There is Still No “War on Rural Colorado”

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling)

Certain Republican politicians in our state LOVE to talk about the so-called “war on rural Colorado.” This is a fun game in which you accuse politicians from more populated parts of the state — who normally happen to be Democrats — of intentionally trying to screw over more remote parts of the state because they hate rural Colorado for some nebulous reason. 

Colorado Republicans were overplaying this card (again) ahead of the 2020 election, accusing Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper of ignoring rural Colorado with vague declarations such as this one from former State Rep. Mark Hillman of Burlington: “Many rural Coloradans believe we’re not being heard by our elected officials.” Then-Senator Cory Gardner regularly lobbed this grenade at Hickenlooper, though Gardner himself ghosted The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel when the editorial board was interviewing candidates for endorsements. 

These one-note Republican whiners believe that one voice from “rural Colorado” should be equal to 100 voices from Denver because…well, just because. There’s no real logic here — it’s just simple-minded outrage politics from Republicans who don’t know what else to say about their rapidly-waning influence among a changing electorate. 

The “war on rural Colorado” nonsense has become such a political crutch for certain Republican politicians, most notably Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling-ish), that they are beating the absolute hell out of what was already a shaky argument. Earlier this week, Sonnenberg and Rep. Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells) threw down the “war on rural Colorado” card during the discussion over legislation about junior colleges and about requiring more transparency when pet stores sell puppies and kittens. Both of these bills happen to be sponsored by Republicans who represent rural Colorado, but facts are for sissies. DEMOCRATS HATE RURAL COLLEGES AND RURAL PUPPIES AND RURAL KITTENS!

First up, let’s consider testimony on HB21-1102, “Consumer Protections for Dog and Cat Purchasers.” Here’s the official bill summary:

The bill creates the “Pet Store Consumer Protection Act”, which prohibits a pet store that was not licensed by the commissioner of agriculture prior to the effective date of the bill from selling or offering to sell dogs or cats on or after the effective date of the bill.

Rep. Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells)

The short version is that this is a bill intended to make it harder for disgusting “puppy mills” to continue operating in Colorado. One of the bill’s prime sponsors is Rep. Matt Soper, a Republican from the great metropolis of Delta, Colorado. But Rep. Pelton, who also serves as House Minority Whip, apparently missed this important fact. Said Pelton:

I view this bill as a camel’s nose under the tent…

…Where does it end, people? Rural Colorado is tired of this building eating away at the different industries that affect us. 

Despite Rep. Pelton’s pro-puppy mill stance, HB21-1102 easily passed in the House of Representatives.

Similar antics took place during a discussion about SB21-008, a bill that seeks to remove the word “Junior” from the names of certain colleges; for example, “Trinidad State Junior College” would become “Trinidad State College.” As for WHY we need to do this, our understanding is that it has something to do with making the school names sound more prestigious or something. Regardless, the bill is sponsored by Sen. Cleave Simpson (R-Alamosa) and Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron), both of whom actually represent rural Colorado.

Again, these “facts” didn’t stop Sen. Sonnenberg from vomiting out his “war on rural Colorado” rhetoric:

You can’t have somebody in Denver that sits in an office up here that oversees all of the junior colleges, telling Northeastern Junior College this is the way it’s going to be without some sort of community engagement. This is the ultimate [case of] urban telling rural, ‘nah, this is what’s better for you.’

Much like Rep. Pelton in the earlier discussion, Sen. Sonnenberg hadn’t bothered to collect any facts on this issue. Senator Simpson later politely explained that he agreed to sponsor SB21-008 BECAUSE he was approached by community stakeholders interested in the idea; Simpson even talked about a letter of support from the advisory boards of four of the six schools that would be affected by the name change. 

State Sen. Chris Holbert, the Senate Minority Leader, even took his turn at the podium to caution members against the kind of unfounded allegations made by Sonnenberg earlier:

As this bill moves forward, I would diminish the perspective that Denver — the Metro Area — is somehow pushing this on Northeastern [Junior College] or that community.

