Only Trump Can Fix Immigration, Says Mike Coffman (Yes, Really)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

As the debate over immigration policy in the United States endures the hard shake of President Donald Trump and the hard-line slate of policies he promised on the campaign trail, fellow Republicans hoping to chart a politically survivable path through the chaos on this explosive issue are having a very difficult time. Nationally one of the most frequently-cited examples of this is Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, whose “evolution” on immigration since redistricting forced him out of Tom Tancredo’s old constituency and now placing Coffman necessarily at odds with Trump’s plans for a sweeping crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

Except, as Real Clear Politics reported over the weekend, maybe that’s not true? Does Coffman actually see Trump as a savior on immigration?

Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents a swing district in Colorado and has been a strong supporter of protecting Dreamers, said Trump might be able to convince even his most conservative supporters to back such a deal.

“He’s got the credibility in terms of being tough on immigration and I think he’s the only one, probably, within the Republican Party that can solve this issue,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Subsequent to the announced deal with congressional Democratic leadership and the Trump administration on protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program beneficiaries, there’s been an uptick in speculation about the possibility that a President elected on what can be accurately described as the most anti-immigrant platform in modern history might be able to broker a grand bargain on the issue–to include resolution of status for all undocumented immigrants in the United States and “border security” consistent with keep Trump’s promises to build a wall on the southern border. Since that time, as Trump sought to reassure his base that he wasn’t “caving” on the campaign’s hard line, much of that confidence has dissipated. Negotiations are nonetheless reportedly ongoing this week, and we’re all obliged to wait for news there.

In the meantime, this is another chance to remind readers that Coffman’s fate is linked to that of the Trump administration–on immigration as just one of a range of issues, and Coffman has done it to himself. This is a man who dramatically outperformed in a district that Trump lost handily by brazenly triangulating off Trump’s various offenses. And now he says it’s Trump who has credibility on immigration? In fact, Coffman says, Trump is the only Republican who can get immigration reform done? Is that what the ticket-splitters in CD-6 expected?

All we can say is, remember this moment.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 15)

There are 100 shopping days until Christmas. 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…

► We’re going back…to the legislature. As Brian Eason reports for the Denver Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday called lawmakers back to the state Capitol to fix a bill-drafting error that has been costing a number of Denver-based institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in marijuana revenue.

The special session set to start Oct. 2 will be the first in five years for Hickenlooper and the Colorado General Assembly, an extraordinary step for a governor who has typically deferred to lawmakers on legislative matters during his two terms in office.

“After hearing about the potential impact on citizens around the state, it is clear that this problem is best solved as soon as possible,” Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing his executive order, capping a day of speculation about his plans.

The October 2 special session is expected to be a fairly quick affair to address a drafting error related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee). As part of SB-267, legislators approved a change to the collection of recreational pot taxes that is inadvertently costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Colorado Republicans, including the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity, are having trouble getting their message straight on the special session announcement.

 

► Congressional Democratic leaders seem to have figured out how to work with President Trump, crafting another big deal on DACA just a week or so after working with Trump on a debt ceiling/disaster relief proposal. The New York Times examines what happened during that White House dinner on Wednesday night:

Senator Chuck Schumer had just finished outlining a new Democratic immigration proposal over a working dinner at the White House on Wednesday night when President Trump stopped him with a simple question: What is in it for me?

Mr. Schumer, the schmoozy Senate minority leader, responded with a litany of what he saw as Mr. Trump’s presidential sins, according to two people with direct knowledge of the interaction. Those included pulling out of the Paris climate accord and failing to unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism and racism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.

The time had come, Mr. Schumer declared as Nancy Pelosi, the top House Democrat, nodded in agreement, for the president to prove himself to Democrats if he wanted to do any big deals.

Mr. Trump has been known to freeze out or tongue-lash critics for far less. Instead, to the surprise of people in the room, he responded positively, if vaguely, and laughed.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) sounds pretty optimistic about the deal Trump reached with Democrats. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, is no doubt much less enthusiastic.

 

► Summer isn’t officially over until next week, but it snowed in the mountains.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Trump Makes Another Big Deal with Democrats

President Trump keeps tipping his hand.

In the parlance of poker, you might also say that Congressional Democrats have “spotted his tell.”

Politico reports on the framework of a new immigration plan for DREAMERs negotiated by Trump and Democratic leadership:

President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement Wednesday night to provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants known as Dreamers — but after a conservative backlash, the president and his aides sent conflicting signals about how firm the agreement was.

After a meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday night, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they had come to terms with Trump on a plan that would provide protection for Dreamers in exchange for beefed-up border security — but, notably, no additional funding for a border wall.

“We all agreed on a framework: Pass DACA protections and additional security measures, excluding the wall. We agreed that the president would support enshrining the DACA protections into law,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Thursday.

