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.

—–

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.

 

Trumpcare: Coffman’s Credibility Collapses

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

File under “clear as mud.”

—–

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.

Lipstick on a Pig: Ad “Thanks” Coffman For GOP Health Disaster

Rep. Paul Ryan with now-Sen. Cory Gardner.

The news yesterday from the Congressional Budget Office that the much-anticipated Republican repeal/replacement legislation for the 2010 Affordable Care Act would leave 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026 has rocked the debate over former President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law. We haven’t seen much in the way of response to the CBO’s damning analysis from Republicans, some of whom were fully intending to dismiss the estimate until the White House’s own numbers projected an even larger loss.

Politico obtained one of the only responses from Sen. Cory Gardner we believe has been made public as of now:

“We’ve got work to do here,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who had raised concerns about the bill’s effect on Medicaid. [Pols emphasis]

Whatever that means! Sen. Gardner’s decision to join with three other vulnerable Republicans in expressing concern about Medicaid patients under the House GOP’s plan was contradicted by Gardner’s appearance at a press conference with Vice President Mike Pence to support the plan a day later. This contradiction has yet to be resolved, but we have to believe that time is running out for Gardner to continue skating.

On the other hand, as Jason Salzman reported yesterday, Rep. Mike Coffman has explicitly committed himself to voting for the House GOP legislation “in its current form.” Coffman said that before the CBO score was made public, and there’s been no subsequent statement to suggest otherwise. Not that it would matter much anyway, after the Paul Ryan-orbit American Action Network started running ads today praising Coffman for his support of Ryan’s American Healthcare Act:

Today the American Action Network (@AAN) begins a new $1.5 million issue advocacy campaign to further momentum as conservative lawmakers fight to pass historic health care reform with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The ad highlights key elements of the plan and encourages lawmakers to deliver on their health care promise. Over the next two weeks, the ads will air nationally on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and in 15 congressional districts nationwide…

“This is a historic opportunity to reverse the trajectory of health care in our country. Many conservative lawmakers are fighting for strong, conservative solutions to the Affordable Care Act that has failed and will only get worse unless Congress passes the American Health Care Act,” said Corry Bliss, AAN Executive Director. “We want constituents to know about their representatives’ efforts as they fight to keep their promise and deliver a plan that will provide access to quality, affordable health care of their choice.”

At some point, we expect Coffman to issue a statement on whether he, you know, wants their “thanks!” With Coffman already committed to the bill prior to the analysis of its effects being released, the ad makes sense–as of right now.

But for politicians with an interest in their own career survival like Coffman, these things have a way of changing. The stark human costs of the House GOP repeal bill, weighed against any economic benefit it might have for the nation, invite the most basic questions about what the point of this entire exercise even is. And it breaks the central promise that has been made by Republicans throughout the long debate over Obamacare: to replace it with something quantifiably better.

For Sen. Gardner and Rep. Coffman, this is a fateful moment. Six years of posturing and misinformation just hit the wall of reality. It is not hyperbole to suggest that what they do next will make or break their careers.

Trumpcare Would Leave 24 Million Without Health Coverage

Vice President Mike Pence announcing support for Trumpcare last week (Sen. Cory Gardner is on the left of the photo)

The numbers are in! As the Associated Press reports, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reviewed the House Republican healthcare plan, also known as Trumpcare, and the math doesn’t look good:

Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and that figure would grow to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts projected Monday. [Pols emphasis] The figures dealt a blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry.

The report by the Congressional Budget Office flies in the face of President Donald Trump’s aim of “insurance for everybody,” and he has been assailing the credibility of the CBO in advance of the release. Administration officials quickly took strong issue with it.

Congressional Republicans and The White House had anticipated poor marks from the CBO, which is why they spent much of the last week talking about how little confidence they had in the CBO’s forecasting abilities. But today’s CBO report may be much worse than Republicans could have predicted; remember those claims that Obamacare is unstable and on the verge of collapse? Yeah, not so much:

“Insurance for everybody!”