This should be obvious to most people, but the reason that politicians pay more attention to the populated parts of the state is because THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE THERE. Where there are more people, there are more elected officials representing those people. Policy changes also tend to have a greater impact in places where there are more people. It’s not rocket surgery. 

There is not a “war on rural Colorado,” but there is a “war on reality” for some Republicans. And they’re not winning. 

BREAKING: U.S. House Wraps Week Early Under Threat

AP’s Lisa Mascaro reports, it’s insurrectionist deja vu all over again:

The U.S. House is abruptly finishing its work for the week given the threat of violence at the Capitol by a militia group seeking to storm the building, as happened in a deadly siege Jan. 6.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change.

The decision was made given the threats on the Capitol, according to a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

NBC News Washington:

U.S. Capitol Police have intelligence that shows “a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group” on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory…

Capitol Police received “new and concerning information and intelligence” on Tuesday afternoon indicating “additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group,” Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett said in a message Wednesday morning to members of Congress.

Looks like “Fort Pelosi” will need to stay on alert a little while longer, folks.

Another Lauren Boebert zinger that didn’t age well.

Boebert Disses Every College She Represents

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R).

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) debuted her new column at far-right infotainment site The Blaze today, and as you could have predicted it’s more red meat than she could ever dream of shoveling to her supporters in 280-character increments on Twitter. But one particular line in Boebert’s high-dudgeon low-syllable column titled “If I were a Democrat” has prompted some amount of bemused discussion:

If I were a Democrat, I’d flood the voter pool. I’d require all states to allow same-day voter registration. I’d mandate states automatically register felons, illegal aliens, and 16-year-olds to vote, and I’d require prisons, welfare offices, and ICE to provide their voter registration information.

I’d also use taxpayer dollars to establish aggressive voter recruitment programs at leftist training camps — otherwise known as colleges and universities.

It’s a mess of factually unhinged prattle that should make even Glenn Beck blush, but it’s particularly interesting to see Boebert slamming colleges and universities indiscriminately as “leftist training camps.” Even in a hinterland district like Colorado’s CD-3, think of all the institutions Boebert is charged with representing she just disparaged:

Adams State University
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Northwestern Community College
Colorado State University – Pueblo
Fort Lewis College
Pueblo Community College
Western Colorado University

Colorado Mesa University in particular is notable since it’s currently run by President Tim Foster, who is retiring later this year and may be considering a primary challenge against Boebert. But seriously, folks–is there anyone out there who really thinks Rangely or Alamosa are home to “leftist training camps?” Granted, the jury is still out about those hippies in Gunnison, and a century ago she may have had a point about Pueblo.

We’re joking, of course. We only wish Lauren Boebert was joking too.

Dems Sidestep Prefab Attacks On Public Option Bill

Rep. Dylan Roberts (D).

As the Colorado Sun reports:

A deep-pocketed nonprofit backed by private insurance companies has launched a barrage of advertising aimed at building public opposition to Colorado Democrats’ attempt to create a public health insurance option.

Partnership for America’s Health Care Future launched a TV ad buy at a cost of nearly $1 million on Monday that will run through early April. The ads are airing in the Denver, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs television markets.

And that’s just the beginning of the group’s full-court press against a bill that still hasn’t been introduced…

Once again, the Colorado General Assembly is set to debate a bill that could create a publicly-administered “Colorado Option” health plan to compete with fabulously profitable private insurance providers and bring down overall costs in the health insurance marketplace. And just as in previous years, the private insurance industry is launching a massive pre-emptive assault against legislation which has not even been introduced. But as Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, the bill coming together in 2021 could be very different than the previous effort:

Colorado Politics has obtained a copy of the draft bill that could soon become the Colorado Option Health Benefit Plan, and it shows that the 2021 version is drastically different than the version presented in 2020…

The biggest difference in the bill is a provision that the healthcare industry will, at least for the next two years, be responsible for figuring out how to hit a target of a 20% reduction in health insurance premiums for the individual market, which is about 8% of those insured statewide.

