Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

LGBT:

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

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

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

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 16)

Greetings, comrades! Let us commence with today’s lesson plan. 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’s administration is crumbling faster than Cory Gardner can flee a constituent. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, news that Trump passed highly-confidential information to the Russians just might be the proverbial back-breaking straw on this here camel:

In a number of conversations Monday evening with Republican House members and GOP strategists, there was a widespread feeling that this time Trump might have gone too far…

…consider the following five things Trump has done since coming into office: 1) Twice failed to enact a travel ban 2) Engaged in an extended argument over crowd size at his inauguration 3) Falsely accused then-President Barack Obama of wire-tapping Trump Tower during the election 4) Took 18 days to get rid of national security adviser MIchael Flynn after being informed Flynn was compromised by the Russians 5) Fired Comey, even as he was overseeing the Russia investigation.

Any ONE of those are the sort of thing that would be a major slip-up in any other administration — and might lead to defections from within the president’s own party.  All five of them — plus the new revelations regarding classified information being shared with two top Russian officials — is something close to an avalanche of political malpractice.

How much more can — or will — congressional Republicans take?

If you’re looking for answers as to why Trump would have divulged such sensitive information to the Russians, there aren’t a lot of plausible answers.

If you’re looking for a response to this growing crisis from Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)…well, good luck with that. But Gardner has certainly painted himself into a corner with his previous bold declarations about national security.

Actually, if you’re looking for a response from any Colorado Republicans, you’re not alone.

 

► Things would have to improve at the White House before you could even begin to use the word “disarray.” From the Washington Post:

This time it did not even take 24 hours for Donald Trump to throw his staffers under the bus and contradict their denials.

The president revealed highly classified (code word) information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an Oval Office meeting last week, potentially endangering a coveted intelligence asset, compromising a crucial alliance and undermining the war effort against the Islamic State.

After The Post broke the story, senior White House aides quickly denied it. “I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” said national security adviser H.R. McMaster. “This story is false,” added Dina Powell, his deputy.

Then, on Twitter this morning, Trump essentially acknowledged that The Post’s reporting is accurate, defended his decision to share the information and complained about the leak that allowed what he’d done to get out.

Working for Trump at the White House certainly appears to be nothing short of awful. It can’t help that Trump’s approval ratings continue to drop and the public is demanding a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia.

 

► Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, also the second-longest-serving Attorney General in Colorado history, is apparently no longer on a short list to become the next FBI Director. We’re sure Suthers is absolutely (not) despondent to learn that he won’t be next in line to manage this particular shit show.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Americans Wary of Trump, Want Russia Investigation

This is basically what America thinks of Trump

Last week was not a good week for President Donald Trump. Things are not looking much better.

The newest batch of approval ratings from Gallup are out today, and President Trump is demonstrating a consistently-downward trend. Check out how Trump’s approval ratings stack up to his predecessors at a similar time in their respective administrations:

   Barack Obama:     64%
   George W. Bush:  56%
   Bill Clinton:            45%
   Donald Trump:     38%

Yeah, that’s not good…and it’s probably going to get worse. Results from a separate NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll were released on Sunday showing that 78% of Americans would like to see a “special investigator” assigned to look into potential collaboration between Russian officials and Trump’s campaign for President.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 5)

Remember, kids: Don’t put the guacamole in your tortilla-chip hat until just before you are ready to leave the house. 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…

► As you may have heard, Congressional Republicans finally passed a bill on Thursday related to the repeal and destruction of Obamacare. Republicans toasted to the (poor) health of Americans at the White House last evening, but the political blowback is already underway. From CNN:

The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan campaign handicapping service, changed the ratings on 20 GOP-held districts Friday morning — all of them moving in Democrats’ favor in advance of the 2018 midterm election…

…Two of the 20 changes affected members who actually opposed the AHCA: Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Mike Coffman of Colorado. Of Coffman, Wasserman wrote: “Coffman ended up voting against the AHCA, but his hesitation to announce his position likely won’t assuage voters who want to send a message to President Trump next year.” [Pols emphasis]

Think about the changes the Cook Report made this way: To win back the House majority, Democrats need to gain 24 GOP seats. Twenty Republican seats just moved toward Democrats — in less than a day and with a single congressional vote.

