“Last-Minute Mike” Checks Box on Net Neutrality

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) cares a lot.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t give some mention to Rep. Mike Coffman’s letter the day before yesterday to Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, requesting a delay in the commission’s vote on new rules that could lead to the end of “net neutrality”–the principle of internet communications that all traffic should be routed equally across the network:

After a chorus of Democratic and Independent lawmakers called for the FCC to delay its planned vote on a rollback of net neutrality protections, at least one Republican is now asking the agency to hit pause, as a few others express tempered skepticism of the proposal.

This week, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) sent a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai calling for a delay to let Congress pass legislation on the issue. “The Internet has been and remains a transformative tool, and I am concerned that any action you may take to alter the rules under which it functions may well have significant unanticipated negative consequences,” Coffman writes. “Therefore, I urge you to delay your upcoming vote and provide and provide Congress with the opportunity to hold hearings on the net neutrality issue and to pass permanent open Internet legislation.”

In response Rep. Coffman is getting praise from activists on the issue as one of the only Republicans calling for a delay in the vote, which set for today. Sen. Cory Gardner has already put his weasel-worded stamp of approval on the proposal, and there is very little to suggest that Coffman’s belated call for a pause in the FCC’s long-anticipated rulemaking will have any impact.

It’s just the latest instance of Rep. Coffman, perennially considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the entire nation, moving to inoculate himself personally against a bad story for Republicans nationally that he has no real power to affect the course of–especially not when he weighs in at the last possible moment as with his December 12 letter to the FCC. Much like Coffman’s high-publicity call for a discharge petition to force a vote on legislation to protect undocumented immigrants who came here as children, which he quietly abandoned a few days later, this is a great political opportunity to look good to left-leaning swing voters in his district.

As a practical matter, it’s meaningless. Coffman can’t stop or even slow down the destruction of net neutrality, and he remains a member of the party in power that is actually doing all these things he supposedly objects to.

At the end of the day, nothing else matters.

Rushed Republican Tax Plan is Full of Holes

What? No good?

Congressional Republicans are rushing to complete a tax plan that is leakier than a Michael Flynn testimony.

Early Saturday morning, Senate Republicans rammed through a tax bill that was full of nearly-incomprehensible text scribbled in the margins. The rhetoric might have sounded good to GOP interest groups, but the result was legislation that, as written, is a veritable nightmare for Americans and their accountants. As Politico explains:

Republicans’ tax-rewrite plans are riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law…

Some provisions are so vaguely written they leave experts scratching their heads, like a proposal to begin taxing the investment earnings of rich private universities’ endowments. The legislation doesn’t explain what’s considered an endowment, and some colleges have more than 1,000 accounts. [Pols emphasis]

In many cases, Republicans are giving taxpayers little time to adjust to sometimes major changes in policy. An entirely new international tax regime, one experts are still trying to parse, would go into effect Jan. 1, only days after lawmakers hope to push the plan through Congress.

“The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?’” said Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush’s Treasury Department. “We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast.” [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Mike Coffman Tweeted this image in early November. Maybe he just skimmed it.

As NPR reports, the AMT problem alone is going to be hard to solve:

As with the individual AMT, the corporate AMT aims to keep large businesses from avoiding too much of their tax bills through deductions and credits.

Keeping the corporate AMT while also cutting the corporate tax rate, experts say, could create a situation in which the revised corporate tax code undermines some of the new benefits the bills create for businesses.

Both the House and Senate must now agree on one piece of legislation before they can send the bill to President Trump, and there are some significant differences of opinion that could yet derail the whole thing. The New York Times breaks down some of the major disagreements, which include the alternative minimum tax (the House says cut it, but the Senate says no); what to do with numerous itemized deductions; how to deal with pass-through businesses; and a potential repeal of the so-called “Johnson amendment” (the House wants it repealed, but the Senate does not).

Republican rhetoric about their tax plan’s benefit to the economy is not holding up with actual business interests. Small business owners and the coal industry are among those that are terrified of the Republican tax plan. As CNN explains:

Coal CEO Robert Murray warns that if the Senate version of tax reform is enacted by President Trump he’ll be destroying thousands of coal mining jobs in the process.

“We won’t have enough cash flow to exist. It wipes us out,” Murray told CNNMoney in an interview on Tuesday.

Murray, a fierce supporter of Trump’s efforts to revive coal, condemned the Senate bill as a “mockery” that would inflict a devastating tax hike on beleaguered coal mining firms as well as other capital-intensive companies.

Let’s hurry up and finish this tax plan, they said.

What could go wrong?

Coffman, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn Give Wind Power The Shaft

From top left: Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Rep. Scott Tipton.