The news triggered an outcry from the right, which accused Trump of abandoning his tough-on-immigration campaign stance. So Trump and his aides rebutted Democrats’ claims that an agreement had been struck — while at the same time acknowledging the outlines of a deal.

One week after negotiating a debt limit/disaster relief formula with Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did it again — this time on a legislative framework for DACA protections. House Speaker Paul Ryan says that there is no such deal, but that’s not the narrative coming out of the White House.

Trump supporters are absolutely furious that he would even shake hands with a Democrat, but those critics are missing something if they are just blindly painting Trump as a partisan traitor. Even though they are in the majority, Congressional Republicans haven’t been able to come to any agreement with Trump on much of anything. Republicans seem to be struggling to understand the new political reality of Washington D.C. and the new guy in the White House.

Meanwhile, Democrats might have cracked the code…

We all know that President Trump fancies himself to be a master negotiator, in large part because he tells us whenever he gets a chance. Being adept at negotiating deals is a fundamental part of Trump’s persona — and not just the act he displays in public. Trump desperately wants to show that he can “win” at being President, and he doesn’t really care who he has to work with in order to make that happen [cough, Russia, cough].

Schumer and Pelosi have smartly figured out that Trump wants to get to “yes” as quickly as possible — that he won’t get hung up on policy details at the risk of losing the sale. Trump also loves to get attaboys in the press, as he did earlier this month on the debt limit bill, and it’s hard to generate praise when nothing is getting accomplished in general.

Republicans could follow this same blueprint for dealing with Trump, but they can’t even come to an agreement amongst themselves.

Hickenlooper Upstages Cynthia Coffman on DACA Lawsuit

UPDATE: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman picks a side–and it’s not the DREAMers:

“In Colorado, my office has the independent authority to take legal action on behalf of the state when I believe doing so is in the state’s best interest,” Coffman said in the statement. “In this case, I do not. Nor do I support the legal arguments in the Democrats’ lawsuit.”

In the choice between DREAMers and positioning herself for a GOP primary, Coffman chose the primary.

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper and AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking action to challenge President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, standing up for some 17,000 undocumented immigrants in Colorado who came to this country as children–and could face deportation if the high-stakes game of chicken over their fate in Washington doesn’t go well:

Colorado announced Wednesday that it plans to join more than a dozen other states in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is outrageous and risks the futures of more than 17,000 Coloradans,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Colorado benefits when (DACA recipients) have the opportunity to thrive in our communities and the only country they’ve ever known. These young people should not have to suffer because of our broken immigration system.”

Hickenlooper added that while the legal action is “no substitute for the sort of comprehensive immigration reform that can only come from Congress, it sends a necessary message that the rule of law and basic notions of fairness still matter in this country.”

Hickenlooper is taking this extraordinary action without support from Colorado’s Republican attorney general Cynthia Coffman, a prospective GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2018:

An outside attorney will act as a special attorney general and represent Colorado in the legal action, she said. The move requires Coffman’s consent because she is the only one who can file legal challenges on behalf of the state.

Coffman, a Republican, last week suggested she wouldn’t join the other state attorneys general in suing to block Trump from dismantling DACA, saying the immigration debate “belongs in Congress.”

So-called “DREAMer” students and young people, who are the most sympathy-inspiring class of undocumented immigrants being childhood arrivals in this country who in many cases know no other culture, are supported by a large majority of the public–either for a path to American citizenship, or at the very least legal permission to remain in the country. There are really not many people in America outright opposed to protecting DACA recipients in some form–but unfortunately for Cynthia Coffman, who is trying to figure out a path to the GOP nomination for governor of Colorado next year, a lot of those opponents are GOP primary voters.

And that, dear reader, is why Coffman is reluctant to go to bat for the DREAMers.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 13)

Go away, (Hurricane) Jose. 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 Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing a “Medicare for All” healthcare plan today with significant support from well-known Senate Democrats. As the Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has no chance of passage in a Republican-run Congress. But after months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a public pressure campaign, the bill is already backed by most of the senators seen as likely 2020 Democratic candidates — if not by most senators facing tough reelection battles in 2018.

The bill would revolutionize America’s health-care system, replacing it with a public system that would be paid for by higher taxes. Everything from emergency surgery to prescription drugs, from mental health to eye care, would be covered, with no co-payments. Americans younger than 18 would immediately obtain “universal Medicare cards,” while Americans not currently eligible for Medicare would be phased into the program over four years. Employer-provided health care would be replaced, with the employers paying higher taxes but no longer on the hook for insurance.

Private insurers would remain, with fewer customers, to pay for elective treatments such as cosmetic surgery — a system similar to that in Australia, which President Trump has praised for having a “much better” insurance regimen than the United States.

