Ken Buck Flees 9NEWS Camera Crew in Washington

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Rep. Ken Buck has struggled recently to explain a major contradiction in his statements about the American Health Care Act, a.k.a. “Trumpcare”–in the immediate aftermath of the bill’s failure in late March, Buck had told 9NEWS reporters that he was not “sold” on the bill, but then changed his story to claim he had always supported the bill in an op-ed. After that op-ed was Tweeted out by none other than President Donald Trump himself, 9NEWS tried to circle back with Rep. Buck to get an explanation.

And as readers know, Rep. Buck cancelled on 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark at the last minute.

Well, last night 9NEWS aired their followup to the story. Reporter Brandon Rittiman went to Washington to get a straight answer out of Buck, and…well, he wasn’tcompletely successful:

When Congressman Ken Buck cancels an interview set up 10 days in advance, giving us just a few hours notice, and then won’t commit to another time, we go ‘Buck hunting.’

Political Reporter Brandon Rittiman met up with the Fourth Congressional District Representative on Wednesday outside of his office in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

That interview lasted less than two minutes, included a ride in an elevator and ended with Buck walking away…

“What you said was that the president tweeted something that made me change my opinion, and you know all along that I had told people within a few hours after I had talked to you, that I as going to vote yes on it,” said Buck. “The president’s tweet had nothing to do with my position.”

Actually, that’s not true.

The American Health Care Act was pulled from the House floor before receiving a vote late last month.

Immediately after the bill was pulled, Buck told 9NEWS he remained undecided.

In the end, Rittiman wasn’t able to get an answer explaining Buck’s clear contradiction, but Buck’s weird misdirection about Trump’s Tweet bought him a few extra seconds to get past Capitol security–where Rittiman couldn’t follow. Buck didn’t change his story in response to Trump’s Tweet, he changed it before the Tweet in the op-ed Trump later posted–but obviously that doesn’t make it any less of a contradiction.

Buck certainly didn’t come out of this looking like a statesman, and his flip-flop is a metaphor for the struggle of his entire party to keep their dead-horse promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act: something the American people no longer want, and for which Republicans can no longer claim to have a better alternative.

And for a guy who says he wants to “drain the swamp,” Buck sure knows how to hide in one.

DO NOT Stand Up 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Yesterday, Rep. Ken Buck cancelled his scheduled appearance on Next with Kyle Clark on 9NEWS.

Note to politicians everywhere, we don’t recommend doing that:

Next hoped to let you hear from Congressman Ken Buck on Monday. He’s back in Colorado on break, and to push his new book called Drain the Swamp.

But Buck, a Republican who represents Northern Colorado, backed out of our long-scheduled interview this morning. Buck’s been making the rounds for his book on a lot of Republican friendly media outlets like Fox News and Brieitbart. Despite cancelling his interview with Next, Buck was on conservative talk radio and Christian radio Monday.

His publisher emailed this morning to say, “Congressman Buck just called me to say that something immovable came up.”

Hey, you know, stuff comes up right? The trouble is, Clark had some specific questions for Rep. Buck:

We hope he didn’t have an issue with the fact that we were obviously going to ask him why he tried to re-write history on his Obamacare repeal stance, in addition to the book.

He told us, and you after the plan failed that he hadn’t decided whether to support it.

Days later, he won praise from President Trump for claiming he did support the repeal bill.

We’d like to ask him if that’s swampy… or just sticky.

As we noted earlier this month, Rep. Buck’s ex post facto claim that he had supported the “Trumpcare” Affordable Care Act repeal bill didn’t comport with what he had told the very same 9NEWS right after the bill was pulled for lack of support. Buck’s attempt to explain his rather obvious dishonesty to the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews didn’t come across very well, and we would hope that the ensuing couple of weeks would have given Buck time to come up with a better answer.

Or not, in which case you get ridiculed by the state’s highest-rated television news station.

