Risky Business: Throwing Trump Under The Bus To Save Gardner?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

From time to time over the years, we’ve had occasion to sit back and marvel that the outlandish editorial pronouncements of the devoutly conservative Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette. From accusing Gov. Jared Polis of “ties to the Ku Klux Klan” for misplaced dramatic effect to their comically absurd hagiographical write-ups about 2018 GOP gubernatorial capital-L Loser Walker Stapleton, we’ve found pretty reliably that editor Wayne Laugesen’s reality-starved opinion pieces are best read with a laugh track playing in the background.

But in today’s Gazette, Laugesen looks to have outdone himself in the over-the-top propaganda department–and that, based on his long record of relentless Pravda-style pro-GOP hype, is no small statement. Had it come five days ago, we might honestly have dismissed this as an April Fool’s Day joke:

Long before Americans knew a global pandemic would disrupt and threaten their lives, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tried to warn Congress. Few cared to listen, distracted by shinier Washington drama… [Pols emphasis]

“The rapid spread of a respiratory pathogen is a serious concern given our global economy and citizenry, as well as our role as both travel destination and transit hub for the world,” Gardner wrote. He never heard back from Pompeo or Redfield.

Gardner’s warning came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the CDC’s Redfield downplayed the coronavirus threat. The two highly competent men of science relied in good faith on bad information given to them by the Chinese government and the World Health Organization.

Phil Anschutz, owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

It’s true that Sen. Gardner, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy, held a hearing back in January on the COVID-19 outbreak. But what’s missing from this narrative is even a peep of criticism from Gardner for these high-level Trump administration officials the Gazette would have us believe blew off Gardner’s supposed alarm bells stretching back to January. If Sen. Gardner was “prophetic” as we’re asked to believe in this editorial about the impending pandemic, why did Gardner host a rally with President Donald Trump attended by thousands of socially undistanced Republicans in Colorado Springs almost a month later?

And where has Gardner been all these months while Trump was telling people COVID-19 would “disappear?”

The whole premise of this editorial defense of Gardner is ridiculous enough that it collapses entirely after one or two basic questions. But for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose staff is eagerly distributing this editorial today via social media, the political danger here could be more significant than being made to look silly. Because in order to credibly give Gardner the kind of lavish praise the Gazette gives him for “warning the Washington establishment, even as the CDC director continued telling us not to worry,” it is necessary to acknowledge the Trump administration’s catastrophic failure to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s simply not possible to have this both ways.

Folks, President Trump doesn’t like it when his “loyal” Republicans go there.

This editorial might play in Colorado Springs, but Gardner had better hope Trump never sees it.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Gardner, Kushner To Maybe Have Words At Next Fundraiser

Tsarevitch Jared Kushner.

As Politico’s Burgess Everett reports, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for an investigation into the management of the Strategic National Stockpile as a shortage of crucial medical equipment like ventilators looms:

Sen. Cory Gardner is pushing for an investigation into possible mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile of ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients — though the Colorado Republican is by no means going to war with the Trump administration over the matter. [Pols emphasis]

The GOP senator wrote a letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general on Thursday requesting a probe into reports of maintenance issues and delays regarding the distribution of ventilators from the national stockpile to states. And in an interview on Friday, Gardner said that “any kind of mismanagement or abuse needs to be rooted out and those responsible held accountable.”

President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (2/20/20)

Gardner’s request for a second look here is timely, after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner made some controversial statements about the stockpile’s purpose, in response to angry governors including Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado who are begging for these supplies in their states:

Responding to criticism of the federal government from some governors, Jared Kushner, a senior White House aide and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said on Thursday that the federal stockpile of supplies is “supposed to be our stockpile” and that it’s “not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

Gardner said his letter is not a response to that comment, [Pols emphasis] which he learned of late Thursday, but he pointedly questioned Kushner’s statement in the interview.

“I don’t know what Kushner was talking about, what he meant. But the stockpile is for the country. And the country is made up of states in the federal government,” Gardner said.

No reasonable person is going to object to Sen. Gardner sending a letter about the Strategic National Stockpile, or complain when Gardner is able to prevail on his relationship with officials in Taiwan to arrange a shipment of personal protective equipment–a couple of days’ worth of which is reportedly headed to Colorado. But Gardner’s continuing refusal to hold the Trump administration responsible for the failure of the U.S. government to confront the pandemic over the course of months speaks louder than any of these belated gestures.

Once again, Gardner is–at best–trying to clean up a catastrophic mess while ignoring who made it.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Gardner Delivered ‘Historic Unemployment,’ says GOP Ad

(D’oh! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most politicians like to boast that they deliver jobs.

But if you believe an advertisement this week, the Colorado Republican Party thinks people will vote for U.S. Cory Gardner (R-CO) if they’re convinced he delivered “historic unemployment.”

The Colorado Republican Party did not return an email asking if the ad was supposed to state that Gardner delivered “historically low unemployment,” a claim that would be further from the truth but is closer to Gardner’s normal talking points, say progressive labor leaders.

The ad, which appeared in Colorado Politics, a weekly online and print publication, reads, “CORY GARDNER DELIVERED MORE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE, HISTORIC UNEMPLOYMENT, PUBLIC LAND PROTECTION.”

Jared Wright, Publisher of Colorado Politics, said in an email to the Colorado Times Recorder that his publication was not responsible for the text of the advertisement.

“Wow – that sure is a typo,” Wright emailed after being alerted to the apparent error. “It was delivered to us by the advertiser that way. We did not perform the design. That said, I will let them know to send a new file. Thanks for catching that.”

Asked to comment on the GOP ad, Dennis Dougherty, director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said, “Cory Gardner did deliver working Coloradans something: historically low pay.” The AFL-CIO gave Gardner a zero rating on key votes in 2018 in support of working families.

In fact, 44 percent of American workers barely earn enough to live on, according to a January Brookings report.

