Trump’s Speedy Agenda Crashes Into Earth

Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexico border is a tad behind schedule.

As the Washington Post explains, President-elect Donald Trump’s aggressive plans for sweeping policy changes are running into problems with reality:

Just this week, Trump vowed to get started right away building a wall at the border with Mexico (“I don’t want to wait”) and repealing and replacing President Obama’s health-care law (“probably the same day, could be the same hour”).

But ahead of his swearing-in next Friday, the extraordinarily high expectations that Trump has set are running into the logjam known as American democracy. While every new president confronts Washington’s sluggish culture, Trump’s more grandiose and hard-line ideas could face unprecedented challenges — logistical and even constitutional.

Trump imagines a presidency of vision and velocity, but his big-ticket items cannot be done by presidential edict, no matter how loud Trump’s demands might be or assured he is of the popularity of his proposals. They will require consensus on Capitol Hill, emerging from a deliberative process that takes time and the navigation of a labyrinth of constituencies and special interests.

Trump’s team has devised a full legislative calendar with congressional leaders that begins with health care, but already Trump’s ambitions have been slowed somewhat. The Republican majorities in both chambers are moving swiftly to dismantle parts of current law but are still discussing how exactly to replace it. A House vote scheduled Friday on a budget measure, which includes steps to begin repeal of the health law, was preceded by hours of skittishness among both conservative and moderate members about whether Republicans were moving too soon.

Trump will enter the White House next week with historically-low approval ratings, and failing to meet his own lofty expectations won’t do anything to make him more popular.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Launches thepriceiswrong.org Opposing Trump’s HHS nominee

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Launches New Grassroots Effort Opposing Trump HHS Nominee Tom Price:

thepriceiswrong.org”

Denver – NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, the political voice of the pro-choice movement, is launching a new grassroots effort to let legislators, the media, and Colorado’s pro-choice majority know that when it comes to women’s health, The Price Is Wrong. Trump has nominated anti-choice, anti-abortion rights Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) to a Cabinet post to be Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.

thepriceiswrong.org website will be collecting women’s stories and sending their objections to Price’s nomination to Colorado’s U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D).

“Frankly, Tom Price’s views are so backwards we wonder what century he thinks he’s living in – because it sure doesn’t bear any relation to the needs of women in this state and this country in 2016,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Executive Director Karen Middleton. “He’s supported Personhood bills giving full legal rights to fertilized eggs – the same Personhood language Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box. And he’s been a vocal opponent of birth control access, including the types of birth control that cut the unintended pregnancy rate here in Colorado.

But here’s the jaw-dropper: Tom Price has said he’s never met a woman who can’t afford birth control. This will come as news to women who have struggled to pay for a $1600 IUD or a year’s worth of birth control.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 13)

Superstitions like “Friday the 13th” seem like they belong in a simpler time — when reality wasn’t so scary. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►As the Obamacare repeal-and-we-swear-we-have-a-plan-for-replacement debate rages on in Congress, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is finally getting a bit more attention from local media outlets. Gardner is fully onboard with plans to repeal Obamacare – replacement be damned — and is doing his best to pretend that his constituents in Colorado actually want this mess…nevermind the fact that constituents are not able to get through to Gardner’s office at all. As the Associated Press reports today, Senate Republicans still seem to be no closer to even having a plan for replacement.

Polling results are continually showing that repealing Obamacare without a replacement in place is HUGELY UNPOPULAR with Americans. From The Hill:

Only 18 percent of voters think Congress and President-elect Donald Trump should fully repeal ObamaCare, a new poll released Thursday finds.

Another 47 percent said only some of ObamaCare should be repealed, while 31 percent said it should be left untouched.

According to a separate poll from NPR/Ipsos, only 14% of Americans support repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. 

 

► When President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated next week, he will assume office as the most unpopular incoming President in modern history. From “The Fix”:

Just four in ten people polled by Gallup say they approve of the way Trump is handling his transition — a stand-in for presidential approval in this odd three-month interregnum.  Those are the lowest marks ever measured by Gallup for an incoming president. They are also half — yes HALF — as high as the 83 percent of people who approved of how then President-elect Barack Obama handled his own transition in late 2008/early 2009.  And Trump’s numbers even track well below those of George W. Bush, whose transition was cut short by an extended recount that left lots of the country unconvinced that he had actually won! [Pols emphasis]

Wow. Worse than Dubya?