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 17)

You know there is still a rogue Easter Egg in your backyard somewhere. 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 halfway through the month of April, and there is still no end in sight to the large-scale protests of Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration. Denver7 has more on a big Denver rally on Saturday:

Thousands took to the streets in Denver demanding to see President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Protesters gathered at Civic Center Park and rallied together Saturday afternoon to ask for transparency and honesty from the president when it comes to his financial dealings.

The Tax March in Denver, one of more than 150 held across the nation, was also held in the hopes of creating pressure for Congress to enact legislation forcing elected officials to release their tax returns.

More rallies are planned for this weekend with a focus on addressing Climate Change.

 

► One of the biggest political stories in the country this week is taking place in Georgia, where the outcome of a special race to replace Republican Rep. Tom Price (now President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services) could foretell big changes in the 2018 election. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff may be able to get better than 50% of the vote in Tuesday’s election and avoid a runoff election with one of 11 Republican candidates. As CNN explains:

That’s what makes this race so fascinating: It shouldn’t be competitive. When Rep. Tom Price was tapped as Donald Trump’s health secretary, Georgia politicos were readying for what was likely to be an all-Republican fight featuring a few token Democrats. But Ossoff has jolted the 18-candidate field and unified most of the district’s Democrats and Trump skeptics.

Republicans are concerned enough about this race that President Trump took to bashing Ossoff on Twitter this morning.

 

► The White House is taking criticism from a late Friday announcement that visitor logs would no longer be made public. As the Washington Post writes:

Donald Trump appears to have made a cynical calculation that he will not pay a high political price for being the most secretive president since Richard Nixon.

All the leaks about infighting among senior staff and the president’s proclivity for tweeting have created a false sense that the public knows what is happening inside his White House. In fact, the administration has gone to great lengths to conceal pertinent information from the American people.

After dodging questions on the subject for weeks, the administration waited until the afternoon of Good Friday to dump the news that it will not follow former president Barack Obama’s policy of voluntarily disclosing the names of most visitors to the White House complex. The president’s communications director cited “grave national security risks” as a justification, even though Obama had made an exception for national security.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Ken Buck’s “Buckpedaling” Skills Have Not Improved

Last week, Rep. Ken Buck saw his profile elevated substantially after President Donald Trump highlighted Buck’s op-ed in The Hill, in which Buck claimed that he would have supported the American Health Care Act (a.k.a. “Trumpcare”):

Unfortunately for Rep. Buck, his claim that “I supported the AHCA, will continue to support it, and will encourage my colleagues to support it as well” contradicted what he told 9NEWS right after the bill was pulled for lack of support:

[M]oments after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act, Buck told 9NEWS he remained undecided.

“It was changing and I thought getting better in some respects, and I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the debate, but I had not committed … ,” Buck said in a phone interview. “I was not completely sold on the bill.” [Pols emphasis]

That’s a completely different answer from the one he gave in an opinion piece for The Hill Thursday, a piece shared by President Donald Trump on Twitter Thursday.

This weekend, the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews attempted to get to the bottom of this contradiction, and Buck didn’t acquit himself well:

Asked Thursday night to explain the conflicting public positions, Buck said he was playing his cards close to his chest so not to upset ongoing negotiations among House Speaker Paul Ryan, President Donald Trump and the conservative Freedom Caucus — of which Buck is a member.

“I talked to the leadership of the Freedom Caucus that was negotiating with the various groups and I told them that I was leaning yes on the bill in the morning before the vote was supposed to take place,” Buck said. “And they asked me to keep that quiet because they were still negotiating some details and they weren’t sure if the bill was going to get pulled or not – there was some talk about that that morning – and I agreed to do that. When I was asked by Brandon Rittiman whether I was committed on the bill, I forgot the exact language, but that to me, yes, if you would have had the vote, I would have voted yes. But it is wasn’t a commitment in the sense that I was out advocating for the bill and trying to push the bill.”

Got that? Rep. Buck says he was “leaning yes” on the morning of the vote, but Freedom Caucus leadership wasn’t sure about the count, so they asked him to “keep quiet” about being a yes. Then after the bill was pulled, he told 9NEWS that he was “not completely sold”–presumably again at the request of leadership, even though there was nothing at that point to be gained.

