Colorado Republicans Had One Bad Option; They Took It

Guess which road Colorado Republicans chose?

Nobody asked us to give a commencement speech this year, but if we had been tapped for such an honor, we might have given this advice: Never select the obvious worst choice when considering how to approach a particular endeavor.

In other words, don’t follow the example of Colorado Republican lawmakers.

The Colorado legislature reconvened this week after a two-month coronavirus break in order to address a couple of pandemic-related issues but mostly to pass legislation that lawmakers are constitutionally-bound to complete, such as a balanced state budget. With a Democrat in the Governor’s office and a minority in both legislative chambers, Colorado Republicans don’t have a lot of opportunities to advance their agenda, so it was relatively difficult for them to make a major mistake in the final weeks of the 2020 session. Nonetheless, they persevered and found a way.

State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Dumbass)

The worst thing that Republicans could have done in Legislative Session 2.0 would have been to take every opportunity to fire off inane and offensive statements about the perils of social distancing and the annoyances of wearing masks while Democrats worked dutifully on relevant legislative needs. But the GOP just couldn’t help itself, with members complaining about COVID-19 safety precautions, arguing against remote participation, and berating sick colleagues for not not risking their lives to be at the State Capitol with them. Kyle Clark of 9News summed up Wednesday’s proceedings with one sentence:

Today it turned into a battle between legislators who have pre-existing health conditions and another who suggested that they are sissies. 

This is not inaccurate, as we noted yesterday. The only silver lining for Colorado Republicans is this: At least they didn’t hide the fact that one of their members was infected with COVID-19, which is what happened in Pennsylvania this week.

State Sen. Vicki Marble, left, doesn’t just talk down to Cub Scouts.

On Wednesday, Republican State Sen. Vicki Marble chided the legislature in telling a story about how she goes to Wal-Mart and doesn’t even bother sanitizing her grocery cart. State Rep. Richard Holtorf argued against remote participation by saying that other lawmakers wouldn’t be able to tell if he was drunk or not. State Sen. Bob Gardner said that allowing remote participation would make the state legislature akin to the Imperial Senate in Star Wars. State Rep. Larry Liston likened Republican courage in returning to the Capitol to Marines storming the beaches at Iwo Jima in WWII.

One of the lowest points of the day came after Holtorf accused absent lawmakers of being “AWOL,” which was a particularly insensitive statement for Democratic State Rep. Jovan Melton, who is recovering from pneumonia and acute heart failure related to COVID-19.

All of this came on the same day that the United States shot past the 100,000 death milestone from COVID-19. Voting along party lines, the legislature ultimately decided in favor of allowing remote participation in a public health crisis, rendering ridiculous Republican protests moot.

Meanwhile, legislative Democrats remained focused on trying to help Coloradans. As Audra Streetman reports for CBS4 Denver,

On Wednesday, Colorado lawmakers provided an overview of a newly introduced bill that would provide earned sick days to workers in the state. Under SB20-205, employees would earn a sick day for every 26 hours worked.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg and Senator Jeff Bridges, alongside Speaker of the House KC Becker and Representative Yadira Caraveo introduced the legislation, saying it will empower Colorado workers to protect themselves and their coworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic…

…According to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, employees working while sick costs the national economy approximately $160 billion per year.

Republicans could have come up with a proactive idea like this, but they chose a different route.

The Colorado GOP got trounced in the 2018 elections, spent most of 2019 attempting ridiculous failed recalls across the state, and are now heading into the 2020 election on a platform of anti-safety buffoonery. Democrats really couldn’t ask for much more from their political counterparts.

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Maskless GOP Demands Right To Infect Captive Audience

UPDATE: Rep. Richard Holtorf gets right down to the heart of the matter: Irish people drink!

REP. HOLTORF: Okay, we know the Irish legacy. What if I’m not even sober? How would you know? What if I’m not of a sound state in mind?

We’re not sure what to say here, except we apologize to people of Irish heritage, and also flasks have been around for the entirety of the history of the Colorado legislature and long before. As for speculating about Rep. Holtorf’s “state of mind”…we’re pretty sure we can do that no matter where he is physically located.

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UPDATE: As usual, GOP Sen. Vicki Marble steals the showcase of stupid:

SEN. MARBLE: And you know what? I go to Walmart. And you know what? I don’t wipe down that cart every time I take it out. I put my hands on, shove it through and I’m going shoulder with people in the aisles [Pols emphasis] even though Walmart has taken precautions to say you go this way down that aisle and that way down that aisle.

People…people just aren’t ready to accept that.

Got that? Not only do you show up in a pandemic when you don’t have to, by God, grip that dirty shopping cart and like it! That, in case you were not aware, is what real Americans do. And as the Broomfield Cub Scouts can tell you, no one knows real Americanism when she sees it better than Vicki Marble.

If you’ve been shopping in the last couple of months, you’ve probably met someone like Sen. Marble.

And you did your best to steer clear of them.

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This morning, Republicans in the Colorado House and Senate are mounting a rhetorical grandstand against proposed new rules to allow lawmakers to work remotely–during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or a similar declared public health emergency. Former GOP Sen. Greg Brophy weighed in snarkily via Twitter earlier this morning, and earned himself a swift clap back from Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

There’s particular irony in Republicans demanding the General Assembly only do its business in person at the Capitol, since they are as we understand it the only people in the building disregarding the should-be-mandatory “recommendation” they wear face masks. Republicans are not just flouting the recommendations of public health experts, they’re arguing today that lawmakers who disagree should be forced into the same airspace with them.

There’s something that feels…malicious about that.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 27)

Holy crap! It’s almost June! 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

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

 

► President Trump has declared that wearing a mask these days is a litmus test of your political beliefs, which is not going over well with a lot of Republicans. As The Washington Post reports:

A growing chorus of Republicans are pushing back against President Trump’s suggestion that wearing cloth masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is a sign of personal weakness or political correctness.

They include governors seeking to prevent a rebound in coronavirus cases and federal lawmakers who face tough reelection fights this fall, as national polling shows lopsided support for wearing masks in public.

“Wearing a face covering is not about politics — it’s about helping other people,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said Tuesday in a plea over Twitter, echoing comments by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) last week. “This is one time when we truly are all in this together.”

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who faces a tough reelection fight, has added “#wearyourmask” to his Twitter handle, after photographing himself earlier the month wearing a mask in an airport as part of an appeal for the public to “remain vigilant.” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate who is running for reelection this year, shared a photo of himself in a mask on Monday, asking others to adopt the practice.

Trump mocked Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden for wearing a mask on Memorial Day, calling the practice “politically correct.”

 

Governor Jared Polis says social distancing and stay-at-home measures helped level out Colorado’s coronavirus curve as he announced plans to allow restaurants (and ski areas) to reopen. Colorado Public Radio has more on Polis’ press conference on Monday; The Denver Post reports on Colorado restaurants taking a cautious approach to reopening.