— President Trump speaking about GOP healthcare plans in January.

 

It also undercuts a central argument that he and other Republicans have cited for swiftly rolling back former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul: that the health insurance markets created under the 2010 law are unstable and about to implode. The congressional experts said that largely would not be the case and the market for individual health insurance policies “would probably be stable in most areas either under current law or the (GOP) legislation.”

“Nobody will be worse off financially…”

— Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, speaking about Trumpcare on Sunday.

Today’s report also undercuts statements made by President Trump just this morning, when he said, “Things are gonna be very bad this year for the people with Obamacare. They’re gonna have tremendous increases.” As it turns out, according to the CBO, Trumpcare would cost Americans much more than Obamacare:

…The budget office found that average premiums for individuals would rise in 2018 and 2019 by 15 percent to 20 percent compared to current law, because Republicans would eliminate the penalties designed to induce people to buy insurance coverage.

Aside from the fact that Trumpcare will leave 24 million people uninsured and will be more expensive for those who can still manage to get coverage, this is a great piece of legislation!

Coffman would vote for GOP health care bill “in its current form”

(Coffman commits to “Trumpcare” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #2: Rep. Diana DeGette weighs in strongly on the CBO’s new analysis:

“The truth is now plain for all to see: This Trumpcare bill will take a terrible toll, both in human and financial terms,” DeGette said. “It will deprive 14 million people of insurance in its first year alone, and 24 million by 2026. Premiums will spike by 25 percent 2018 and 20 percent in 2019, on top of projected increases under the current law. It will raise health costs on the middle class while giving tax breaks to the very wealthy, while pushing working families out of health coverage altogether.

“Rather than jamming this bad bill through the House for a lopsided, party-line vote as the majority leadership is trying to do, we should sit down together and work on bipartisan solutions to improve what we already have.”

—–

POLS UPDATE: Apropos, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the GOP health care bill Monday.

Rep. Mike Coffman should have kept his mouth shut.

An estimated 14 million Americans could lose their health care coverage in 2018, and 24 million by 2026 under a Republican bill to replace Obamacare, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday in an analysis that could make the controversial legislation even tougher for GOP leaders to push through Congress…

The number of Americans who lose their coverage could rise to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026 as the GOP plan phases out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, the CBO said.

“In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the analysis said.

The CBO report came as Republican leaders in Congress were already scrambling to keep their fractious caucus together on the bill. Some conservatives have denounced the plan as “Obamacare lite,” arguing that it does not go far enough in scrapping the Affordable Care Act and creates new entitlements by replacing the current law’s federal subsidies for low-income people with tax credits. At the same time, some moderate Republicans in the Senate fear their low-income constituents will lose coverage because the legislation phases out the expansion of Medicaid that Obamacare helped fund in many states.

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

If passed, the health care law put forward by congressional Republicans would probably mean six to 15 million Americans would lose their health insurance, according to various outside analysts.

Particularly at risk are people who’ve gained insurance under Obamacare, and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Aurora) own district has 14,000 such people, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And it could be even worse, if you believe U.S. House Democrats, who report that 37,800 Medicaid recipients in Coffman’s district could lose their Medicaid health insurance under an Obamacare repeal.

Yet, on KNUS 710-AM Saturday, Coffman said he’d vote for the GOP healthcare bill, “in its current form,” if it came up for a vote today.

Silverman: If you had to vote today, would you vote for the bill that Speaker Ryan has put forth with the blessings of Donald Trump?

Coffman: …In its current form right now, I would vote for it. Obviously, I’m 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 to vote today on the form that’s there, I would support it.

Coffman’s endorsement of the GOP’s American Health Care Act comes before the Congressional Budget Office is set to release this a much-anticipated analysis of the costs and impact of the GOP bill.

Coffman’s office told 9News last month that he wanted to maintain coverage for people who received it under Obamacare, but the GOP bill does not guarantee this.

“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,” 9News Brandon Rittiman reported Feb. 21.

Coffman’s stance on the Republican bill will surely invite questions from low-income residents of his competitive district.