Except for Ken Buck covering his ass, of course!

Folks, this explanation is nonsensical. Buck’s claim that he was, is and will be a “yes” on the AHCA today cannot be made to fit with his statement right after the vote that he was not a “yes.” It’s silly to try to reconcile these two claims because you can’t. Buck should just take his lumps and admit he “misspoke,” the standard euphemism in politics for when you say something wrong/stupid/bigoted/obviously bullshit.

During Buck’s unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, the term “Buckpedal” was coined to describe his many reversals from hard-right “Tea Party” stands during the 2010 primary versus what he needed to say to have a prayer of winning a statewide election. Buck was an early victim of ubiquitous online video that froze him in time making statements he would later regret.

As you can see, it’s a lesson Rep. Buck still hasn’t learned.

Would Buck have voted for the GOP bill to repeal Obamacare?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: An op-ed from Rep. Ken Buck supporting Trumpcare gets Tweeted out by President Donald Trump himself:

Unfortunately for Rep. Buck, he appears to be contradicting himself with this new position supporting the moribund American Health Care Act, which we suspect won’t make The Donald very happy:

It’ll be fun to see how this shakes out, won’t it? Stay tuned…

—–

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told a conservative radio host Friday that he would have supported the GOP’s proposal to replace Obamacare, if it had come up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

Buck told KNUS 710-AM’s Steve Kelley that he was “very reluctantly willing to support” the American Health Care Act, in part, because Trump “deserves a honeymoon” after showing his willingness to “work with conservatives.”

Steve Kelley: So, were you going to vote for it?

Ken Buck: You know, I told the Speaker that I didn’t like a bill. I didn’t like the process, but if they needed my vote I would vote for it. I consider myself a lot more conservative than this bill, but I also think it’s important that we get things done. And I also feel like this President deserves a honeymoon. He gave us a great Supreme Court nominee. He gave us a great cabinet. And he has proven that he is willing to work with conservatives, and conservatives should step forward to work with him. And so, I was very reluctantly willing to support this…

Kelley: The idea of, “this [death of the AHCA] may be, in fact, the best thing because it is going to force the issue.” Do you agree with the President on that?

Buck: I think it is going to force the issue. I don’t think it was the best thing. I think the best thing would have been to pass this and also force the issue.

Buck, who’s a member of the House’s ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, joins U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in publicly supporting the GOP’s Obamacare replacement, while the rest of Colorado’s GOP House members didn’t take a public position.

The Freedom Caucus, Buck said on air, was invited to the White House to “go bowling” with Trump, and also to attend “probably a half dozen” meetings and dinners  to discuss the health care legislation, but ultimately Trump couldn’t get enough votes needed to pass the GOP bill.

Buck’s comments on KNUS were made from Dulles airport at the end of Friday after the GOP legislation was withdrawn.

On Friday morning, just before the bill was scheduled for a vote, The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews quoted Buck as saying, “I’m reading and I’m trying to gather information and I’m not going to have my arm twisted by anybody.” Matthews tweeted that Buck was undecided.

After the bill failed to come up for a vote, Buck told 9News he “was not completely sold” on it. This led 9News and other Denver outlets to report that Coffman was the only Colorado House Republican to publicly support the Republican legislation.

Buck was not among 33 Republicans identified by the New York Times as opposing the bill and causing its demise. None of Colorado’s Republicans were on the Times’ list.

(more…)

Trumpcare is Dead

This post will be updated throughout the day as new information becomes available. 

 

UPDATE 3:10 pm: President Trump is blaming Democrats for the failure of Trumpcare. Nevermind that Republicans could have passed the legislation without a single Democratic vote.

—–

UPDATE 2:00 pm: Republicans have pulled the bill from consideration. Trumpcare is dead. As the Washington Post reports:

House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a rewrite of the nation’s health-care system from consideration on Friday, a dramatic acknowledgment that they are so far unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We just pulled it,” President Trump told The Washington Post in a telephone interview.