That’s a big deal.

Aurora Republican Mike Coffman did indeed vote “NO” on Trumpcare 2.0 on Thursday, but it doesn’t appear as though Coffman is going to get any real political cover from the decision. Coffman’s vote on Thursday won’t extinguish the memory of his longstanding support for repealing Obamacare, including the fact that he was one of the biggest cheerleaders of the failed Trumpcare bill in March of this year.

 

► The healthcare legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate, and its future is as uncertain as ever. Republican Senate leaders are already questioning the wisdom of the House passing a bill that many members never even had a chance to read first.

Check out this video of a reporter asking Republican Members of Congress if they had read the healthcare legislation — that’s Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) who walks quickly away from the question near the end of the clip.

 

► Other than Mike Coffman, Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted along party lines on Trumpcare 2.0. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) had been coy about his support for the latest healthcare bill, but as the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, Tipton is drinking all of the GOP Kool-Aid:

The most recent version of the American Health Care Act passed the House on Thursday with U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., saying it met his test of making insurance more affordable.

“As the House developed the American Health Care Act, I was adamant that the replacement plan needed to ensure people with pre-existing conditions would have access to affordable health insurance,” Tipton said in a statement after the vote. “The bill provides these assurances.”…

…Critics took immediate issue with Tipton, among them ProgressNow Colorado, whose executive director noted Tipton’s comment to The Daily Sentinel in February that, “Every policy is still going to be in effect. People are not going to be left without coverage.” Tipton broke his promise to constituents with his vote, said Ian Silverii.

Tipton’s comments are complete and utter nonsense. It has been widely reported that the GOP healthcare bill would all but eliminate the requirement that insurance companies don’t penalize people with pre-existing conditions.

 

 

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New Poll Shows Tough 2018 Road for Colorado Republicans

Magellan Strategies, a Colorado-based polling firm that is known to lean-Republican, released a fresh new batch of polling numbers in Colorado today. For Republicans hoping to see better results after an awful Keating Research poll in March…

Well, let’s just say that things are looking up — but only because Republican numbers are essentially upside-down.

Magellan Strategies polled 502 “likely 2018 General Election voters in Colorado” on April 26 and 27, and the results are pretty dismal for Republicans. Take a look at some of the “key findings” as presented by Magellan:

♦ Among likely 2018 voters, 47% approve and 49% disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President. Among unaffiliated voters, 40% approve and 53% disapprove of the job he is doing.

♦ The generic Congressional ballot shows voters prefer the Democrat candidate to the Republican candidate by a 5-point margin, 39% to 34% respectively. Among unaffiliated voters, the generic Democrat candidate leads the generic Republican candidate by a 13-point margin, 34% to 21% respectively.

♦ Among all respondents, 34% approve of the job the Republicans in Congress are doing and 58% disapprove.

♦ Among likely 2018 voters, 40% approve of the job Senator Cory Gardner is doing, 37% disapprove, and 23% do not have an opinion. Among unaffiliated voters 37% approve of the job Senator Gardner is doing and 35% disapprove.

President Trump’s approval ratings are definitely upside-down in Colorado. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is right on the precipice of being flipped on his head, but remember here that Magellan Strategies generally tilts rightward in its poll results.

Gardner should also be worried that he continues to poll far below Trump among likely Republican voters. In the Keating Research poll from March, Gardner had a 63% approval rating among Republicans compared to 83% for Trump. According to Magellan Strategies, Gardner has a 59% approval rating among Republicans compared to 85% for Trump. In short, Gardner is losing support among Colorado Republicans at the same time that Trump is slowly gaining favor.