The Colorado Springs Independent has a handy list of local events related to the January 20th Inauguration.

 

► In his State of the State address on Thursday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called on the legislature to ask voters to approve a tax hike for transportation and infrastructure needs.

“We’ve had this debate for too long. If talk could fill potholes, we’d have the best roads in the country.”

 

 

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

Dr. Chaps says his Facebook post alleging “assassination of Scalia” by Clintons isn’t necessarily fake

(Uhm – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

klingenschmidt-on-wikileaks-exposing-assassination-of-scalia-endingthefedAt the end of last year, in an investigation of the Facebook pages of Colorado state legislators, I revealed that then State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs) posted a fake-news item in October claiming that Wikileaks documents proved the “assassination of Scalia” was orchestrated by the Clintons.

The day after Klingenschmitt posted the Scalia item, Snopes showed it to be false, concluding, “An e-mail published by WikiLeaks referenced not the literal assassination of Antonin Scalia, but what appeared to be a coordinated smear of Bernie Sanders.”

Yet the item remains on Klingenschmitt’s Facebook page to this day, along with this comment, “Anybody have a comment on this? Scalia dies same weekend after Podesta (for Hillary Clinton) sends this ‘wet works’ email? Hmmmm.”

I asked “Dr. Chaps,” as Klingenschmitt calls himself, why he hasn’t removed the fake news…

 

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Cory Gardner Sighted in Denver While Obamacare Debate Rages

UPDATE: Real Clear Politics’ James Arkin has more quotes from Gardner during the repeal debate in the U.S. Senate:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of Republicans’ Senate campaign committee, said he thought Democrats’ efforts – emphasizing their push to preserve the Affordable Cart Act – would backfire.

“They have no strategy, they have no message,” Gardner told RCP during the votes. “They’re flailing around and it comes down to using silly political amendments to help America remember that they support Obamacare. They are doubling down on Obamacare tonight. What you will see are red state Democrats voting for Obamacare.”

…For Gardner’s part, he argued the GOP would put forward a replacement, and it would be incumbent on Democrats to support it. “[If] they oppose it and decide they would rather have nothing rather than a replacement, this is not going to work out well for them.”

But how many will the replacement cover? How many will lose their coverage? That’s the question that matters, and also the question Gardner isn’t answering.

—–

Heads up, local reporters! If you’re hoping to get quotes from Colorado’s junior Sen. Cory Gardner, who presided this week over the initial votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, he was sighted moments ago in downtown Denver headed for the Colorado state capitol. Pics or it didn’t happen is the rule, so:

We don’t know what his schedule is, but we sincerely hope it includes some press avails. We’re happy to report that the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews finally got some Gardner quotes added to an AP wire story about the repeal votes, giving locals a precious little morsel of feedback as Gardner embarks on sweeping changes to a program affecting millions of Americans:

Ahead of that vote, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., described the Affordable Care Act as a “disaster for Colorado” in an interview with The Denver Post — citing a slew of healthcare plans that were canceled in the state following the law’s adaption in 2010.

Despite the cancellations – often due to new rules set by the Affordable Care Act — the number of Colorado residents without health insurance fell by more than half between 2011 to 2015: from nearly 15.8 percent to 6.7 percent, according to the Colorado Health Institute.

Much of that drop is due to an expansion of Medicaid under the law. Gardner said he had concerns about the growth of that program and wanted Congress instead to pursue a private-sector approach. [Pols emphasis]

“I think consumers are much better spending their own dollars than any government ever could be,” he said.

That’s some important content buried well below the lede of this story: Matthews correctly explains that the rate of uninsured dropped dramatically in Colorado under the ACA, at the same time Gardner was deceptively grandstanding about “cancellations” which were in fact notices to renew to ACA-compliant policies. This is critical to understand because when Gardner signs on to a GOP “replacement for Obamacare” that very likely throws large numbers off the insurance rolls, he’s going to compare that to his “cancellations” that really weren’t cancellations.