In a news conference shortly after the decision, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) conceded that his party “came up short.”

The decision came a day after Trump delivered an ultimatum to lawmakers — and represented multiple failures for the new president and Ryan.

—–

UPDATE 11:19 am: House Speaker Paul Ryan has informed President Trump that Republicans do NOT have the votes to pass Trumpcare. From the New York Times:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, facing a revolt among conservative and moderate Republicans, rushed to the White House Friday afternoon to inform President Trump he did not have the votes to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to decide whether to pull the bill from consideration.

The president and the speaker faced the humiliating prospect of a major defeat on legislation promised for seven years, since the landmark health legislation was signed into law. President Trump had demanded a vote regardless, which has been scheduled for Friday afternoon. But House leaders were leaning against such a public loss.

—–

UPDATE 9:52 am: Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is a “YES” vote. No surprise here, but confirmation from Brandon Rittiman at 9News:

—–

UPDATE 9:31 am: Here’s a comprehensive look at the vote wrangling taking place in the House. In Colorado’s Congressional delegation, only Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is considered a potential “NO” vote.

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is pretending that he is still undecided on the bill, but is doing everything he can to avoid media questions on the topic.

—–

President Trump issued an “Art of the Deal” ultimatum late Thursday on Trumpcare, urging House Republicans to put their healthcare plan to a vote one day after punting because the caucus didn’t think it had the votes for passage. As the Washington Post explains:

The stakes are higher, but once again Trump is playing the take-it-or-leave-it game. He sent his chief of staff, chief strategist and the OMB director to the Capitol last night to say that if the House does not pass the repeal-and-replace bill today, as it stands, he is going to leave Obamacare in place as the law of the land and drop the issue. Mick Mulvaney, who co-founded the Freedom Caucus, told his former colleagues last night: “The president needs this. … If for any reason it (goes) down, we’re just going to move forward with additional parts of his agenda.” White House press secretary Sean Spicer went on Fox News to echo him: “At the end of the day, this is the only train leaving the station that’s going to repeal Obamacare.”

Trump, who knows this is a high-risk gamble, is following through on his campaign promise to bring a businessman’s approach to government. Today offers a big test of how that will work out.

Rand Paul, who has been highly critical of the House legislation, brought copies of “The Art of the Deal” with him to a meeting with the Freedom Caucus last week. He urged members to brush up on Trump’s tactics. The Kentucky senator even brought a poster with a quote from a chapter on how to “use your leverage.” “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it,” Trump wrote. “That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”

Republicans are trying to push through a Trumpcare vote today by promising a host of changes to both moderates and far-right conservative groups such as the Freedom Caucus. Concessions may include eliminating federal requirements for comprehensive coverage and scrapping the requirement that insurers accept pre-existing conditions; both proposals would be hugely unpopular with a majority of Americans, but Republicans seem to be weighing whether or not it is more politically-damaging to do nothing at all than it is to approve a terrible piece of legislation.

Most news outlets are reporting that a potential vote is too close to call. As of Thursday afternoon, anywhere from 30-40 Republicans were known to oppose Trumpcare; the legislation cannot pass if the House caucus can’t prevent more than 22 Republicans from voting “NO.”

Trumpcare’s Day of Reckoning

Watch this space throughout the day as new information becomes available on a potential House vote on Trumpcare.

—–

1:28 pm: The House punts:

 

—–

1:23 pm: The House has not even begun the process of moving Trumpcare toward a vote on the floor — which by itself can take several hours.

—–

12:45 pm: The “Freedom Caucus” may have killed Trumpcare — at least for today. As Politico explains:

President Donald Trump and conservative House Freedom Caucus members failed to strike a deal on the GOP Obamacare replacement Thursday, endangering the prospects of passage and all but assuring any immediate vote on the measure would fail.

Negotiations between Trump and the arch-conservatives opponents of the bill reached at least a temporary standstill after Freedom Caucus members were told recent concessions to the far-right were a final offer. The group rejected that, wanting more.