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Cory Gardner Warns If GOP Loses Senate, Schumer Will Block Trump’s Judges

(Good to know, thanks – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republicans must not only retain the White House this fall, they must also hold the U.S. Senate, says Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). If they don’t do both, he warns, even if President Trump is reelected, Chuck Schumer won’t approve any of Trump’s judges: “he’ll block every single one of them.”

Gardner delivered his warning via live video to the Jefferson County Republican Assembly, which held its March 17 county assembly online using remote video chat:

“We know what the left wants to do! They want socialism. They want to destroy the fabric of who we are as a country. And that Supreme Court and our court system is that body that will say, no, you’ve gone too far. You can’t do that. You’ve stepped outside the bounds of the plain meaning of the text. And that’s exactly what we have to do with our judges. So not only do we need a president to make sure they’re selecting good constitutional based judges, but we have to have a United States Senate majority in order to confirm those judges. Because if we lose the majority and President Trump is still in the White House, Chuck Schumer is never going to approve any of his judges. He’ll block every single one of them. Colorado was ground zero. We know that Chuck Schumer thinks his path to becoming majority leader is by winning Colorado. We’re not going to let that happen.” — Sen. Cory Gardner to Jefferson County GOP, March 27, 2020 (at 10:45)

It’s unclear if Gardner is arguing that a hypothetical Senate Majority Leader Schumer would be wrong to block President Trump’s future judicial nominees, or whether he’s simply making a prediction of Schumer’s actions based on partisan assumptions.

What is clear, however, Gardner has steadfastly supported his own caucus leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy of blocking judges under Obama, but prioritizing the confirmation of Trump’s nominees over all other Senate business. McConnell bragged about his success on Fox News’, when host Sean Hannity noted —tongue firmly in cheek— that he was “shocked President Obama left so many vacancies and didn’t try to fill those positions.” McConnell responded bluntly:

“I’ll tell you why. I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.”

Gardner called for the Senate to refuse to confirm Obama’s choice to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Merrick Garland, the same morning Obama announced Garland as the nominee. In explaining his decision not to meet with Garland, Gardner said the “stakes were too high and the American people deserve a role in this process.”

Two years later, however, he met with and voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh despite another looming election (the 2018 midterms) which would determine control of the U.S. Senate.

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Gardner Cheers Stimulus Funding He Once Admonished

Via The Denver Post (March 31, 2020)

Ten years ago, Cory Gardner was a state lawmaker challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey in CO-4. Gardner’s first campaign for federal office was pretty simple: Bash Markey for supporting a nearly-$800 billion stimulus plan and for backing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

One decade later, Gardner isn’t saying much about the ACA and has become a vocal cheerleader for a $2.2 TRILLION economic stimulus package — the largest spending bill in Congressional history.

As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Gardner is running for re-election and hoping Colorado voters will overlook his glaring hypocrisy on these topics:

“We need to get this country moving again,” Gardner said.

That was the argument in 2008 and 2009, too. But economic stimulus bills were not bipartisan then, as they were this month. Instead, they gave rise to the Tea Party movement, its adherents convinced that government spending could soon send the nation over a fiscal cliff. Gardner was concerned about that, too.

“From town hall meetings to coffee shops to neighborhoods, all I hear are worries about too much spending and the growth of government,” he told The Denver Post in the fall of 2010.

Whoa! You actually listened to the words that came out of my mouth?

It’s hard to overstate how much Gardner relied on this anti-spending argument in his first congressional campaign in 2010. If Gardner were a toy doll with a pull-cord in his back, his catch phrase would have been obvious:

Jason Bane, a Democratic consultant, played Gardner in mock debates to help Markey prepare for the Yuma Republican, who at the time was a state legislator.

“If the question was, ‘What’s your favorite color?’ I’d say, ‘Well, look, Betsy Markey voted for the stimulus bill and you can’t spend your way out of a recession.’ That’s all he did. So that, in effect, is what I would do,” Bane recalls of the debate prep.

[Pols note: This is the same Jason Bane who founded ColoradoPols.com and continues to write words here].

Gardner argues now that a coronavirus recession is different than the 2008 recession, but his 2010 rhetoric doesn’t agree with his 2020 messaging.

“You can’t spend your way out of a recession” was among Gardner’s favorite lines in 2010. Does he now contend that you can spend your way out of a recession, or was that old phrase just a bunch of baloney? There may not be an actual answer to this question.

Cory Gardner says a lot of words about a lot of things, and none of them have any real meaning — which is exactly why his poll numbers are in the toilet among Democrats and Republicans alike.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 31)

Happy April Fool’s Day Eve; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

More people have now died in the United States from coronavirus than in the 9/11 attacks. With numbers of infections and deaths on the rise in the U.S., Dana Milbank of The Washington Post asks a very simple question about President Trump:

How does a human being use the phrase “a very good job” in contemplation of the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 souls?

Worldwide, the number of coronavirus infections has surpassed 800,000.

 

► President Trump can’t change history no matter how much he tries, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

What Trump is doing now is what he always does about everything: Attempting to rewrite history so that it looks like he was always the smartest guy in the room, the one person who saw this all coming from a mile away.

“I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic,” he said on March 17. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

That statement is, of course, demonstrably untrue. But Trump doesn’t care. Because his political career has proven to him that if he simply repeats the history he wants to be true, plenty of people will follow his lead. He’ll blame Democrats or the media (or both) for twisting his words or making thing up. Remember that this is a man who said this out loud: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

But the truth still matters. And the truth is that Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat coronavirus posed to the country, providing Americans with false hope when they needed candor and transparency most of all.

 

Doctors in Colorado are bracing for a surge of coronavirus patients as the outbreak moves inland from the East and West coasts of the United States. Meanwhile, as CNN reports, your odds of surviving the coronavirus outbreak are probably better if you live in a state with a Democratic governor.

 

Governor Jared Polis reiterated on Monday that students in Colorado will likely finish out the school year without stepping foot back inside a classroom. From The Denver Post:

“It is very likely that you won’t be able to resume normal classroom activities this school year,” Polis said during a news conference updating the public on efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. “The school year hasn’t been called off yet statewide; we’re always hopeful. But districts have been preparing for that. That’s the likelihood.”