Basically, Democrats in the General Assembly have decided to call the insurance industry’s bluff, and give them a chance to bring costs down the way they say they prefer to operate before implementing the much-dreaded “public option” which would compel major cost reductions in order to stay competitive. Rep. Dylan Roberts explains:

“We won’t tell them how to do it; they’ve told us repeatedly over the years that they know healthcare costs are a problem, but that they want to work on it on their own to address it,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

If the industry doesn’t achieve the targeted premium reductions by 2025, the state would then move forward with the public option alternative–now free of the misconception that private industry can effectively police itself out of undue profiteering. Or, maybe the industry will prove that it’s not a misconception, and that given an ambitious goal and the flexibility to meet that goal autonomously private industry can set aside its fundamental motive of profit and triumph in solving one of the nation’s most vexing problems.

If by this point you’re thinking that this bill might represent too generous treatment of an industry whose profit motives can never be scaled back willingly, you’re not alone. But by giving insurers a chance to do what they say they would do if only “given the chance,” a major argument employed by the industry is being taken off the table.

Smart politics in the long run, assuming consumers are willing to be patient.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 3)

Happy “World Hearing Day.” Please celebrate respon…we said “Happy World Hearing Day!” 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As National Public Radio reports, President Biden expects the United States to have enough COVID-19 vaccines for every adult by May:

“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said, crediting his administration’s efforts to boost production and moving up the timeline from the end of July, which is what the president was saying just a few weeks ago.

As announced earlier in the day, Biden said his administration is invoking the Defense Production Act to boost production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend.

Colorado’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to rise significantly over the next month. As The Denver Post reports:

Colorado’s weekly vaccine allotment will grow from 256,880 doses next week to 405,600 doses the week ending April 11.

Governor Jared Polis is confident that Colorado will look “close to normal” by this summer.

 

► The Denver Post previews one of the bigger bills that will be discussed this session: A public option health insurance proposal. As Saja Hindi writes:

Only one state in the U.S. — Washington — has a public option health insurance plan. Democrats think they could make Colorado the second. They’re reviving the issue in the Colorado Legislature for another year of debate on a bill that, this time, makes some concessions to the health care industry.

A draft of the legislation circulated Tuesday. Bill sponsor Rep. Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat, said there isn’t a specific timeline for when it’ll be officially introduced, but said he expects “robust conversations over the coming weeks and changes to be made prior to introduction.”

In 2019, lawmakers directed the state to recommend a public health insurance plan. Last year, lawmakers tried to pass the plan, but had to shelve it because of COVID-19. Roberts has said this year’s bill takes the effects of the pandemic into account by giving the industry time to recover from COVID and reduce costs on its own.

The healthcare industry is sufficiently nervous that it might have to worry more about patients than profits that it has started a $1 million advertising campaign.

Here are some more stories about the state legislature:

Legislation to protect public health workers from “doxxing” is moving along quickly.

9News reports on a bill that would require landlords to give tenants more notice before evictions.

Lawmakers are considering a bill to allow mental health professionals to work more closely with police officers.

 

 Colorado Public Radio reports on a voting rights and election reform bill in Congress that has Colorado’s Congressional delegation divided along partisan lines:

The For the People Act has pride of place for Democrats in the U.S. House, clearly denoted by it’s bill number: H.R. 1.

It is a voting rights, campaign finance, ethics rules and election reform package that aims to increase voter access to the polls and decrease the influence of big money. The bill would strike down hurdles to voting and curb partisan gerrymandering by requiring states to use non-partisan commissions to redraw lines, like Colorado is doing.

All four of Colorado Democratic representatives — Diana DeGette, Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter — have co-sponsored the bill.

Colorado Republican Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn are all opposed to the legislation because they understand that increased voter participation will hurt Republican chances in future elections.