The second highly notable point inserted into this story is Gardner’s stated desire for a “private-sector approach” to address the growth of Medicaid. Mack in March of 2014, then-Politico reporter Manu Raju wrote about a meeting between then-Rep. Gardner and a woman on a breathing tube who told Gardner that Medicaid has literally “kept me alive.”

“We got to protect Medicaid,” Gardner told her. [Pols emphasis]

Right after this, Raju reported, Gardner said he opposed the Medicaid expansion that has protected thousands of Coloradans–perhaps even the woman in this story, a striking moment of hypocrisy among a multitude in 2014 that nonetheless didn’t prevent his election to the U.S. Senate.

Well folks, the time has come for Gardner to get what he wants. Let’s hope an intrepid reporter this weekend is able to have a conversation on the record about what that means.

Obama Surprises Biden with Presidential Medal of Freedom

There are plenty of things to argue about in political news lately. This is not one of them. Regardless of your political affiliations, this was a nice moment:

As the Washington Post explains:

President Obama awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a shocked Vice President Biden on Thursday at the White House.

Biden and the president had gathered for what the White House had described as a final tribute to the vice president.

The event began with a playful and heartfelt tribute from Obama to one of his closest friends and confidantes in Washington. As he finished his remarks the president asked one of his military aides to come to the stage.

“For the final time as president I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor…” Obama began as a Marine officer bearing the medal stood by.

Biden immediately spun around, turning his back to the crowd, and wiped his face and eyes with his handkerchief. The president bestowed the medal “with distinction,” an additional level of veneration that his three immediate predecessors had reserved for only three others — Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan and Gen. Colin Powell…

…In his remarks, Biden praised Obama for serving the nation with dignity and insisted that he was not worthy of the honor.

“I don’t deserve this…,” the vice president said repeatedly.

Uncut: Speaker Crisanta Duran’s Opening Day Remarks


With so much political news flooding the proverbial zone this week, we wanted to make sure that one particular bit of history didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Yesterday, Colorado formally elected the state’s first-ever Latina Speaker of the House, Crisanta Duran. The Denver Post’s Brian Eason reports:

New House Speaker Crisanta Duran kicked off the 71st Session of the Colorado House of Representatives with a call to keep “Washington-style politics” — marked by cynicism, divisiveness and broken promises — out of Colorado.

“We must rise above ugly politics to forge a new path forward,” said Duran, a fourth-term Democrat from Denver. “The people of Colorado are depending on us to make a difference beyond the talking points, the Twitter feeds and the headlines.”

…[I]n her opening remarks, Duran paid tribute to the leaders that came before her, recognizing the first Latino Speaker, Ruben Valdez, and her predecessor, former Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, before turning to her own story — that of a sixth-generation Coloradan from working class roots.

“It’s the American story,” she said, “but not one that we can take for granted.”

Watch Speaker Duran’s remarks in their entirety above.

Mike Coffman Plays Both Sides of #Russiagate

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who handily won re-election in part with a campaign to distance himself from his Donald Trump-like right-wing past, was interviewed by Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner this week–and Warner is to be commended to forcing something like answers from Coffman about the crisis over Russian intervention in the recent election to help Trump win.

The whole interview is worth listening to, but here’s a transcript of the key segment:

RW: I want to start with the fact that intelligence agencies have said Russia meddled in the US presidential election apparently in an effort to help Trump get elected. Now there’s an uncorroborated report that one, Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russians, and two, that the Russians have dirt on Trump that could make him vulnerable to blackmail. The information was persuasive enough apparently that it was shared with both Trump and President Obama. What’s your reaction to the latest developments?

MC: Well, I’m not familiar with it. So a couple of things, first of all I do think, that there, I can tell you as an Iraq war veteran, I think sometimes that the intelligence at the highest levels tends to be politicized to make a certain point. But at the same time I think that the Russians are a tremendous threat. I think we should, I think we need to look into every possibility for what they’re doing. And so I just think, I just have a real concern about Russia, and it runs much deeper then the President-Elect. [Pols emphasis]

RW: You believe that intelligence, even from the highest echelons you say, can be politicized. What makes you say that?