Students from many of Colorado’s largest school districts “returned” from Spring Break this week with extensive remote/online learning plans.

 

► Colorado lawmakers expect to get a ruling this week from the State Supreme Court regarding whether or not they can legally extend the legislative session beyond the traditional early May deadline. From CBS4 Denver:

The state legislature reconvened Monday just long enough to go into recess again. Lawmakers adjourned two weeks ago due to concerns about COVID-19. In order to recess again, without calling lawmakers back into session, they purposefully met without a quorum, or a minimum of 33 representatives and 18 senators.

If they don’t have a quorum, they can adjourn for up to three days. Lawmakers are hoping to buy time until the State Supreme Court rules on whether the 120-day session is consecutive, meaning it ends May 6, or whether they can resume at a later date when its safer.

The big question waiting to be answered revolves around whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 26)

Happy Purple Day, which is probably not what you think it is. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

If you are reading this in Colorado, you had better be doing it from home. As part of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus, Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday announced a “stay at home” order that takes effect as of 6:00 am today and runs until April 11. The Denver Post has more on the order from Gov. Polis.

♦ CLICK HERE to watch the press conference announcement.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the full text of the Governor’s order.

♦ CLICK HERE for an FAQ guide about the “stay at home” order.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the public health order.

The decision to issue a “stay at home” order for the entire state came as some of Colorado’s most highly-populated areas were issuing similar decrees locally — most recently the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening).

The statewide order puts a bit of a lid on a controversy stirred up Wednesday by six Republican legislators from Douglas County who would apparently prefer to become a Sanctuary Virus County. Here’s 9News with more on this shameful political stunt:

House Minority Leader Neville also said Wednesday on The Peter Boyles Show that he feels the orders, in general, are leading to a Gestapo-like mentality.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that he would defer to the department to make the decision for his city. But Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert told 9NEWS he considered it an overreach…

…”For an unelected bureaucrat at Tri-County Health to put out this order and have no accountability to any elected official, that is wrong,” said Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert. “It is, in my opinion, against the spirit of our nation and our state it is against our constitution.”

“I’ve advised them to sever the contract as soon as possible. If it costs Douglas County money, what’s the cost of freedom and liberty — it’s probably worth it.”

Just so we’re clear, the Republican Senate Minority Leader and the Republican House Minority Leader would like Douglas County to sever its relationship with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

At least one Douglas County Republican is not a complete twit. County Commissioner Abe Laydon supports Tri-County Health and says “Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic.”

Elsewhere, Colorado Republicans across the state are pounding their chests about their brave opposition to social-distancing guidelines meant to prevent people from dying from the coronavirus outbreak.

 

► The Senate finally passed a $2 trillion coronavirus recovery bill late Wednesday. As The Denver Post reports:

The legislation passed by a vote of 96-0, with aye votes from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat. Both Colorado senators made clear earlier in the day that they supported the massive agreement…

…Before the vote, Gardner and Bennet voted against an amendment from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s full salary.

In remarks Wednesday, Bennet criticized Senate Republicans for not including a $600-per-week unemployment insurance increase, which was later added at the request of Senate Democrats. He also credited Democrats with adding money for the health care system, middle-class Americans and lower-class Americans.

“States and local governments not only have to fight this health crisis, they have to pay teachers, police and firefighters, even as their tax revenues collapse,” Bennet said in a lengthy statement. “The initial bill included nothing to help them confront these yawning budget caps. It was ridiculous.”

The Washington Post has more details on the guts of the stimulus bill. Democrats had been pushing for $4 billion to support elections in the wake of the pandemic; they only ended up with $400 million.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Friday.

 

► Coronavirus deaths in the United States have surpassed the 1,000 mark.

 

► Health officials are sounding the alarm about a second wave of the coronavirus. As The Washington Post explains:

The 1918 flu hit the United States in three waves — a mild outbreak in the spring, the deadliest wave in the fall and a final spike when the virus returned that winter. All told, the pandemic infected a third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people, including at least 675,000 Americans.

One of them was the great-grandmother of Debbie Birx, the lead coordinator of the federal government’s coronavirus task force. “My grandmother, for 88 years, lived with the fact that she was the one, at age 11, who brought home flu to her mother … when her mother had just delivered,” said Birx, 63. “She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”…

…The 1918 case study weighs on leaders of the public health community as they scramble to ramp up capacity and spur vaccine development in preparation for a sustained war against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “We’re dealing with Cycle A right now, not the one that could come in the fall of 2020 – although we’re getting prepared for it by the innovations that are being worked on,” Birx said at the White House on Wednesday evening.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Want a Better Stimulus? Elect a Better U.S. Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill reports on today’s big news out of Washington, bipartisan agreement after days of fraught negotiations on a $2 trillion-with-a-T bill to steady the economy as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic:

The revamped Senate proposal will inject approximately $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at shoring up individual, family and business finances.

The deal includes $500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $377 billion in small business aid, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments…

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) hailed the legislation as “the largest rescue package in American history.”

“This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” he said.

In a lengthy Twitter thread this morning, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado explained the concessions Democrats were able to win from the GOP majority to improve the stimulus bill in ways to benefit ordinary Americans bearing the brunt of the economic fallout:

“Good but not enough” appears to be the consensus view from progressive Democrats and their allies, and though Speaker Nancy Pelosi agrees that more will be needed, what’s imperative at this point is to get relief in people’s hands without further delay:

She said the package did not go as far as a separate House bill, but argued that “thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.”

…The Democrats won a long list of victories in the $2 trillion package, including billions of dollars for hospitals, students, the unemployed and states struggling to finance the wave of emergency services. [Pols emphasis]

Democratic leaders in both chambers are highlighting those provisions as they race to bring their members on board. It’s not as strong as the House’s alternative bill, Pelosi said, but marks a stark improvement over the Republicans’ initial proposal — an indication she wants to move it quickly through Congress.