There are a lot of reasons why Gardner is losing favor among voters, including Republicans, and it starts with his disinterest in speaking with constituents. It doesn’t help that Gardner is getting splinters in his pants from regularly riding the fence on issues while he bends over backward to show deference to Trump on subjects that are supposed to be right in his wheelhouse.

The only good news for Trump and Gardner is that they won’t have to appear again on a Colorado ballot until 2020. But for Republicans campaigning in 2018, these numbers must be absolutely terrifying.

Buck, Coffman Emerge as Swing Votes in Trumpcare 2.0

TUESDAY UPDATE: Concerns over the status of “pre-existing conditions” in the latest version of Trumpcare is costing Congressional Republicans the support of key moderates. From the Washington Post:

The revamped Republican push for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system ran into a new roadblock on Tuesday when a key lawmaker, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), said he would vote against the current proposal.

In an interview with WHTC radio in Holland, Mich., Upton, a former chairman and current member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he could not support the latest version of the House GOP plan because he does not believe it does enough to protect people with preexisting medical conditions — a growing concern among Republicans.

“This amendment torpedoes that, and I told the leadership I cannot support the bill with this provision in it,” Upton said. “I don’t know how it all will play out but I know there are a good number of us that have raised real red flags.”

Upton’s comments came the day after Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), a longtime opponent of the federal health-care law known as Obamacare, came out against the current Republican plan to repeal and replace key parts of it — also citing concerns about preexisting conditions.

Here’s a list of pre-existing conditions in Colorado that might not be covered under the current iteration of Trumpcare.

—–

Trumpcare 2.0

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Congressional Republicans are having trouble finding the votes to support another legislative repeal/replacement of Obamacare — or “Trumpcare 2.0.” From CNN:

The White House and congressional Republicans are in serious danger of not having enough votes to pass their health care bill.

Several Republicans have come out Monday against the current measure to repeal and replace Obamacare, bringing CNN’s whip count to 21 Republicans — mostly moderates — opposed to the bill with another dozen lawmakers still undecided.

And President Donald Trump, whose White House was optimistic the House could pass a bill Wednesday, once again muddied the waters by suggesting the measure may still be changed.

“I want it to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now,” he said during an Oval Office interview Monday with Bloomberg News. “It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”

Over the weekend there were a plethora of national stories about how Republicans and the White House were feeling good about potentially reaching the number of required “YES” votes in order to push Trumpcare 2.0 to a vote on the House floor. That enthusiasm has apparently begun to wane.

According to a detailed whip count from The Hill, two Colorado Republicans could play a pivotal role in the fate of this latest health care bill. The Hill lists Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) as a current ‘NO’ vote, with Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) listed as a ‘YES’ on the proposed bill. This marks an interesting change from mid-March, when Coffman was a 100% supporter of Trumpcare and Buck was — well, Buck was all over the place.

We’d attempt to read the political tea leaves here, but since both Coffman and Buck have hunkered down on all sides of the debate over the last few months, your guess is as good as ours.

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 1)

If someone left a bouquet of May Day flowers on your front door today, we want to hear about it. Seriously. 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 has come to agreement on a budget proposal that will keep the federal government funded through September. As the Washington Post reports, President Trump got absolutely rolled on the negotiations:

Perhaps the best negotiators are not the people who tell everyone that they are the best negotiators.

A spending agreement was reached last night that will keep the government funded through the end of September. This will be the first significant bipartisan measure passed by Congress since Donald Trump took office.

The White House agreed to punt on a lot of the president’s top priorities until this fall to avert a shutdown on Friday and to clear the deck so that the House can pass a health-care bill…

…But Democrats are surprised by just how many concessions they extracted in the trillion-dollar deal, considering that Republicans have unified control of government.

