Day of Reckoning Nears For Gardner’s Health Care Hypocrisy

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday joined several other Republican and Democratic governors in criticizing the House-passed version of the bill, saying it does not adequately protect millions of Americans and needs fixing.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, joined Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker (R), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in signing the letter criticizing the House version of the bill.

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. All the governors are from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The governors say that the House-passed version of the bill “calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington:

The concerns from Democrats come at a crucial moment for the AHCA, as the group of 13 Republican senators, including Gardner, continue to craft their bill in secrecy…

Gardner has been mostly mum on the bill, but in an interview with Colorado Politics published Friday, he said he wants to preserve protections for Medicaid recipients, which the House version gutted, and again said that the Affordable Care Act was “collapsing.”

He also told Colorado Politics that the Affordable Care Act was “passed in the most partisan of fashions” and that “not a single Republican vote was part of it,” despite Democrats holding months of open hearings while crafting the bill.

In February, Gardner himself said, “It’s important to me that this debate be open and that the American people see what’s happening and taking place,” according to a transcript from HuffPost. “I think as this committee hearings and legislation is being drafted, it’s not going to be something behind closed doors. Everybody is going to be a part of it.”

Sen. Cory Gardner’s first election to Congress in 2010 was built around fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. After Gardner won election, he returned to the legislation over and over as a centerpiece in his personal message against both health reform and the Obama administration in general. Gardner falsely claimed that hundreds of thousands of Coloradans had their “coverage cancelled” by Obamacare, when in truth those consumers were being migrated to plans that included Obamacare’s requirements for better coverage. Colorado’s rate of uninsured did not grow despite Gardner’s complaints about “cancellations,” instead dropping to historic lows as thousands gained coverage from the insurance marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid.

Before Trump’s election made repeal an actual possibility, Gardner routinely voted for bills that would have repealed Obamacare without any considerations for the Medicaid expansion population, persons with pre-existing conditions, or others who have benefited. At the same time, Gardner voted for various proposals that severely weakened Obamacare, like refusing to fund health co-ops and then blaming Obama for their insolvency.

After all of that, successful politics even though it has been a fundamentally deceptive campaign of bad faith and self-fulfilling prophecy, we finally have arrived at the moment Cory Gardner and the GOP has been working toward since 2010: where Republicans have total control in Washington and can replace Obamacare with whatever they want.

And it’s not working out, folks. The House celebrated passage of a bill that the Senate immediately declared DOA due to its devastating effect on millions of people now reaping the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate’s closed-door working group of 13 Republicans claims to be close to finalizing their completely different legislation, which reportedly offers only small concessions from the House bill–the full effects being unknown because the bill is being drafted in secret, exactly what Gardner promised would not happen.

This untenable situation looks ready to come to a head. If Gardner’s group can’t produce a bill that the conservative House will approve, the entire exercise is colossal a waste of time. But Gardner can’t produce a bill the House will pass without breaking even more promises than the promise to not do this behind closed doors. Either way, six years of Gardner’s misinformation and scare tactics are about to meet reality. And Gardner has nowhere to point the finger now except himself.

It’s one of those things that politicians should always consider–what happens if this works? There’s no question that Cory Gardner’s crusade against Obamacare helped him in his rise to one of the most powerful members of the United States Senate.

But now, literally and figuratively, the bill is due.

Gardner links protests at his office with the shooting in Washington DC

(Does this mean they’re not “paid protesters” anymore? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In an appearance on conservative radio Thursday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner pointed to prop-filled protests at his office as examples of rhetoric that should be toned down in the wake of  Wednesday’s shooting in Washington DC.

In an apparent reference to die-ins and other demonstrations staged in front of Gardner’s office to illustrate the point that GOP Obamacare replacement would actually result in deaths of people who lose health insurance, Gardner linked the DC shooting to “people showing up with coffins in offices around the country” and “people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office.”

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

Since Trump’s victory in November, activist groups have staged die-ins in front of Gardner’s office. One May 9 “die in,”  organized by Protect Our Care Colorado, Denver OFA, and Front Range MoveOn, was promoted on Facebook this way:

“Bring your signs and noisemakers and wear slings, back braces, and other visual reminders that Trumpcare will seriously injure our country’s health care system! Feel free to dress in black and bring posters written like gravestones that list the reason you died: (i.e., RIP: Lack of Maternity Care, RIP: Coverage Denied, RIP: High Premiums, RIP: Cancer, Denied Coverage).”