And it might draw more attention to the image of Coffman exiting early the back door of a library full of people waiting to talk to him about health care.

In their report, Democrats on U.S. House Committees state that the uninsured rate went from 15.8 percent to 7.9 percent in Coffman’s district since Obamacare became law (here at page 99).

Listen to Coffman on KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman Show March 11:

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…)

With key votes looming, Coffman flips on the U.S. Senate filibuster rule

(Mike Coffman flip-flops once again – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman.

UPDATE: Coffman responded to Joey Bunch:

Coffman: “My comment was referring to legislation where I could see that between 2013 and until recently, nothing was getting done in D.C., and that it would be better for the American people to hold the majority party in the Senate responsible for their leadership,” Coffman said. “This instead of simply having gridlock with neither party being able to take responsibility for passing legislation.

“The filibuster has evolved from a tool that was seldom used to one that is commonly used by the minority to continuously block the passage of legislation that has the support of the majority of senators. However, I still support its use for the confirmation of Supreme Court justices.”

Context: In 2013, when Coffman was for the filibuster, it was, in fact, not “seldom used” but instead was being abused in an unprecedented way by Republicans, as you can see in this graph. After 2013, it continued to be abused by Republicans. So Coffman is right about obstructionism, but–as a factual matter–it was his party that was doing most of the obstructing–and they were doing it throughout the time Coffman was for the filibuster. It’s good to see Coffman make an exception for the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, but with his flip now, Coffman is effectively trying to get rid of the filibuster so the Senate won’t obstruct Trump.

Once a staunch supporter of the U.S. Senate filibuster, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is now saying he’s against the rule, which mandates the approval of 60 U.S. Senators to end debate and vote on legislation.

Coffman’s flip comes as the U.S. Senate is set to consider controversial Republican legislation on the environment, healthcare, immigration, and more.

The Aurora Republican apparently shifted his position Jan. 7, in rambling interview on KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger show, during which he said,

Coffman said on air  Jan. 7: “I remember talking to Senator Grassley one day about [the filibuster], saying, you know, ‘You guys [have] got to repeal this thing. You’ve got to do away with this.’ He goes, ‘Oh, well. You know what? Things would be a lot worse. You know, we were able to block things when we were in the minority.’ Well, but the problem is is the America see no difference with whoever is in charge, who they elect. It just, things aren’t getting done. Things pass the House and they just die in the Senate because of the ability of the minority — now, the Democrats — to block this stuff.”

Coffman took the opposite stance on the filibuster back in 2013, on KHOW 630-AM’s Mandy Connell show.

Reacting to a rule change by U.S. Senate Democrats dispensing with the filibuster when considering federal court nominees (excluding the Supreme Court) Coffman said in 2013:

Coffman: “The United States Senate, designed by our founding fathers of the Constitution, was set up to be the more deliberative body, that it would in fact, given that cloture rule was to require bipartisanship, that not one party simply have a monopoly of power. And I think that when people complain, particulalry the president, and you often hear of more liberal commentators complain about the gridlock in Washington D.C., or the inability for bipartisanship to occur, and they try to blame Republicans – oh my gosh! Look at this! This negates the requirement for bipartisanship by doing away with that 60 vote requirement to bring those nominations via the executive branch to the floor of the Senate. So, you know, it is certainly disappointing.”

Coffman, whose Washington DC office did not immediately return a call seeking comment on his filibuster flip, appeared to justify his new stance against the filibuster in his Jan. 7 radio appearance by saying he thinks Obama is a “president who never goes away” and will lead the opposition “on a daily basis.”

Coffman: “In President Obama, we have something historically unique. I think we’re going to have a president who never goes away. I think we’re going to have a president who lives in D.C. and who leads the opposition on a daily basis, where presidents have always deferred to their successors and staying out. I don’t think he is! I don’t think he has any intention of doing that.”

