New Ad Calls On Gardner To End Shutdown

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s morning news watchers got a dose of politics with their coffee earlier today. A new ad campaign launched today is calling Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) to account for his role in the now month-long government shutdown.

Noting the unprecedented length of the shutdown, the ad lists several serious consequences, including 800,000 workers going with paychecks, food safety inspection stoppages, and increasing risks to air travel.

The ad also accuses Gardner of “siding with party leaders who refuse to even allow a vote to reopen the government.” It asks Coloradans to call Gardner and tell the senator to “demand and end to the shutdown.”

Over two weeks ago Gardner said he would vote to end the shutdown without funding for the border wall. That statement that runs contrary to the ad’s message, but since then he hasn’t repeated that position nor taken any public steps to end the shutdown. He was, however, appointed deputy whip by Senate leadership.

Majority Forward, a national nonprofit linked to the Democrats’ Senate Majority political action committee, is running the reportedly six-figure ad buy on cable and broadcast channels in the Denver media market.

“Sen. Gardner is not interested in demonstrating independence. This shutdown has impacted Colorado and Gardner refuses to demand a vote to reopen the government. He refuses real action while the repercussions of a closed government set in and have economic consequences for frustrated Coloradans across the state.”

— J.B. Poersch, President, Majority Forward

The campaign is also targeting five other states with Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 – Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina.

Income Tax Rate Reduction Benefits Highest Income Coloradans Most

POLS UPDATE: The Colorado Sun’s Brian Eason reports on the budding debate over SB19-055 after Gov. Jared Polis Tweeted favorably about it yesterday afternoon:

Hours after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis cheered a Republican effort to cut income taxes by 3 percent, a liberal policy group issued a sharp rebuttal…

To be clear, there are key differences between Polis’ plan to cut taxes up to 5 percent by eliminating as much as $450 million in corporate tax breaks and the Republican bill, which would just cut taxes without offsets.

But at best, liberals view Polis’ tax plan as a missed opportunity to spend the money diverted from corporate tax breaks on top priorities.

It’s important to note the difference between Gov. Jared Polis’ proposal to pay for any income tax cuts with the elimination of tax breaks, which he characterized as “revenue-neutral” in his State of the State address last week, versus perennial Republican proposals to simply cut taxes and absorb the future cost with spending cuts. It’s early in the first legislative session of Polis’ new term, and Polis’ warm reception of a Republican tax cut bill could be viewed differently in the broader context of Polis’ full fiscal agenda.

Or not. Shrewd strategy or a first misstep? We’ll be watching closely. Original post follows:

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(Crossposted from ColoradoFiscal.org)

Impact of an income tax rate reduction from 4.63 percent to 4.49 percent

The wealthiest see the greatest reduction

Reducing the Colorado income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.49 percent, the amount proposed in recently introduced legislation at the state capitol (SB19-055), will mean $280 million less for essential public investments. That’s because the income tax is the largest revenue source for the General Fund – the part of the state budget responsible for funding schools, Medicaid, colleges, courts, prisons, and human services. This retreat of state support would affect the budgets of all Colorado families, making it more difficult for them to make ends meet. And while proponents of tax cuts claim they provide “relief” to Coloradans, the top 1 percent would see the amount they pay in taxes fall by a greater amount than the dollar amount of the reduction for the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers.

Put another way, because an across-the-board income tax rate reduction reflects the current concentration of the incomes of Colorado taxpayers, those earning $1 million will see their tax bills fall by around $1,250 while the tax obligation for a worker earning the minimum wage will be reduced by just $6.

(more…)

Onion Blames Tipton For Shutdown, And Why The Hell Not

The bastard.

America’s leading fake news publication The Onion, which gets a pass on their fake news because they and (hopefully) everyone who reads The Onion knows it’s fake news, has finally uncovered the universal blame receptacle for the ongoing federal government shutdown–and it’s none other than Rep. Scott Tipton, Republican of Cortez, Colorado:

A new Pew Research poll published Thursday revealed that 100 percent of Americans blame the United States federal government shutdown entirely on Scott Tipton (R-CO). “From the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, across all income brackets and racial demographics, every single respondent surveyed came to the same conclusion that Colorado congressman Scott Tipton was solely at fault for this shutdown,” said lead researcher Michelle Sanger, who explained that the 24-hour news coverage broadcasting Tipton’s failure to negotiate and compromise likely contributed to the U.S. populace’s negative perceptions of the representative from Colorado’s third district.