As if to prove this point, Republican lawyers arguing in front of The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the quiet part out loud:

 

The single greatest threat to a free society is NOT a decision to stop printing a couple of Dr. Seuss books that nobody even knew existed before this week. Sorry, Ken Buck.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that Buck asked his followers to “retweet” and “like” his post if they agreed that “Cancel culture under the guise of racism may be far more dangerous than anything else we face as a free society.” That one backfired in spectacular fashion.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

Wednesday Open Thread

“Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.”

–Hubert H. Humphrey

On This, We Can Agree: Ken Buck is a Buffoon

UPDATE: Buck’s social media fishing expedition has not paid off (he asked people to retweet and “like” his message). As of 9:00 am on Wednesday:

 

—–

One fish, two fish.
Red fish, blue fish.
Ken Buck is a f***ing idiot.

This guy.

The United States is still trying to halt a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans and devastated the economy.

More than 11.4 MILLION Americans are about to lose unemployment benefits if Congress doesn’t quickly approve a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

People were literally freezing to death in Texas last month because the state’s power grid was designed by monkeys.

The FBI says we surpassed 2,000 cases of domestic terrorism in just the last few months.

But a couple of Dr. Seuss books won’t be published anymore because of racist imagery, and THAT is the single most dangerous problem “we face as a free society,” according to actual Congressperson and State Republican Party Chair Ken Buck.

Boebert Draws GOP Fire After “Playing Hooky” To Attend CPAC

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) calls bullcrap at CPAC 2021 in Orlando.

The Hill

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) on Monday criticized lawmakers for using the proxy voting system implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to skip floor votes for reasons unrelated to their health, including fellow House Republicans who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday…

[I]n January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave Republicans the green light to use proxy voting given security concerns in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by a mob of former President Trump’s supporters who tried to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results.

Since then, dozens of Republicans have been voting by proxy in recent weeks.

The 13 Republicans scheduled to speak at CPAC who voted by proxy on Friday were Reps. Gaetz, Lauren Boebert (Colo.), [Pols emphasis] Ted Budd (N.C.), Jim Banks (Ind.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Mark Green (Tenn.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Ronny Jackson (Texas), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Devin Nunes (Calif.) and Greg Steube (Fla.).

Here’s Rep. Lauren Boebert’s signed request Friday to the Clerk of the U.S. House to vote by proxy, which with all the facts in view doesn’t seem honest to sign one’s name to:

As a lightning-rod COVID-19 “freedom fighter” who never met a public health order she couldn’t defy, it takes some amount of effrontery just to invoke the “public health emergency” as a reason Boebert would be prevented from doing anything. But as we all know, this lie about being concerned by the pandemic is just a pretext for the real reason Boebert wasn’t present in Congress over the weekend–her speaking engagement at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

And as none other than Colorado-based Donald Trump attorney-turned leading Republican moral authority Jenna Ellis (take it up with Jesus if you don’t like it) lectured her fellow conservatives (also from CPAC) this weekend, lying is never, ever okay:

For those of you wondering, Rep [Madison] Cawthorne signed a written letter saying he was “unable” to vote in person “due to the pandemic,” when really he was speaking at CPAC. So this is a lie. Republicans also signed on to a lawsuit last year claiming that voting by proxy is unconstitutional.

We cannot back bad behavior just because it’s a Republican, otherwise we lose our integrity. I will speak truth, period.

Republicans should not be hypocrites any more than Democrats…

It’s disturbing that people are more upset at me for saying it is wrong for their favorite celebrity politicians to lie than they are at Congress members for actually lying.

No, lying is not ever a petty thing.

No, it’s not okay to “do it because the Democrats do it too.”

No, it’s not “being a RINO” to say lying is wrong, regardless of who is doing it.

This is right vs wrong. Period.

Re-examine your priorities. If you value Party over Truth and Christ, your priorities are wrong.

Considering everything Ellis says here applies as much to Colorado’s Lauren Boebert as Madison Cawthorn or the other congressional CPAC “ditch day” revelers, we’re watching for the apology or the exchange of fire between two high-octane conservative social media flamethrowers that logically comes next! Stay tuned.