 

The Gallagher Amendment could be facing a reckoning this fall, as The Denver Post reports:

Sens. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial, want to repeal the Gallagher Amendment and, Hansen said, they have “broad” support to do so.

Gallagher, which has been in the state Constitution since 1982, was intended to keep property taxes low, but it has squeezed revenue and services at firehouses, schools and police departments across the state. The economic impact of the pandemic will force more cuts.

Hansen said he and Tate will introduce a resolution this week to put the question of whether to repeal Gallagher to voters in November. They’d need two-thirds support from lawmakers in each chamber — and Hansen said he thinks they have it.

Governor Polis said Tuesday that he supports the effort to repeal the Gallagher Amendment.

 

 9News sets the scene at the state legislature as lawmakers reconvened for the first time since mid-March. If you were worried that Republicans might have an actual plan, you can rest easily.

Lawmakers will attempt remote voting measures today, despite objections from Republicans. A similar scene is playing out in Congress, where Republicans filed a lawsuit to prevent Democrats from moving ahead with proxy voting in the House of Representatives.

 

 

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Abortion Bans Are Bad

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast: Does the right to contract a deadly virus stop at the tip of your windpipe? The Colorado legislature goes back to session in an alternative universe that barely resembles where they were in March; our second favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner, becomes the first candidate for senate do decline the 9News debate in 22 years; the great tax cut wars of 2020 begin and one side is a bunch of lying liars; and our latest edition of WHAT THE BUCK? (Because you don’t see Morgan Carroll making a fool out of herself every single week, now do you?)

Later, we talk with Jaki Lawrence, Strategic Communications Director for Cobalt, who walks us through yet another partisan abortion ban which will not only go down in flames but also waste a lot of time and money in the process.

If you missed last week’s episode with Rep. Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), check it out when you’re done here.

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

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

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Republican Lawmakers Have a Plan (Just Kidding)

Back in action

The Colorado legislature re-convened today after a two month coronavirus break, with the main item on the agenda the constitutionally-mandated passage of a balanced state budget. We’ve heard a lot about the gut-wrenching decisions being made by Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee, but not much about how Republican lawmakers are planning to operate in these final weeks of the legislative session.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville outlined the Republican “plan” for tackling important issues at the State Capitol in an Op-Ed for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman. We mentioned one of Neville’s points earlier, but with much uncertainty regarding how Republicans plan to work with Democrats in the state legislature, we thought it valuable to run through Neville’s entire proposal.

On Tuesday, May 26, we return to the Gold Dome to tackle one critical task: our state budget. Colorado is facing a $3 billion-plus shortfall. Because of that we will have to make unprecedented spending cuts to keep the state afloat. However, we can not just leave it there. COVID-19 has taught us that we have more to address.

Legislative leaders have already made it clear that this is not the time to push forward a bunch of new bills when the legislature must finalize a couple of constitutionally-mandated priorities, such as balancing the budget. Neville knows this, but why start out honestly when you can just dive into the partisan muck?

Governor Polis has demonstrated that we have given the executive branch far too much emergency power. Governor Polis has abused his power by picking winners and losers among businesses and industries, shutting down small businesses like C&C Kitchen and letting larger ones remain open.

Governor Polis only allowed his favorite restaurants to remain open during the pandemic! It almost sounds like the governor singled out only the restaurants where Rep. Neville likes to eat. Not only is this untrue, the very premise is just plain stupid. But, here we are…

The legislature must take back power from the executive and curb these emergency powers. The next time our state faces a crisis like this, the Governor cannot have the unlimited power that Governor Polis is privileged to have today.

If you’re waiting for the explanation for how this proposal would work, you’ll want to get comfortable. This entire Op-Ed, much like the general strategy of legislative Republicans for the next three weeks, is to voice clear opposition to everything without proposing even a barebones outline of how to do something different.

 

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Blowing The Dog Whistle With Minority Leader Pat Neville

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

In an op-ed published behind the paywall yesterday by the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette, Republican House Minority Leader Patrick Neville sounds off in favor of immediately reopening the state’s economy–despite the fact that Gov. Jared Polis won praise last week from none other than President Donald Trump himself for the controversially swift pace of the state’s reopening:

We can slow — and ultimately our workforce will reverse — the financial crisis, but to do that, we have to speed up the reopening of Colorado. By all metrics, Colorado is on the back end of the pandemic. The areas that remain affected are dense urban populations such as Denver and Boulder. [Pols emphasis]

The first problem, as anyone familiar with the actual course of the pandemic in Colorado knows very well, is it’s categorically false to state that the areas which “remain affected” by the COVID-19 pandemic are “dense urban populations.”

The top five counties by COVID-19 case rate are all in rural areas of the state: Logan, Morgan, Crowley, Eagle, Gunnison. The extremely high case rate in certain Eastern Plains counties in particular is attributable to two principal factors: nursing homes where the virus raged among elderly and disabled populations, and meatpacking plants staffed in unhealthily close quarters by people of color and immigrants.

And that brings us to the second problem with Neville’s argument, which goes beyond it simply being false. One of the more troubling realities of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the disease’s disproportionate impact on disadvantaged populations and people of color in particular. Employment by minority populations in industries that put them at greater risk, lack of economic alternatives to working in unsafe conditions, and other factors we still don’t understand have contributed to a much higher hospitalization and fatality rate for racial minorities–including in Colorado, where it’s fashionable to pretend that racism doesn’t happen so much.

The use of the word “urban” to signal we’re actually talking about people of color is of course one of the oldest “dog whistle politics” tropes in the book. Minority Leader Neville, proudly living in infamy after declaring that public health authorities and the state’s first Jewish governor have a “Gestapo” mentality, does not use these words by accident. It communicates a very clear and well-established meaning to his target audience, and the obligatory denials that follow are tinged with contempt.

Minority Leader Neville knows exactly what he’s saying, and he knows you know. Neville is no longer an aberration, he’s the poster child for the ugly place Republican politics in Colorado have descended to. There was a time, not so long ago, when racism well short of this example wasn’t tolerated by Colorado Republicans.

Now it comes from their leadership.

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The Legislature Is Back And The Partisan Droplets Are Flying

UPDATE #2: Jesse Paul of the Colorado Sun:

Masks showcased a partisan divide in the Capitol. All Democratic lawmakers wore masks, but many Republicans did not.

State Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said she didn’t wear a face covering because it inhibits her breathing and she has allergies. She also questioned their efficacy, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend them.

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UPDATE:


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We’re monitoring from a safe distance as the Colorado General Assembly gets back underway:

Watch this space for updates inside (and outside) the building today.

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Neville to Push Bill Limiting Governor’s Authority to Issue Public-Health Orders

(#COVID4Colorado – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Colorado Republicans plan to push for legislation limiting Gov. Jared Polis’ authority to issue public-health orders to 15 days, after which time Polis or a future governor would need to get the green light from the state legislature to extend orders any longer.

