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…

 

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Colorado General Assembly Adjourns Until March 30

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Alex Burness:

Lawmakers tentatively plan to return to work March 30, but they acknowledge there’s a high chance they’ll have to extend the recess beyond that date.

This step seemed unthinkable to many lawmakers as recently as late last week, when the state’s first known coronavirus case was announced. By early this week, well before the first Coloradan died of coronavirus, it had begun to feel inevitable.

“COVID-19 has gone from a concern to an urgent, pervasive and incredibly important issue for all of us in the legislature to address quickly,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, told the chamber Saturday morning.

House Majority Leader Alec Garnett:

After a very hard week, leadership in the legislature has decided to temporarily suspend the General Assembly. We made this decision to protect the public, our state employees and our colleagues. The work we do in this building matters deeply to the people of our state, and this decision was made with the recognition that there is a moral high ground that we must always consider when we are faced with unprecedented situations and decisions like this. We knew that the Legislature needed to set an example for the rest of the state in the face of this public health situation.

Experts have clearly expressed that social distancing is the most important tool we have to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19. To protect vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immuno-compromised, we must lead by example.

When it is appropriate, we will come back and continue the important work that we were elected to do. We are all closely monitoring the situation and leadership is in close contact with state agencies and the governor’s office. We will continue to be informed by expert opinions and science. We are also closely watching the actions and recommendations of other states and the federal government.

—–

And with that, unfortunate history is made. To be updated.

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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…

 

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“Everybody Is Fat and Happy” — Colorado Hospital CEOs Proud of Their Profits

(Not the ideal messaging from Big Hospital as it prepares to fight the Colorado Option — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s largest hospitals are ramping up a campaign against legislation aimed at lowering health care costs, saying they’re being unfairly targeted and the proposed law would weaken the hospitals.

But in various industry news interviews and speeches over past two years, several Colorado hospital CEOs have bluntly acknowledged their sizable profits, boasting in one case that hospitals and others don’t want to change because they’re “fat and happy.”

In a 2019 interview, Centura CEO Peter Banko was asked by industry blog Advisory Board about his hospital having its “single best financial year in 22 years,” citing Centura’s 13% profit margin.

Banko mentioned the prevalence of private health insurance in Colorado, as well as the state’s Medicaid expansion as providing “a big boost to health systems.” He also noted that while Centura was doing really well, its competitors are making even higher margins.

He then made the point that the major industry players are making so much money, they don’t want to change anything.

“Since everybody is fat and happy, the payers and providers don’t want to change…Basically, no one wants to disrupt the market; everybody’s just doing traditional stuff,” said Banko.

Here’s the extended exchange, in which he states that his hospital competitors are doing even better than Centura, which operates Lutheran, Porter, and St. Anthony’s hospitals, among others.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

The World Health Organization has officially classified the Coronavirus as a “pandemic.” 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination appears to be nearing its end after another big night for Joe Biden on Better Than Average Tuesday. As The Washington Post reports:

The campaign for the Democratic nomination has moved at warp speed over the past 10 days, and on Tuesday night it reached a decisive turning point. Barring something unforeseen, Democrats now know that former vice president Joe Biden will be the party’s nominee to challenge President Trump in November.

Biden scored a group of victories over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday, adding to the overwhelming — and unexpected — successes of a week ago on Super Tuesday. He romped in Mississippi, where he was expected to romp. He won handily in Missouri, where Sanders came agonizingly close four years ago. Most important, Biden won where Sanders could not afford to lose, in the general election battleground state of Michigan.

Biden remains well short of the 1,991 pledged delegates needed for a first-ballot victory at the national convention in Milwaukee in July. But with Tuesday’s results, he has solidified his lead in the delegate battle and, with the states that will hold their primaries in the next two weeks, that advantage inevitably will grow. Sanders has little time and few delegates remaining to be selected to have much chance of changing the trajectory.

Here’s more from The Washington Post on Biden’s biggest Tuesday victory in Michigan. Four more states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio — will cast ballots next Tuesday. Sanders lost all four states in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the big question now is about how long Sanders will remain in the race:

The Joe Biden who took the stage in Philadelphia on Tuesday night to celebrate a series of victories including in the critical state of Michigan was a far cry from the exuberant comeback kid who had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat a week earlier on Super Tuesday.

This Biden was more measured, more magnanimous and more conciliatory. There was no gloating or boasting. And everything — from Biden’s tone to the speech he delivered — was all aimed at convincing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that the time had come to end his primary challenge.

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and passion,” Biden said. “We share a common goal. Together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together. We’ll bring this nation together.”

Biden and Bernie Sanders are still scheduled to debate on Sunday in Arizona.