Republicans will immediately point to projections showing big tax increases under such a plan, but Americans might actually end up saving money in this scenario because of the reduction or elimination of copays, premiums, and deductibles.

On Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy announced her support for a “Medicaid for All” proposal in Colorado.

 

► Jefferson County Republicans are mad as hell (at Republicans) and they’re not above issuing toothless threats to prove it! As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Jefferson County Republican Party is demanding Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act or, if it can’t, to elect new congressional leadership.

A strongly worded resolution adopted unanimously by the county party’s executive committee Monday night maintains that the failure of congressional Republicans to overturn the sweeping health care legislation known as Obamacare “has caused great consternation and angst among registered Republicans in Jefferson County” and put GOP candidates “in great election peril.”

The county party is giving Congress until Nov. 1 to “repeal the abominable legislation,” but if Republicans “fail to meet our demand … and continue in their deceit of the voters,” the Jefferson County GOP want different Republicans in charge of the House and Senate…

…“[I]t is imperative that we differentiate ourselves from the National GOP,” the county party wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “Otherwise, our local and state candidates will be painted with the same brush as the GOP in Washington. Those in Washington are not doing what they promised, and we intend to hold their feet to the fire.”

The irony is strong with this one. By unanimously demanding that Congress immediately repeal Obamacare, the Jefferson County Republican Party has painted every one of its 2018 candidates into a tight little corner.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Colorado today touring schools, and will finish her visit with a visit to the Air Force Academy this afternoon.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 12)

For those of you who fell asleep before Monday’s late game was over, the Denver Broncos are now 1-0 on the season. 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…

► Things were very good economically for the American middle class in 2016 (thanks, Donald Obama!) As the Washington Post reports:

America’s middle class had its highest-earning year ever in 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday…

…America’s poverty rate fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. The percent of Americans without health insurance for the entire year also dropped in 2016 to just 8.8 percent, largely thanks to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Economists hailed the news as evidence the recovery is finally taking hold after years of frustration for the middle class, which watched the stock market soar while the average American’s income barely budged.

 

► Don’t stop us if you’ve heard this before (because you have): Congressional Republicans are eager to get to work on tax reform issues, but they’re a bit perplexed by the absence of anything resembling a specific proposal. As Politico reports:

“This time around there is no room for error. This has got to be a home run,” Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said, recalling the GOP’s Obamacare fiasco. “I would hope everyone wants to know what’s in it before you vote on it. That’s the old [Nancy] Pelosi joke on health care, it turned into a colossal joke. ‘You’ll find out what’s in it after we pass it.’”

A member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely said, “It is frustrating and concerning that we don’t have the details and yet we’re going to be asked in 60 days to vote on something,”

The member suggested that congressional and administration leaders negotiating a plan are holding back information either to avoid leaks or because they haven’t found enough common ground yet to share anything. [Pols emphasis]

Or…and we’re just spitballing here…perhaps not having a plan really is the plan. After all, you can’t oppose something that doesn’t exist.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

► Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Brauchler should also be seeking some advice on how to talk about water policy in Colorado. HINT: Don’t say that you are surprised that water is a big issue here.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

No One’s Happy: Tancredo Calls For Coffman Primary Challenge

Rep. Mike Coffman.

With former Congressman, presidential and once-and-future gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo making lots of news lately with his defense of Donald Trump’s immigration policies and criticism of “backsliding” Republicans growing afraid to see those policies carried out, an interview with Tancredo last week pummeling his successor in Congress Rep. Mike Coffman, and calling for Coffman’s ouster by hook or by crook, is vexing so-called “establishment” GOP strategists today. Here’s the transcription of the key moment of audio above:

TANCREDO: …All of the things he said about Trump, you, you just don’t have to do that. Right? He just didn’t have to do that even before the election, all the things he called him. And then…

CAPLIS: Well, I don’t know Congressman, I think he, I think he made a calculation that he had to come out against Trump in that manner to be able to keep his seat. I think we won by such a large margin that, that he didn’t have to. I didn’t like it when he did, I think what was a stake with the presidency and control of the U.S. Supreme Court in Colorado, a possible decision state in the election, I didn’t like it when he did that.

TANCREDO: Yeah–no, neither did I, and to tell you the truth, see I would not mind at all if he failed in his next attempt, if it is to retain his seat.

CAPLIS: Even if it means Pelosi as Speaker?

TANCREDO: Or actually anything he goes for, I wouldn’t care if he failed. But I especially wouldn’t care if he failed, and I would encourage people–I have encouraged people to, to run against him in a primary, and if he lost that would be okay with me because we, I would say a conservative loses nothing if Mike Coffman loses his seat. We are not in, the Republicans are not in jeopardy of losing the House, um, and it’s not the same as a Senate seat, so really it’s not worth it, I don’t think, to have somebody in there doing the things, he you know he’s threatening a um, discharge petition. I don’t know if everybody recognizes this…

CAPLIS: Yeah, yeah.