 

► Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are casting this week as the last real chance to approve a potential plan to repeal Obamacare. The White House is taking its usual blustery stance about having enough votes from Republicans to pass a bill out of the House, though the outlook is not so rosy when you ask Congressional leaders. It is unclear whether House Republicans have enough support from moderates to pass something along to the Senate, and there is little reason to believe that any potential legislation could move at all if it were to land in the Senate.

The main sticking point in the current healthcare negotiations revolves around pre-existing conditions. Trump maintains that any new Obamacare repeal “will be every bit as good on preexisting conditions as Obamacare.” But in order to gain the support of right-wing Republicans, such as the Freedom Caucus, Congressional Republicans are actually trying to gut protections for pre-existing conditions.

 

► By the end of the day today, there will be little evidence left of a weekend snowstorm in the Denver metro area. But it did snow — quite a bit, in fact — and the weather didn’t stop a huge crowd from turning out in Denver in support of efforts to combat Climate Change. Thousands of people showed up at Civic Center Park on Saturday to take part in a march and rally that was also happening simultaneously in more than 300 cities around the world.

 

► Republicans in the State Senate are crowing about a new budget proposal in an effort to pretend that they are actually interested in governing. From John Frank of the Denver Post:

Colorado’s top lawmakers are negotiating a far-reaching measure in the final days of the legislative session that is designed to save hospitals from major budget cuts, generate $1.8 billion for road repairs and lower the state’s spending cap.

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, unveiled the details early Monday after days of closed-door negotiations with top Democratic lawmakers. But moments after he announced an agreement on the legislation, an aide passed him a note from Democrats that declared no deal.

We don’t doubt that many Democrats aren’t happy with this latest funding proposal, considering some of the nonsense included in Sonnenberg’s bill:

The latest negotiations include requiring the maximum federal co-pay for Medicaid, the government-funded health care program for people with low-income, as well as a cut to the business personal property tax for small business owners, up to $25,000. Other provisions would change how TABOR refunds are issued and funnel more money to rural schools.

Republican lawmakers continue to insist that there is plenty of money hidden away in government coffers that could pay for everything if they could just move some decimal points around here and there. Note also how Republicans would include a tax cut for businesses alongside a big new financial burden for low-income Coloradans.

 

 

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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.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 14)

Have a Good Friday. For that matter, have a good Saturday and Sunday, too. 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…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has been all over the news in the last few days following a town hall meeting earlier this week that did not go particularly well for the longtime Republican politician. On Thursday, Coffman made some interesting statements in an interview with Kyle Clark of 9News that included a sharp rebuke to Republicans who continue to complain — with no evidence — about “fake protestors” badgering Members of Congress. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

CLARK: Do you think they’re ‘fake protesters?’

COFFMAN: You know, I really don’t. You know, God bless the Republican Party for what it does, but I don’t–the fact is that they had to register for the event because we wanted to make sure that the people were from the district. And so, ah, uh, I thought it was a great event, I thought it was very lively, uh, I thought, I felt they were very committed, uh, to their issues, uh granted the audience leans left relative to the district, but they’re the people who are most concerned. With potential changes, mostly to Medicaid. And so I respect the fact that, you know that they were there, they were voicing their views, and they were not shy about it…

…I mean the fact is that, I think that the reality is, that sure there are some organizers there. But the vast majority of these people are simply committed activists in their own right. Uh, and they are not paid. They are simply, this is where their heart is. And I respect that.

Coffman’s answer here is not only a rebuke to the hysterical nonsense coming from partisan Republicans, but a sharp blow to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as well. Gardner has been trying to months to make the argument that people who are disappointed with his actions are “fake” or “paid” protestors, and Coffman’s words make this a difficult narrative to continue.

 

► Not all is well for Rep. Coffman, who is still getting poor reviews for his ham-handed town-hall event on Wednesday.