As Democrats drove a hard bargain in their negotiations with the Senate Republican majority over the past few days, they’ve been assailed by Republicans for “delaying” stimulus relief to Americans whose economic lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. It’s important therefore for Democrats to be clear about the better deal they got for ordinary Americans in those negotiations, and also be ready to act quickly to get this hard-won deal to the President’s desk.

Tangible better outcomes through tough negotiations by Democrats also effectively defang criticism from Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and other Republicans that Democrats were “stalling” a stimulus bill to help American workers. It’s a strange state of affairs to see Republicans urging the swift passage of an economic stimulus package at all, of course, given how they’ve spent the last decade branding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, dwarfed in every respect by the present legislation, as “Obama’s failed stimulus.”

With all of this in mind, it’s true that progressive Democrats will find plenty to criticize about the final bipartisan legislation. The moral of the story, in the end, is that a better deal was only ever possible in a U.S. Senate with a different composition from the one that exists today. White House too, of course but it in is Mitch McConnell’s GOP Senate that the sausage of this stimulus bill was made. In March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, history will record that America responded with the leadership we had.

For good or ill.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

Happy International Waffle Day. Please celebrate privately. It’s definitely 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The entire Metro Denver area is nearing lockdown status because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stay-at-home orders have been issued from the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening). The Metro Denver population, depending on how you measure it, includes about 3 million people — or more than half of the 5.6 million residents of Colorado.

Colorado’s most populous cities without a stay-at-home order include Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs. The City of Fort Collins is apparently waiting on Larimer County to make a decision on a stay-at-home order. Colorado Springs is likewise leaving that decision to El Paso County officials.

A stay-at-home order has also been issued for Aspen; visitors to the resort area have been asked to leave.

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been self-quarantining for the last week out of concern that he had interactions with people who had tested positive for COVID-19. Gardner says that he has not yet been tested for the virus, but as The Daily Beast reports, he damn well needs to be:

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner walked up to a group of Capitol Hill reporters to share information with them about bills he was sponsoring to counter the coronavirus outbreak. According to people who witnessed the encounter, in order to separate the sheets of paper, the Colorado Republican licked his finger and thumbed the pages before handing them off to reporters to pass around. [Pols emphasis]

Several hours later, he was in self-imposed quarantine.

Gardner began his self-quarantine on March 17, and now he’s back?

 

► This is President Trump’s Coronavirus. Don’t argue with us — that’s what the White House is calling it.

 

► Senate and White House leaders have reached agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. As The Washington Post reports:

The Senate is aiming to vote Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

Senate aides were still scrambling to write the legislation, and House Democrats were expected to take it up no sooner than Thursday. Despite a brief burst of optimism about the landmark deal, they were still dealing with extreme pressure from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make changes, as he alleged his state needed much more aid.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) breaks down the ins and outs of this debate in an epic Twitter thread. Democrats had been negotiating for more money to go to American families and small businesses, while Republicans insisted on bigger checks for big business. Check out this Politico story for more details on differences between a Democratic and Republican bailout plan.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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About Cory Gardner’s “Sinister Chinese Propaganda Campaign”

Why is China unhappy, you ask?

Via the Colorado Springs Gazette’s daily blog on political updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re alerted that Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is vexed, vexed mind you, about far-fetched suggestions by diplomats from the People’s Republic of China pinning responsibility for the outbreak on the United States:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and two fellow Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday called on President Donald Trump to establish a task force to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s “malicious propaganda” about the origins of the novel coronavirus…

Gardner, joined by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mitt Romney of Utah, call it “critical that our country fight back against this propaganda” in the letter, which requests the Trump “formulate a coordinated, (U.S. government)-wide response” under the direction of the National Security Council.

From the letter:

Now that COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the globe, the CCP and its officials have the audacity to spread disingenuous claims that the United States is responsible for this pandemic. This is not simply dishonest, it is dangerous. This tactic, in addition to being a despicable exploitation of a global emergency, threatens to undermine the worldwide coordination necessary to combat this coronavirus. It is for this reason that we request an interagency taskforce within the NSC to counter the malicious propaganda coming from CCP apparatchiks.

No responsible Western observer would ever accuse the PRC of being realistic with their frequently bellicose propaganda and sometimes outlandish suggestions about American actions and intentions. The public statements of press briefing-level Chinese diplomats are probably one step above the North Korean media or “Baghdad Bob” level of credibility, apparently a bit more so if you’re affiliated in the National Basketball Association. But it’s not the sort of allegation we either take seriously or would expect to be taken as such in serious conversation.

But you know what would help Gardner credibly complain about discreditable allegations from China?

A single word of criticism for the President who won’t stop calling it the “Chinese Virus.”

Gardner also defended the president’s calling the new coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” [Pols emphasis]

“This virus did come from China. I think China did some horrible things when they lied about this happening…”

And with that, gentle readers, the diplomacy of outrage is back to square one.

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Sorry Cory Gardner, That’s “The Story of Life”

Thursday, from his self-quarantined location in Washington after having come in contact with a COVID-19 patient from Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner asked a question no doubt many other Americans have voiced in the past few days:

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Indeed, there does appear to be a channel for obtaining coronavirus tests by the rich and powerful, naturally including sports celebrities, that ordinary Americans do not have. It’s hardly the first time the privilege of wealth in America has resulted in unequal access to a life-saving intervention, but it’s certainly upsetting to all of us who can’t reasonably expect to get a test even with all the symptoms.

The problem, as NBC News reported Wednesday, is that Cory Gardner appears to have asked this question the day after President Donald Trump answered it.

“How are nonsymptomatic professional athletes getting tests while others are waiting in line and can’t get them?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Trump. “Do the well-connected go to the front of the line?”

“No, I wouldn’t say so,” the president said. “But perhaps that’s the story of life. [Pols emphasis] That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Trump’s “that’s the story of life” quote is included in the Washington Post story that Cory Gardner cited in his angry Tweet. Are we to take this to mean that Gardner is actually being critical of President Trump’s dismissal of the problem? This crucial detail, in what’s become a signature move for Gardner, is left unresolved. If Gardner is upset with Trump over blowing off this “class warfare” concern, he has an obligation to be specific on that point–lest the only thing anyone remembers about this kerfluffle is that Gardner has already endorsed Trump’s re-election.