State House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock said at a news conference and on KCOL radio that he and fellow Republicans plan next week, when the legislative session resumes, to begin “pushing back on the governor’s authority, making sure that after 15 days he actually has legislative approval to continue on with his emergency powers.”

When Arapahoe County area District Attorney George Brauchler called on lawmakers earlier this month to push this type of legislation, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine called it a “sad” illustration of how the response to the pandemic is being converted into a “partisan issue.”

Brauchler called for a “liberty-loving legislator” to offer a “bill to claw back the massive authority given to the governor.”

Brauchler appears to have found his lawmaker in Neville, who’s one of the highest-ranking Republicans in Colorado.

Neville, who’s falsely alleged that masks “don’t accomplish anything,” said on air that the GOP plans to run a bill that “essentially says ‘the governor can only have emergency authority for 15 days. After 15 days, he has to go back and seek legislative approval.'”

Neville acknowledged his proposed legislation probably won’t move forward this year, because it will be considered a late bill that can’t advance without the approval of the Democratic majority, which, he says, will not allow it.

Republicans Target November Election

In light of the likely paralysis of his proposal to strip Polis of his authority to issue pubic-health orders, Neville tried to turn Republicans’ attention to the upcoming election.

Neville said he saw this situation coming, and that’s why he was involved in the failed recall campaigns last year in Colorado

“This is a big reason we were active in the recall elections a year ago and why we were trying to push back, because we saw a lot of this happening,” said Neville on air. “We never thought it would actually get to this point.”

“We really need people to be on the ground fighting for Republicans in elections,” he continued. “If we don’t at least close the gap on Democrat control, then we will probably never solve this.”

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Get More Smarter on [Squints] Memorial Day Weekend (May 22)

At long last, you can spend three straight days at home. 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

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

 

In what is increasingly beginning to resemble a trend, this was not a good week for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner picked a needless fight with the most-watched news outlet in town, then followed up that performance with a downright embarrassing flop on a threat to prevent the U.S. Senate from going into recess without passing another coronavirus relief bill. Click here for more on Gardner’s big clumsy fold.

Gardner is claiming that he backed off of his threat to hold up the Senate recess because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a vote on full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); this is silly, since the LWCF pledge was already made months ago. Former Governor John Hickenlooper, Gardner’s likely opponent in the General Election, clapped back in a statement to POLITICO…followed by a pretty sad reply from Gardner himself:

“Cory Gardner made a big stink about keeping the Senate in Washington, but less than a day later, he’s given up and seems happy to do whatever Mitch McConnell says,” former Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement.

Asked about Hickenlooper’s comments, Gardner said the former governor is “under a lot of pressure” for his ethics issues.

“So I understand why he has to act out irrationally,” Gardner responded. “John Hickenlooper’s a kneejerk partisan and has no desire for Washington to succeed. His hope is Washington fails … shame on Gov. Hickenlooper.”

Gardner can’t call ANYONE a kneejerk partisan with a straight face.

As for Congress and coronavirus, NBC News has more on what might come next:

In the House, Democrats last week passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes state and local aid, another round of $1,200 direct payments, pay raises for front-line workers, an extension until January of the $600-per-week unemployment compensation and a raft of other measures that Republicans have derided as a “liberal wish list” unrelated to the suffering of Americans because of the pandemic.

President Donald Trump has dismissed the bill as “dead on arrival.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has replaced his suggestion to let cash-squeezed states go bankrupt with a call for a “pause” in new relief funding.

The Senate left town for a 10-day recess Thursday without taking up any coronavirus relief legislation, but while McConnell is urging patience, he hasn’t shut the door to another bill, indicating that discussions could begin next month.

McConnell has said repeatedly that he wants the next round of legislation to focus on liability protections for employers and a cut in unemployment benefits for all of those freeloading Americans without jobs.

 

Colorado has surpassed the 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day mark. Governor Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a testing partnership on Thursday that will allow anyone in Colorado to get tested for the virus.


The 2019-20 school year is coming to a close. Today is the last day of “classes” for school districts in big counties such as Jefferson and Douglas. Denver Public Schools won’t wrap up until next Friday. Jefferson County Public Schools plans to release a plan for the 2020-21 school year today, as Denver7 reports:

On Friday, JeffCo Public Schools will release a draft of its reopening plan to the public. It will include a plan for in-person learning, but also some continuation of remote learning.

“We know we will have families who are afraid, or they have medical conditions, or a student is medically fragile or someone in-home has a medical condition — so we’re going to have to create remote learning options for them,” said Jason Glass, superintendent of JeffCo Public Schools.

Glass said remote learning will also remain an option in case schools has to shut down again.

As for the plan to get students back in the classroom, Glass said it will include screenings, hygiene procedures, and changes to the structure of the school day and scheduling to allow for increased social distancing. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators will be able to review the plan and provide feedback. The plan could also change throughout the summer as conditions with the novel coronavirus pandemic change.

Meanwhile, public education looks likely to take a 15% cut in the state budget because of the $3.3 billion hole created by COVID-19. As The Denver Post reports, the Joint Budget Committee did a good job limiting the education funding pain.

 

Governor Jared Polis is encouraging Coloradans to remain vigilant and stick to social-distancing practices. over the Memorial Day weekend. Polis says that restaurants in Colorado may begin to start opening early next week.

 

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

 

(more…)

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You’ll Decide: Reality-Based Fiscal Policy Or Bloodletting

Under controversially relaxed signature-gathering rules in place to maximize voter participation during the ongoing pandemic, two opposing campaigns are petitioning to get on the November ballot with initiatives that can be credibly called tax cuts–or at least tax cuts for the overwhelming majority of Colorado residents. One measure, Initiative 271 (but don’t memorize that number because it will be different on the ballot), cuts the state’s income tax from 4.63% to 4.58% for everyone who makes less than $250,000 a year. For the wealthiest, the rate goes up to 7%–a move toward a progressive income tax structure used by a majority of states and the federal government. The net effect is a $2 billion increase in state revenue to help offset the enormous cuts coming even after federal COVID-19 economic stimulus factors in.

The other initiative is Initiative 306, an across the board tax cut to 4.5% regardless of income. This initiative is being run by the Independence Institute, the arch-conservative “stink tank” which has quarterbacked the opposition to every attempt to increase revenue for the state of Colorado since the 1980s. In his press release Monday announcing the launch of 306, Independence Institute honcho Jon Caldara makes it abundantly clear that his initiative is about muddying the waters for voters considering Initiative 271:

“The Colorado economy —pre-COVID-19— was on fire thanks to our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and our flat state income tax,” said Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, and co-ballot proponent of the tax rate reduction. “We look forward to giving the voters a real choice [Pols emphasis] between a progressive tax increase which will be billed as a middle-class tax cut, and a real tax cut for every Coloradan. Question is: which one is actually the tax cut? Hint: Not the ballot question that starts “Shall state taxes be increased $2,000,000,000 annually…”

“We think that a small tax cut for everyone makes a lot more sense than a $2 billion tax increase,” said Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action. “And even if both pass, the tax cut only has to win by one vote over the tax hike to be implemented. So, we like our chances.”