TANCREDO: But it’s like the ultimate slap in the face, you know, to the leadership and that sort of thing. Um, and it’s not going to work, it’s just simply another little, you know it’s a showpiece that he’s doing, to again, pander, I think…

In their zeal to win over centrist voters and even some low-information liberal votes, Coffman like U.S. Senator Cory Gardner has made great efforts to affect moderation on defining political issues like immigration and reproductive choice. But in doing so, they’ve put their core constituency of conservative Republican voters at risk of, if not voting for their general election opponent, something perhaps even more damaging: base demoralization. It’s fine to make inroads with new constituencies, even formerly opposition voters–as long as you’re not alienating your base.

Because if you do, you end up with someone like Tom Tancredo telling voters you can’t afford to lose that “a conservative loses nothing if Mike Coffman loses his seat.” Obviously Tancredo would prefer that Coffman lose his seat in a Republican primary, and these words would hurt more in the event Coffman attracts a primary challenge.

It’s really not good for Coffman either way though, folks. With bad political moves like unceremoniously yanking a rare discharge petition on legislation to protect DREAM Act-eligible immigrants that he received genuine credit for initiating, Coffman’s path to successfully triangulating this issue in 2018 is more perilous than ever. Coffman definitely can’t afford to lose his right flank now.

Enter Tom Tancredo.

Brauchler Wants Undocumented Immigrants Out…And Also to Remain Here

(Mike Coffman must be so proud — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Over the weekend, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon warned of a Republican “civil war” over whether immigrants, who entered the U.S. illegally as children, should be allowed to stay here.

One response to a civil war is to try to be on both sides of it.

That’s apparently what Colorado gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler is doing, judging from recent media statements, in which he sided with Trump’s decision to end DACA and deport young immigrants.

But he also reportedly said young undocumented DACA immigrants should remain in the U.S., possibly with legal status, with the permission of Congress.

In one KNUS radio interview Sept. 7, Brauchler compared Obama’s DACA order delaying the deportation of young immigrants to Hickenlooper’s decision to stay the execution of murderer Nathan Dunlap.

“And I think what we’re seeing here – not just with DACA – but you can see, whether it’s the reprieve of Nathan Dunlap or, you know, the different steps that different Democrat executives have taken, there’s a real interest now in circumventing our representative and constitutional processes in order to accomplish what someone believes is some altruistic goal,” Brauchler, a Republican, told KNUS host Dan Caplis Sept. 7.

Brauchler said, “So, what President Trump did, I think, was exactly appropriate. We should have never been in this boat, and I do think it’s up to the Congress now to figure out how to navigate these waters.”

How should Congress do it? That’s when Brauchler jumps to the other side of the GOP’s civil war, saying he’s open to giving DACA recipients a “path to some legal status down the road” but not citizenship.

Brauchler struck a similar note in a Grand Junction campaign stop, where WesternSlopNow.com reported, “Brauchler also says he does not agree with DACA students losing the right to be here and achieve higher education. Therefore, he hopes Congress can come up with a solution to this ongoing situation.”

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show Sept. 7:

Get More Smarter on Monday (September 11)

The Denver Broncos open their season late tonight; it may be Sept. 12 before the game finally concludes. 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…

► Officials are still assessing damage from Hurricane Irma, which hit South Florida on Sunday before moving up the western coast of Florida toward the Tampa Bay area. The storm left more than 6 million people without power across Florida, but the worst-case scenarios envisioned by weather forecasters last week seem largely to have been avoided.

 

► The Chair of the Colorado Republican Party is backing up comments made on the official Twitter accounts of the state party that were critical of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Citing articles critical of the SPLC “from across the political spectrum” and a letter written this week by prominent conservatives that calls the SPLC a “discredited, left-wing political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention,” State GOP Chair Jeff Hays told Colorado Politics he has no intention of apologizing.

“The notion that the Colorado Republican Party should apologize for joining this broad chorus of critics is ridiculous,” Hays said in a statement. “Our tweet was correct to suggest the SPLC is an unreliable source of information, and stories that cite it uncritically ought not to be trusted.”

If you are unfamiliar with the SPLC, you should know that they are one of the leading groups in the United States keeping track of “hate groups,” white supremacy, and other extremist organizations.

 

Steve Bannon, the former top strategist for President Trump who was resigned-fired last month, had plenty to say in an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday. As CNN reports, Bannon pulled no punches in assessing Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey:

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon believes President Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey was one of the worst mistakes in “modern political history.”

In a “60 Minutes” interview that was posted online Sunday night, Bannon was asked whether he considered Comey’s dismissal — which ignited a political firestorm and directly led to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including potential ties to Trump’s campaign — the biggest mistake in political history.