 

► As for Gardner, he is meeting today with employees of CoBank in Greenwood Village. It’s sorta like a town-hall meeting, except that you can’t come. Gardner took a tour of Devils Canyon in Western Colorado on Wednesday; he’ll go anywhere so long as he isn’t likely to run into actual constituents.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 13)

Politics can be terrifying at times — but nothing like this horrifying furless Tickle Me Elmo doll. 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…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) finally held a town hall meeting on Wednesday. The event, held at the Anschutz Campus of the University of Colorado in Aurora, drew scores of national media outlets and generated a narrative that was not at all kind to Coffman and his fellow Republican Members of Congress. Here’s Rachael Bade reporting for Politico:

During a roughly two-hour town hall here on the outskirts of Denver Wednesday night, nearly every other constituent brought up health care.

But not a single one did it to thank Rep. Mike Coffman for backing the beleaguered House GOP Obamacare replacement. Instead, dozens of local inhabitants in this swingiest of swing districts — both Democrats and Republicans — pummeled the Colorado Republican for supporting legislation they believe would harm their community…

“I voted for you because I thought you’d be a leader,” said one angry constituent. “I don’t see you leading.” [Pols emphasis]

The chaotic scene that unfolded Wednesday foreshadows the problem dozens of centrist Republicans will face during the 2018 mid-term elections in swing districts across the country. While Coffman was one of the few moderates to brave a town-hall setting during the two-week Easter recess, his colleagues will hardly be able to dodge constituent blowback at the polls.

Coffman was a full-throated supporter of the Trumpcare efforts that failed spectacularly in Congress last month, even going so far as to praise the bill “in its current form” literally hours before a Congressional Budget Office appraisal estimated that more than 24 million Americans would lose health coverage if the bill were passed. Coffman walked straight into this political buzzsaw of his own volition, and he’s paying the price for it now.

 

► Coffman also created national news on Wednesday by saying that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer “needs to go.” As CNN reports:

The pointed question to Coffman came from a woman who said her great-grandparents died in Auschwitz…

…”I need to hear from my congressman that these things are unacceptable,” the woman said.

“Spicer made a terrible mistake yesterday. If you’re not familiar with what he did is that he…” Coffman began to say, but the audience made clear that it didn’t want to hear excuses.

Throwing up his hands, Coffman said: “He needs to go.”

 

► State Senator Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) became the first candidate to make a big splash in announcing his campaign for CD-7 on Wednesday. As Ernest Luning writes for the Colorado Statesman, Kerr had some big names on hand for his kickoff announcement — including outgoing Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s wife, Nancy:

For Kerr, who went to Dunstan and then taught social studies there for nearly a decade after he became a teacher, his campaign launch had the air of a homecoming shared with an enormous extended family. He introduced his parents, his brother, his 101-year-old grandmother — born before women had the right to vote, Kerr said, she was glad she could vote for a women in last year’s presidential election and can’t wait to vote for her grandson for Congress next year — and his immediate family, his wife, Tammy, and their children, Braden, 13, Kennedy, 11, and Griffin, 8, who stood alongside Kerr during the speeches.

In the audience, Perlmutter’s wife, Nancy, stood near members of Kerr’s family, a big smile on her face as Kerr spoke. She made clear to The Colorado Statesman, however, that her presence didn’t signify an endorsement in the primary or anything other than wanting to share an important moment with a decades-long friend…

…“Our friendship is a deep and abiding one that’s been maintained for many years,” she told The Statesman. Then, prompted to relate the nearly apocryphal tale surrounding her first date with Ed Perlmutter — the two met and married a decade ago, “later in life,” as the congressman says — Nancy Perlmutter smiled and leaned in slightly. “The story goes that at one of the events when I was introducing Andy during that vacancy process, there was Ed Perlmutter, who took note of the speaker — me — and said, ‘Maybe I want to ask her out for coffee sometime.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 4)

Dreaming of a “White Easter?” 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 is scheduled to embark on a two-week recess at the end of this week, but there’s still the matter of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to consider. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) announced on Monday that he would not support a filibuster of Gorsuch, though he still won’t say whether or not he will vote in favor of Gorsuch’s nomination.