A press release before the holiday break from American Wind Energy Association condemns passage of the GOP-controlled House version of the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”–which contains a provision that won’t be good for jobs in one important industry to Colorado:

The U.S. House of Representatives missed an opportunity to stand up for 60,000 American workers and preserve $50 billion in private infrastructure investment. The tax reform bill passed by the House retroactively changes how businesses can qualify for wind energy’s primary investment tools, the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which are already on a path to phase out by 2019.

“The House tax bill, far from being pro-business, would kill over half of new wind farms planned in the U.S. and undermine one of the country’s fastest growing jobs,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The wind industry tax reformed ourselves with bipartisan agreement in 2015. The Senate tax proposal gets it right by respecting those terms. Congress must act immediately in conference to drop the House provisions on the PTC and ITC, to restore the confidence of businesses ready to pour billions of dollars into job-creating American infrastructure.”

The House bill undermines wind development by implementing a retroactive change to qualification rules for wind energy tax credits. Because businesses can’t go back in time to requalify for the credits after ordering wind turbines and inking construction contracts, tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment could be lost, and new business has stalled. The House bill would also terminate an inflation adjustment, significantly cutting the value of the PTC.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), with wind power turbines in a 2014 campaign ad.

In an op-ed in the Pueblo ChieftainJohn Purcell of Houston-based Leeco Steel calls out Republicans who voted to kill the wind energy production tax credit:

By breaking its promise to the wind industry, Congress wouldn’t just hurt the investors, manufacturers and developers whose deals are undermined. The harmful effects of the House bill would have a ripple effect across the wind energy supply chain, ultimately harming thousands of American workers and families.

No American job is safe if Congress can change the terms of business contracts years after agreements are signed and billions of dollars are spent. That’s not pro-growth tax reform, that’s bad business.

The people who benefit from wind energy in this country are not strangers. They are the backbone of our communities, our returning veterans, our teachers, nurses, neighbors and family members.

Voting to hurt the wind power industry is a particularly toxic vote for Colorado Republicans. Rep. Scott Tipton’s district includes the Vestas wind tower manufacturing plant, and Rep. Ken Buck’s hometown of Windsor is home to a Vestas blade factory. Numerous smaller companies in Colorado support the wind power industry, from manufacturing to installation to operations.

And yet all four Colorado Republicans in the House voted to kill the wind power production tax credit. Don’t you think somebody should ask them why they voted directly, transactionally to kill Colorado jobs for the sake of tax cuts for the richest Americans?

In the Senate, the current tax “reform” legislation under debate does not include cuts to the wind power production tax credit. Although there are Republicans in that chamber who have paid lip service to supporting wind power including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, it’s anybody’s guess whether Senators beholden to the fossil fuel industry will try to reinsert this provision–or if it does get out of the Senate with the wind power production credit intact, when the next attempt to slow down renewable energy will be made.

But we do know four Colorado Republicans who voted against this industry with a crucial role in Colorado’s economy one week ago. And they can’t take it back.

Pressure Stays on Coffman as House GOP Unveils Tax Giveaway

UPDATE #2: Don’t hold your breath:

——

UPDATE: The National Association of Home Builders joins the chorus against the House GOP’s tax bill in a strongly-worded statement today:

“The House Republican tax reform plan abandons middle-class taxpayers in favor of high-income Americans and wealthy corporations. The bill eviscerates existing housing tax benefits by drastically reducing the number of home owners who can take advantage of mortgage interest and property tax incentives.

“And capping mortgage interest at $500,000 for new home purchases means that home buyers in expensive markets will effectively lose this housing tax benefit moving forward.

“The House leadership killed a cost-effective plan proposed by NAHB that Ways and Means Committee leaders agreed to include in the legislation. It would provide a robust homeownership tax credit that would have helped up to 37 million additional home owners who do not currently itemize. Most of them are low- and moderate-income home owners.

“Meanwhile, as corporations receive a major tax cut, small businesses, which generate the lion’s share of job growth, get limited relief.

“The bottom line: Congress is ignoring the needs of America’s working-class families and small businesses.

“And by undermining the nation’s longstanding support for homeownership and threatening to lower the value of the largest asset held by most American families, this tax reform plan will put millions of home owners at risk.”

We’ll be very curious to see how Colorado’s most politically-connected homebuilder, Republican Larry Mizel, responds. What appears to be a solid wall of resistance to this bill from the homebuilding and real estate industries could put Colorado Republicans in an interesting predicament.

—–

Damn the torpedoes.

Politico reporting on the release today of details from the House’s tax reform legislation, which would make sweeping changes to the tax code while blowing an estimated $1.5 trillion-with-a-t hole in the budget for future Congresses to reckon with:

House Republican leaders unveiled a tax plan Thursday that would make sweeping changes in corporate and individual taxes, including deep tax cuts, limits to the mortgage interest deduction and bigger family tax credits.