Bannon responded, “That would be probably — that probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history.”

Bannon is now back at Breitbart News, and it sounds like he is ready for an all-out war with the Republican Party.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Coffman Caves on BRIDGE Act Discharge Petition

UPDATE: Congressman Mike Coffman’s on-again, off-again support of DREAMERs is back on again. For now.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

—–

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports–Rep. Mike Coffman got his headlines, and…

Coffman no longer will press Congress to vote on a bill to help young immigrants who are at risk for deportation — an about-face that critics said confirms their suspicions that the Aurora Republican launched the short-lived effort simply for political gain.

Three days ago, Coffman filed what’s called a “discharge petition” to try to force the House to vote on a measure that would suspend the deportation of immigrants registered with the 2012 program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which President Donald Trump is canceling.

It was an unusual move, as discharge petitions typically aren’t used by the members of the party in power, but the fifth-term Republican said it was necessary to compel his GOP colleagues to take steps to protect DACA recipients…

That was then. This is now:

“I had a conversation with House Speaker (Paul) Ryan (on) Wednesday morning and he said that he’s committed to get DACA passed, albeit he wants to do it with some type of border security; I’m fine with that,” Coffman said Friday. [Pols emphasis] “What I told him is I’d hold it back but if I saw that he wasn’t making progress in terms of putting something forward, that I would push the discharge petition.”

After being forced by prudence (not to mention agreement) to praise Coffman’s move a few days ago, Democrats unleashed fury on Coffman for walking back his commitment to press forward, with mostly Democratic support if needed, with a discharge petition to force a vote on the BRIDGE Act:

Although Coffman reportedly signed on without fanfare as a cosponsor of the current version of the full DREAM Act just before the August recess, the BRIDGE Act is a simpler bill that would have extended the DACA protections for three years. Most importantly, the BRIDGE Act and the DREAM Act were standalone pieces of legislation not dependent on some larger bargain on the divisive subject of “border security.” In short, these were bills that would not require a deal to build Donald Trump’s wall in order to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries peace of mind.

Except now apparently, making DACA contingent on “border security” is “fine” with Mike Coffman! That’s an undeniable step backward from the leadership Coffman was making an effort to show last week, using a legislative tactic normally used by the minority to force a quick vote on a standalone bill to renew the terms of DACA for three years with no strings. In short, if you thought Coffman was going to follow through and match his words with action, you got played. And if you were cynical about Coffman’s true intentions and willingness to buck Republican leadership on this issue, you were right.

Mike Coffman is who he is, a conservative Republican and loyal member of Paul Ryan’s Republican majority. He will never be the right man to represent a district Hillary Clinton won by nine points last year. He can only fake it. What happened today was the end stage of faking it, and it was always inevitable.

Coffman caved.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 8)

In these times of escalating partisan rancor, it’s nice to know that we can all come together in a shared dislike of Tom Brady. 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…

► Congress this morning gave final approval to a $15 billion disaster relief package in the wake of Hurricane Harvey…just as Hurricane Irma prepares to throttle Florida. President Trump is apparently quite excited that his show of “bipartisanship” this week has attracted so much positive media coverage. As NBC News reports:

Trump expressed that he was thrilled with the positive news coverage the debt limit deal had received, a senior Democratic aide told NBC News.

“The people of the United States want to see a coming together, at least to an extent. We’re different parties, we have different thoughts, different feelings, different ideas. But I think you’re coming to see a much stronger coming together,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday.

Earlier in the day he said he looks forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats.

You’re a good wittle President, aren’t you? Yes, you are! 

 

► Anyway, back to the hurricane news…As the New York Times reports, nearly the entire state of Florida is in danger from one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded:

One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded crescendoed over the Caribbean on Thursday, crumpling islands better known as beach paradises into half-habitable emergency zones and sideswiping Puerto Rico before churning north. It is expected to hit the Florida Keys and South Florida by Saturday night…

…Gov. Rick Scott of Florida urged extreme caution in the face of a powerful storm that could quickly change course. “Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast you live on,” he said.

Hurricane Irma is the size of France — like, the entire country. Miami could take a near-direct hit by Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, a third potentially major hurricane, Jose, is right on the heels of Irma. And a major 8.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded off the southern coast of Mexico.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has already dropped his plans to push a discharge petition for a House vote on DACA. As The Hill reports:

Coffman said he made an agreement with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold off on gathering support for his discharge petition for the bill, which would extend protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for three years.

Coffman filed the discharge petition on Tuesday, which would need 218 signatures to trigger a House floor vote. Discharge petitions are typically used by the House minority party to bring attention to legislation ignored by the majority-party leadership — but are rarely successful.

For a member of the House majority like Coffman to file a discharge petition was an exceedingly rare move.