MC: Oh my gosh. As an Iraq War Veteran just to believe the intelligence and the lead up to the Iraq War, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, the lead up to the US military incursion into Libya for regime change, and what we were told there and what we found out afterwards. And recently not that long ago, we found out that at the senior levels in the Obama administration that they were cooking the intelligence on ISIS to make them look less formidable and that we were making more progress than we really were. And so we’re constantly looking into these things, and I hope that it’s just something that needs to be cleaned up. Certainly the rank and file of the intelligence community and the raw information that they put forward is good. I think when it’s put together in trying to establish a fact pattern to prove a particular thesis, I think sometimes it becomes questionable and politicized.

RW: This was the consensus of several different agencies, does that change your perspective in any way?

MC: No, it really doesn’t, [Pols emphasis] but at the same time, just because I’m distrustful of intelligence agencies and have been for a very long time and the fact that they’ve been politicized on the right and the left, I think they were politicized during the Bush administration as well, that doesn’t disregard the fact that I do think that Russia is a real threat to the United States, to our security interests…

As you can see, Coffman has truly mastered the art of taking both sides of an issue. Intelligence gets politicized, which is both sometimes true and exactly what Trump supporters want to hear–but Russia is a “tremendous threat,” so we should presumably still be worried? It seems to be left as more of a hypothetical discussion item than a pressing question about a President-elect who takes office in eight days.

One thing we can’t reconcile, though, is Coffman’s statement that his “concern” about Russia “runs much deeper than the President-elect.” If the allegations that the Trump campaign was actively engaged with the Russian government to win the election are true, you can’t separate the President-elect from the Russians. Whatever Coffman’s “deep concern” with the Russian agenda is, the leader of Coffman’s party is at the center of it.

If you can’t admit that, you really can’t be honest about the situation.

The State of the 2018 Governor’s Race

Who wants to follow this routine?

It’s that time of year in an off-year election cycle when the rumors and name-dropping are coming from every direction. On the same day that Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address, we thought it would be a good time to takes a look at what we’re seeing, reading, and hearing when it comes to jockeying for Colorado’s top job in 2018…

 

IN THE RACE
Noel Ginsburg (D)
As of this writing, there are seven candidates who have officially filed with the Secretary of State’s office to run for governor in 2018. Ginsburg is the only relevant name here; the other six are just gadflies who apparently think it would be fun to run for governor. We’ve written a bit about Ginsburg already, though it’s far too early to gauge whether the Denver businessman can really make a dent in this race.

 

NOT YET “OFFICIAL,” BUT DEFINITELY RUNNING
George Brauchler (R)
Walker Stapleton (R)
Cary Kennedy (D)
Mike Johnston (D)
Brauchler and Stapleton are both going to run for governor; the only suspense is about when they will make an official announcement. Kennedy and Johnston have been moving toward a run for governor for many months now, and it would be more of a surprise at this point if they chose not to enter the race — although that could change depending on what happens with Ken Salazar and Ed Perlmutter (see below).

 

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Cory Gardner Presides Over Obamacare Repeal Instigation

While you were sleeping, as the New York Times reports:

Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage.

One by one, Democrats rose to voice their objections. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington said that Republicans were “stealing health care from Americans.” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was voting no “because health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy.”

The presiding officer, Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, repeatedly banged his gavel and said the Democrats were out of order because “debate is not allowed during a vote.”

That’s right–late last night, Colorado’s own Sen. Cory Gardner presided over the initial votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. With no replacement plan in a state of readiness, this was a vote to strip millions of Americans of health coverage–including hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. And we’re not talking about the fake “cancellations” that Gardner has been misleadingly railing against for years, “cancellation notices” that were actually notices to renew–to policies that comply with the additional protections and coverage requirements of the ACA.

This time, Americans and Coloradans may lose their health coverage and not get it back.

Given Gardner’s promises in out-of-state media that Obamacare would be “replaced” with a “better” system while refusing to give any details, and the very serious potential harm to Gardner’s constituents that could result if Obamacare is repealed and not replaced with a system that covers as many people, we are increasingly dumbfounded as to why our local media is basically ignoring Gardner’s large role in this process. Where the hell is Mark Matthews? Where the hell is Kyle Clark? How is it that Colorado’s Senator manages to get quoted by everyone except the Colorado media?