Trump’s inability to clinch an agreement means that Speaker Paul Ryan does not likely have the votes needed to pass the measure. [Pols emphasis] The Wisconsin Republican can afford to lose only 22 votes on the floor. The House Freedom Caucus, however, has three dozen members, who have vowed to block the bill unless they get what they want. Roughly a dozen centrist Republicans also have come out against the bill.

—–

11:39 am: The conservative House Freedom Caucus says “no deal!”

—–

11:30 am: New polling numbers continue to show widespread public opposition to Trumpcare. From TPM:

American voters oppose the GOP health care bill by a three-to-one margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

The poll found that 56 percent of respondents opposed the American Health Care Act, compared to only 17 percent who supported the bill. Twenty-six percent did not know or had no answer.

—–

10:02 am: Opponents of Trumpcare are literally lining the halls outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office today.

—–

9:55 am: The Washington Post sets the stage for today’s healthcare battle:

The Republican health-care overhaul faces its greatest test ever Thursday as President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) work feverishly to persuade enough Republican lawmakers to back the measure and push it to a floor vote.

Late Wednesday, the White House and House leaders were still scrambling to boost support, and signaled at the 11th hour a willingness to rework the measure to mollify conservatives. On Thursday morning, House leaders postponed a 9 a.m. meeting of the entire GOP Conference, signaling that negotiations were still underway.

As of late Thursday morning, 36 House Republicans — mainly conservatives — had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

After insisting for weeks that the changes sought by hard-right members would render the bill unable to pass the Senate, White House officials and GOP House leaders appeared to shift their thinking — and opponents agreed to keep working on a deal with the goal of holding a floor vote in the House by Thursday night.

 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 8)

Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s go ahead and see if we can 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 has joined with House Republicans to promote a major healthcare policy change that some Republicans are calling “Obamacare-lite” (in order to conserve letters, we’re just going to stick with “Trumpcare”). Despite any happy talk you may hear from individual lawmakers, the conservative backlash is well underway. Today, the American Medical Association announced that it could not support Trumpcare, either.

Good luck trying to find consensus on Trumpcare among Colorado’s Republican delegation to Congress. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has been a vocal supporter of the new health care legislation — even before he had a chance to read the draft document. Coffman is excited about what he calls a massive entitlement reform that would quickly eliminate Medicaid. Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to insist that he is opposed to any proposal that would gut Medicaid.

Politico examines seven specific pitfalls that could derail Trumpcare entirely, including a poor reception from the healthcare insurers and providers. Many conservative Republicans are also not happy with the plan being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

 

► House Republicans are moving quickly as they try to enact Trumpcare. As the Washington Post explains, outside groups are being left to figure out the details:

The House GOP is moving so fast — with debate starting in the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee less than 48 hours after they unveiled their bills — that lawmakers have not yet received any estimates from congressional budget analysts of how much the plans would cost or, significantly, how many Americans could be expected to gain or lose insurance coverage…

…An analysis by S&P Global predicts the legislation would lead to a loss of coverage for 2 million to 4 million of the roughly 16 million Americans who bought their own health plans through the ACA’s marketplaces or separately. More adults 35 and younger would gain coverage, while fewer adults 45 and older would be insured, according to the analysis…

…The GOP plans also would undo an ACA rule that allows insurers to charge their oldest customers no more than three times what they charge their youngest and healthiest ones. Instead, insurers could charge five times as much…

…Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said more low-income people would have a hard time affording benefits under the Republicans’ American Health Care Act. “There will be more losers than winners,” he said.

It’s not all bad news — Trumpcare is great if you are already rich.

 

► The Colorado legislature could end up convening a special session this summer if Trumpcare makes it through Congress.

 

► Women haven’t disappeared in Colorado, but this is what it might look like if they did.