Jon Caldara.

The context for these initiatives, of course, is the biggest fiscal crisis faced by the state of Colorado at least since the Great Depression. The estimated $3 billion shortfall lawmakers are wrestling with today is expected to be partially offset by federal economic stimulus, but not enough to close the gap completely–and certainly not in a recurring manner to meet the ongoing need. The state has faced a looming revenue shortfall for many years, resulting from the throttling effect on revenue growth over time relative to the need created by the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR’s labyrinthine limits and regulations on revenue growth, and stilted language requirements the ballot questions it mandates for any tax increase, created a growing gap between need and revenue supply that the COVID-19 economic crisis has severely exacerbated. Colorado’s budget is already very tight, and the pandemic is a fiscal disaster the state can’t afford.

With this in mind, Colorado voters have to ask themselves a simple question: who has our state’s best interests at heart? Supporters of a measure to cut taxes for just about everybody while raising more net revenue the state desperately needs–or those who think the solution to a grave fiscal crisis is to make the crisis worse? Like with other extremely ill-advised ballot measures in previous years, like 2010’s infamous “Bad Three” or 2018’s nightmarish Amendment 74 which would have crippled local governments to empower the oil and gas industry, we’re obliged to trust the wisdom of Colorado voters to see through the misdirection. It’s honestly helpful when the bad actors admit up front like Caldara did here that they’re playing a political shell game instead of proposing serious policy.

Conservatives rely on the axiom that while voters may want the vital services government provides, they hate paying for them. That’s the unspoken presumption that turned TABOR into a blunt weapon against government instead of a tool to encourage responsible government. In Colorado, tax increase measures have slowly increased their percentage in consecutive losing efforts, reflecting the slow progress of years of educational efforts mounted by progressive fiscal policy groups as well as the state’s leftward-shifting electorate in general.

In 2020, this old battle will be fought once again. In a changed world, with higher stakes.

And we’ll find out if the old tricks still work for Caldara and friends.

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Another Reminder That Words Matter

Don’t be this guy

As the Aurora Sentinel reports, police have arrested a man for repeatedly vandalizing the Tri-County Health Department and making some pretty explicit threats:

Investigators believe Daniel Pesch, 36, drew graffiti on the facade of the Tri-County Health office at 15192 E Hampden Ave. and repeatedly threw rocks through the building’s windows between April 15 and May 11, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

Police have recommended charging Pesch with felony criminal mischief and a pair of misdemeanors: defacing property and harassment, according to court documents.

Pesch’s name was not attached to an email sent to a Tri-County secretary May 5 calling for “a hot-shooting, no-bulls*** civil war,” according to documents provided by the Greenwood Village Police Department. County officials declined to pursue charges in that case.

For nearly a month, Aurora police allege Pesch sent derogatory and sometimes threatening messages to Tri-County Health officials over Facebook Messenger. The messages appeared to be sent from Pesch’s personal Facebook account and often referenced the recent vandalism at the Tri-County Health building in Aurora.

“Hope you’re enjoying putting small businesses under,” Pesch wrote to a Tri-County official April 11. “Enjoy your broken windows a******s,” according to the affidavit.

Letter from Douglas County Republicans

While this guy caused a lot of damage with his vandalism, we’re lucky that he didn’t move forward with any of his more violent threats. We don’t directly blame any of this on the actions or words of specific elected officials in Colorado; but we’re not going to pretend there isn’t some relation here, and neither should anyone else.

Back in March, a group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado were really mad at the Tri-County Health Department — which covers Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties — for trying to prevent people from getting infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus. As the “logic” went, public health experts should not be making decisions about public health because they are not elected officials.

Six Republican lawmakers (Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Jim Smallwood, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, Rep. Kim Ransom, and Rep. Mark Baisley) signed a letter to the Douglas County Commissioners encouraging the county to terminate its contract with Tri-County Health Department in the middle of a freaking global pandemic because of freedom, or something. Douglas County Commissioners rightfully ignored this request, with one GOP Commissioner speaking out against the efforts of Holbert and Neville.

The Tri-County Health Department was, of course, acting in the interests of public health and not trying to disrupt businesses in some of Colorado’s most populous counties just for kicks. But other people no doubt heard a different message from Douglas County Republicans and nodded in agreement; the guy in the orange jumpsuit in the picture above may well have been one of those folks.

When politicians foment anger for the sake of appealing to a small base of supporters, it can have very real consequences. Words matter — even if they come from Patrick Neville — and no politician should take that truth lightly.

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Get More Smarter on Whatever Day This Is (May 20)

Hey, today is 5/20/20! There will be seven more of these in 2020. 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

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

 

President Trump is really nervous about states implementing mail balloting for the 2020 election. As The Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Wednesday threatened to “hold up” federal funds to Michigan and Nevada in response to the states’ planned use of absentee and mail-in ballots in upcoming elections as a means to mitigate risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

In morning tweets, Trump did not specify which funds he might withhold, and he has not always followed through with similar threats. But his message comes as many states grapple with how to safely proceed with elections.

Amid the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly railed against mail-in voting, claiming with scant evidence that it is subject to widespread fraud and has hurt Republicans in previous elections.

Trump took aim at Michigan a day after its secretary of state announced a plan to send absentee ballot applications to all of its 7.7 million voters for the state’s primary elections in August and general elections in November.

We noted last month that Trump was actively advising Republicans to oppose expanded voting efforts because of the belief — shared by others — that Democrats will benefit if more people vote.

 

President Trump is working hard to blame China over COVID-19 as the death toll in the United States surpasses 90,000.

 

Colorado Republicans are mad — because being mad is pretty much their 2020 strategy — about how Gov. Jared Polis is allocating some federal stimulus money. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee is currently drafting the state budget — one that has been hobbled by the pandemic. Republican State Sen. Bob Rankin has served on the committee for a number of years and was disappointed by the announcement.

“For the governor to announce this allocation of funds — without so much as consulting the chief budgeting body — is not only a lapse in leadership but has now eliminated the people’s voice over how their money is spent,” he said in a statement.

Now, instead of a discussion on how to divide the federal dollars, the JBC will work through the technical aspects of the CARES money, how it can or cannot be used.

GOP Congressman Scott Tipton added that the $275 million local direct assistance might not be adequate “given some of the challenges that our counties have had.” He had early concerns that dollars for state and local governments would mainly stay at the state level.

We’ll give Tipton a little credit here — at least he has signed on to legislative efforts sponsored by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) to increase federal funding for state and local governments. Anyway, as Denver7 notes, the bulk of the money in question is being allocated to local school districts, which is tough for anybody to complain about.

 

 Brian Eason of The Colorado Sun updates how Colorado lawmakers are thinking when it comes to dealing with a $3.3 billion hole in the state budget. 