It also includes provisions that are likely to stoke controversy and fierce lobbying, including limiting the deduction of mortgage interest for newly purchased homes up to $500,000, according to a summary…

The unveiling of the legislation kicks off what is likely to be a grueling slog to get legislation to Trump by the end of the year.

The proposal calls for the biggest rewrite of the code in a generation. Its cuts in tax rates on businesses and most individuals will come in exchange for killing scores of narrowly drawn tax breaks.

Exactly who would lose in the proposal, and possibly have to pay higher taxes, has been a closely held secret, and many lawmakers will surely be surprised at the scope of changes required to make the numbers behind the plan work.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

The decision to limit mortgage interest deductions on new home purchases to $500,000 isn’t a problem in states where property values have not risen that far for most homeowners. Unfortunately that does not include the state of Colorado, the location of one of the nation’s hottest housing markets in the Denver area–where the median home sale price almost hit $500,000 back in May. That’s why the National Association of Realtors is sounding the alarm over this provision of the bill:

Eliminating or nullifying the tax incentives for homeownership puts home values and middle class homeowners at risk, and from a cursory examination this legislation appears to do just that.

There’s a telling correlation between lower property values and politically red states that bears further discussion in any debate over limiting the mortgage interest deduction–especially for Republicans in prosperous swing states like Colorado. It makes the question of supporting this tax reform bill much dicier for Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents rapidly-developing areas of the east Denver metro area that could be profoundly impacted by throttling back the mortgage interest deduction.

In Colorado, watch for Coffman to be the focus of intense lobbying from both sides. Coffman’s vote in favor of the budget proposal that set up passage of the tax reform bill doesn’t bode well, but as the debate on the tax bill proceeds and unpleasant details are publicized Coffman could certainly be peeled off if the potential damage to his re-election prospects becomes great enough. In fact, we’d consider Coffman a bellwether for success or failure of the entire effort, since it’s unlikely his vote can be spared. Coffman’s “defection” would likely only come in the event that GOP leadership accepts failure and allows him a face-saving out.

By all accounts passage of this bill is not assured, with objectionable details for left and right alike that have yet to be overcome to the satisfaction of a majority. For swing-state Republicans like Coffman, the question is whether the Republican Party’s failure to pass this tax reform bill would be a failure for their own political careers–or whether passing it would hurt them more in the long run.

It’s a question Mike Coffman had better answer correctly.

Mike Coffman’s Manafort Make-Believe

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

A statement from Rep. Mike Coffman a short while ago on the indictment of former Donald Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort along with two other Trump campaign figures in the ongoing investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 elections is…well, it’s so silly that it deserves its own mention:

The American people are tired of corruption in Washington, which is why I’ve supported an independent counsel from the beginning. Whether it is millions in foreign dollars going to Paul Manafort or the Clintons, the American people are just sick of it. [Pols emphasis]

The obvious problem being here that the Clintons have not been charged with any crime and Manafort has–a fact no matter how hard the FOX News Channel tries to wish otherwise. Coffman’s barefaced pivot to the deflections that have kept conservative media functional in the last few days show clearly where he’s getting his talking points.

Today’s indictment further reinforces my view that the use of an independent counsel is the most appropriate forum for this ongoing investigation. My focus and that of Congress should be on the American’s people’s priorities–not partisan posturing.

To recap, Mike Coffman’s whole statement on the indictment of Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman consists of four sentences–two of which restate that Coffman supports an independent counsel without explaining how that’s relevant. We assume that means Coffman would object to Trump firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who unlike an independent counsel could more easily be fired, but it’s still an oddly minor point to devote half the statement to. The other two sentences consist of, respectively, rank partisan posturing…and then a call to reject “partisan posturing.”

And of course, Coffman doesn’t mention Trump even once.

It’s possible a more worthless contribution to the news cycle could be made, but he’d really have to work at it.

We assume that’s the point.

“Handmaids” Upstage Pence, But Mike Coffman Doesn’t Care

SATURDAY UPDATE: After Rep. Mike Coffman waved off a Telemundo reporter outside the security line at Vice President Mike Pence’s fundraiser (below), they spoke briefly inside the wire–but still in earshot of the protests, which Coffman gamely acknowledged:

COFFMAN (In Spanish): The protestors have the right to demonstrate and I do understand that.

Coffman reportedly gave a longer in-studio Spanish language interview to Telemundo yesterday, and we’ll update when we see it–particularly if were any more substantive answers to questions about his presence at the fundraiser or the underlying issues that made a subject of protest. After all:

He’s got to have some mixed feelings, right?