 

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

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 3)

Oh, we thought you were asking if we spoke Russian… Let’s go ahead and see if we can 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…

► Russia, Russia, Russia! Questions about Russian ties to the Trump administration look like they will be dogging the President for months — if not years — despite President Trump’s repeated claims that this is nothing more than a partisan “witch hunt.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday recused himself from any investigations about Russia and the Trump administration in a weird press conference late Thursday  that included a difficult-to-swallow explanation of why Sessions lied during his Senate confirmation hearings about his past dealings with Russia. Also on Thursday came news of another unreported meeting with Russian officials and the Trump administration, including Trump’s on-in-law Jared Kushner.

As for Colorado’s elected officials, the Denver Post reports that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking a much softer position on Sessions than his colleagues. Gardner declined to call on Sessions to recuse himself on investigations about Russia — just hours before Sessions recused himself:

The issue is even splitting Republicans in Colorado’s delegation. U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said Sessions “made a grave omission” by not disclosing his meetings during his confirmation hearings.

He said it “would be more than prudent for him to recuse himself from any Russian inquiry, and I would encourage him to fully disclose any and all foreign contacts he had during the course of the campaign.”

Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet issued a statement shortly after Gardner’s interview aired that called on Sessions to recuse himself and appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Russia’s actions.

The next big debate on this issue involves whether or not a special prosecutor should take over an investigation of Russian ties to the Trump administration. The New York Times has compiled a handy timeline of Sessions and his talks with Russian officials if you need a quick refresher course.

 

► Embattled Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee is out of a job after agreeing to any early departure from the school district as it became clear his contract would not be renewed.

 

► Congressional Republicans are all over the map on the issue of a potential repeal and/or replacement of Obamacare. As the Washington Post explains, we may not know what is in a Republican healthcare plan unless it gets approved first. On Thursday, several Congressional Republicans — including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — made a show of running around the Capitol trying to get a glimpse of a secret draft healthcare proposal. Hypocrisy on line one!

Senator Cory Gardner, meanwhile, is talking up cuts to Medicaid as a major piece of any healthcare legislation.

 

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

Ken Buck Scrambles Obamacare Repeal Message

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Ingold reports, Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley just helped deprive Coloradans of whatever security they might have felt about health care, after other Colorado Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner assured us that the Affordable Care Act would not be repealed without a replacement in place:

In a meeting with constituents in Douglas County on Tuesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck said he believes that fully implementing a replacement could take years after the vote to repeal the law. His fellow Colorado U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, though, told constituents in a video message last week that he would not vote to repeal the law without “a concurrent replacement.”

…Buck said he believes that a repeal of the heath care law will occur “soon” but will have its effective date delayed. Crafting, passing and fully implementing the replacement plan, he said, “will take a while to formulate.”

“I think other Republicans are expressing their optimism that something can happen concurrently,” Buck said. “I think realistically, if we do the process the right way, replacement is going to take a period of time.”

To be fair, Buck does assert that “there won’t be a change that happens next month that is going to completely alter the health care system, but Buck’s willingness to accept repeal without any replacement creates major uncertainty for everyone who has gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act–or benefited from improvements to coverage like keeping kids on parents’ plans longer and requiring pre-existing conditions to be covered.

Obviously, this sets up a conflict between Buck and the promises made by other Colorado Republicans–and given the reticence of most Republicans to be specific about the plan for health care going forward, we wouldn’t look for any clear answers anytime soon.

If that’s cold comfort for you, there are protests just about every day lately.

Who’s Telling the Truth About GOP Obamacare Replacement?

(¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) if he could guarantee to his constituents that they’d “have coverage if you have it now.”

“The answer to that is no, right?” asked Hayes.

“Yes,” replied Sanford. “The answer is, we don’t know with precision.”

Colorado Republicans need to be asked the same question, because over the past months most them, with the exception of U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, have repeatedly implied that no one will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. But am I hearing them right? Is this a promise?

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stated KOA 850-AM Feb. 17, “And let me just say, nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

If nothing means nothing, then no one will lose their health care coverage, at a minimum, much less all the other benefits of Obamacare (e.g., coverage for under-26 family members, pre-existing conditions, no caps on coverage).