If you were cynical about Coffman’s newfound commitment to DACA, well, go ahead and say, “I told you so.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — Mike Coffman’s former spouse — doesn’t want any part of the controversy surrounding President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program for children of undocumented immigrants. Elsewhere, a group of 11 Democratic Governors are urging Congress to take swift action to assist DREAMERS.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Ending DACA: Gardner Dodges, Tancredo Celebrates

UPDATE: As Politico reports in a separate story, Congressional Republicans really have no idea what to do next:

House Republican leaders, already scrambling to avoid a government shutdown and a default on the nation’s debt, are privately hoping to push the immigration battle until at least this winter. [Pols emphasis] They, like the White House, want a down payment on Trump’s border wall with Mexico in exchange for codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — though House Democrats won’t say whether they’d accept tougher immigration restrictions in order to save the program…

…Multiple pro-DACA House and Senate sources have speculated that a legislative fix for “Dreamers” could pass the House with moderate Republicans and Democratic support. But Ryan would take serious heat from conservatives if he were to allow that without getting anything in return.

That’s why Republican leaders, working with the White House, will likely seek a narrow immigration deal that would extend the program while adopting some of Trump’s signature campaign promises on immigration.

—–

Tom Tancredo (right).

Politico reports on today’s announcement via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that President Donald Trump’s administration will indeed end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came here as children at risk of deportation:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is rescinding an Obama-era policy that provided work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, with a six-month wind-down period that allows Congress to act on the issue first.

“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions told reporters, adding that the Justice Department has advised Trump and the Department of Homeland Security to “begin an orderly, lawful wind-down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program.”

“This will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act — should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path,” Sessions said, encouraging lawmakers to “carefully and thoughtfully” pursue immigration reform.

Other than the above comment about Congress acting “should it so choose,” there was little in today’s announcement from Sessions to comfort DACA beneficiaries and their supporters. Sessions in particular validated incendiary right-wing tropes about DREAMer kids “taking jobs” from Americans, for which evidence is dubious at best. Such comments don’t inspire confidence that a legislative solution protecting DACA recipients would be signed into law.

Certainly not if possible Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo has anything to say about it, as he writes at Breitbart today:

By ending the government’s issuance of new DACA work permits but not canceling them immediately, the president is generously allowing them to expire over the next two years. Thus, Congress can “save DACA” by enacting amendments to current immigration law. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and — surprise! — there is no consensus among Republicans on what “saving DACA” means or how to do it. The Republican lawmakers who want to give legal status to the 780,000 current beneficiaries of DACA will be at war with others who want to use their fate as the excuse to pass a much broader amnesty affecting millions.

The noxious flavor of the Republican dilemma is illustrated by the political gymnastics of Republican Congressman Michael Coffman of Colorado. Coffman is so desirous of maintaining his “amnesty panderer in chief” status that he says he is going to offer a bill to order President Trump to continue the unlawful Obama program. More astonishing, Coffman is so desperate to save DACA that he has begun threatening to file a discharge petition — which needs 218 signatures — to force his bill out of committee and bring it to a vote on the House floor. Of course, this is just for optics. Discharge petitions rarely succeed and he knows it. Doesn’t matter. He thinks it plays well with the people for whom he is so desperate to prostitute himself and the Republican party.

Herein lies the dilemma faced by not just Rep. Mike Coffman, but any Republican who wants to help save the GOP from major political damage over the issue of protecting DREAMer child immigrants: there’s no consensus in the Republican Party to do that. As we noted this weekend, any attempt to resolve the issue is going to require Republicans to abandon the informal “Hastert Rule” requiring bills to have the support of the “majority of the majority” because there aren’t enough Republicans willing to agree DREAMers deserve protection at all.

A lot of them are in Tom Tancredo’s camp. Including, apparently, Jeff Sessions.

Sen. Cory Gardner paid lip service to protecting DACA recipients in his statement today, though not without playing the blame game:

I’m currently working with my colleagues in Congress about the next legislative steps we can take to ensure these children continue to have the opportunity to be in this country. We are in this situation today because the program was created through executive action by the previous administration instead of through Congress…

In attempting to lay blame for the current situation at the feet of the Obama administration, Gardner deliberately ignores the 2013 immigration reform legislation that passed the U.S. Senate before dying in the chamber he served in–and the more general refusal by the Republican Congress under President Obama to do anything that might be considered good for Obama’s legacy. Blaming Obama for GOP obstruction is of course nothing new for Gardner, though at this point it’s a laughably threadbare point.

Because Democrats aren’t anyone’s problem now. This is about Republicans choosing what their legacy will be.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 5)

A lot of stuff can (and did) happen over the course of a three-day weekend. 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…

► After days of speculation, President Trump made Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce the news on Tuesday: The Obama-era immigration policy better known as DACA is coming to an end. As CNN reports:

The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday at the Justice Department.