Ken Buck Comes Crawling Back To The Big Lie

President Donald Trump, Rep. Ken Buck.

One of the more surprising developments in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election was the attempt by Colorado Republican Party chairman Rep. Ken Buck to debunk the false allegations of election fraud which underpinned now ex-President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the result. In early December, as the misinformed anger that would boil over into insurrection on January 6th was building, Buck went so far as to convene a virtual town hall attended by hundreds of local Republicans in which Buck and Republican county clerks assured the party faithful that the election was accurate and secure–at least in Colorado, even though our all-mail ballot election system tabulated in large part by Dominion Voting Systems hardware amounts to everything Trump baselessly blamed for his defeat in other states.

After Rep. Buck unexpectedly came to the defense of Colorado’s election system in the face of Trump’s denials, he was criticized by Trump loyalists for his choice of fact over partisan fiction. A few weeks later, Buck announced his decision to not run again for the job of state party chairman, and as of today both of the frontrunners in the race to succeed Buck in that job are campaigning on the Big Lie of a stolen 2020 election.

Well folks, sometime between early December when we praised Ken Buck for showing integrity and today, something happened to Buck’s backbone:

In a turnabout so jarring it will give you whiplash, the 2020 elections that Ken Buck defended last December are now something we don’t want to repeat! And even though most of what Buck is warning about above is already law in Colorado–you know, the same law Buck defended–it’s suddenly wrong to apply those standards uniformly across the country? Everybody knows that Republicans are mobilizing against HR1, but Rep. Buck wasn’t obligated to open his mouth and provide a receptacle for his waiting foot.

Our disappointment is genuine. It was one of the best things Ken Buck did in his whole career.

And now Buck has flushed that goodwill, and the credibility that came with it, down the toilet.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 2)

Happy Birthday, Gorby! Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader and a great ’80s movie villain, turns 90 years old today. 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

We’re not out of the Coronavirus woods just yet, people! From The Washington Post:

The global number of new coronavirus cases rose for the first time in nearly two months, the World Health Organization said Monday, blaming the surge in infections on circulating variants and premature efforts to lift public health restrictions.

Cases over the past week jumped in every region except for Africa and the Western Pacific, the U.N. agency said, after declining for six weeks straight. In the United States, a steady drop in new cases last month also appeared to be leveling off and there are fears it could reverse course amid yet another wave of infections.

And now, the good news: More than 75% of Colorado educators and childcare workers should receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the week. Colorado is also expected to receive its first allotment of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the next couple of days.

Finally, back to some less-good news: Colorado officials think at least 800 people have contacted COVID-19 twice, but accurate data is hard to assemble.

 

► And now, your state legislature update:

As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post, Democratic lawmakers are considering a package of legislation to give tenants more power in dealing with landlords:

Likely to be piled into at least five separate bills, their proposals include creating a new state eviction moratorium that possibly runs into 2022; changing eviction court policies to give tenants more time and flexibility to resolve cases; and limiting fees for late payments and breaking leases.

Elsewhere, a safe storage gun bill has made it through its first committee hearing.

Legislation to remove the statute of limitations for child sexual assault crimes made it through the State Senate.

Democratic leaders in the State House are opposed to legislation that would allow for the privatization of Pinnacol Assurance, which handles workers’ compensation insurance for many public workers.

Westword is tracking all the weed bills.

Republican lawmakers who pressed ahead with a ludicrous school voucher bill have significantly hurt their ability to have this discussion for years to come.

 

The New York Times previews President Biden’s efforts to pass a big infrastructure package in Congress:

President Biden’s two immediate predecessors had ambitious goals to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, but both left office having made little progress in fixing the nation’s bridges, roads, pipes and broadband. President Donald J. Trump announced so many meaningless infrastructure weeks that the term became a running joke of his administration.

As a candidate, Mr. Biden went further than either Mr. Trump or President Barack Obama by promising to pass a multitrillion-dollar package intended to create jobs and help the United States compete with China. And if anything, his first month in office, in which a power crisis in Texas left millions of people in need of water and electricity, has underscored the urgency of upgrading the nation’s aging structural underpinnings.