Serious shit is going down in Washington, D.C., right now, and Sen. Gardner should be answering for it.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 12)

The State of the State is…pretty good, we guess. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Congress took a step closer to repealing Obamacare late Wednesday evening/Thursday morning, though Republicans are still fighting about whether anybody actually has a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with something else. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was tracked down by Grey DC and promised that Republicans will definitely have a plan for replacing Obamacare. That’s the plan, anyway:

 “When it’s repealed it will be replaced there is no doubt it will be replaced with an idea that is better than the disastrous results of Obama care,” Gardner (R-CO) said.

Uh, yeah. How about giving the rest of us some actual details about this big plan, eh Sen. Gardner?

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper delivers his State of the State address today with an eye toward securing his legacy. From John Frank at the Denver Post:

The Democrat’s list of accomplishments is lengthy, but many of his biggest challenges remain — notably how to address what he calls the state’s “fiscal thicket” of spending rules tied to TABOR, an issue he identified in his first address after being re-elected.

Other unfinished business includes implementation of a generational water management plan, a tax hike to improve the state’s roads and transit, a crackdown on the illegal marijuana market and a push to reduce homelessness — one of the issues that led him to public office 13 years ago.

His 11 a.m. speech to a joint session of the General Assembly will diverge in tone from a year ago, when he peppered his remarks with a pop-culture montage and basked in the glow of a new marriage. Instead, he will focus more soberly on the challenges ahead and the need to tackle the most complicated political questions.

 

► Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was less than thrilled with some of the answers provided Wednesday by Rex TillersonDonald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State. As Politico reports:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is narrowly divided, with the GOP holding just a one-seat advantage. And most Democrats, if not all, sounded skeptical about Tillerson’s performance before the panel. So Rubio may determine whether Tillerson’s nomination can successfully win committee approval — or come to a floor vote after being given an “unfavorable” recommendation by the panel.

On Wednesday during multiple rounds of questioning, Tillerson largely failed to satisfy Rubio’s obvious desire for tough talk on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Tillerson, the former chief executive at oil giant ExxonMobil, wouldn’t call Putin a “war criminal,” or criticize reports of extrajudicial killings by Duterte’s police forces, leading a seemingly exasperated Rubio to repeatedly ask Tillerson what it would take for him to do so.

The clashes forced Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to step in several times, in an effort to get Tillerson to clarify that if he had access to classified information detailing atrocities by Putin or Duterte he would endorse Rubio’s critiques. And remarkably, at one point Tillerson protested that he and Rubio had gotten off on the wrong foot and insisted they share the same values.

 

 

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

County Republican chair suggests castrating transgender people who use women’s bathrooms

(Another ultra-classy county GOP chair! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

drake-castration-meme-1-2017Saguache County Republican Chair Richard Drake apparently shared a Facebook meme this week depicting a castration device with the statement, “Make’em think twice  before entering the ladies room. Share if you know what these are used for.”

The instrument wraps a rubber band above the testicles, cutting off circulation to them.

Drake did not respond to a phone call and email seeking to find out why he shared the meme, if it was he who did so on his Facebook page.

“Violence against transgender people is no laughing matter,” said Laura Reinsch, a spokesman for One Colorado, which is “dedicated to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families.” “Nearly half of transgender people report being verbally harassed — and one in ten report being physically harassed — in the last year alone, and many transgender Coloradans face barriers in finding housing, employment opportunities, and the right to vote just because of who they are. Transgender people are our friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers and they deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.”

Below is an email sent to Drake, seeking comment:

Hi Mr. Drake—

I am a Denver blogger…

I’m writing a short post on the Facebook image you apparently shared below.

Did you, in fact, post the image on your Facebook page, and, if so, please explain why you posted this image. I will include your entire response in my blog post. I blog from a progressive perspective, but I try to help readers understand the full picture. In this case, your response would be a great help.

Thanks for considering this request.

Jason Salzman

Thursday Open Thread

“If someone tells him the truth, he looks upon that as poison. He cannot tell victory from defeat. This is the way of life in the world of the faithless cynic.”

–Sri Guru Granth Sahi

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