Coffman’s office sort of confirmed his stance to 9News this week.

9News: Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

But that’s a aspiration, not a promise, and Coffman’s constituents want to know if Coffman would vote for a still-unkown Obamacare replacement that would throw people off the health insurance rolls.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed the same promise in the form of an aspiration, as he likes to do when dealing with a tough question.

Gardner: “What we have to do is create a bipartisan health care plan, health insurance plan, to make sure that we can do better than Obamacare,” said Gardner on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13.

Is he saying his constituents won’t lose their insurance? I think so, but he needs to be asked point blank–and repeatedly, because that’s often what it takes with Gardner (e.g., Will he vote for Trump? And will he hold a town hall? And what about the federal personhood amendment?)

In some communications, Colorado Republicans are stopping short of promising that their constituents won’t lose their health insurance, but they’re guaranteeing that elements of Obamacare won’t be lost.

“…[U]nder the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike,” wrote Congressman Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton in The Denver Post Jan. 13.

That’s a serious promise.

But the larger question remains. What exactly are you saying? Will you vote for a bill that doesn’t guarantee health insurance for all Americans who have it under Obamacare? If not, how many are you willing to throw off the rolls or put at risk of losing their coverage?

Ken Buck Spills Obamacare Beans in Secret “Constituent” Meeting

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) says an Obamacare replacement plan is YEARS away.

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent produced some impressive journalism this week when she managed to 1) Learn about a secret “constituent” meeting with Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), and 2) Find a way to get inside the room at said secret meeting.

As Goodland learned firsthand, Rep. Buck is making some fairly bold assurances about healthcare reform efforts in Congress that don’t really jibe with some of the other GOP talking points we’ve seen and heard over the last week:

President Trump has said his administration plans to unveil a replacement plan next month, but Buck told the crowd that it could take several years to come up with a replacement. “We need to come to consensus on how much we’re willing to pay. We will leave some people behind, one way or another” either by charging too much or coming up with a plan that won’t cover everyone, he added.

He pleaded with the audience to remove from their minds the idea that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would happen before a replacement plan is in place. [Pols emphasis]

The healthcare marketplace, insurance companies and employers will have a chance to adjust before the ACA is gone, he insisted. “The idea that anyone wants to disrupt the economy in that way isn’t true.”

Whoa! These are some pretty strong statements coming from Buck that definitely don’t jibe with paid advertisements in Republican districts promising that the GOP “has a plan” for healthcare reform. Says Buck:

  1. Any Obamacare replacement plan is years away from reality.
  2. Any GOP healthcare plan will definitely not cover all Americans.
  3. Congress will not repeal Obamacare until a replacement plan is in place.

This is most definitely not the narrative that Republican leaders would have you believe about Obamacare…but that doesn’t mean Rep. Buck is wrong.

CPAC Conference? Call It The Beau-PAC Conference!

Bob Beauprez (right).

With the upcoming 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington making headlines after disinviting their keynote speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, those of us with Google alerts tracking two-time Colorado gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez are getting fresh updates. As Politico reported yesterday on the controversy:

Milo Yiannopoulos lost his keynote speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference after tapes surfaced of the right wing provocateur and senior Breitbart editor advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men.”

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, in a statement Monday afternoon. The group called Yiannopoulos to “further address these disturbing comments,” but defended its original decision to invite him as a nod to “the free speech issue on college campuses.”

…President Donald Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will be headlining this year’s event, along with top White House aides Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. But the Milo controversy quickly threatened to taint the event and raised questions about what it would mean if other speakers still attended.

CPAC organizers had a conference call at 1 p.m. on Monday to discuss the controversy and how to address it, according to a GOP source familiar with the matter. The decision to disinvite Yiannopoulos was unanimous and did not even need to be deliberated, the person said. Among those on the call were ACU board members Amy Frederick, Bob Beauprez, Mike Rose, Matt Smith, Matt Schlapp and Becky Norton Dunlop, along with Vice Chair of the ACU Foundation Millie Hallow. [Pols emphasis]

To have been a fly on the wall for that conference call! There hasn’t been much coverage of the Yiannopoulos meltdown in local press, which is odd since he just toured through Colorado on a college speaking tour that generated plenty of earned media. But it seems to us that somebody should pick up the phone and ask American Conservative Union board member Beauprez what led to their unanimous decision to ban this guy.