Other Denver-based activist groups, including Indivisible Denver, have staged die-ins and funerals at the State Capitol to oppose the repeal of Obamacare and other Trump initiatives.

Activist group representatives could not be reached for comment Friday.

It’s a fact that, along with the loss of health insurance resulting from the repeal of Obamacare, would come deaths. Experts differ on the scope and the trade-offs involved, but it’s objectively a legitimate point being made protesters with props and costumes, which are clearly aimed at grabbing attention. And for good reason, activists say.

On the radio, Gardner didn’t address deaths that would be caused by potential Obamacare repeal.

“You’ve got people in coffins showing up to the offices,” Gardner told KCOL’s morning host Jimmy Lakey Thursday. “It’s almost as if they’ve allowed politics to become some sort of religion, and anyone who disagrees with them is a challenge to their faith. That is not a good situation for the discourse of this country.”

Asked by KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer whether the “nasty political rhetoric the cause of this type of violence,” Gardner said, “We’ve got more to learn.” He went on to say,

Gardner: You know, The Hill is reporting that FBI officials told The Hill that the shooting appeared to have been planned and, on the surface, appeared politically motivated. And you know, that the rhetoric, the discourse, is elevated to a point where, you know, left, right—you know, both sides have to stop this rhetoric. I mean, when you have people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office, — when we have people showing up with coffins in offices around the country, when you have people holding up the head of the president — decapitated head of the president, when you — you know, when you have people who are, you know, accusing other people of killing people.

In 2009, Tea Party activists dressed as the Grim Reaper to denounce Obamacare and the liberal agenda.

(more…)

Colorado Week in Review: 6/16/17

Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

LGBT:

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

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

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

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Friday Open Thread

“The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious.”

–William Shakespeare

Rep. Doug Lamborn: “Abortion Is Not Health Care”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs wants to make extra-super sure that the Senate’s forthcoming Obamacare repeal legislation doesn’t make anything easier on women who need abortions:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, has penned a letter signed by 70 members of the U.S. House asking GOP leadership in the Senate to ensure “our pro-life priorities” are included in any health care legislation they draft to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“While there have been differences of opinion on the best way to fix our nation’s health care system,” the letter dated Wednesday says, “the pro-life majority in the House of Representatives has reached consensus that any health care legislation must abide by the overarching principle that abortion is not health care, and that therefore, elective abortion, abortion providers, and health plans that include elective abortion should not be subsidized.”

The request was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, as well as the chairs of the Senate budget, health and finance committees. Colorado’s other House Republicans — U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman, Ken Buck and Scott Tipton — did not sign the letter.

Lamborn’s sweeping statement that “abortion is not health care” will come as news to the thousands of women in the United States every year who have medically necessary abortions, some of whose lives are saved via the procedure. And even in the case of abortions entirely for a woman’s personal reasons–how is that not “health care,” every bit as much as elective surgeries of all kinds and (yes) Viagra are “health care?” Perhaps vasectomies should be relegated to the back alley too?

Look, we get what Lamborn is trying to say here, but his choice of words betrays a fundamental ignorance about what he’s discussing. In Lamborn’s case that’s no accident, though it’s a useful window into the minds of dogmatic abortion rights opponents.

Minds that close in the presence of undesired context.

It’s “Too Soon”–But Not To Fundraise!

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: New York Daily News:

A prominent Colorado politician decided to use Wednesday’s shooting on a GOP baseball practice as a fundraising opportunity.

“The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!” reads an email signed by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

The fundraising note went out just hours after gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where congressional lawmakers were practicing for Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game.

—–

THURSDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports:

Raw Story’s David Edwards:

Neville insisted to KUSA-TV that letter’s main purpose was not to raise funds even though it asks for contributions of at least $25.

“I wouldn’t consider it a pure fundraising email,” Neville said. [Pols emphasis] “The main purpose was to encourage people not to be silenced by fear.”

—–

Local Daily Beast contributor Dave Maney directs us to a fundraising email sent earlier today from GOP Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, invoking today’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia today as the tragic situation was still more or less live news. Excerpted:

Unruly protesters trashing Civic Center Park and clashing with cops in the streets.

Mock beheadings of President Trump by Kathy Griffin.

And now an ASSASSINATION attempt on Republican lawmakers!

The hate-inspired violent rhetoric against conservatives and Republicans was already at an all-time fever pitch before today, but now it just got very real.