The Joint Budget Committee tentatively decided to eliminate the state’s $225 million annual payment to the pension next budget year, which begins July 1. Because the pension’s money is invested over time, that would add an estimated $990 million to the pension’s long-term debt if it’s approved by the full legislature.

The vote represents just the latest domino to fall as the fiscal impact of the coronavirus shutdown reverberates across Colorado’s public sector. And there may be more to come. So far, budget writers have not taken action on several other PERA changes they’re considering that could add anywhere from $500 million to $2.5 billion more to the pension’s unfunded debt, deepening a financial hole that the pension was just beginning to repair.

For more on the state budget machinations, check out this interview with Rep. Daneya Esgar, the Chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

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

 

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Republican House Leader Neville: Masks “Don’t Accomplish Anything”

(“Boy” Neville knows best – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you follow the Colorado Times Recorder, you know we’ve been trying to figure out if some Republican leaders in Colorado, like Colorado Republican House leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock and U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), believe masks provide any protection whatsoever against getting COVID-19.

Neville put the question to bed this week, posting on Facebook that masks “don’t accomplish anything.”

Neville’s comment came in response to Trump attorney Jenna Ellis’ Facebook post.

“So my question for the anti-maskers is: Is THIS really the battle worth fighting?” asked Ellis, who’s a former Colorado Christian University faculty member. “The whole you gotta wear pants in public thing has been a law for quite a while. I don’t see a lot of freedom fighters streaking to stick it to the tyrants.”

“I’m asking for valid arguments of ‘overreach’ for government temporarily requiring them to be worn while in public places,” continued Ellis on Facebook. “(Private businesses are a different issue.)”

Neville then responded that masks “don’t accomplish anything,” adding that he “often” wears one out of politeness, without explaining why he thinks masks are useless.

You might have guessed this was Neville’s position, after photos emerged of him standing maskless in a crowded cafe recently.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 19)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married on this day in 2018. So, that’s neat. 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

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

 

Governor Jared Polis announced on Monday that Coloradans can now receive free COVID-19 testing. From The Denver Post:

Ten weeks after the coronavirus’s presence first was confirmed in the state, any Coloradan with COVID-19 symptoms can now get tested, for free, whether or not they have health insurance, Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday.

That’s a major change. In the initial months of the pandemic, testing was limited largely to front-line health workers and people who already were hospitalized with suspected COVID-19, or who had severe enough symptoms they could secure a doctor’s order.

Since mid-March, Polis has said the state needed to be testing up to 10,000 people every day in order to execute an appropriate response — but Colorado, for many weeks, was only testing a few hundred people every day. Only recently has the state consistently been testing several thousand people per day, with its daily peak of about 4,500 reached last week.

That it took the state so long to reach this testing capacity was a point of great frustration for the governor, who previously described himself as “so disappointed” in the country’s meager testing infrastructure.

If you feel like you have any coronavirus symptoms —  including a dry cough, shortness of breath or loss of a sense of smell — then you should get tested ASAP. Click here to locate a testing site near you.

 

 Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order outlining spending for federal stimulus funding related to the coronavirus outbreak — the bulk of which is going to local school districts. Republicans in the state Senate are very sad that Polis didn’t ask for their advice, or something.

 

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) can’t find the words to even come close to criticizing President Trump, and it’s killing his re-election hopes.

Here’s another bad sign for Gardner: He’s being used as a measuring stick for Senate Republican hopefuls in 2020:

 

President Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking a potentially-deadly medication for the last week or so in order to combat a virus that he doesn’t even have. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that he is not taking hydroxychloroquine.

 

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

 

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The GMS Podcast: Rep. Daneya Esgar Gets More Smarter

Daneya Esgar

Rep. Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), Chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Rep. Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), the Chairwoman of Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee, about the agonizing decisions involved in setting a state budget with a $3.3 billion hole in revenue.

We also ponder the truth in the FreeDumb movement; Ian fights with FEMA on Twitter (no, really); and we return to our popular new segment, “What the Buck?”

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

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 Monday (May 18)

Happy “International Museum Day.” Please celebrate without actually going to a museum. 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

 

A new edition of The Rocky Mountaineer — a polling and messaging project of Global Strategy Group and ProgressNow Colorado — is now available. From a press release:

President Trump’s approval rating has slid and he trails Joe Biden by double digits while he gets poor marks for his COVID response. Governor Jared Polis, on the other hand, has seen his ratings surge as voters reward his steady response to the crisis.

Finally, Colorado voters strongly support changing TABOR to allow higher taxes on the wealthy to close the state’s budget gap, and give high favorability marks to legislative and congressional Democrats while Trump drags down Republicans up and down the ticket heading into the summer.

Biden leads Trump in Colorado by 13 points, which is not as bad as Trump’s numbers in two recent polls but still not good news for the GOP. We broke down the horrible numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in a separate post. Gardner’s numbers have been consistently brutal for several years now, and they keep trending downward.

On the Democratic Primary side, the race for the U.S. Senate nomination between former Gov. John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff is not looking good for the latter:

As The Washington Post reports, a $500 billion fund created for the Treasury department to assist American businesses isn’t doing much of anything.

 

New polling numbers from Gallup show that Congress is rated better by Americans than it has been in more than 10 years. As it turns out, Americans actually like when Congress does its job. This should be a bit of a wakeup call for the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is trying to slow-walk any further legislation through the end of the year.

 

It’s fun to pretend that everything is a conspiracy, but Colorado’s decision to change the way it reports COVID-19 deaths does NOT mean that the state was exaggerating earlier numbers. From The Denver Post:

How COVID-19 deaths are counted has become politically divisive, with critics claiming the numbers are inflated and medical experts saying deaths may actually be undercounted. Still, the number of deaths is a crucial data point that informs public understanding of the pandemic’s severity and health officials’ response to the crisis.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now clarifying that its death tally includes the total number of fatalities among people who had COVID-19, including those deaths in which the respiratory disease was not the cause of death listed on the death certificate.

By the agency’s count, there were 1,150 people who had died with COVID-19 in their systems as of Thursday.

 

The New York Times has more on the firing of yet another inspector general late Friday:

The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump on Friday was investigating whether the administration had unlawfully declared an “emergency” last year to allow the resumption of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their war in Yemen, according to a Democratic member of Congress who asked for the inquiry.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, said that investigation might have been “another reason” for the firing of the inspector general, Steve A. Linick. The White House announced the firing Friday night, and officials said the recommendation to remove Mr. Linick had come from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Linick’s office, which has hundreds of employees assigned to look into fraud and waste at the State Department, was also examining the potential misuse by Mr. Pompeo of a political appointee to do personal errands for him and his wife, Susan Pompeo.