Coffman also said that without the repeal of the filibuster, it will be “tough” to address Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, which reformed financial regulations after the crash of 2009,

With respect to Dodd-Frank, Coffman told KNUS’ Sengenberger:

Coffman: “You have Elizabeth Warren over there who will, you know, block any changes to [Dodd-Frank]. And the minority is able to do that.”

The U.S. Senate can use the budget reconciliation process, requiring a simple majority vote, to change some specific spending measures, but policy changes must currently be approved by passing new legislation, which can be blocked by a filibuster.

(more…)

Do You Have An Appointment for Your Protest?

How Congress is like a deli…

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent reports on a familiar wrinkle for constituents trying to convey messages to the office of their Congressional representative — in this case, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

When the Arapahoe County Young Democrats, led by Kronda Seibert, approached the door of the building, they were met by a man, later named by both Seibert and the building property management as Wiley Price. Price identified himself as a building property manager, told them that only one could go upstairs.

When they protested, arguing that the office was paid for by taxpayers, he said: “Alright, you know what, I’m not going to argue about this. You can either go now or I’ll have you arrested.”…

…Andrea Valenzuela, who works for the property management company for Cherry Creek Place IV, said the building has been the target of noisy protests and vandalism in recent weeks, though she made clear she was not blaming Seibert’s group for the trouble.

“We don’t want any problems,” Valenzuela told The Independent, adding that the management company doesn’t want to get into the middle of a political issue. “If people have an appointment with the Congressman” they can come in, she said. “We’re here to protect our tenants.”

Coffman’s website says nothing about having to make an appointment just to get into the building.

Calls to both the Aurora Police Department, to verify the identity of the officer at the building, and to Coffman spokesman Dan Buchelli were not returned by deadline.

The issue of a “public” office being restricted because it is located in a “private” building is something that has popped up before — usually when citizens feel particularly inclined to try to engage with their representatives about issues the elected official(s) would rather not discuss. Interacting with Members of Congress should not be this complicated.

Coffman: “Effective date” of Obamacare repeal will be “about two years out” due to negotiations with industry and Democrats

(Note that this was BEFORE Coffman said he would not vote for repeal without a replacement – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman .

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) made headlines after he told constituents this week that it could take several years for Republicans to come up with an Obamacare replacement and, when they unveil their plan, it will “leave some people behind, one way or the other,” as first reported by the Colorado Independent.

But Buck isn’t the only Colorado Republican to speculate that replacing Obamacare will take years.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) told a conservative radio host last month that “it will be about two years” before Obamacare is repealed.

“We are voting on a repeal — yes. And it will be to those tax and spending parts that the Democrats cannot filibuster in the Senate, but it will be about two years out will be the effective date of the repeal,” Coffman told KNUS’ Jimmy Sengenberger Jan. 7 (at 39 min 45 seconds). “And what the Democrats are advancing –and the press is falling in line with them on — is that somehow we’re erasing everything — that what the repeal does is, the next day, it’s all wiped out. That’s not true.”

Coffman said Republicans have the difficult task in front of them of negotiating with Democrats over what the Obamacare replacement will look like.

“We have to negotiate a replacement with the Democrats,” Coffman told Sengenberger. “And why we have to negotiate a replacement with the Democrats is because of the fact that all of those insurance regulation parts of Obamacare can be filibustered by the Democrats. And they have committed to do so. So that means it’s going to take 60 votes to bring that part of Obamacare to the floor. And so we’re going to have to negotiate with them on what that looks like. And so that will take time.”

Coffman did not say whether people will lose their health insurance under the GOP Obamacare replacement, but after his Jan. 7 statement above, in fact in multiple subsequent interviews, including a Feb. 17 radio appearance, he said that “nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

Working with the “insurance industry” on a replacement will be time consuming, said Coffman.

“The fact is that the insurance industry has to price this risk,” said Coffman. “We don’t want to throw a wrench into the market and have people suffer more than they have already suffered, unfairly. They have certainly suffered under Obamacare. It has helped some people. But it has hurt a lot of people. And so, we want policies that help everybody, you know, and don’t help some people at the expense of others.”