But while the goal of addressing the United States’ infrastructure is bipartisan, the details are not. That includes how much to spend, what programs count as “infrastructure” and, most important, whether to raise taxes to pay for it.

You can probably just skip over the part in the story where politicos ponder the possibility that Republicans will do anything helpful on improving our nation’s infrastructure.

 

According to Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the big COVID stimulus package passed by the House of Representatives last week includes more than $400 billion dollars for funding abortions in America. If Boebert’s math is correct — and it most assuredly is NOT — this would be enough money to allow every woman of childbearing age in America to have 10 abortions.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

Tuesday Open Thread

“It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.”

–Lech Walesa

Boebert Outrageously Claims That Nearly a Quarter of COVID Relief Bill Could Fund Abortion

(That’s an awful lot of abortions – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has been taking to Twitter to criticize the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill moving through Congress as a “bailout” for Planned Parenthood and to claim that it “frees up $414 billion in funding for elective abortions.”

The American Rescue Plan, which was passed in the U.S. House early Saturday, includes $1,400 direct stimulus payments for many Americans in addition to enhanced unemployment benefits and funding for vaccinations, testing, and tracing.

The proposal has been rejected by the Republican Party, with some Republicans, like Boebert, claiming that the bill provides funding for abortion.

“The COVID-19 Relief Bill, also known as the ‘Biden Blue State Bailout’ frees up $414 billion in funding for elective abortions,” Boebert tweeted last week before voting against the measure. “A COVID-19 relief bill should not include ONE DIME for abortion, or frankly for any other issue other than COVID RELIEF!”

In a video posted on her official congressional account, Boebert says, “They’re trying to tag it as the American rescue plan. I was doing a little research, and let me tell you the rescue that’s in this — A bailout for Planned Parenthood.”

While the legislation makes no mention of abortion or Planned Parenthood, there are a couple of issues at play that have anti-abortion lawmakers riled up as Congress tries to provide COVID relief.

First, the bill does not include the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. For more than 40 years, the provision has been attached to Congressional budget bills and is annually renewed by Congress. Previous COVID relief legislation included Hyde Amendment language, but the bill that was passed by the U.S. House last week does not. Because the American Rescue Plan provides health care subsidies, Republicans want to include the Hyde Amendment to ensure that the bill isn’t subsidizing health insurance plans that cover abortions.

Second, the bill includes $50 million in funding for the Title X family planning program, which provides funding for contraception, STD testing, cancer screenings, and other reproductive health services for low-income and uninsured people. Abortion, however, is excluded as a family planning method under the program. Despite the fact that providing affordable contraception reduces the abortion rate, Republicans have been critical of the program due to the fact that Planned Parenthood has been a major recipient of Title X funding. The Biden Administration is in the process of undoing a Trump Administration rule that forced Planned Parenthood out of the Title X program, but that process could take some time.

These are nuanced and complicated policy issues, but it’s a major stretch to characterize the bill as a Planned Parenthood bailout or insinuate that the bill includes hundreds of billions of dollars in abortion funding.

In response to an email to Boebert’s office asking how she arrived at the $414 billion number, Communications Director Benjamin Stout wrote, “The absence of the Hyde language in the COVID bill means $414 billion could be used to pay for elective abortion or plans that cover elective abortion.”

To illustrate what a gross exaggeration this is, let’s pretend that nearly a quarter of the $1.9 trillion relief bill does, in fact, go toward abortion coverage. The United States is projected to have 77 million women of childbearing age by the year 2025. The average cost of an abortion is about $500, according to the Guttmacher Institute. If the United States government provides $414 billion in abortion funding, that covers over 10 abortion procedures for each woman who can get pregnant.

Stout did not reply to a subsequent email asking him to explain the math and whether it’s an exaggeration for Boebert to insinuate that the bill could cover the cost of ten abortions for each woman of childbearing age in the United States.