—–

CBS4 reports on yesterday’s main political event in the Denver Tech Center–a fundraiser for the Colorado Republican Party featuring Vice President Mike Pence that may have had more protesters outside the venue than attendees inside, even after the ticket price was cut almost in half:

Vice President Mike Pence visited Colorado on Thursday where he talked about tax reform. But it was his position on reproductive rights that spurred protests…

Protesters dressed as handmaids lined the streets on the way to the Denver Marriott Tech Center. The costume is in reference to the novel, movie and television show about a dystopian future society in which women are treated as property.

They condemn Pence’s anti-abortion stance and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood in his repeal and replace Obamacare actions.

The Denver Post’s Brian Eason:

Outside, where snow was lightly falling by late afternoon, more than 100 demonstrators lined South Syracuse Street to protest Pence and the president. Dozens were dressed as characters from the “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the dystopian novel and popular TV series in which women are treated as property.

Chants of “Shame! Shame!” broke out as Republicans began arriving for Pence’s speech.

Reporting from inside, FOX31’s Joe St. George says there were plenty of available seats:

Republican Party officials shut down any criticism over enthusiasm for the event. Previously, the party slashed prices to $150 to encourage more people to attend.

While some seats in the ballroom were empty, GOP officials declared the event a success because of Pence’s presence… [Pols emphasis]

“I think it’s a little funny this is their marquee event and they can’t even sell tickets, which is why they had to drop the ticket price,” said Eric Walker, with the Colorado Democratic Party.

Rep. Mike Coffman arrived at yesterday’s fundraiser to jeers and a brief-but-telling interaction with a Telemundo reporter–waving off an attempt to ask a question.

(more…)

Coffman Helps Pass GOP’s Fateful Budget Bill

From top left: Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Rep. Scott Tipton.

AP reporting via the Denver Post on this morning’s passage in the House by a razor-thin margin of the GOP’s latest budget plan, setting up a vote on a massive tax cut package that will either goose the economy to new heights or plunge the nation into a Kansas-style fiscal crisis wholly of the party in power’s own making:

The House on Thursday gave a significant boost to President Donald Trump’s promise to cut taxes, narrowly passing a GOP budget that shelves longstanding concerns over federal deficits in favor of a rewrite of the tax code that Republicans promise will jump-start the economy.

The 216-212 vote permits Republicans to begin work on a follow-up $1.5 trillion tax cut and move it through Congress without fear of blocking tactics by Democrats. The tax bill is the top item on the GOP agenda, would be Trump’s first major win in Congress — and, Republicans hope, a much-needed boost for the party’s political fortunes on the eve of next year’s midterm elections…

The underlying budget measure abandons the Republican Party’s longstanding promise to rein in deficits in favor of Trump’s boast of “massive tax cuts.” The measure drops proposed cuts to mandatory programs such as food stamps, though conservatives promise to take on spending cuts later.

Fiscal conservatives are of course eager to proceed to the cutting part, but politically that’s not considered a viable option right now–not after the pain that was to be inflicted on Americans from repeal of the Affordable Care Act sent Republicans into a political tailspin and ultimately forced them to abandon the effort under intense protests. For now, and presumably through the 2018 elections, the focus is on “painless” tax cuts, or at least relatively so, by allowing the deficit to balloon by up to $1.5 trillion.

Some less realistic cheerleaders of this effort, including the White House, would honestly have you believe that the economic growth produced by these tax cuts will result in a net increase in revenues, making those politically unpalatable cuts unnecessary at all! But again, that’s the same thing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback promised when his state slashed taxes–and when it didn’t work, the legislature was forced to override Brownback’s veto of their budget raising taxes. The situation remains unresolved, with the state’s tax policy still out of whack and conservatives desperately trying to find a way to rationalize their tax cuts into not being the reason for the crisis.

Among Colorado’s congressional delegation, the only “surprise” in today’s party-line vote was Rep. Mike Coffman voting yes with Republican leadership instead of joining with the substantial number of dissenting Republicans (including Colorado’s own Rep. Ken Buck). In contrast to Coffman’s relatively deft handling of the health care repeal fiasco, this action puts him indelibly on record on a bill that could emerge as a major political liability in the next election.

Because make no mistake, folks. The bill is going to come due. In different political circumstances, it would be Mike Coffman saying so. The fact that he is not saying so, and in fact helped pass this supremely fiscally irresponsible legislation, is something the voters in his district will need to sort out for themselves.

What you can do to fight back this week (October 23)

So much for the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Last week, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate began the process of jamming through a massive tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the richest people in this country at the expense of middle-class families. After spending months unsuccessfully trying to rob millions of Americans of health care, the GOP has moved on to this next item in their dangerous, elitist agenda.

