for trying to insert “Personhood” language into the tax bill as well. Chris Cillizza of CNN writes that Republicans are risking the entire 2018 election on this new maneuver.

 

► “Tax reform” legislation in the House of Representatives remains on track to potentially get a floor vote as soon as Thursday, which could theoretically allow the House and Senate enough time to reconcile both versions before the end of the year. From CNBC:

The GOP aims to pass a plan to chop tax rates for businesses and individuals by the end of the year to fulfill a key campaign promise. Lawmakers argue that changing the tax code will spark economic growth and boost job creation and wages.

This week, the Senate is marking up, or debating and amending, its version. The chamber wants to approve the bill after Thanksgiving.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday described the current plans as a “work in progress.” He said he expects the two chambers to pass separate legislation before going to a conference committee to craft a joint plan.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, McCarthy contended that the House and Senate can quickly reconcile the differences and get a final bill to Trump’s desk by the end of the year.

President Trump is expected to visit Capitol Hill on Thursday to drum up support for cutting taxes for rich people.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has an idea for a real reform to the tax code that makes a lot of sense and therefore probably has no chance of succeeding.

 

► Just when you thought the saga of Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore couldn’t get any weirder…it does. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now suggesting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be a Republican write-in candidate in next month’s special election in Alabama. Of course, the entire reason that this special election is even taking place is because Sessions left his Senate office earlier this year to become Attorney General.

Moore continues to resist pressure to withdraw from the race, and Sessions has given no public indication that he would want to return to his old job. There’s a word for what’s happening in Alabama right now (hint: it rhymes with “Blusterfuck”).

Also, Colorado Republicans have a lot of explaining to do about embracing Moore during a visit to Denver last Spring.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Wednesday Open Thread

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

–John Cage

Wait, You Can Do That? Harassment Tax Break Edition

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

KDVR FOX 31 Denver reports on a proposal from a Colorado Republican for which we think there ought to be unanimous support, in light of headlines coast to coast and flyover states too–but for one little problem:

Whether it be Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore or Steve Lebsock, the topic is dominating Colorado airwaves.

Now Congressman Ken Buck says it’s time to end the practice of businesses being able to deduct harassment settlements from their taxes.

“Right now a business can write that off as an ordinary and necessary business expense which is wrong,” Buck told FOX31 political reporter Joe St. George.

The idea that a corporation can build harassment settlements into the cost of doing business to the extent that they can get a tax break for them might come as a rude shock to many readers, and we of course have no idea when this particular provision may have been inserted into the tax code.

We assume plenty of dudes through the years found it useful. It’s good to see that time may finally be past.

With that said, there is a problem in the case of Rep. Ken Buck’s proposal with implementation:

Buck has written a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee chairman asking for language to be included in the latest tax reform debate on Capitol Hill.

That’s right–unfortunately, this no-brainer of a tax deduction to repeal is going to get bundled with a whole bunch of other and in many cases stupid alterations to the tax code, an elusive “pay-for” in the GOP’s budget-busting tax cut plan that–while we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this particular pay-for enacted–isn’t worth the widespread harm certain to ensue when the hole these cuts create has to be filled. As a general guide, that is usually right after the opposing party retakes power.

If Buck keeps this idea alive in the entirely possible event the tax bill tanks, or fails to include this provision at all, we’ll circle back to thank him.

As of now, we’d rather see a “clean” harassment tax break repeal.