We take Gardner at his word that he’s genuinely worried about what’s happening. We wish him good health.

But even now, Gardner seems unable or unwilling to acknowledge the politically inconvenient truth.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 20)

The world looks a lot different since Daylight Savings two weeks ago. Maybe we should change our clocks again. Anyway, it’s definitely 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Here’s the big coronavirus updates of the morning, neatly summarized by The Washington Post:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all workers in his state to stay home, except for those in essential services. The move came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 40 million residents to remain at home. The dramatic measures came after confirmed U.S. cases doubled in just two days, in part because of increased testing. “I applaud them, they’re taking very strong, bold steps,” President Trump said…

…The U.S. tax filing deadline has been pushed back from April 15 to July 15. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter.

Over in Congress, Senate Republicans are pushing to complete a trillion-dollar stimulus relief package by the end of the day. President Trump announced on Friday that he is suspending payments on federally-funded student loans.

 

 There are some new closures and regulations from late Thursday that you should know about. As 9News reports:

Hair and nail salons, massage studios, tattoo parlors and racetrack betting facilities will be closed through at least April 30, adding to the list of “nonessential services” that already included dining rooms in bars and restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, casinos and theaters…

…The order from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) went into effect Thursday, the same day Gov. Jared Polis banned “non-essential” medical procedures, including surgeries.

A ban on in-restaurant dining was extended until April 30. Also on Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis opened a special health insurance enrollment period. From The Colorado Sun:

The enrollment period for uninsured Coloradans will begin on March 20 and last through April 3. People who need health insurance can buy plans on the state’s Affordable Care Act’s individual exchange — called Connect for Health Colorado — during that span.

Coloradans who have lost their jobs — or who may lose their jobs in the coming weeks — and find themselves without their employer-based coverage are allowed a 60-day window after their employment ends to enroll in an individual health insurance plan. There is no date restriction for people who fall into that category.

► As Blair Miller reports for Denver7, relief for small businesses in Colorado is on the way:

The state of Colorado and city of Denver both on Thursday announced initial economic relief packages to try to help businesses and workers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday that the Small Business Administration had granted disaster relief for small business loans in Colorado under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – something he had said he was seeking from the federal government in recent days.

The approval will allow small businesses, nonprofits, agricultural cooperatives and aquaculture enterprises affected by the virus outbreak to seek up to $2 million in low-interest federal loans to pay for debts, payroll and accounts payable, the state said.

But wait, there’s more…

Also Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city was creating an initial relief fund of $4 million to try to help small businesses affected by the outbreak.

The Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) will have a program to give qualifying businesses cash grants of up to $7,500 – with prioritization given to the most-impacted industries, like the restaurant industry.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is introducing legislation to make it easier for small businesses to get new loans. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is considering diverting incentive funds meant for recruiting new companies to Colorado toward a program that would help current Colorado businesses remain afloat.

 

► North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr apparently gave dire Coronavirus warnings to a small group of people at a private luncheon in late February, at the same time that he was publicly downplaying the threat. But this is peanuts compared to Burr’s real problem right now, as CNBC reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., is facing questions about his decision to sell between $630,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock one week before global financial markets began a historic slide in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A second Republican senator, Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler, also sold large amounts of stock in late January and early February, when U.S. markets were hitting all-time highs.

Both Burr and Loeffler have received non-public information about the global spread of coronavirus from Executive Branch officials, who have been briefing senators regularly since at least January.

Read that again or just pause and let it sink in a bit more. At least four Republican Senators — Burr, Loeffler, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma — appear to have dumped massive amounts of stock after being briefed on Coronavirus concerns.

Even Fox News talking monkey Tucker Carlson is calling for Sen. Burr to resign immediately. As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, Burr’s insider trading is directly linked to President Trump.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is also being scrutinized for selling a lot of stock in mid-February, though she claims that her assets are all held in a blind trust.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Hey, look: Snow! 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

Two down, one to go?

The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:

With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…

…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.

The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.

We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. As The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…

…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.

For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of Vox.com called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:

11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn

11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus

11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite

 

► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).

The first state lawmaker in Colorado (that we know of) has tested positive for COVID-19. Two members of a municipal delegation that recently traveled to Washington D.C. have also tested positive.

 

► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.

Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.

The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Polis Signs Order For Socially Distanced Assemblies

A jolly caucus race!

Among the many developments yesterday in the state of Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was an order from Gov. Jared Polis, carrying out legislation passed as the Colorado General Assembly got out of Dodge last weekend to allow for party nominating assemblies and conventions to go forward with the appropriate health safeguards. CBS4:

The executive order allows “Colorado’s political parties to amend certain rules and procedures governing the conduct of their assemblies and conventions and to limit in-person contact during nominating assemblies and conventions.”

“During this challenging time, we must continue to work together to ensure Coloradans have every opportunity to participate in the democratic process,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “I thank the state legislature and leadership for their work to quickly send this bipartisan bill to my desk.”

House Bill 20-1359 operates in conjunction with the executive order and allows for parties to provide a remote participation in nominating assemblies and conventions. It also allows “delegates to vote by email, mail, telephone or app, allows an individual who is physically present to carry up to five proxies, and allows the party to reduce the number of participants required for quorum. The executive order directs the Secretary of State to issue emergency rules to allow eligible voters to safely participate in the primary election.”

Here’s Gov. Polis’ full order. Colorado is a vanguard state for all-mail ballots — and we expect many more states to follow our example, boosting turnout in those states in addition to minimizing contagions of all descriptions. This year’s precinct caucuses in Colorado, on the other hand, were less than successful in the confusing immediate wake of our presidential primary–but obviously the process needs to be safely concluded.