Rep. Mike Coffman can stop this, the question is whether he will. Just a few Republicans standing up to leadership could stop this irresponsible tax break in its tracks. Coffman voted against the terrible health repeal bill because he knew it was political poison and bad policy. Will Coffman have the guts to stand up to GOP leadership and prevent adding $1.5 trillion to the national deficit?

The first thing to do this week is call Rep. Coffman’s office at 202-225-7882 and tell him to oppose Trump’s tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. If you live in Coffman’s district, click here to register for Coffman’s telephone town hall this coming Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Rep. Coffman must understand that the voters are watching—and this decision could make or break his career. Can we count on you to demand that Coffman vote “NO” on this ridiculous handout to the wealthiest Americans that will dig our country even deeper into debt?

Republicans don’t want you to realize how bad this will be. What they really want to do is cut critically needed programs Americans rely on to pay for this massive tax cut for the wealthy. But they’re not making those cuts just yet and are instead proposing driving us further into debt to pay for this tax cut. Why? Because they’re afraid of the political ramifications before the election. Don’t let them get away with it.

Thanks for your help holding Trump, Mike Coffman and the far-right in Congress accountable. Here are more ways to take action for the week of October 23rd:


Pollution, Public Transit, Traffic: Aurora City Council Forum

A coalition of 501c4 organizations invite Aurora residents to an environmental issue based candidate forum for all Aurora City Council Candidates. The focus of the forum will be centered around the environment. This forum is formatted as an even combination of questions collected from the public and questions posed by each participating organization.

Where: Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora
When: Monday, October 23 at 6:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Colorado WaterWise 9th Annual Symposium

Join us for the 9th Annual Colorado WaterWise Water Conservation Symposium in Denver, Colorado! We have a great program that will appeal to many audiences. This year’s theme is conservation in outdoor water use. Register now as space is limited.

Where: Lowry Conference Center, 1061 Akron Way, Building 697, Denver
When: Tuesday, October 24 at 8:15am

Click here to RSVP.


One Colorado: Get Out the Vote Call Night!

Join us at the One Colorado office to remind our supporters to get out and vote in 2017!

Where: 1490 Lafayette St Ste 304, Denver
When: Tuesday, October 24 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Sierra Club Wild Happy Hour – Halloween Edition

Get creative and come for an unforgettable evening inspired by nature for food, drinks, and some wild costumes. This month’s Wild Happy Hour will be one we won’t forget. In honor of Halloween we welcome everyone to come dressed as something inspired by nature. Whether it is a wolf, a tree, a waterfall, or something out of the box we welcome all the creativity in the world. Don’t worry though, you will be rewarded with a $50 gift card to Patagonia if you are voted the winner of the costume contest.

Where: Forest Room 5, 2532 15th St, Denver
When: Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Denver Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships-HRCP Diversity & Inclusion Symposium

Learn how hiring individuals with disabilities benefits you! Get the tools to recruit talent from one of the most dynamically qualified labor pools! Free event.

Where: McNichols Building, 144 W Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Wednesday, October 25 at 8:30am

Click here to RSVP.


One Colorado Safe Schools Webinar

One Colorado’s GSA Network will be hosting a statewide webinar on October 25th, 2017 based on our highly requested Safe Schools Training.

Where: Online
When: Wednesday, October 25 at 3:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado: Annual Freedom Fund Dorotha Howe Celebration

The annual Dorotha Howe Celebration is to honor Dorotha Randall Howe,who in partnership with Rev. Stephan Papa founded The Freedom Fund in 1984. The goal of this year’s event is a ‘farewell’ and celebration of the Freedom Fund in its original form, and a send-off to its new role, the Women’s Freedom Fund. We will be honoring Rev. Stephan Papa for his work.

Where: First Plymouth Congregational Church, 3501 S Colorado Blvd, Englewood
When: Wednesday, October 25 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Boulder CAN: Sec of State and AG Info Session

Have a chance to hear about the important issues that will face the Secretary of State and Attorney General after the 2018 elections. These offices are Colorados first line of defense against voter suppression efforts, attacks on our individual freedoms, and our environmment. Understand how electing the right people will help protect Coloradans and the Colorado way of life.

Where: 5735 Arapahoe Ave, Suite A1, Boulder
When: Wednesday, October 25 at 7:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Colorado to Pence: Reproductive Rights and Justice for All

Vice President Mike Pence will be in Denver for a fundraiser this month. Below are a mere handful of the reasons why we must come out and peacefully protest his appearance in our state. Thursday’s event will involve handmaids in full dress (as well as supporters holding signs) peacefully standing in silence as attendees arrive for the fundraiser. We will post details in the coming week for where to meet. Partners in this protest include: OneColorado, NARAL Colorado, The Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Indivisible Front Range Resistance, Indivisible Denver, Indivisible Colorado District 6, EDF Action, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, and others.