 

► President Trump is getting hammered politically for his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even the conservative publication National Review is calling out Trump:

So far in this crisis, Donald Trump himself has obviously failed to rise to the challenge of leadership, and it does no one any favors to pretend otherwise…

…The failures of leadership at the top, however, show no sign of being corrected. In a serious public-health crisis, the public has the right to expect the government’s chief executive to lead in a number of crucial ways: by prioritizing the problem properly, by deferring to subject-matter experts when appropriate while making key decisions in informed and sensible ways, by providing honest and careful information to the country, by calming fears and setting expectations, and by addressing mistakes and setbacks.

Trump so far hasn’t passed muster on any of these metrics. He resisted making the response to the epidemic a priority for as long as he could — refusing briefings, downplaying the problem, and wasting precious time. He has failed to properly empower his subordinates and refused to trust the information they provided him — often offering up unsubstantiated claims and figures from cable television instead. He has spoken about the crisis in crude political and personal terms. He has stood in the way of public understanding of the plausible course of the epidemic, trafficking instead in dismissive clichés. He has denied his administration’s missteps, making it more difficult to address them.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now surpassed 1,000.

Trump is still scheduled to be in Colorado on Friday for a fundraiser to benefit Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

Columbus Day in Colorado will be replaced with Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, barring an unexpected veto from Gov. Jared Polis. As The Denver Post reports:

The state legislature gave final passage Tuesday to a bill that would replace Columbus Day with a new state holiday, on the first Monday of October, in honor of Frances Xavier Cabrini.

It is believed that the proposed Cabrini Day would be the first paid state holiday recognizing a woman anywhere in this country…

…Lead bill sponsor Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, has been trying for years to abolish Columbus Day, which she calls “a festering sore.” Previous failed bills proposed to replace with the day with Colorado Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day or an Election Day holiday, but those and other concepts were met with bipartisan resistance and with outrage from some in Italian Americans who take pride in Columbus Day.

Honoring Cabrini — an Italian American and the patron saint of immigrants — was a compromise palatable to Benavidez, her fellow Democrats and to many of those who’ve opposed previous bills.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 10)

Happy “Mario Day.” Please don’t celebrate by jumping on innocent turtles. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Today is Better Than Average Tuesday, with voters in 6 states casting ballots to help determine the Democratic Presidential nominee. The big prize is Michigan and its 125 delegates; Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here in 2016, but a loss to Joe Biden tonight could be a fatal blow to his nomination hopes. Sanders probably needs to put up fairly big numbers in Michigan — winning the state in a squeaker won’t be enough — because Biden is likely to get the lion’s share of delegates in Mississippi and Missouri. As The Associated Press explains:

Sanders has scoffed at suggestions he could drop out if he doesn’t win Michigan, but his travel schedule underscores its importance. He canceled a trip to Mississippi and instead made five campaign stops across Michigan since Friday…

…Sanders is optimistic about Washington state on Tuesday, and Idaho and North Dakota, both states Sanders won in 2016, go to the polls Tuesday as well, though the lack of polling in both states has made them difficult to predict.

But the senator’s team acknowledges he will struggle in next week’s Florida primary, where the senator’s past defense of Fidel Castro looms large. He also could face long odds in Ohio and Illinois — especially if he underperforms in Michigan. Both of those states also vote March 17.

Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will also cast ballots today. Based on limited polling, the former Vice President seems to have momentum in Idaho and in North Dakota, though Sanders won both states in 2016. As of now, Washington looks like it could be a nail-biter. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown from Reuters.

Chris Cillizza of CNN runs through three potential scenarios on Better Than Average Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two recent national polls show Biden surging ahead of Sanders. A CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide found that respondents prefer Biden to Sanders 52-36. Polling from Quinnipiac University found similar numbers, with Biden leading Sanders 54-35.

 

Governor Jared Polis officially declared a “state of emergency” in Colorado because of the Coronavirus outbreak. There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, with another 14 cases pending test results. Polis is earning strong marks for his calm response to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

While Gov. Polis is doing a good job managing the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump continues to struggle. As The Washington Post explains:

President Trump confronted one of the most perilous days of his presidency Monday by first erupting in a barrage of commentary that failed to calm the cratering financial markets, struggling to inspire confidence that his administration could stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But by the time the sun set in Washington, Trump sounded momentarily chastened by the turbulence and previewed a raft of emergency measures to shore up the economy…

…Trump’s overall handling of the converging crises — while spreading misinformation and blaming others — has unsettled many of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and even inside the White House, where some aides acknowledged that the president is compounding problems with his grievances and conspiratorial mind-set.

The coronavirus and the market meltdown present Trump with a challenge unlike any he has faced as president, and one for which he has no ready solution. At a moment when anxious citizens are turning to the government for facts and assurance, Trump is playing down risks and immersing himself in feuds with Democrats, the media and other perceived enemies.