The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!

Earlier today, a radical anti-trump protester opened fire on Republican staff and lawmakers at a practice for the congressional baseball game in Virginia…

Today’s attack is tantamount to political terrorism aimed at shutting up Conservatives, Republicans, and Americans like you.

Frankly, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of “tolerance-preaching progressives” and their accomplices in the media who allowed violent rhetoric to get so out of control. [Pols emphasis]

I’m talking about so-called “journalists” like Kathy Griffin and other hollywood-elites who incentivize violence against Republicans by staging beheadings and celebrate fictitious assassinations as “artistic expression.”

No wonder why the socialist piece of trash who tried to kill Republican lawmakers today thought his deranged actions were justified…

Here’s what you can do to help:

First, join me in praying for a speedy recovery for Congressman Scalise and the staff and law enforcement who were wounded in today’s attack.

Second, join me in calling on the media to denounce horrific attacks like this and to call for an end to the violent political rhetoric on the left that they’ve inspired.

Finally, if you can, please show us that you’re not backing down by chipping-in $50 or $25 to Colorado Liberty PAC today so we can retake the State House in 2018. [Pols emphasis]

Your contribution today will help us advance our conservative values through passionate and peaceful civil discourse that makes our country great.

For Freedom,

Patrick Neville
Republican Leader
Colorado House of Representatives

The aftermath of high-profile shooting incidents in the United States very quickly turns into a political debate, as gun rights supporters struggle with gun control proponents to cast the emerging details in terms favorable to their stand on the issue. A meta-debate almost always takes place alongside this discussion, arguing whether the timing is right to talk about the overarching political issues in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event–while survivors are still grieving, or even while the event is still unfolding. Activists on the issue joke that it’s always “too soon” to talk about guns, right up until it’s “too late.”

In both of these debates, Neville and Republicans he supports via the Colorado Liberty PAC have ceded the high ground. They have politicized this man’s horrific actions in exactly the way they refused to accept with countervailing examples–like the man who walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November of 2015 and started shooting. We feel very confident that as many or more liberals are looking inward today at their own anger than conservatives re-examined their rhetorical excesses after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

And that rank hypocrisy still wasn’t enough. They tried to make money off it.

It’s too far. It’s too much. And we don’t want to hear how it’s “too soon” ever again.

Gardner promised Obamacare replacement wouldn’t be drafted “behind closed doors”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

During a conference call in February, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner assured worried constituents that they would have plenty of opportunities to weigh in on any legislation to replace Obamacare.

“It’s important to me that this debate be open and that the American people see what’s happening and taking place,” said Gardner. “So Sandy, I think as this committee hearings and legislation is being is drafted, it’s not going to be something behind closed doors, everybody is going to be a part of it. It’s important that we get this right.”

Now, about four months later, the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate, which includes Gardner himself, has no plans to hold public hearings on their Obamacare replacement legislation, currently being drafted in secret by 13 senators, including Gardner.

As U.S. Senate President Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explained this week after invoking a rule that would move the health-care bill to a full Senate vote with little or no chance for amendments:

“We’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years. It’s not a new thing,” McConnell said, arguing that there was little new left to be discussed in a public forum.

“Nobody’s hiding the ball here,” he said. “You’re free to ask anybody anything. But there have been gazillions of hearings on this subject, when they were in the majority, when we were in the majority. We understand this issue pretty well and we’re now working on coming up with a solution.”

Despite his previous promises, Gardner hasn’t objected to the secrecy–and it doesn’t appear that reporters have asked him about it.

But U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has objected, saying she “has a problem with it” and the secrecy is “just not a good way to handle something that is as significant and important as health care.”

In fact, Gardner has said very little of substance about the senate bill. But based on what he has said, he’s apparently not fighting to keep 400,000 Coloradans on the Obamacare health insurance rolls but instead is advocating for throwing them off slowly, in a “glide path.”

Gardner is doubling down on hypocrisy here, because he’s been apoplectic for years over what he says was Democrats’ failure to offer sufficient public input into the formulation of Obamacare, even though, in 2009 with Democrats in control, the full U.S. Senate debated the Obamacare bill for 25 straight days, the Senate Health Committee held 60 hours of public hearings, and the Senate Finance Committee considered 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes.

“This President [Obama] has claimed to be one of the most transparent in history, yet his health care overhaul was passed behind closed doors and ended up cutting $500 billion from Medicare,” Gardner said in 2013. “The American people deserve better than that.”