Sure, Let’s Push a $663 Million Voucher Bill

House Minority Leader Hugh McKean

Colorado Republicans aren’t plotting much of a 2022 comeback at the moment, in large part because they are still obsessed with promoting The Big Lie that Trump actually won the 2020 Presidential election instead of the guy who has been living in the White House for almost two months now. The favorites to become the next Chair of the Colorado Republican Party are in agreement about the power of this fallacy and are openly running on their commitment to an election fraud narrative that simply doesn’t exist.

Denial has been a consistent theme for the Colorado GOP. After Democrats crushed Republicans in the 2020 election cycle, the second consecutive drubbing for the GOP in which its top-ticket candidates lost statewide by massive margins, House Minority Leader Hugh McKean stammered: “We hear all of this talk about how blue Colorado might be getting. I don’t believe it for a second.” Obviously, it doesn’t really matter if McKean “believes” that Colorado is a blue state. The math is clear.

But this commitment to denying reality is digging Republicans into an ever-deeper hole now that the State Legislature is back in session. Late last week, the House Education Committee rightfully killed a School Vouchers bill sponsored by Republicans that was so bad it should never have seen the light of day. House Bill 21-1080, “The Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act,” sought to enact a private school tuition income tax credit in Colorado…at a cost of $663 MILLION DOLLARS!

Legislative Council Staff “Fiscal Note” for Republican voucher bill.

 

Colorado’s total General Fund budget is about $12 billion; roughly 20% of this amount is allocated toward K-12 education funding. According to Legislative Council Staff, this voucher bill would “reduce General Fund revenue by $662.8 million annually.” You don’t need an accounting degree to understand how much this would devastate Colorado’s ability to pay for…well, for pretty much anything.

The prime sponsor of the voucher bill is Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Douglas County), but 12 other House Republicans signed on as co-sponsors — including McKean. This bill should never have been drafted in the first place, but after the Fiscal Note became available, Republicans should have dropped it like it was on fire. A school voucher bill was never going to go anywhere in a Democratic-controlled legislature, so the only thing Republicans accomplished by moving forward with HB21-1080 was to give voucher opponents a $663 million talking point that they can use for the next decade.

The lingering question here is about how much McKean was involved in the bill’s introduction. Baisley’s turd was too horrendous to allow into a committee hearing, and any political leader with half a brain would have figured this out right away — or at least demanded that the sponsor go back to the drawing board.

Either McKean truly didn’t know better, or he was powerless to stop such ridiculous legislation from advancing in his own caucus. Neither answer is good news for Colorado Republicans.

GOP Chair Candidates Fight Over Party’s Wreckage

Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter published a useful in-depth look this weekend at the candidates running to succeed Rep. Ken Buck as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, who participated in a candidate forum last Thursday night in the town of Hudson about 30 miles northeast of Denver in Weld County. As Wingerter reports, of the five contenders nominally in the running the real choice for Republicans has effectively narrowed to the current vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown versus notorious former Secretary of State Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler.

As for any rational discussion about what has happened to the Colorado GOP in recent years, leading to the least amount of power in the state since FDR was President? You’re not going to find it from either of the frontrunners:

[Jonathan] Lockwood was the only candidate to say unequivocally that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Two other candidates, Rich Mancuso and Casper Stockham, said it was stolen. Two others, Colorado GOP vice chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown and former secretary of state Scott Gessler, said or suggested it may have been. When pressed by the debate moderator to show evidence of a stolen election, none did… [Pols emphasis]

Gessler and Burton Brown verbally sparred on several occasions. Burton Brown criticized Gessler for installing Dominion Voting Systems — the Colorado election software and hardware company that was a frequent target of baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and has filed numerous defamation lawsuits — when he was secretary of state.

Gessler went after the current state of the Colorado GOP, of which Burton Brown is vice chair.

“If you want the same lack of creativity, if you want the same lack of initiative, if you want the same problems in the Republican Party, then keep the same people,” Gessler said.