Where: Denver Marriott Tech Center, 4900 S Syracuse St, Denver
When: Thursday, October 26 at 3:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Queer Invasion: October

Last month’s Queer Invasion was a wild success! Please continue to invite your friends to this group to get the word out! Meanwhile, we have plans for October’s Queer Invasion in Cap Hill. Stay tuned for the invasion location! Queer Invasion is a queer pop-up party in a non-queer space. It’s not a protest, just a fun queer takeover in a novel location. This tradition has been successful all over the country, and we have brought it to Denver. Join the community and make some new friends while surprising some regulars!

Where: Capitol Hill, Denver
When: Friday, October 27 at 8:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


March on Colorado Women’s Summit

The National Women’s march will be bringing thousands of women, femmes and our allies of all backgrounds to Detroit from October 27-29th, 2017, for a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, inspiring forums and intersectional movement building to continue the preparation going into the 2018 midterm elections! Here in Denver we decided to join in on this fantastic idea! March on Colorado will be offering an incredible one day Summit of speakers from and for our local community.

Where: Mile Hi Church, 9077 W. Alameda Avenue, Lakewood
When: Saturday, October 28 at 8:30am

Click here to RSVP.


People to People Training-Hosted by Indivisible SW Metro Denver

Knocking on doors is the BEST way to get out the message for the issues or candidates YOU support. Yet for first timers it can be intimidating. Don’t worry! Training is available to make this process a breeze!

Where: Spirit of Hope Methodist Church, 3885 S. Broadway, Englewood
When: Sunday, October 29 at 1:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Thanks again for all you do to fight for the values we share as Americans and progressives! Make sure to watch your inbox this week for late-breaking action alerts. Some weeks in the resistance feel like a sprint, others more like a marathon. Slowly but surely, we are winning the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. We can do better than Trump and the conservative fringe.

Rep. Mike Coffman Snared By Opiate-Gate

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

A CNN story caught our attention regarding trouble for GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate–but facing fierce headwinds due to her co-sponsorship of legislation now widely blamed for worsening the crisis of opioid pain killer addiction in the United States. This is the same legislation that led to the recent withdrawal of Rep. Tom Marino from consideration for the post of drug policy czar in Donald Trump’s White House:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s support for a drug law that she acknowledged might have caused “unintended consequences” is marring her entry into Tennessee’s Senate race — with her Democratic opponent saying she should drop out and potentially stronger foes in both parties now more seriously considering entering the contest.

Blackburn, who last week launched her bid for the retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s seat, co-sponsored the measure that was the subject of Sunday’s blockbuster investigation by “60 Minutes” and The Washington Post. The Blackburn-backed law, whistleblowers said, made it easier for drug companies to distribute opioids across American communities and thwart the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Already, the lead sponsor of that bill, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tom Marino, who took nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical interests, has withdrawn as President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s drug czar. Marino and Blackburn asked a government watchdog to investigate a DEA official who warned them in 2014 that their bill would aid criminals, accusing the official of intimidation.

Te perverse effect of this legislation, which was sold on the premise of “effective drug enforcement” while “ensuring patient access” to opioid pain medication, was to greatly increase the supply of powerful and addictive drugs. These drugs were both abused legally by patients who received unethically large prescriptions from doctors at walk-in “pain management” clinics, and also sold on the black market for many times their legal purchase price–both of which greatly worsened the crisis the legislation was passed to address. Newly-addicted patients who find their source of legal opioids cut off frequently turn to heroin as an alternative, with all the attendant social evils of the illicit drug trade.

Needless to say, nominating the lead sponsor of this legislation to be the White House’s drug policy czar invites fundamental questions about the Trump administration’s own ethics–not the first such questions, of course, given Trump’s Cabinet comprised of almost perfectly destructive misfits for the departments they were nominated to lead. But serious questions nonetheless.

And as CNN’s Eric Bradner continues, the and Reps. Marino and Blackburn aren’t the only ones in the hot seat:

The damage could extend beyond Marino’s nomination and Blackburn’s Senate race.

Three other Republicans who are along Democrats’ top targets in the 2018 midterms — Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, [Pols emphasis] Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania and George Holding of North Carolina — were all at times co-sponsors of Marino’s bill.

And with that, Tom Marino’s problem is now Rep. Mike Coffman’s problem. Yes, the bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama, but Obama’s not in office anymore. Today, the sponsors of this legislation who still have something to lose are facing the consequences of its perverse effects. For Rep. Tom Marino, those consequences just put a hard ceiling on his political career. For Rep. Blackburn, seeking to represent a state that has been ravaged by opioid addiction and preventable deaths, the same may be true.