Makes perfect sense to us, really! As much as any of them, and no doubt that’s what The Onion thought when they picked Tipton presumably at random. As a stand-in for feckless Republicans in the era of Trump, Tipton is both everybody and, well, nobody.

Sometimes fake news still makes you think! We promise to never say that again.

Trump Directing Cohen to Lie Might be the Tipping Point

While you were busy with the rest of your life on Thursday evening, the online news site BuzzFeed dropped a bombshell of a report on the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between Donald Trump and Russia that may very well be the tipping point for a flailing administration.

 

 

As Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier report for BuzzFeed, President Trump directed former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump’s business dealings in Russia — specifically regarding efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow:

The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.

This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

But Cohen’s testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia. [Pols emphasis]

There is no precedent for the endless stream of bad news coming out of the Trump administration, so it’s fair to wonder if any particular iceberg is sharp enough to sink this ship. But…this is really, really big news. House Democrats quickly pledged to investigate this claim specifically.

 

CNN.com headline (1/18/19)

 

Here’s Chris Cillizza of CNN:

The BuzzFeed story also claims that Cohen confirmed this information to special counsel Robert Mueller after “the special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

It’s hard to overstate what a big deal that is. [Pols emphasis] No other major outlets have confirmed the BuzzFeed report. But if the BuzzFeed report is right, then the President of the United States directed an underling to lie under oath — which is, in and of itself, a crime.

As Cillizza and others have noted, this exact topic came up during William Barr’s confirmation hearings for Attorney General this week. In response to questions from Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Barr acknowledged that persuading a person to commit perjury is obstruction of justice — which is a federal crime in and of itself.

Bloomberg News headline (1/18/19)

As Aaron Blake writes for the Washington Post, the key to this new report could be the presence of direct evidence implicating Trump:

Predicting President Trump’s imminent demise has made fools of people since the moment he launched his presidential campaign. But the latest blockbuster story about the Russia investigation is different.

If Robert S. Mueller III has the evidence he reportedly has — that Trump asked Michael Cohen to lie to Congress for him — it could present something that’s been missing thus far from the public domain: an event so cut-and-dried that even Republicans would be hard-pressed not to consider impeachment.

“Asking someone to lie,” as Blake writes, “is not a gray area.” It is a federal crime. Period.

There are 14 current Republican Senators who publicly supported ousting President Bill Clinton for obstruction of justice in 1999; if the BuzzFeed reports are verified, it will be more than complicated for the GOP to skate around the issue. And as Politico reported on Thursday — well before the BuzzFeed bombshell — potential targets of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump collusion/obstruction are already rushing to turn on each other in a desperate bid for self-preservation.

We may not have to wait long to learn more about these accusations. Cohen is scheduled to publicly testify before Congress on February 7.

So Much For #RadiCalifornia: Electric Cars Go Bipartisan

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

The Greeley Tribune’s Trevor Reid reports on executive orders signed today by Gov. Jared Polis to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles in Colorado, including shifting funds from the emissions fraud settlement with Volkswagen to building out electric charging infrastructure:

Gov. Jared Polis signed Thursday morning an executive order to support a transition to electric vehicles.

The executive order establishes a work group of 17 members from 13 state departments to develop policies and programs supporting the transition to electric vehicles, as well as a revision to the state’s allocation of the remains of $68.7 million it received from the Volkswagen emissions settlement to support electrifying transportation including transit buses, school buses and trucks. The work group will report to the governor beginning July 1 on its progress.

Polis pointed to transportation as a key contributor to local air pollution, causing health complications for children and adults with asthma and other chronic conditions.

“Nationwide and in Colorado, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions,” Polis said.