With or without Bennet, Senate Democrats say that they have enough votes to reject Gorsuch and force a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is thus likely to invoke the “nuclear option” to limit debate and reduce the number of required votes for confirmation from 60 to 51. The editorial board of the Denver Post is encouraging Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) to reject the “nuclear option”:

Better to have the seat unfilled until senators can grow up and do right by the American people.

Trashing the filibuster over a single nominee would be doing a judge of Gorsuch’s caliber — and the nation — a terrible disservice.

 

► There is a growing school of thought among Congressional Democrats that Republicans would only be hurting themselves by invoking the “nuclear option” on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

 

► Congressional Republicans are mulling their next steps as they attempt to undo Obamacare after the House failed to even bring a bill to the floor for a vote in late March. But as the Washington Post reports, there’s little reason to think House Republicans and President Trump could get a new plan past the Senate:

The new proposal would further relax some of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations, to placate conservatives who thought the previous GOP bill didn’t deregulate enough of it. States could seek waivers to opt out of the ACA’s requirement that insurers cover “Essential Health Benefits,” such as visits to the doctor, prescription drugs and maternity care. They could also opt out of the prohibition against insurers charging more from the sick than from the healthy. House conservatives are now saying this might get them on board.

But the problem is that, since this is a deregulatory change, a bill with this feature in it might not be able to pass the Senate by a simple majority under the “reconciliation” process, which is reserved for provisions with a budgetary dimension, according to Sarah Binder, a congressional scholar at George Washington University. This would trigger a so-called “Byrd Rule” challenge from Democrats, and to get around it, Republicans would have to appeal to the Senate parliamentarian.

Republicans may want to make sure that any potential change protects coverage for “pre-existing conditions” created from repeatedly banging your head against a wall.

 

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Mike Coffman’s Greatest Unforced Error Yet?

As the dust settles from the crushing failure last Friday of the GOP’s attempt to “repeal and replace” the 2010 Affordable Care Act, one thing is becoming obvious in terms of the impact on Colorado Republicans–Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, famous for skating around the margins of controversial issues to preserve himself in difficult political times, has left himself exposed in the wake of “Trumpcare’s” destruction in a most uncharacteristic way.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

Colorado Republican Mike Coffman said early Friday that he supported the AHCA, the GOP’s plan in the U.S. House to repeal and replace Obamacare. By the afternoon, GOP leadership had pulled the bill — because of a lack of votes.

Coffman’s initial support came on a day when GOP leaders had scheduled their health care overhaul for a vote in the House — and as its supporters fought to wrangle the necessary votes.

But by 2 p.m., Republican leadership and President Donald Trump agreed to pull the bill. It was a stunning first defeat for the new president and his legislative agenda.

As the battle of the bill raged throughout the day in Washington, many eyes were on Coffman, Colorado’s fifth-term Republican congressman from Aurora, who called the GOP’s Trump-Ryancare plan “the best compromise” House Republicans could get before sending it to the Senate…

Coffman’s early decision on the quickly hatched replacement plan had him caught between a Republican president he ran against, a wealthy outside group he counted on during his campaign, and his own constituents. He represents a suburban district that wraps around the Denver suburbs and is a nearly even mix of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. In November, he beat his well-funded and well-known opponent, Morgan Carroll, who now chairs the state Democratic Party, by about 10 points, though Hillary Clinton carried the district.

Rep. Coffman’s path to being a “yes” on the ill-fated Trumpcare bill was not a steady one. We were surprised when Coffman declared very early during debate over the bill that he would vote for the legislation “in its current form”–just before the Congressional Budget Office delivered its estimate that some 24 million fewer people would be covered under the GOP’s bill than under the Affordable Care Act. A few days after that estimate, Coffman unceremoniously backpedaled his support just before a tele-townhall meeting with constituents. And then, as we all know, Coffman reaffirmed his support for the legislation just before it was killed on Friday afternoon.