Why exactly did Mike Coffman sign on as a sponsor of this bill? Who from the pharmaceutical industry lobbied him to do it? Was there a price? What does Mike Coffman say today about legislation he sponsored that has now been shown to have done widespread harm instead of good? A whole slew of pointed questions now need to be answered–and whatever those answers may be, the line of attack in next year’s elections against Coffman from his sponsorship of this bill is obvious.

And potentially, quite devastating.

The Greatest Tax Reform Proposal in the History of Never

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to press the ‘NO’ button on the budget today.

The House of Representatives today passed its 2018 budget resolution in a party-line vote, the first step for Congressional Republicans are they endeavor to mold some sort of amazing tax “reform” policy. Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Doug Lamborn (R-Imbecile), and Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) voted in favor of the budget; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to vote ‘NO,’ where he was joined by all three Democrats from the state’s delegation.

As The Hill reports:

In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate…

…The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections.

Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated. [Pols emphasis]

Trouble? Wait…you mean to say that Congressional Republicans aren’t unified about how to overhaul the nation’s tax laws?

The problem Republicans are facing with tax reform legislation is strangely similar to what they ran into with repeated attempts at repealing Obamacare: Lawmakers are starting to understand that what they’re being sold by GOP leadership is vastly different than what the tax proposal would actually accomplish. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Trump are in general agreement on a set of talking points that are about as authentic as a Rex Tillerson press conference. Trump and friends are trying to sell a 1988 Ford Taurus with talking points from a Ferrari dealership, and Republicans aren’t buying it:

Senator Paul is far from the only Republican confused by this new tax proposal. As NPR reports:

President Trump and congressional Republicans have pitched their tax plan as a boost for the middle class.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with lawmakers in mid-September.

But analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who studied the proposal reached a very different conclusion. They predict that nearly three-quarters of the savings from the tax overhaul would go to the top 20 percent of earners — those making more than $149,000. More than half the savings would go to the top 1 percent — people who earn more than $732,800. [Pols emphasis] The tax breaks are even more tilted to the wealthy by the 10th year of the overhaul, when the Tax Policy Center projects nearly 80 percent of the savings would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

Republican leaders want to sell this proposal as a huge — YUGE! — benefit to the American middle class, but the math doesn’t add up. It’s no wonder that Senate Republicans are trying to get rid of a rule that requires a CBO score of legislation to be made public for at least 28 hours before a vote. Again, from NPR:

The tax benefits for the rich in the GOP plan are direct, obvious and easily quantified. Many of the promised benefits for the middle class, on the other hand, are indirect, speculative and uncertain…

So how do the tax plan’s supporters claim that it’s focused on the middle class? By highlighting speculative, indirect gains that are supposed to result from economic growth…

…Rather than simply promise that the government will cut the tax bill for working families — many of whom pay little income tax already — the GOP is arguing that its tax plan will promote growth, which in turn will boost employment, and over time result in higher wages. Break any link of that chain and the middle-class “winnings” end up in someone else’s pocket. [Pols emphasis]…

And so on, and so forth, until the middle class becomes so obscenely wealthy that they have to start lobbying for another round of tax cuts for rich people like them. This theory of “supply side economics,” or as it came to be known in the Reagan era, “trickle-down economics” does not work. We don’t have to speculate about whether or not it could work. It doesn’t. There is plenty of data to prove this. It is (again) no wonder why President Trump’s administration recently suppressed a 2012 report from the Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) that essentially lays bare the fact that this tax proposal would do the exact opposite of what Trump claims would happen.

The NPR story we cited above is an excellent resource for understanding the ins and outs of the Republican tax plan, but it’s a bit of a long read. For an even more briefer-er look, we put together this graphic to help you understand Republican math on healthcare and tax reform. If any of this makes sense to you, then you might be a Member of Congress:

OF COURSE Coffman Wants Tancredo To Primary Him

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman.

As 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman reports, the dudgeon is getting deep between Rep. Mike Coffman and his sort-of (as we’ll explain) predecessor in Congress, anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo–so deep, in fact, that it’s getting a bit silly:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) picked an unusual fight Monday: he wants another Republican to challenge him in next year’s primary election.

Not just any Republican. Coffman wants to do battle with Tom Tancredo—the firebrand conservative former congressman who used to occupy Coffman’s seat in the House of Representatives.

“Come after me,” Coffman said to Tancredo in an interview Monday for Balance of Power. “We could define what the Republican party is for a generation to come.”