Trump spent much of the day Monday in Florida — where he was golfing over the weekend — and shook hands/bumped fists at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Don’t worry about Trump’s health, however; the White House Press Secretary has been boasting that Trump works 15-16 hour days and never sleeps.

Trump is hearing from advisers about a host of potential actions that the federal government might take, including promoting paid sick leave.

Also, President Trump’s new Chief of Staff might have the coronavirus. Does President Trump have COVID-19? It’s not clear that he’s even been tested.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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“No-Brainer” Gun Bills Await Misguided GOP Naysaying

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial).

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports, the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly is moving ahead with two new pieces of gun safety legislation meeting the established criteria for a wild political ride: overwhelming public support and common-sense appeal up against the bunker mentality of today’s embattled gun lobby:

Colorado gun owners could soon be required to report within 48 hours if their firearm is lost or stolen or face a small penalty under a new bill expected to be introduced late Friday. Democratic backers say the goal is to educate gun owners to be more aware and responsible for their weapons.

Another soon to be introduced measure would make failure to store a gun safely against the law.

These are the first gun proposals of the session from Democrats, who hold the majority in both chambers of the state legislature. Lawmakers had a robust debate in the last session over 2nd Amendment rights and public safety following the passage of the so-called ‘red flag’ gun law in 2019.

Not a valid argument against safe storage.

As FOX 31’s Joe St. George reports, Republican opponents are…well, reaching to construct coherent arguments against these bills:

“It’s really just a gun tax because it makes it mandatory they have to sell one of these locks with every gun,” Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) said. [Pols emphasis]

Given the obvious life or death consequences of failing to safely lock up guns, it’s hard to imagine a less persuasive argument.

Compared to last year’s pitched battle over the state’s new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law, which opponents were able to cast in much more sweeping sweeping terms as a grave violation of the sacred right of Americans to be crazy and possess a gun, legislation merely requiring gun owners to report thefts and lock up guns safely would seem like small potatoes. Nearly 80% of respondents in public polls say they support mandatory safe storage of guns, and for reasons we can’t fathom 40% of gun thefts are not reported–a huge impediment to what should be every responsible person’s common goal preventing guns from falling into the wrong hands.

With all of this in mind, we’re genuinely curious to see what the opposition to these seemingly uncontroversial bills consists of–most likely a mishmash ranging from “slippery slope” logical fallacy to Quentin Tarantino shootout fiction. But in the real world, a pistol stashed in the kid’s cereal is more of a risk than it’s worth in the off chance Uma Thurman shows up looking for revenge.

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Republicans Now Threatening to Recall…Republicans

We’re gonna need more Budweiser boxes.

One of the big political stories of 2019 in Colorado centered around the completely disastrous attempts by right-wing Republicans to “recall” Democratic lawmakers from office. Angry Facebook groups morphed into angry recall “organizations” that did a decent job of stealing people’s money but had more trouble accomplishing their stated goals; various recall groups tried and failed six separate times to gather enough petition signatures to force a recall election for Democratic members of the State House, State Senate, and even Gov. Jared Polis.

The punctuation mark to this nonsense came in October, when organizers attempting to oust Senate President Leroy Garcia turned in FOUR petition signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Not four complete petitions, mind you, but four signatures in total. Needless to say, that was quite a bit short of the 13,506 that were required to force a recall election.

At this point, threatening to recall a lawmaker in Colorado is kinda like promising to use a magical spell to turn someone into a newt. But apparently “failing miserably” is no reason for angry Republicans on social media to think a new recall effort won’t work this time — especially if these Republicans target one of their own.

As the right-wing website Colorado Citizen Press explains:

Sen. Kevin Priola (?-Henderson) can’t seem to get it together, and many in the Republican party base are getting fed up with his liberal voting record. So angry that a “Recall Priola” Facebook Group popped up recently. [Pols emphasis]

the Party faithful has “put up” with Priola for years because of his strong work ethic on the campaign trail, knocking on tens of thousands of doors and winning in tough swing-districts. Not that support is becoming lesser every day [SIC: We assume they meant to write “now” instead of “not” and something more grammatically-correct than “lesser.”]

With his voting record all over the board, Republicans are starting to get fed up. For example, Priola came out in support of creating government-funded heroin injection centers last year. This year, he is working to ban several types of tobacco products.

We aren’t sure what his play is, but banning nicotine products while legalizing the public use of heroin looks hypocritical.

State Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Adams County)

Colorado Citizen Press — believed to be directly connected to House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — notes later that Sen. Kevin Priola “is continually threatening to switch parties.” We’d say that irony is not the strong suit of whoever wrote this blog post, but it is clear that the ultimate goal here is to get rid of Priola somehow:

Of course, a recall would be a tad crazy when they could pop up a primary challenger for a fraction of the cost. Given Priola’s voting record, it wouldn’t be challenging to convince the delegates to vote the challenger onto the ballot…

…This begs the question, will those angry activists standup a credible primary opponent before the filing deadline?