Anyway, it’s one less thing to worry about. The socially-distanced show will go on.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 18)

Welcome to the Coronavirus outbreak, Fox News viewers; we’ve been busy. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is moving “at warp speed” (which is about “half-speed” in regular person parlance) on producing a massive stimulus bill in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As CNN reports:

Two GOP sources told CNN’s Manu Raju that Republican senators are close to reaching an agreement among themselves on the details of Mnuchin’s plan. The conference plans to meet later on Wednesday to discuss where they stand, with one of the sources expecting an agreement by lunchtime.

The idea is to cut a deal among themselves, and then try to hammer out a bipartisan agreement with Democrats on a massive package that could pass Congress in a matter of days. But Democrats have their own plans, so there are hard-fought negotiations ahead.

The bill McConnell is talking about would be the third major piece of federal legislation to move through Congress this month:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). McConnell is pushing the Senate to vote on the legislation this week — though Sen. Rand Paul is again throwing wrenches — and it will almost certainly be signed by President Trump shortly thereafter. Outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to quickly support this legislation.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. Politico has more on this third major piece of legislation:

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Tuesday there is a “high level of interest” among Republicans for a Trump administration proposal to send as many as two $1,000 checks directly to individual Americans to help respond to the economic slowdown, a move that could cost an estimated $500 billion, according to GOP sources.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a pitch for the initiative at a lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, part of an $800 billion-plus package being floated by the White House that also includes as much as $250 billion in emergency loans for smalls businesses being hit by the economic slowdown.

Under the Mnuchin plan, direct payments — on a means-tested basis — could be sent to American via the IRS as early as next month, although even that may not be as fast as some in Congress want.

For more on these bills and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast:

Two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are in self-quarantine after being alerted that they may have had contact with an infected person. From The Denver Post:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow both announced Tuesday that they’re self-quarantining after coming into contact last week with a constituent who subsequently was found to have the coronavirus.

It’s not clear if it was the same constituent, but the contact was on the same day — March 11 — and both men were notified of the contact by the same health department.

“I was alerted today by the Tri-County Health Department that a Coloradan who visited my Washington office for a constituent meeting has tested positive for coronavirus,” Gardner, a Yuma Republican, said in a press release.

“While I am not showing any symptoms at this time, I have made the decision to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution,” he added.

Crow is also not reporting showing any symptoms but is self-quarantining for precautionary reasons.

 

► President Trump is finally getting his border shutdown…with Canada. The United States and Canada have agreed to close the border to all non-essential travel.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Coronavirus Culls Democratic Senate Field (Not Really)

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lorena Garcia (D).

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, yesterday’s deadline to submit petition signatures in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary appears to have winnowed the clown-car field of minor candidates in this race by a couple of entries–with a notable exception we don’t want to give short shrift:

After weeks of uncertainty and difficulty brought about by coronavirus, Colorado candidates for U.S. Senate ran into a crucial signature-gathering deadline Tuesday with varying success.

Lorena Garcia turned in more than the necessary 10,500 signatures, but the secretary of state’s office must see whether she has enough valid ones to join John Hickenlooper and, in all likelihood, Andrew Romanoff on the Democratic primary ballot. Two other candidates turned in fewer than the required number of signatures.

“We didn’t make it, and we would have if it was not for coronavirus,” said Michelle Ferrigno Warren, who said she collected about 9,000 signatures…

Senate “candidates” Michelle Ferrigno Warren and Diana Bray both fell short in terms of the absolute number of signatures required, which in any normal situation would mean unceremonious “game over.” It’s unknown how they fared with the secondary requirement that at least 1,500 valid signatures be collected from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts, but the latter is in practice the greater logistical challenge–and, well, we doubt this important requirement was met either. As for blaming the coronavirus, while it’s true that the curtailment of public activities in the days immediately before yesterday’s deadline likely had some effect, we have trouble believing it was the real cause of the shortfall in these two particular cases. There’s no nice way to say this, but these simply were not viable candidates for the U.S. Senate.

The exception we’re obliged to make here is the one candidate who did turn in enough signatures yesterday to make the ballot–albeit barely, with a chance of disappointment if the validity rate doesn’t hold. Lorena Garcia, a Denver-based nonprofit executive and Latina activist, turned in almost 14,000 signatures. We can’t speak to the petition efforts mounted by the candidates who didn’t meet the threshold, but in Garcia’s case her field campaign deserves credit for working the lines aggressively at Democratic presidential campaign stops and other recent events. In the event Lorena Garcia does make the primary ballot, she introduces an unpredictable element to a race that was headed for a repeat of the 2010 U.S. Senate primary–in which Andrew Romanoff was defeated by his better-funded opponent Michael Bennet.

Garcia has consistently appealed to the left wing of the Democratic primary electorate, and has directed quite a bit of fire at Andrew Romanoff in particular over Romanoff’s role in the controversial 2006 special session of the Colorado legislature to pass anti-immigrant legislation–which Romanoff has only recently apologized for, and is one of the principal holes in Romanoff’s claim to be the “progressive champion” in the race.

Whether she’s a spoiler or a progressive alternative, if Garcia does make the ballot she’ll earn a second look.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 17)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day; you’ll have to get piss drunk by yourself this year. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

* For the latest Colorado-related Coronavirus information, go to this website from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

► President Trump appears to have FINALLY figured out that the Coronavirus is kind of a big deal. As The New York Times reports:

Sweeping new federal recommendations announced on Monday for Americans to sharply limit their activities appeared to draw on a dire scientific report warning that, without action by the government and individuals to slow the spread of coronavirus and suppress new cases, 2.2 million people in the United States could die.

To curb the epidemic, there would need to be drastic restrictions on work, school and social gatherings for periods of time until a vaccine was available, which could take 18 months, according to the report, compiled by British researchers. They cautioned that such steps carried enormous costs that could also affect people’s health, but concluded they were “the only viable strategy at the current time.”

That is because different steps, intended to drive down transmission by isolating patients, quarantining those in contact with them and keeping the most vulnerable apart from others for three months, could only cut the predicted death toll by half, the new report said.