 

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

 

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Even More Drain-Circling Poll Numbers For Cory Gardner

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported Saturday, a new survey of Colorado voters shows solidifying trendlines indicated by previous polls–high marks for Gov. Jared Polis, relatively favorable opinion of the Democratic majority in the Colorado legislature ahead of next week’s “grand reopening,” and positively brutal numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner and President Donald Trump:

“This isn’t 2014, when Cory Gardner was a relative blank slate with the national winds at his back,” said Andrew Baumann, a Denver-based pollster with Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm. “Colorado voters now clearly understand that Gardner has put his loyalty to Trump ahead of Coloradans, which has left him well-defined in a very negative way — and with a deeply unpopular albatross hanging around his neck.”

Baumann and Global Strategy Group surveyed 800 registered voters in Colorado online between May 7 and 11. They found 37% of voters approve of the job Gardner is doing, which is lower than the 41% of Colorado voters who approve of the job Trump is doing. Thirty percent approved of Gardner’s work on coronavirus response.

There’s a lot of data to unpack in the latest issue of the Rocky Mountaineer, and if that’s not enough you can further digest the details here. Highlights include a declining approval rating for Donald Trump, a double-digit lead for Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper’s name ID owning the Democratic Senate primary, and great news for Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly looking to expand their majority even beyond 2018’s historic wins. As for Cory Gardner, his sub-Trump approval rating is a continuing sign that he is weak on both flanks–and his base support is heavily dependent on his continued fealty to Trump, even though Gardner’s servility to Trump seals his doom with many more voters.

That all looks right to us, folks.

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Live and Let Die with Colo GOP Leader Neville

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

When you see Colorado House Republican leader Patrick Neville enjoying his maskless self at a restaurant filled with other maskless patrons, as we saw over the weekend in Castle Rock, you wonder if he understands the life-saving benefits of wearing a mask.

It turns out, he does. He knows that wearing a mask is much more about protecting others from catching COVID-19 from you than it is about protecting yourself.

Neville with the owner of the Castle Rock Restaurant

Wearing a mask is about trying to stop other people from getting the virus from you, doing your part for the community. Being in this together.

Neville knows this.

As he told KHOW radio host Ross Kaminsky Tuesday, wearing a mask isn’t “really protecting me.”

But the strange part is, Neville doesn’t seem to care if he infects people around him who aren’t wearing masks.

“So if other people really didn’t feel the need for a mask, I didn’t wear mine,” he said on-air, explaining why he didn’t wear his mask at C&C Coffee and Kitchen.

It’s a live-and-let die approach.

Neville is essentially saying, “I might as well risk contaminating all these maskless people because my mask isn’t protecting me from them. So who cares.”

What’s worse than that? Especially for someone a lot of people look up to? Especially during a pandemic? Especially in the midst of maskless throngs of people at a restaurant?

Neville went on to say he wears his mask at Walmart, where others wear masks.

“No one was really wearing a mask, so I chose not to wear a mask, because really, I do it out of politeness,” Neville told Kaminsky about the crowded restaurant seen around the globe before being shuttered for violating Colorado law. “It’s not really protecting me. So if other people really didn’t feel the need for a mask, I didn’t wear mine. But if I go to Wall Mart typically I wear mine.”

I don’t get any of this, and Neville didn’t return my call to discuss it.

 

 
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Colorado House GOP CoS Pushes “Plandemic” Fake News

Colorado House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff.

Here’s a recent Facebook post by Colorado House Minority Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff. Pfaff wants you to watch a video that’s been circulating in far-right conspiracy forums of all kinds for a number of weeks now, called Plandemic–which asserts that the ongoing COVID-19 global disease outbreak is, like the Trilaterial Commission, the Masked Singer, and the subway under Denver International Airport, not at all what it seems. It’s not easy to find this video since uploads of it are taken down by responsible New World Order collaborator media platforms as fast as they can go up.

In case you were wondering, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Plandemic is a mashup of googly-eyed nonsense, which is why responsible media platforms are taking it down:

Presented uncritically as a courageous whistleblower, Mikovits lobs a string of unsubstantiated claims, including that the virus was developed in laboratories in China and the U.S., that health officials are deliberately inflating COVID-19 statistics and, most dangerously, that wearing a mask could increase one’s chances of “getting sick from your own reactivated coronavirus expression.”

…On May 6, in an effort to tamp down the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, YouTube and Facebook pulled down Willis’ video. “Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm so we’ve removed the video,” a Facebook representative said. [Pols emphasis]

“Plandemic” was lambasted as the latest manifestation of a toxic internet fever swamp that breeds irrational fantasies and rampant pseudoscience. But community spread had already set in.

Politifact put a finer point on that whole “irrational fantasies and rampant pseudoscience” thing:

The film was produced by Elevate, a California production company run by Mikki Willis, who has more than 30,000 subscribers on YouTube. The video is billed as part one of an upcoming documentary.

Many of Willis’ videos highlight conspiracy theories. In one clip, Willis’ young son says Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself. In another, Willis floats a debunked conspiracy that the coronavirus was “intentionally released.”

In “Plandemic,” Willis interviews Dr. Judy Mikovits, a former scientist at the National Cancer Institute. Mikovits, before her work was discredited, was lauded in the late 2000s for her research on chronic fatigue syndrome. Mikovits makes several claims that are either unsupported or outright false.

Jim Pfaff has a well-earned reputation for wildly un-mainstream views that are variably embraced and kept at arm’s length by Colorado House Republican leadership. That Pfaff reports directly to Minority Leader Pat Neville, who has been making a hard run at Rep. Ken Buck in recent weeks for the title of Colorado’s most irresponsible elected blowhard, doesn’t bode well for Republicans who would prefer to avoid the reputational harm that accompanies being a member of the same party as people like Jim Pfaff.

But if Buck and Neville (or Donald Trump) aren’t enough to affront you, Pfaff probably won’t either.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 13)

It was two months ago today that President Trump declared a national emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic (on Friday the 13th, no less). 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

 

House Democrats are pushing for a massive new coronavirus relief bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly opposes. On Wednesday, Democrats found a new ally in Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who warned in no uncertain terms that more stimulus funding is a necessity for the American economy. From The Washington Post:

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a dire warning Wednesday that the U.S. economy could become stuck in a painful multi-year recession if Congress and the White House do not approve more aid to address the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout. [Pols emphasis]

“Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery,” Powell said in a videoconference with the Peterson Institute for International Economics…

…The Fed chair urged Congress to remember that the longer people remain out of work, the deeper the scarring becomes on the U.S. economy. There is a domino effect where consumers lose jobs and sharply cut spending, and that can cause more businesses to close, hurting more jobs. Companies that go out of business also stop paying their suppliers, which can drag down other firms.

Central banks across the country are also encouraging Congress to hurry up and pass another big relief bill, as are bipartisan leaders of the National Governors Association.

Governor Jared Polis is meeting personally with President Trump at the White House today to lobby for more relief for state and local governments. Polis is scheduled to take questions from the media following his afternoon meeting.

 

Forecasts for Colorado’s state budget are worse than anticipated, as The Denver Post reports:

At least a tenth of Colorado’s state budget for next year must be cut, lawmakers were advised Tuesday morning.