Among the attendees at the press conference today was Republican Sen. Kevin Priola, who spoke immediately after Gov. Polis:

Sen. Priola’s high-profile appearance at today’s press conference in support of Polis’ executive orders to encourage the switch to electric vehicles, part of the new governor’s plan to move the state to 100% renewable energy sources, scrambles the politics for Republicans looking to take their inevitable potshots on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. During the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Republicans lambasted Polis for his “radical” campaign pledge of a transition to 100% renewable energy.

After Polis trounced his Republican opponent and Democrats triumphed in the legislature last November, here’s a swing-district Republican up in 2020 turning over a new (Nissan) Leaf.

As they say, elections matter.

Unshutdown: State Department Finds Pot of Gold

President Trump reportedly “remains resolute” in his determination to keep the federal government closed for as long as it takes to build his big ol’ border wall. So…explain this one, would you? As the Associated Press reports, the U.S. State Department somehow has money to pay people to return to work:

The State Department on Thursday instructed all U.S. diplomats in Washington and elsewhere to return to work next week with pay, saying it had found money for their salaries at least temporarily despite the ongoing government shutdown…[Pols emphasis]

…It was not immediately clear where the money was found, but the department said it would use “existing funds as well as other available fiscal authorities to shift existing balances to restart payroll funding.”

Salaries cannot be guaranteed beyond the next pay period, which ends on Feb. 14, if the shutdown does not end by then, the department said. However, it said it would “review its balances and available legal authorities to see if other flexibilities may be available.”

The department said it was taking the step because it had become clear that the lapse in funding is harming essential diplomatic and national security objectives.

Well, yeah, of course the shutdown is “harming essential diplomatic and national security objectives,” but where in the hell did all of this money come from?

Perhaps, as TIME magazine noted on Wednesday, Trump’s resoluteness might not be as firm as he would have you believe:

In recent days, the Trump Administration has taken several moves to soften the effects of the shutdown. Some measures have been targeted broadly, allowing taxpayers to receive refunds, banks to process mortgages and airports to be inspected. Others are aimed at key Trump constituencies, ensuring that hunters can access federal lands and farmers can receive loans. And some seem designed to hit particularly close to home: the Administration went out of its way to keep park rangers staffing a historic clock tower at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

It’s not entirely surprising Trump is looking for ways to limit the costs of what is now the longest-running shutdown in U.S. history. No doubt the president has seen the polls showing the majority of the public blames him and disapproves of the shutdown. And with the effects of a shuttered federal government only growing — airport lines, agricultural woes and costs to the economy are getting worse by the day — the political price of his face-off with Democrats is rising, too.

Perhaps this is how the shutdown really comes to an end. We might be only a few weeks away from Trump answering questions about the shutdown with, “What shutdown? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Trump, Republicans Still Own the Shutdown

UPDATE: As the New York Times reports, Trump is feeling the pressure:

President Trump has insisted that he is not going to compromise with Democrats to end the government shutdown, and that he is comfortable in his unbendable position. But privately, it’s sometimes a different story.

“We are getting crushed!” Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown, according to one person familiar with the conversation. “Why can’t we get a deal?”…

The president is confronted by a divided and partially shuttered government with an untested staff that has undergone yet another shake-up. Polls show that most Americans blame him for the government shutdown, and his advisers are warning him of its negative effects on the economy. And as the shutdown enters its 27th day on Thursday with no end in sight, most of his top aides would like him to find a way out.

Mr. Trump has told them he believes over time the country will not remember the shutdown, but it will remember that he staged a fight over his insistence that the southern border be protected. He wants Democrats to come back to the table agreeing with his position on a wall, and he does not understand why they have not.

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Watch out for falling approval ratings.

There are no “winners” in a government shutdown. We are all losers when the government ceases to function, but Americans still have their own opinions on who should receive most of the blame. Despite efforts to shift responsibility for the shutdown to Democrats, Americans are consistently pinning this one on President Trump and Republicans.

As CNBC explains, Trump’s approval ratings are plummeting — even among his base:

President Donald Trump is hemorrhaging support amid a political standoff over his proposed border wall that has resulted in the longest government shutdown on record, according to polls.