Trump’s newfound understanding of the scope of the problem won’t fix his public image. As a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll demonstrates, Trump has lost the faith of the American public on this crisis:

Americans have little trust in the information they are hearing from President Trump about the novel coronavirus, and their confidence in the federal government’s response to it is declining sharply, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Just 46% of Americans now say the federal government is doing enough to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, down from 61% in February.

 

You can count Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) among those in the Senate who favor proposals for the federal government to bail out actual people:


If you’re looking for Colorado’s other U.S. Senator, you’ll find Cory Gardner in the back of the room.

As The Washington Post reports, the White House seems to be open to the idea of direct payments to individuals:

The Trump administration expressed support on Tuesday for sending direct cash payments to Americans as part of a massive economic stimulus package of around $850 billion, which the White House hopes could stanch the economic free fall caused by the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday at a briefing. “And I mean, now in the next two weeks.”

The White House’s support of this idea, which has won backing from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, shows how fast talks are evolving. President Trump had initially supported a payroll tax holiday, but said Tuesday that would take too long to deliver relief to Americans..

The eventual price tag for a coronavirus stimulus is likely to exceed $1 trillion dollars, as Politico reports.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is launching a new program to make sure that credit continues to flow for corporations.

 

On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis announced a 30-day closure of restaurants (except for take-out and delivery services), bars, gyms and other businesses where large groups of people might congregate. As The Denver Post reports, Polis is generally receiving high marks for his handling of the Coronavirus outbreak response.

Two of the biggest electric and water utilities in Colorado announced that they will not cut off service for nonpayment during the crisis.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Enjoy That Nice Long Weekend, Cory Gardner?

UPDATE: Not confidence inspiring:

—–

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The U.S. Senate is getting back to work today after adjourning for a long weekend of flying back to home states to…well, obviously not to practice good “social distancing,” which would have been better served by staying in their D.C. residences. Sen. Cory Gardner flew back to Colorado late last week, before an emergency coronavirus relief bill was passed by the House–crucial days wasted, says Rocky Mountain Values in a press release today:

On Saturday at 12:51 am ET, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a critical package of legislation that will provide free testing, paid sick, family, and medical leave for workers, stronger unemployment benefits, food assistance for children and families, and enhanced Medicaid funding.

But rather than immediately pick up the bill and take action in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and Cory Gardner are waiting in silence — for days… [Pols emphasis]

“This is malpractice. Coloradans deserve to know where Cory is and why he isn’t doing his job to pass coronavirus legislation. Our hope is that this clock will remind Senator Gardner that time is precious during a crisis, and we can’t wait another day for him to take action.” -Marie Aberger, a spokesperson for Cut the Strings CO, a project of RMV

Visit wherescory.org and call on Senator Gardner to pass coronavirus legislation in the Senate TODAY.

The latest word we have is that the Senate GOP, back and rested up we hope, is going to get to work right after lunch–though there appears to be residual quibbling about provisions in the bill like paid sick leave, leaving plenty of room for the political uncertainly Americans can’t get enough of in time of crisis! This, in case you are unclear given the state of things, is sarcasm.

Whatever happens next, look for Sen. Gardner somewhere in the back.

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What Happened to Cory Gardner’s “Conservation Roundtable” With President Trump?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last Thursday, while speaking with reporters at the White House, President Trump noted that his planned trip to Colorado on Friday with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was canceled. We now have a video clip of that statement: 

“I was going out to Nevada, as I said. I was going to Colorado, where we have Cory Gardner running and he’s doing a great job, by the way. He’s done a fantastic job, but we’ve postponed that. I think we’re gonna have Cory coming in here- maybe on Friday. We’re gonna do our event from the White House. We have a lot of things that we’re moving around because of what’s happening and because I want to be here.”

The only reported event on the President’s schedule was a high-dollar Denver fundraiser with Gardner. The possibility that Trump would hold the campaign fundraiser at the White House raised the eyebrows of numerous reporters, both nationally and locally.

The Gardner campaign, which has been notoriously reluctant to engage with the media, immediately released a statement. https://twitter.com/jmdobkin/status/1238149672016830465

No such non-campaign event had been previously announced. However, the $100,000 per couple fundraiser did include a “roundtable.”

It’s unclear if such a roundtable either took place already or is still in the planning stages. Neither Gardner’s office, nor his campaign have responded to inquires about the event. An email to the White House’s Office of Public Liaison was not immediately returned.

The Colorado Times Recorder has also reached out to two conservation organizations (Colorado Wildlife Fund and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation), both cited by Gardner in a recent press release about securing funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund. This article will be updated with any comments received.

More and more meetings and events are being canceled every day in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s certainly possible this roundtable has been postponed or canceled, but if that’s the case, no one is willing to say so.

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Hickenlooper Makes Ballot, Exits Assembly

UPDATE: According to the Hickenlooper campaign, they collected a total of 14,925 valid signatures for a validity rate of 86%. Here’s how that breaks down by congressional district (1,500 is required):

♦ Congressional District 1: 2,220

♦ Congressional District 2: 2,199

♦ Congressional District 3: 2,206

♦ Congressional District 4: 2,054

♦ Congressional District 5: 2,210

♦ Congressional District 6: 1,979

♦ Congressional District 7: 2,057

—–

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, former Gov. John Hickenlooper has qualified for the ballot by submitting the required number of valid petition signatures in record time–and will withdraw from the now-imperiled assembly process:

Since he’s already qualified for the ballot, Hickenlooper told Colorado Politics he plans to withdraw from the assembly process, which has been upended in recent days as the state scrambles to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Today we received word that, thanks to the tremendous work of our team and grassroots volunteers, we have qualified for the U.S. Senate ballot,” Hickenlooper said in statement.

“Because we have already earned a place on the ballot and ongoing public health and safety concerns, we will be withdrawing from the assembly process at this time. This will allow us to direct our resources towards building a campaign ready to win the nomination in June and defeat Senator Gardner in November.”