For weeks, economists and lawmakers have been preparing for a hard hit, but now they have a specific number to work with: The total shortfall for this year and the fiscal year that begins July 1 is about $3.3 billion — including just shy of a $900 million reduction for 2019-20 — according to nonpartisan legislative analysts.

“Colorado is facing what may be the most dire budget situation in our state’s history, but I know that we will join together and meet this challenge,” said state Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, chair of the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee.

The projected loss will eat about 10% of the overall state budget and 25% of the state’s general fund, which covers core services such as education and transportation. The governor’s budget director, Lauren Larson, described this decline in revenue as “precipitous and alarming.”

As we’ve mentioned before, you can blame the coronavirus here so long as you spend equal time complaining about TABOR.

Colorado’s budgetary problems are about to get even worse, as 9News reports:

The pandemic has already slowed Colorado’s economy to a crawl. But now the state’s complicated tax laws are promising to cut residential property taxes by 18% according to a new forecast presented to the Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. That would be one of the biggest drops in state history.

While it may be welcome news to homeowners, the projection shows the cuts could cost school districts $491 million and county governments, which fund services including libraries and fire departments with that tax revenue, more than $200 million when the new tax rates are set in 2022.

You can blame The Gallagher Amendment for this one.

 

► Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, gave a somber warning about re-opening the country too soon during his Senate testimony on Tuesday.

 

At least he’s not your law-breaking state party chair…well, unless you are a Republican in Colorado.

 

Arguments in Colorado’s “faithless electors” case are being by the U.S. Supreme Court today.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 12)

Happy International Nurses Day, which should probably just be every day from here on out. 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 big political and coronavirus story in Colorado yesterday involved a Castle Rock restaurant called C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen, which opened its doors to swarms of people on Sunday in defiance of local and state orders to please not make it easier for people to die from COVID-19. On Monday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis pulled the restaurant’s business license indefinitely for creating a public health hazard.

As Kyle Clark reports for 9News, this was not the plan for anti-social distancing activists:

 

The Denver Post explains the latest Colorado coronavirus update from Gov. Jared Polis:

State parks will once again allow camping beginning Tuesday, Polis said, while a decision on whether ski resorts, restaurants and summer camps can reopen will be made May 25.

Additional steps in the state’s ongoing “safer at home” plan to gradually restart businesses and ease some social distancing will be considered after June 1, the governor added.

Those dates were chosen based on the availability of data on the novel coronavirus in Colorado, Polis said, which lags about 10 to 14 days behind the actual spread of the virus in the state.

 

► Dr. Anthony Fauci is testifying before a Senate committee today on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is not mincing words, saying: “We don’t have the coronavirus outbreak under control.”

 

No, it’s not just you: We have no idea what President Trump is talking about when he throws out the word “Obamagate.” As MSNBC reports:

The president has recently been issuing tweets about something he’s calling ‘Obamagate,’ which he declined to discuss in further detail when asked Monday during a White House briefing.

Trump says that “Obamagate” is “the biggest political crime in American history.” Republican Senators seem as perplexed by this as everyone else, as POLITICO explains:

President Donald Trump’s aggressive campaign to encourage sweeping investigations of his predecessor Barack Obama met a unanimous response from Senate Republicans: No thanks. [Pols emphasis]

Trump’s Senate allies on Monday stopped short of echoing Trump’s claim that Obama acted illegally when the Justice Department began probing incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn in late 2016. And they indicated that the Senate would pass on investigating the former president as they conduct their own investigations that could soon ensnare other senior Obama administration officials.

Trump mentioned “Obamagate” in a bizarre press conference on Monday that ended with The Big Orange Guy storming off in anger because he didn’t like questions being posed by reporters.

 

Arguments in Colorado’s “faithless electors” case will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. According to a press release from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

On Wednesday, May 13, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Colorado Department of State v. Baca. The case will be heard at 9 a.m. Mountain Time and for the first time, audio will be streamed live at www.supremecourt.gov and on CSPAN…

…Attorney General Phil Weiser will make the arguments on behalf of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Of 20 cases that the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear, due to COVID-19, it will only hear ten. Colorado Department of State v. Baca is one of them.

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: What the Buck?

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss two polls that spell doom for our second favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado; everything is totally under control with the coronavirus as cases mount well past one million; Republicans still want to kill Obamacare (even though it’s one of the few things actually helping during this pandemic); and the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party commits at least one crime.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

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

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

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Rep. Patrick Neville, Walking Talking Public Health Hazard

UPDATE #3: Governor Polis does exactly what he should be doing:

—–

UPDATE #2: The Tri-County Health Department is not amused by the antics of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen. As The Denver Post reports:

The Tri-County Health Department on Monday ordered a Castle Rock restaurant that opened to Mother’s Day crowds Sunday to close until it complies with the statewide COVID-19 public health order limiting dining establishments to take-out and delivery services.

Tri-County said it warned C&C Coffee and Kitchen on Friday not to open for Mother’s Day, but the restaurant opened for dine-in services anyway, according to a statement from the department.

“If the restaurant refuses to follow Governor Jared Polis’ public health order, further legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license,” the statement said.

The Post story does not yet include the expected gnashing-of-teeth comments from restaurant owners or Neville himself, but they are no doubt dressing up in their martyr costumes as we write this update. #MakeAmericaBrunchAgain!

Don’t tread on them, or whatever:

—–

UPDATE: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s (literally) in-house political front group, Values First Colorado, could use a rebrand:

You’re welcome, let us know where to send an invoice.

—–

Denver7’s Ivan Rodriguez reports from (we hope) a safe distance from Castle Rock restaurant, which has emerged as the latest front line in the ill-considered campaign by a vocal fringe to throw the doors open on the economy despite a raging pandemic:

While hundreds of restaurants across Colorado continue offering take out and curbside service in accordance with the standing public health order, C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock had other plans for Mother’s Day.

Video taken inside the coffee shop by Colorado Community Media shows booths packed, tables filled and a line snaking out the door. The owner of C&C Coffee and Kitchen declined to speak on the record with Denver7.

As the Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury reports, Gov. Jared Polis is displeased as expected by this latest act of self-endangering defiance of both public health orders and common sense, which makes sense since every public poll shows Americans to be much more concerned about the unscientifically rapid pace of reopening than the economic pain and inconvenience of ongoing social distancing:

Gov. Jared Polis’ office on Sunday issued a statement calling such conduct illegal and dangerous.

“These restaurants are not only breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of their staff, customers, and community,” said the statement by deputy press secretary Shelby Wieman. [Pols emphasis]

“Under Safer at Home, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption are still closed. Delivery and drive-up service is available. Coloradans can contact their local public health department if they believe someone is violating Safer at Home.”