Coffman says he decided to propose the challenge after a recent 9NEWS interview in which Tancredo defended a group called VDARE, which serves as an online platform for racist and white supremacist viewpoints…

Although Coffman technically holds Tancredo’s former CD-6 seat in Congress, the major omission from this story is the fact that the district was totally redrawn in the 2011 redistricting process. Where CD-6 used to be an impregnable Republican stronghold, tolerant and even happily supportive of Tancredo’s immigration demagoguery as it made Tancedo persona non grata at the pro-reform Bush White House, after 2011 it became a highly diverse and competitive district with a large immigrant population.

The dramatic reshaping of Coffman constituency, all sides agree, is the catalyst responsible for Coffman’s “evolution” on immigration reform from a hard-liner doing his best to keep up with Tancredo–once calling the DREAM Act “a nightmare” and telling bilingual voters to “get a dictionary”–to one of the most often-cited examples of a “pro immigration reform” Republican and supporter of the same DREAM Act-eligible immigrants he once derided.

Where Coffman’s defenders and detractors disagree is whether that evolution is legitimate. Did Coffman really have a heartfelt conversion on the issue of immigration, or was his evolution nothing more than political theater to survive redistricting?

Asked if he was implying that Coffman is a RINO (a political pejorative that stands for “Republican In Name Only”,) Tancredo went further.

“[Coffman] is a turncoat, not a RINO. He is unprincipled,” Tancredo said. [Pols emphasis] “What does he care about the Republican party? He’s moved as far away from it as he can in the last several years.”

For activists focused on protecting immigrants and Democrats working toward the same goal in Congress, praising every feint by Coffman in their direction is obligatory. They have no incentive to question Coffman’s honesty, not when his vote is urgently required to achieve success. Unfortunately, Coffman’s personal lip service to some allegedly common goals with immigration reform activists has not in all these years resulted in anything like tangible progress, primarily due to Coffman’s Republican leadership in Congress failing to share his newfound priority. As a result, Coffman has gained credit as “supporter” of immigrant rights without having to deliver any results–and even while continuing to support GOP leadership that obstructs his professed agenda.

And yes. To everyone who believed what Coffman said before 2011, like his predecessor in Congress, he’s just “unprincipled.” There’s no reason for the right to buy any of this “evolution” business, not when redistricting fully answers the question in simple Machiavellian terms they can easily understand.

Coffman knows that Tancredo could never beat him in the new CD-6, even in a GOP primary. That’s why Coffman has nothing to lose by throwing out this worthless challenge, which superficially bolsters his revamped image. But if the clock could be turned back to the old CD-6, the deep-red stomping ground Tancredo bequeathed Coffman in 2008…?

That would be a different story. And quite possibly a whole different Mike Coffman. Which is Tancredo’s whole point–and one that liberals and conservatives should consider. Sometimes it takes polar opposites’ experience to understand how both sides have been getting screwed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All we can say is, remember this moment.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 13)

Go away, (Hurricane) Jose. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Coffman Says Dems Want to Score Political Points with “Visual of Mass Deportation” of Immigrants

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a radio interview last week, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said Democrats would love to exploit imagery of mass deportations of young immigrants.

Asked by KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky how he thought Democrats would feel about Trump’s decision to end Obama’s DACA order, which allowed immigrants who came here as children to remain in the U.S., Coffman said:

Coffman (here at 28 min 30 seconds): “I think they would love a visual of mass deportation of these young people. The young people who are essentially a combination of working and going to school. I mean that’s the visual they want to take them into 2018 midterm… They want to appear to be on the side of these DACA children but, if given the opportunity, they’d just as soon [laughs] let Republicans have their fingerprints on the failure to pass this.”

Coffman did not specify which Democrats told him they’d like to use imagery of deportations, ordered by Republicans, in the political campaigns. Nor did Coffman say he was speculating. Coffman’s office does not return my calls.

And I couldn’t find Democrats who want to have a “visual of mass deportation” on the shelf for future political use.

Coffman has said he supports Trump’s decision to dismantle protections for DACA immigrants, but he also backs legislation to put DACA protections into law.

Coffman’s comment about the Democrats’ views on DACA reflects the thinking of some politicians and political operatives who become so focused on the “optics,” “visuals,” and political strategery of campaigns that they forget about the actual people involved.

In November, Coffman will have served 28 years in elected office, a point his opponents often highlight. His career in politics started in the state legislature in 1989. He was also Colorado’s State Treasurer and Secretary of State, prior to his election to Congress.

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

Rep. Mike Coffman.

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

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

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

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

CAPLIS: Even if it means Pelosi as Speaker?

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

CAPLIS: Yeah, yeah.

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

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

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

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

Enter Tom Tancredo.