As the shutdown of about a quarter of the federal government lumbers toward its fifth week, the president even appears to be losing favor with his core constituents, whose support for Trump until this point has been rock-solid since the 2016 campaign.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published Thursday found that Trump’s approval rating has slipped 3 percent from last month to 39 percent, while his disapproval has climbed 4 percentage points to 53 percent. [Pols emphasis]

And unlike in past political fights, the poll and other recent surveys indicate that some of the groups thought to comprise key parts of Trump’s base are not immune from the broader downward trend.

Trump’s approval rating among suburban men, long one of his strongest blocs of support, dropped from 51 to 42 percent, according to the NPR/PBS/Marist poll*. It’s probably no coincidence that a good chunk of suburban men have federal government jobs for which they are not receiving a paycheck. Trump is also underwater with Cardi B (presumably).

President Trump is still holding onto the idea that he could declare a national emergency to secure funding for his great big wall, but voters don’t like that idea, either. From Politico:

Only 36 percent of voters say they support Trump’s re-allocating money to pay for the border wall through a national emergency, while 51 percent oppose such a declaration.  [Pols emphasis] Twice as many voters strongly oppose a national emergency, 41 percent, as strongly support it, 20 percent. And, as with much of the fight that has resulted in a government shutdown lasting more than three weeks, Trump has the support of the vast majority of Republican voters, 72 percent, but very few voters outside his political base.

Trump took his case for a border wall to the American people last week, delivering his first prime-time, Oval Office address in his two-year-old presidency. But the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll suggests that the president’s speech didn’t move the needle.

If President Trump wants to see better polling numbers, he’s going to have to pay for them. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, Trump is soon going to have to choose between preventing economic disaster and building his big wall.

*Pols note: All polling data should be considered (+/-) Laura Woods

Nancy Pelosi Shuts Down State of the Union

Don’t mess with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D).

AP reporting–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who if you weren’t aware is third in line of succession to the Presidency after Donald Trump and Mike Pence, just slammed home a presidential-grade power play that reminded all of Washington how Congress is a separate and (key word here) equal branch of government:

The partial government shutdown threw a prime Washington ritual into question Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to forgo his Jan. 29 State of the Union speech, expressing doubts that the hobbled government can provide adequate security. Republicans saw her move as a ploy to deny Trump the stage.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said that with both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department entangled in the shutdown, the president should speak to Congress another time or he should deliver the address in writing. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone’s safety is compromised, saying both agencies “are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.”

Inviting the president to give the speech is usually pro forma, and Pelosi issued the invitation in routine fashion, in consultation with the White House, several weeks ago. But with the shutdown in its fourth week, the White House and Democrats in a stalemate and the impasse draining the finances of hundreds of thousands of federal employees, little routine is left in the capital.

With nationwide polling showing clearly that Trump and Republicans are losing the battle for public opinion during the longest government shutdown in American history, there’s little incentive for Pelosi to allow business as usual to proceed–including the State of the Union address, which would only give Trump a platform to whinge from. Even setting aside the security concerns while hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed, going ahead with the pomp and circumstance of the SOTU while federal workers borrow money from their parents and raid their retirement accounts to pay the mortgage seems like a toxic enough visual that Republicans shouldn’t want to do it either.

There’s still time for business to return to usual, but that will require Trump to do something he doesn’t like.

Lose. To a woman.

Colorado GOP Begs Lawmakers To Keep “Party Poll Tax”

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Conrad Swanson reports, Republican Rep. Dave Williams–best known for his anti-immigration antics in the Colorado House among other distasteful misadventures–has introduced a piece of legislation that we think everyone should be able to support:

A Colorado Republican legislator is gathering support from Democrats on a bill one GOP leader calls “sinister” and others say has the potential to bankrupt the party.

That Republican, state Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs, defended his House Bill 1046 Tuesday in the House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs, of which he is a member, saying it would prohibit political parties from from preventing delegates or alternates from voting in caucuses or party assemblies unless they cough up what are commonly known as ‘badge fees.’