In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business community and education community at large has joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program, citing the contributions to society from the population and the sympathetic fact that many Dreamers have never known another home than the US…

…The administration also announced a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.

Most Democrats and even some moderate Republicans have largely opposed scrapping DACA, and many business leaders are worried about the impact it will have on reducing the available workforce. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Trump’s decision on DACA shows just how much the Republican Party has changed in the last few years.

Here in Colorado, the end of DACA is estimated to impact more than 17,000 people, and many local, state, and federal lawmakers are pushing back on the decision. Students across Colorado responded this morning by walking out of classes and staging public protests. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has a mixed history on immigration reform in general, says he plans to enact a motion in Congress to force a vote on legislation intended to protect so-called DREAMERS.

 

► Congress is back at “work” today following its annual month-long August recess. As the Washington Post explains, lawmakers have a lot on their schedule:

If you want to understand the situation facing Congress in September, imagine resolving the thorniest problem you can think of in the space of one month.

Now multiply that task by four and add President Trump.

This is what awaits lawmakers as they return from summer break this week. In the small number of working days between now and the end of the month, Congress faces the following decisions: passing a bill to avert a U.S. debt default, renewing government funding to avoid a partial shutdown, reauthorizing critical programs including the Federal Aviation Administration, extending funds for health insurance for about 9 million children and agreeing on emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

And that’s all while trying to anticipate the behavior of an unpredictable president.

Oh, but that’s not all. Not even close:

Trump has said he wants members to start working on tax cuts. There’s a chance Congress will respond if Trump phases out protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, as he is expected to do. Lawmakers are under pressure to fund Obamacare cost-sharing reduction payments before Sept. 27, when insurers have to commit to offering plans on the exchanges next year. The Senate needs to pass a defense authorization bill. Committees are expected to interview members of Trump’s inner circle about Russia. Depending on how Hurricane Irma evolves, Capitol Hill could find itself responding to yet another destructive storm.

 

► Colorado’s air quality is suffering from multiple major wildfires burning in the Western United States. As the Denver Post reports:

Heavy smoke from forest fires in the Northwest has triggered a health advisory for ozone and fine particulates along the northern Front Range through 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Outdoor air quality is at unsafe levels for sensitive groups, such as the elderly and those with health problems. In some areas, particulates are at high levels unhealthy for the public at large, according to the “Action Day Alert” from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The elderly, the very young and those in poor health are urged to remains indoors and to relocate if outside smoke is worsening indoor air quality. Even those in good health should avoid heavy exertion outdoors, such as jogging, until the alert is lifted.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

It Didn’t Have To Be This Way: Rep. Mike Coffman’s Original Sin

With increasingly official word from the White House yesterday that President Donald Trump does indeed intend to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation, Republicans can be divided into two camps: those who enthusiastically support this harsh crackdown on the least offending group of undocumented immigrants, and every Republican who has at any point been forced to acknowledge a humanitarian interest in protecting this population–which is most Republicans who run in politically competitive districts and states.

Colorado has prominent Republicans in both of the aforementioned camps, from nationally infamous anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo to GOP politicians considered today to be key “moderates” on the issue like Rep. Mike Coffman. Coffman, as we noted last week when word initially broke of Trump’s intention to end the DACA program, is hopinh to use an uncommon legislative maneuver with hoped-for Democratic support to force a vote on legislation to temporarily continue most DACA protections.

Mike Coffman’s public transformation from the Republican congressman who literally inherited Tancredo’s deep-red district into one of the GOP’s foremost alleged proponents of the rights of immigrants all goes back to the 2011 redistricting cycle, which redrew Colorado’s CD-6 into a diverse and competitive battleground district centered on the city of Aurora. Prior to redistricting, Coffman did his level best to keep up Tancredo’s anti-immigrant rhetoric–declaring in 2010 that “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” Then, after nearly losing his seat in 2012 to an underfunded challenger, Coffman began a public about-face the following year that outraged suspicious Democratic opponents but slowly began to win over the media.

In 2013, Coffman had the chance to take immigration off the table as a political issue, and participate a monumental bipartisan victory on immigration. We’re referring to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, which passed the U.S. Senate with a huge 68-32 margin of victory–and then died with the Republican-controlled House refusing to move the bill forward.

And who was right there on the same page with House Speaker John Boehner? Rep. Mike Coffman:

“I disagree with the Senate bill,” Coffman said April 25. “What Boehner has said, and I agree with, is that a comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill. We’re going to do step-by-step approach with individual bills on individual subject matters. The subject that I’ve taken up is on the military, but that’s certainly not the end all on immigration reform.”

