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.