This year’s non-presidential precinct caucuses were very poorly attended, and at this point it’s unknown exactly how the assembly process is going to proceed during the ongoing public health emergency. There’s little question the present complicating factors are disruptive to every candidate and every campaign–but candidates who are better organized are still going to have the advantage.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 16)

If you need a new playlist of songs, here are some timely suggestions from readers of Colorado Pols. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

* For the latest Colorado-related Coronavirus information, go to this website from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

The Coronavirus is totally no big deal if you live inside President Trump’s big orange melon. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

While Trump creating his own set of facts — in which he is always the best, always the winner, always the hero of the story — isn’t new, the stakes here are radically different. Now is not a time for happy talk. Now is a time for buckling down, for staying home, for understanding that this virus isn’t something we have ever experienced as a society before.

When the President of the United States gets up in front of the American people and talks the way Trump talked on Sunday, it sends the wrong signal to people. And that wrong signal encourages behavior that is detrimental to slowing the spread of the virus, which we know is vital if we want to protect ourselves.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post takes this argument a step further in the context of Trump’s “fake news” narrative:

It’s bad enough that President Trump has relentlessly minimized the coronavirus threat for nakedly political reasons, disastrously hampering the federal government response to the crisis, with untold consequences to come.

Determined not to be outdone by his own malice and depravity, Trump is taking new steps that threaten to make all of it worse. He’s telling millions of Americans to entirely shut out any and all correctives to his falsehoods. He’s insisting they must plug their ears to any criticism designed to hold his government accountable for the failures we’re seeing, even though such criticism could nudge the response in a more constructive direction…

…But also note Trump’s declaration that, in a larger sense, the media is not being truthful at a time of crisis. Trump is using his megaphone to tell the American people not to trust an institution they must rely on for information amid an ongoing public health emergency, all because that institution held him accountable for his own failures on this front.

David Leonhardt of The New York Times is keeping track of President Trump’s bag of lies regarding Coronavirus. ICYMI on Friday, Trump definitively stated that “I don’t take responsibility at all” for botching the federal government response to the Coronavirus:

 
The stock market is not responding well to the Federal Reserve’s decision to drop interest rates to zero.

 

Tuesday is another big day in the Democratic Presidential Primary, but Coronavirus is changing some voting equations. From The Washington Post:

Voters, campaigns and election officials in four states holding contests Tuesday are braced for a presidential primary day unlike any in memory, as the surging threat of the novel coronavirus has forced major changes at voting locations, rattled poll workers and left voters worried about how to cast their ballots.

In Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, election officials have raced to replace poll workers who have said they will not show Tuesday, supply thousands of precincts with sanitizing supplies, and notify voters whose polling locations, many in senior facilities, have been moved as a result of the pandemic.

Voters, meanwhile, have flooded information hotlines. Among their urgent questions: where to vote, how to deliver a ballot if they are under quarantine and how to vote if they registered while attending a college that is now closed.

As the coronavirus spreads, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico announced Sunday that it would seek to postpone the territory’s March 29 primaries, joining Louisiana and Georgia. One New York election official said Sunday that discussions are underway about whether to delay that state’s contests.

Bernie Sanders is suggesting that perhaps we should postpone all remaining Primary elections.

 

The Colorado General Assembly has suspended work until March 30. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discussed preparations for such a move in last week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

The Denver Post has the latest facts and figures on Coronavirus in Colorado, including a special warning for high country residents and others who have recently visited mountain communities. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock updated the city’s Coronavirus response, which includes closing down restaurant dining areas.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Caucuses and Coronavirus

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, House Majority Leader Alec Garnett takes us through the process for a legislative recess due to Coronavirus and talks about the biggest bills on the docket — including a discussion about whether or not host Jason Bane can take his pet kangaroo to a restaurant patio. Later, Jason and Alan Franklin also discuss Colorado’s caucus results; Bernie vs. Biden; the utter lunacy of Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley); and we find Sen. Cory Gardner hiding out at a bougie billionaire’s champagne party.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

We’ve added a new “Coronavirus” section to our news roundup to keep that news quarantined. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS RIGHT NOW…

Both Democrats and Republicans have been pleading with President Trump to declare a national emergency regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. Today he finally relented, as NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump plans to declare a national emergency Friday to allow more direct relief to Americans affected by the coronavirus, two administration officials told NBC News.

The move could help open up tens of billions of dollars to help fight the rapidly spreading pandemic.

Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:00 pm EST.

 

Health experts are begging the Trump administration to stop blaming China for Coronavirus. As Politico explains:

The Trump team’s escalating drumbeat against China is worrying some public health experts, who say the attempts to blame Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak could harm efforts to combat the spreading contagion, while winning praise from others.

And it’s come amid conspiracy theories and counteraccusations from Chinese officials, some of whom are alleging the virus’s true origins lie outside China, in what U.S. officials say is a malicious effort to shift blame.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has accused China of covering up the health crisis. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly labeled the illness the “Wuhan coronavirus” — a reference to the Chinese city that is the epicenter of the disease.

 

Thank God there are still some officials in the federal government willing to tell the truth. As The Washington Post reports:

With the country desperate for answers and leadership, all Trump can do is spread his magical lying and chaos pixie dust everywhere, all to fog over his own naked-emperor inability to supply either amid a public emergency happening in the immediate here and now.

Into this vacuum stepped Dr. Fauci on “Morning Joe,” to try to create an impression of calm leadership where there isn’t any…

…Officials like Dr. Fauci are in an admittedly difficult spot. As he himself has also acknowledged, telling the country the truth while keeping the principal happy is a difficult balancing act.

This particular principal — that is, Trump — has turned that balancing act into a monumentally more difficult task, one akin to tightrope-walking in a hurricane. And we have no idea how bad the consequences could get.

 

 The Denver Post updates state-level efforts to deal with the outbreak. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discusses how the legislature is preparing for Coronavirus in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

 The Trump administration is partnering with private businesses to implement drive-thru Coronavirus testing. Colorado was ahead of the curve on this; here’s the latest on COVID-19 testing at the Lowry facility in Denver.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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