But 9NEWS updates that the cops did more reporting than enforcement, as least yesterday:

The Castle Rock Police Department said an officer reported to the Tri-County Health Department that the cafe planned to reopen. The health department said they plan to follow up, and released the following statement:

“We are disappointed that Cookies and Crème has decided to ignore the Governor’s Safer at Home order and open up today with no attention to social distancing. This decision runs the risk of undermining the impact that other Douglas County businesses and residents have achieved over the last seven weeks by taking various social distancing measures. As the entity charged with enforcing the Governor’s statewide Safer at Home Public Health Order, we will follow up with this restaurant to ensure that they, like other restaurants in the county, take appropriate steps to protect the public health, by limiting service to curbside and take-out service.”

Despite the near-universal condemnation of this restaurant’s decision to reopen to dine-in service, the establishment does not appear to have been shut down by law enforcement while the crowds were present yesterday. The over-capacity throng, which included the area’s state house representative House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (see photo above), was big enough to make shutting the place down problematic for all kinds of reasons–not least the desire to avoid exposing police officers to infection.

Perhaps second only in our state to Rep. Ken Buck, Minority Leader Neville has become the point man for turning the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic into a partisan political campaign–infamously accusing officials of developing a “Gestapo-like mentality” and openly encouraging residents to flout orders by the governor and public health authorities. This latest protest backed by Neville goes even further, encouraging disregard for the most essential best practices we should all be following even after these businesses are allowed to reopen. It’s a degree of willful irresponsibility that should shock the conscience of every Republican with a functioning brain in Colorado.

In the meantime, every Colorado legislator at least can sigh with relief that the legislative session has been pushed back another week, giving Pat Neville the opportunity to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days after doing something this stupid during a pandemic. Unfortunately we doubt he plans to do so, and hope he has not just become another preventable transmission vector. To the extent possible, if you find yourself in an enclosed space with Minority Leader Neville for the foreseeable future we suggest you make use of the nearest exit.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 8)

It’s almost the weekend! Remember when we had weekends? 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 unemployment rate in the United States has reached a level not seen since the Great Depression. As Vox.com reports:

The US shed 20.5 million jobs, and the unemployment rate surged to 14.7 percent in April, according to preliminary data released by the US Department of Labor Friday morning — worse than any unemployment rate on record in modern data, and higher than anything experienced since the Great Depression.

To make matters even worse, this figure almost certainly understates the true situation. April unemployment numbers are released in May based on surveys that took place during the week that contained April 12. And since April 12 in the US, things have only gotten worse: The initial unemployment insurance claims figures released in the final two weeks of April indicate that the labor market continued to deteriorate at a rapid pace, albeit slightly less rapidly than in the first weeks.

Ernie Tedeschi, a labor market economist, projected Thursday based on real-time data that the current unemployment rate is actually 20 percent. And in the jobs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it believes murky classification of temporary unemployment in the household survey caused the official number to be about 5 percentage points lower.

As Denver7 reports, about 420,000 Coloradans have filed unemployment claims in the last seven weeks.

 

►  Don’t worry too much about the current state of affairs, because The Economy Fairy is here to save us! From Greg Sargent at The Washington Post:

President Trump’s campaign has already telegraphed its argument along these lines. And at its core is one of Trump’s biggest and most insulting lies yet.

The claim is that, having once created the most spectacular economy in the known universe, he will now do so a second time.

“We built the greatest economy the world has ever seen,” Trump intones in a major new ad campaign. “And we’re going to do it again.” That ad heralds “the greatest comeback story,” which in truth signals an extraordinarily audacious and propagandistic rewriting of recent history.

For all of you who already understand full well that Trump had virtually nothing to do with the pre-coronavirus economy, this is your stop:

Trump didn’t build the pre-coronavirus economy he hails as his own. He inherited its major trends. This is true by just about every major metric, such as job growth and the decline in the unemployment rate, both of which had been steady during the Obama years and carried over into Trump’s presidency.

 

The Donald Trump Justice Department announced on Thursday afternoon that it was DROPPING ITS CASE against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn…even though Flynn has repeatedly admitted guilt for his crimes. Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post calls it “another corrupt act by the most corrupt attorney general ever,” in reference to AG William Barr. National Public Radio tries to understand how this is even happening, while Charlie Savage of The New York Times sums things up with a single lede:

The Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, even though he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, was extraordinary and had no obvious precedent, a range of criminal law specialists said on Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

The New York Times reportedly separately on Thursday that the White House had been preparing for President Trump to issue a pardon for Flynn, but advisers urged Trump to let the Justice Department do it for him wait a little longer.

 

 Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair (or vice-versa) is caught trying to force a local Republican official to put a candidate on the Primary ballot who failed to qualify through the caucus/assembly process. Conrad Swanson of The Denver Post updates a story that is quickly going from worse to worser for Buck:

Kris Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, found out about it Wednesday only to hear hours later that Buck canceled a committee meeting that had been scheduled for Friday.

“We’re touching on something here that’s not quite clean, and it’s not quite the image I have of what the party ought to be,” Cook said, later adding: “I think it’s worth questioning whether him in that role is going to have a negative effect on the rest of this cycle.” [Pols emphasis]

We’ll go ahead and answer that one now: Yes.

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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Accused Domestic Terrorist Testified Against “Red Flag” Law

Bradley Bunn, alleged “Reopen Colorado” domestic terrorist.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger continues the investigation into Bradley Bunn, a “Reopen Colorado” far-right activist who was arrested with pipe bombs after attempting to organize a failed illegal armed protest at the Colorado state capitol building last Friday. In March of this year, Bunn testified in a legislative committee in favor of legislation that would repeal the state’s new “red flag” law, which creates a legal process to temporarily remove firearms from persons ruled in court to be a threat to themselves or the public.

This latest development is, needless to say, dripping with irony:

The Red Flag law is a controversial statute that allows for the removal of guns from those mentally disturbed if approved by a judge under certain conditions. Bunn’s family members described him as mentally disturbed after returning from Iraq where he said he was injured in combat.

Testifying before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee Bunn said, “I was going to end my life with a Glock 40 caliber to the heart. You only get to experience death once so I wanted to experience all of it to take it to the heart.”

On his Facebook page there is a seal that reads, “When tyranny becomes law rebellion becomes duty.”

It appears that in the course of testifying against the state’s new extreme-risk protection order (ERPO) law, Bradley Bunn became an unwitting testimonial for exactly why such a law is needed–both in terms of protecting the public, as well as those at risk of dying by suicide who this law is equally intended to protect. ERPOs can be requested either by family and household members of a person at risk or by law enforcement, but the standard of evidence of a substantial threat required to obtain an order from a judge is high enough that we don’t think this testimony itself would have risen to the level of justifying one.

But as it turns out, Mr. Bunn was broadcasting his crimes, and desire to commit more crimes, every way he could. Testifying before the legislature he later proposed to storm, as insane as that may sound, doesn’t seem to have been out of character. And we’ll be watching now for more on Bunn’s connections to Colorado’s greater hard-right political activist hordes.

We do hope, of course, that there are not too many more like him out there…

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