And Gardner repeated this false accusation just three months ago on KNUS 710-AM.

“This is an idea [the Obamacare replacement] that will go through regular order, through committees, and have an opportunity to be openly debated and talked about — something that is completely different than what happened six years ago when the Affordable Care Act was written behind closed doors and the leadership offices, and then crammed down on the Senate floor directly,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger. “So, this is something that is going to go through an open process — regular order.”

Gardner is in a good position to influence the senate’s health-care bill, not only due to his Senate leadership role but also as a member of the committee of 13 senators selected by McConnell that’s drafting the senate’s Obamacare replacement in secret. Gardner was among a group of senators who had lunch with Trump Tuesday to discuss the legislation.

Gardner continued to keep his cards close to his chest this week, saying he’s not seen any text of the bill and not offering any details.

It appears that Senate Republicans plan to send their legislation to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for a “score.” A quick vote by the House Republicans last month came before the CBO analysis, which later showed that 14 million more people uninsured next year and 12 million more within 10 years.

On conservative talk radio in March, Gardner suggested that the dismantlement of Obamacare should begin without a CBO analysis, thus avoiding public outcry over the prospect of so many people losing health insurance.

(more…)

Trump Officially Under Investigation For Obstruction of Justice

Via the Washington Post, President Donald Trump now officially on the hot seat:

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from former FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

This can’t be called unexpected, since FBI Director James Comey’s revelations about his final meetings with President Trump before being fired very plainly told a story consistent with the crime of obstruction of justice. Comey’s firing only further confirms Trump’s intentions, which Trump was in turn quite happy to confirm to Russian diplomats shortly afterward.

In short, it would be much harder to explain after all this why Trump shouldn’t be personally under investigation than why he is.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 14)

Happy Flag Day, America! 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…

► The news from Washington, D.C. today is mostly about a shooting at a congressional baseball practice, in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was injured along with a congressional aide and several police officers. The deceased shooter is a former Bernie Sanders volunteer whose social media is full of anti-Donald Trump content:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said both in a statement and on the Senate floor that he had learned the shooter volunteered on his presidential campaign — and that he condemned the shooting “in the strongest possible terms.”

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” Sanders said.

“I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”

Denver7 has reactions from the Colorado delegation.

► In other inside-the-Beltway news, what seems to have been the beginnings of a move to fire Russia special counsel Robert Mueller is fizzling out:

Last month’s appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia enraged President Trump. Yet, at least initially, he holstered his Twitter finger and publicly said nothing.

But behind the scenes, the president soon began entertaining the idea of firing Mr. Mueller even as his staff tried to discourage him from something they believed would turn a bad situation into a catastrophe, according to several people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s interactions. A longtime friend, Christopher Ruddy, surfaced the president’s thinking in a television interview Monday night, setting off a frenzied day of speculation that he would go through with it.

For now, the staff has prevailed. “While the president has every right to” fire Mr. Mueller, “he has no intention to do so,” the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters late Tuesday.

It’s tough to imagine how that might have happened here–or still might, if Trump decides to override the opinions of his staff and pull another James Comey. But it’s a brink we’re glad to see Trump being pulled back from, at least for now.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Majority Whip Steve Scalise Shot, Colorado Delegation Okay

Horrible story out of Washington D.C. that’s going to occupy most of the day’s news, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

No members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, or their staffs, were hurt in Wednesday morning’s shooting at a congressional baseball practice, which left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others wounded.

The shooting happened in Alexandria, Virginia, where the GOP congressional baseball team was practicing. No Colorado Republicans play on the team, and the state’s congressional delegation has reported their staffs are OK after conducting a full roll call.

The shooter has been identified as James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, whose social media profiles contain lots of anti-Donald Trump and pro-Bernie Sanders material. Hodgkinson apparently has a lengthy criminal record. Previously reported to be in custody, it’s since been reported that Hodgkinson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with responding police.

Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in stable condition at a local hospital, and a congressional aide who was also wounded is expected to recover.

With that, we wish Rep. Scalise a speedy recovery, and implore everybody on both sides to be more thoughtful about the consequences of our mutually incendiary rhetoric. It’s no less true when a right-wing crackpot shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic than when a left-wing crackpot takes aim at a Republican elected official. Our politics are only better than this…until they aren’t anymore.

And none of us wants to see what that looks like.