Coffman said he doesn’t support a special path to citizenship for adults in the country who knowingly illegally immigrated to the country, contrary to one of the Senate bill’s main tenants and a contentious topic between Republicans and Democrats…

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

There are a host of reasons why the hard-won 2013 compromise from the U.S. Senate on immigration reform died as soon as it was sent to the House. One of the biggest, undeniably, was a perceived need to deny President Obama–who Coffman claimed in 2012 “is just not an American”–even the smallest of political victories. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, one of the architects of the Senate bill, has called again this year for Congress to pass his bill; but the idea that today’s GOP-controlled Congress can pass anything even remotely close is wildly unrealistic.

And this is critical to understand: in May of this year, Coffman welcomed the Trump administration’s actions on immigration overall–as a matter of principle and as a catalyst for action in Congress:

Coffman said immigrants in his district “should be concerned” about increased enforcement under the Trump administration.

At the same time, Coffman defended the Trump administration’s actions.

“Where the burden falls right now I think is not on this administration. [Pols emphasis] This administration is enforcing the law,” Coffman said. “They’re making both sides uncomfortable in Washington, D.C. by enforcing the rule of law. Before, it wasn’t enforced– or it was selectively enforced, and both sides were complacent on the left and the right. Now, I think neither side can be complacent.”

“[President Trump] is lighting a fire for Congress to act,” Coffman said.

If you apply these comments in May to what Trump is doing now, you would very reasonably conclude that Coffman supports Trump ending the DACA program instead of wanting to preserve it! Coffman tries to reconcile this sleight of hand by arguing DACA wasn’t passed by Congress, forgetting to mention that the GOP-controlled Congress could never pass the equivalent DREAM Act without Democratic support–and the GOP’s so-called “Hastert Rule” informally requiring legislation to have the support of “the majority of the majority” made that an impossible task. If Coffman does manage to succeed in forcing a vote on this three-year extension of DACA, win that House vote, get the bill through the Senate, and somehow persuade a famously egotistical President Coffman said in a campaign ad last year he doesn’t “care for much” to sign a bill undoing a central campaign promise…

You know what, folks? We don’t even need to speculate about that at this point. If it happens, great–Coffman will have accomplished a tiny sliver of the reform needed, years after it could have happened. In the much more likely event that Congress accomplishes nothing once again, the only thing that will matter is this: Coffman is part of the Republican majority who either helped Trump or failed to stop him. Worse, Coffman had the chance to take this issue off the table years ago, and he refused.

Either way, these are not the actions of “a hero.” This is a man dodging fate.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 1)

For those of you who haven’t already left town for a “four-day weekend,” allow us to catch you up on your political news. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Trump is calling his own bluff — again — on a potential government shutdown. The White House is backing off of Trump’s most-recent threats to “shut down” the federal government if Congress doesn’t appropriate enough money to build a giant wall between the U.S.-Mexico border. As the Washington Post reports:

“Build that wall,” Trump said at the Aug. 22 rally in Phoenix. “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

But shortly after Trump made those comments, White House officials quietly notified Congress that the $1.6 billion would not need to be in a “continuing resolution” that was meant to fund government operations from October until sometime in early December, a senior GOP congressional aide said…

…Trump could still follow through on a threat to shut down the government in December, but this marks the second time he has pulled back from the wall demand in order to allow lawmakers to pass a budget bill. The first time came in May, when lawmakers voted to authorize government funding through September and refrained from including money that would allow for the construction of a new wall.

The OVER/UNDER for the number of times that Trump will threaten to shut down the federal government (in 2017) is now at 3.5.

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper and his new BFF, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are promoting a healthcare policy plan of their own for Congress to get behind. The key tenets of the “Kasichlooper” plan are to stabilize insurance markets in part through retaining the “individual mandate” for insurance coverage. Governors from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Virginia, Louisiana and Montana have also signed onto the plan.

Why is it so important to retain the “individual mandate?” Read this story from the Seattle Times about what happened in the state of Washington when state legislators dumped the mandate (SPOLER ALERT: It didn’t go well).

 

President Trump is expected to rescind DACA — an Obama-era policy halting the deportation of children of undocumented immigrants — a decision that could mark a significant turning point for the electoral hopes of Republicans in years to come. Denver7 provides some Colorado-centered specifics:

They were brought to the U.S. as children of undocumented immigrants and a program called DACA allowed them to stay, to go to school and enter the workforce. But Thursday night, the hundreds of thousands of so-called ‘Dreamers,’ including those living in Colorado, fear their dreams could vanish as President Donald Trump nears a decision on whether to end DACA.

Denver7 talked to a local Dreamer, Monica Acosta about what’s at stake…

…This would essentially deport 17,000 Dreamers in Colorado and 800,000 across the country. Acosta is trying to cope and says she plans to stay put in the only place she has ever called home.

Officials with Denver Public Schools are warning that ending DACA would have “catastrophic” effects on the community as a whole. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Friday that he does not believe President Trump should axe DAVA.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)