And if you happen to be headed to CPAC this weekend, you can catch Beauprez as the moderator of this truly fascinating panel discussion on Saturday morning:

We can’t explain the ID of Beauprez as the representative of Colorado’s 10th congressional district, since Colorado only has seven congressional districts. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement of how long Beauprez has been out of office? We digress. Anyway, we are of course very interested in hearing what Beauprez and Rep. Ken Buck have to say about border security.

In…Heaven. Aren’t you at least a bit curious?

Ken Buck Only Member of Colo. Delegation to Back Travel Ban

Rep. Ken Buck presses whatever button President Trump prefers.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has generally refused to answer reporter questions about his position on Donald Trump’s travel ban for immigrants, leaving local news outlets such as Denver7 and the Denver Post to guess about his position on one of the more pressing issues in the country. But Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman will not be denied; as Luning reports, Rep. Buck on Monday offered his unqualified support for the Muslim travel ban:

“Our country has always offered hope for the oppressed and homeless, but hope also requires safety and security,” Buck said. We should not let people into this country unless we can thoroughly vet them. America welcomes Muslims from 190 countries and temporarily bans all individuals from 7 countries. The President’s executive order is a temporary effort that addresses a serious issue with terrorist hot spots.”

Congressman Buck is the only member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation to offer his full support for Trump’s travel ban. Even Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn made it clear that he opposes Trump’s Executive Order creating the travel ban.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 4)

Here comes the snow! Maybe. Forecasts along the Front Range call for as much as 2 feet of snow in the next two days…which probably means we’ll get an inch of rain. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The new Republican Congress got off to a curious start this week by attempting to quietly gut the House Ethics Committee before constituents (and Donald Trump) got wind of the plan and expressed their anger. House Republicans quickly backtracked on this idiotic idea, thanks in part to opposition from Trump but largely because voters made their voices heard:

This is a really, really, really, really stupid way for Republicans to start things off in 2017. As Politico explains, this move could sting for awhile:

By early Tuesday morning, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of GOP leadership realized the proposal was about to tank the entire House rules package — and implode the first day of the GOP-led Congress. They convened an emergency closed-door conference meeting around noon to discuss removing the ethics provision — but it was too late. Donald Trump had tweeted his disapproval, and the public outcry had risen to such a crescendo that all anyone wanted to talk about was an obscure House office few people had ever heard of just 24 hours before.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who added that the ethics snafu was an unforced error. “Sometimes people have to learn the hard way.”…

…The day left some members shaking their heads. Many, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), left the chamber Tuesday night crossing their fingers that the drama of the first day would not foreshadow the next two years to come.

“I think that there is going to be a lot of tough votes we will have to take and this wasn’t one of the toughest ones, so, I think we should learn from this,” he said. “Once you launch that ship, you’ve got to keep going… We need to go forth with more sense of purpose and direction.”

Fill the swamp! Fill the swamp! Oh, wait, that’s not right…

 

► Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) won’t reveal how he voted on the controversial measure to gut the House Ethics Committee. In other words, Tipton almost certainly supported the effort. Colorado Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn, Ken Buck, and Mike Coffman are all claiming that they opposed the measure. According to reports, 119 Republicans backed crippling the Ethics Committee; we have a sneaking suspicion that this number isn’t going to match public proclamations in another few days.

 

► A media outlet finally got around to asking some of Colorado’s top Republican officials about Donald Trump…though it wasn’t a journalist related in any way to Colorado. Come on, Colorado political reporters! How can you get scooped by something called Gray Television?

As Jason Salzman notes, there may be no more relevant question for Colorado Republicans than to be asked about Trump.

 

 

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