…For years, Colorado Republicans have arrived to county, state and other district assemblies with their checkbooks in hand because the GOP charges fees – ranging from a few bucks to $70 per assembly – to serve as delegates and alternates.

Rep. Williams is reportedly co-sponsoring House Bill 19-1046 with Democratic Rep. Susan Lontine, and the bill passed out of the House State Affairs Committee yesterday on a unanimous 9-0 vote:

Swanson reports that opposition to the legislation came entirely from Republican Party officials from the state and county organizations, who warned that the loss of these fees could bankrupt county parties in particular. It’s possible that some of Williams’ motivation for introducing this legislation traces back to ongoing tensions within the El Paso County Republican hierarchy, but you just can’t argue with the idea that participation in the caucus and assembly process, an important part of our representative small-d democracy, should not carry a fee. Williams’ description of this as a “pay to play” scheme is objectively pretty close to the mark–with no analogue on the Democratic side, where we’re pretty sure attempting to charge such a fee would prompt a revolt on general principles.

And if ending the practice is really going to bankrupt the local GOP, maybe it should.

Neguse to Serve on House Judiciary Committee

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

Freshman Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) scored a big committee assignment when it was announced late Tuesday that he was selected to serve on the House Judiciary Committee.

The House Judiciary Committee is where any impeachment proceedings would begin. Though Democrats are not generally expected to pursue impeachment of President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee is also a prime launch point for any number of investigations into the current administration. For better or for worse (in this case, probably better), Democratic members of the committee will have a significant media platform with which to raise their national profiles.

Neguse’s office issued the following statement on Wednesday morning:

“It is an honor and privilege to be appointed to serve on the Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress. The Judiciary Committee will take up incredibly important work to ensure that our immigration community is treated with respect, our voting rights are protected, our communities are protected from gun violence and that Congress remains an independent check on this President’s continued attempts to reach outside of his constitutional jurisdiction. As a lawyer, former Executive Director of Colorado’s regulatory department and a first generation American, I hope to bring my unique perspective and voice to this body. I commend Chairman Nadler and the work he has done leading this committee and I am tremendously grateful to serve alongside him.”

Colorado is well-represented on the House Judiciary Committee; Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was already an existing member.

The Nuggets Lost. We Blame Ben Higgins

The Denver Nuggets were in first place in the Western Conference entering last night’s highly-anticipated home game against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors…and then they promptly lost by 31 points.

The Warriors set an NBA record by scoring 51 points in the first quarter, a 12-minute span during which they shot a ridiculous 76% from the field. How did things get off to such a bad start for Denver?

Is it a coincidence that the Nuggets were blown out in a game in which former “Bachelor” and brief State House candidate Ben Higgins took the ceremonial first shot?

Yes, it’s just a coincidence. Probably.

At Least She’s Not Your State Senator Anymore

Gah!

Former State Senator Laura Waters Woods was always a difficult problem for Republicans. Woods is nuttier than a bag of trail mix, but she played an important role for the GOP in the 2013 recall attempt of Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Arvada) that ultimately resulted in Hudak’s resignation. Woods used that recall organizing effort to get herself elected to SD-19 in 2014 to fill the remainder of Hudak’s term, and she spent the next two years engaged in any number of crazypants legislative strategies as a member of the GOP’s “Hateful Eight.”

The “Laura Woods Problem” was more or less solved in the 2016 election cycle when Woods lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in a rematch of their 2014 race. That battle in SD-19 was the single most-watched state senate race of the cycle for Democrats looking to regain a majority in the State Senate and to right a wrong that had ended Hudak’s legislative career.

Woods hasn’t left politics behind entirely; she still Tweets under the handle @SenLauraWoods because of course she does. On Tuesday evening, Woods shot off a take on the unreliability of polling data that proves, once again, that SD-19 voters were right to get rid of her:

Most polls include a disclaimer for margin of error based on sample size, demographics, etc., but perhaps they should also start including a note on whether or not they attempted to contact Laura Woods.

Indeed, philosophers have long wondered: If a tree falls in the forest and it doesn’t hit Laura Woods, does it still make a sound?

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