Although vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown agreed with Gessler in denial about the outcome of the 2020 elections, we were somewhat favorably surprised and impressed by Burton Brown taking responsibility in this forum for the disastrous failed 2019 recall attempt she personally initiated against Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial. That misguided campaign played a large role in helping discredit the backlash over the GOP’s losses in the 2018 elections, and the fact that Burton Brown can admit today it was a mistake is a sign of at least some amount of political maturation on her part.

Although Gessler is generally considered to be the frontrunner in the race to be the next chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Gessler’s long fixation with discredited claims of election fraud may be giving Republicans who would like to see the party move on from Donald Trump some discomfort. Do Republicans really want to spend the next two years relitigating the 2020 elections, or should they focus on recovering some respectability in 2022? With both frontrunners believing (or at least preaching) the Big Lie of the stolen 2020 election, the chances of honest lessons being learned to avert another electoral catastrophe in two years are not good–but Gessler’s lack of credibility after fixating on this false scapegoat for defeat for years is a matter of record. That being the case, there’s an argument that Burton Brown is better suited to making the pivot Republicans so desperately need.

Either way, it’s clear at this point that Colorado Republicans will not be turning over any new leaves. This is a party held together by a false narrative, seeking answers that confirm their own biases rather than solve their problems.

Democrats should be very pleased by this.

Dirty Jokes About “MeatIn Day” Write Themselves

Damn the triglycerides!

Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports on the latest tempest in an Instant Pot at the Colorado Capitol, a budding kerfluffle between Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association fronted by Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of CAFO Country over Polis suggesting that a little less meat in Coloradans’ diets might be desirable:

Gov. Jared Polis has issued a proclamation naming March 20 “MeatOut Day,” and it’s a decision that is causing outrage among some in livestock organizations and rural Colorado counties…

The state doesn’t have a problem with people who want plant-based diets. But the national perception is that Colorado is against agriculture, [Sen. Jerry] Sonnenberg said. That includes a recent announcement by a Hereford (cattle) association. Sonnenberg said the association’s board is planning to vote on moving from the National Western Stock Show to a livestock show hosted at the same time in Oklahoma City. The association, according to Sonnenberg, said Polis’ proclamation for MeatOut Day was “the last straw.”

“That’s unacceptable,” Sonnenberg shouted in the Senate Friday.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

CBS4 Denver gave Sonnenberg’s sound and fury over “MeatOut Day” a generous portion of airtime:

Sonnenberg says words have consequences especially when they’re the words of the governor.

“We can’t have leadership in this state throw the number two industry in this state under the bus…that’s unacceptable!!”

It’s not the first time the governor, whose partner is vegan, has snubbed the beef industry. Sonnenberg recalled how Polis plugged Burger King’s meatless burger when it came out, even sending a bunch of them to the Department of Agriculture.

For the record, Gov. Polis’ proclamation of “MeatOut Day” does not call for the elimination of meat from the diets of Americans, which for many of us is a nonstarter. As for reducing consumption of meat in the world’s fourth-highest per capita meat consumer, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that would be both ecologically and medically preferable. Either way, even if some Americans make healthier dietary choices for one day, there’s still going to be a strong demand for all the meat Colorado’s meat industry (just one segment of the state’s diverse agriculture industry) can churn out.

Sonnenberg noted comments made by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, who name-checked Colorado’s capital city in his State of the State address on Feb. 1. “The folks in Denver turned their back on the ag industry,” Stitts said. “They wouldn’t let them have their major national cattle show, because they insisted on keeping their state locked down. That put the stability of the U.S. beef industry in danger.”

We didn’t hear from Sonnenberg whether Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma had found a buyer for all that useless hydroxychloroquine he stockpiled, but Stitt is not exactly a credible authority on managing the COVID-19 pandemic–and now we’re talking about lockdowns, not “MeatOut Days,” and we see this is just another opportunity to grind the same old political axes.

As for “MeatIn Day,” the Cattlemen’s Association’s brilliant comeback to “MeatOut Day?”

The middle school boy in your family knows what to do (see title).

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