It’s important to note that Coffman’s return to support for the bill flies in the face of the feedback he received during his so-called “listening tour,” in which he claimed to be evaluating the bill even as ads ran thanking Coffman for supporting it:

In late February, Children’s Hospital Colorado thanked Coffman for visiting and talking about Medicaid…

“We at Children’s Hospital Colorado were gravely concerned about the House bill three weeks ago, and it has gotten worse,” [Pols emphasis] she told The Colorado Independent in a statement. “By imposing drastic budget cuts to Medicaid, it would undermine coverage and care for Colorado kids, including our state’s sickest children. A yes vote by Congressman Mike Coffman would be disappointing and would cause an estimated 47,000 people in his district to lose coverage.”

And now, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Coffman is backpedaling again:

Only one of Colorado’s four House Republicans was on-the-record supporting the bill and even that lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, said he needed a Thursday trip to the White House to cement his support.

“I was not a hard yes,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Folks, we don’t know what you’re supposed to call Coffman’s words and deeds on health care since the beginning of the year–but it’s not leadership. It can be fairly characterized as the opposite of leadership, vacillating practically by the day between support and opposition while his constituents worry–and try to figure out which of their representative’s contradictory statements to believe.

Yes, Mike Coffman is an amazing political survivor. Yes, Coffman has weathered gaffes and unforced errors that would have ended other political careers.

But no one is invincible. And this one is pretty bad.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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1:28 pm: The House punts:

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

 

Trumpcare: Coffman’s Credibility Collapses

UPDATE: Nick Riccardi of the AP, Tweeting Mike Coffman’s tele-town hall yesterday:

File under “clear as mud.”

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Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports–remember five days ago when Rep. Mike Coffman committed to supporting the GOP’s American Healthcare Act “in its current form?” Staking out his position right before the Congressional Budget Office released its damning estimate of 24 million more people without insurance than under the Affordable Care Act?

Yeah, forget all that:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) says he’s taking more time to review the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“Rep. Coffman is reviewing the [Congressional Budget Office] analysis to see what areas of the American Healthcare Act need adjustments before a final bill is enacted,” spokesman Daniel Bucheli wrote in an email to 9NEWS. “But he is encouraged that the bill leaves in place the consumer protections, such as preexisting conditions and allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26, and he believes the AHCA will face major changes before it’s signed into law.”

That’s different from what Coffman said March 11 on The Craig Silverman Show…

“In its current form, right now I would vote for it,” Coffman said. “I’m obviously concerned about it being changed, and what changes may happen. And I certainly do have some changes to it that I’m pushing, but if I had vote today on the form that’s there, I would support it.”

And don’t forget Coffman’s famous photo from March 7, in which he claimed to be “closely reading” the bill “to make sure it is in the best interest of CD-6 residents.”

So, on March 7, Coffman claimed he read the bill. On March 11, he said he would vote for it “in its current form.” And then yesterday, just hours before holding a tele-town hall, he backpedaled to “still reviewing.” We’re awaiting reports from yesterday’s call to update with any further contradictions/”evolutions” in Coffman’s position.

But folks, this is ridiculous. The only thing that changed between when Coffman claimed to have “read the bill” and said he would vote for it and today is the CBO’s report and the overwhelming public rejection of the bill. Coffman put himself out on this limb with no help, and his original statement that he would vote for the bill “in its current form” was not equivocal.

In short, Mike Coffman is all over the map, displaying the opposite of leadership on this central issue at a time when his constituents can least afford it. The situation reveals Coffman’s great weakness as a hard-right congressman representing a closely-divided swing district–weaker now more than ever with Republicans in full control, pushing an agenda that Coffman embraces at his peril.

And it’s only going to get worse.