The Adams County Republican Party will gather for its county assembly on March 21, which means the anti-Priola club has less than two weeks to come up with a potential Primary opponent.

For Republicans also hoping to re-take majority control in the State Senate in 2020, this presents a bit of a problem. It was Priola, after all, who saved Republicans from losing their majority in 2016; Senate District 25 is again expected to be among the most competitive State Senate races in 2020, and there’s not much of a path forward if the GOP fails to keep Priola’s seat.

This would not be the first time that Colorado Republicans have tried to shank Priola. We haven’t heard substantial rumors that Priola might really be interested in switching political parties, but with friends like these…

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 6)

Happy “National Day of Unplugging.” If you’re reading this, you’re probably doing it wrong. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► On Thursday afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced the first two positive tests for Coronavirus in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Polis announced the second case at a Thursday afternoon news conference that had been called to discuss the first case.

The state said Thursday evening that the second patient is an older woman from Douglas County who had returned to Colorado from an international cruise. She is “isolated at her home per CDC guidelines,” the state health department said…

…“At the end of the day we have a very robust health care system in this state,” Polis said. “We’ve been preparing for this moment, we are now in execution mode of this plan.”

Polis was calm and reassuring in Thursday’s press conference, a marked difference from the chaotic federal government response driven by the Trump administration (which continues to demonstrate that nobody is talking to anybody else about how to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak).

On Friday, Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending package for Coronavirus response. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck was one of only three people IN THE ENTIRE CONGRESS who voted to oppose the bill.

The White House is also considering options for helping the tourism industry, which has been getting pummeled because of COVID-19.

 

The Colorado Option has landed!

 

Democrats and Republicans in Colorado will hold their caucuses on Saturday to determine ballot access for races from U.S. Senate down to county coroner. The Denver Post has more on what will be a critical day for Senate candidates not named John Hickenlooper.

On the Republican side, expect some right-wing challenges to candidates who are considered more “moderate,” because the far right in Colorado is still convinced that they need the craziest candidates in every district.

Also, a guy named “Critter” will be seeking the U.S. Senate nomination from the Unity Party.

 

► Presidential campaigns (those of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, mostly) will be making the rounds this weekend ahead of six more elections on Tuesday. Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington will hold Primary Elections on March 10, while voters in North Dakota will do the caucus thing. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Michigan will be the big prize on Tuesday:

On Thursday morning, with much fanfare (and tweeting), former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had endorsed his presidential bid.

Within hours, Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced that the Vermont senator would cancel a planned trip to Mississippi on Friday and instead head directly to Michigan.
These things are not a coincidence.

Michigan, which will hold its primary on March 10, is not only the biggest delegate prize of that day (125 delegates) but also hugely important, symbolically speaking, given that it was one of three critical Midwestern states President Donald Trump flipped to his side in the 2016 presidential race.

In the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, Bernie Sanders pulled out a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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“The Colorado Option”–It’s All About Saving People Money

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Yesterday, Sen. Kerry Donovan and Rep. Dylan Roberts and the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly rolled out a major new piece of legislation to create a competitive option for individual market health insurance plans, with specific regulatory requirements to save consumers significant amounts of money without compromising care–The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports:

Although Democrats are preparing for a contentious fight about the proposal they’re calling the Colorado Option, they say they believe they can pass it.

The bill would provide Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual market another choice by the state through private insurance. It targets counties that only have one option, aiming to create competition and lower premiums. Hospitals would be required to participate, and it would begin by Jan. 1, 2022.

If everyone on the individual market opts to use the plan, that’s about 8% of Coloradans, bill sponsors have said, with room for expansion. In some rural parts of the state, participation is expected to be higher.

Denver7’s Blair Miller:

Supporters of the new bill say that for too long, consumers have been asked to pay too much for their health care coverage and this fixes a gap in Colorado’s current system.

Part of the idea behind the bill is to create competition between insurance companies to help drive down costs. Currently, there is only one insurance option in 22 counties across the state. With the creation of the public option, each county would have at least two options.

“The days of being forced to pay outrageous premiums because it’s the only option will be over,” Rep. Dylan Roberts said. “Every single Coloradoan will have competition in the market regardless of where they live when this bill passes.”

For months now, the airwaves in Colorado have been overloaded with ads attacking a so-called “public option” or “government option” health care plan, along with the federal health care reform proposals from Democratic presidential candidates like “Medicare for All.” These ads generally rely on clouding or eliminating altogether the distinctions between these very different concepts, and it’s unclear whether they’ve been effective in tamping down majority support for such a plan we’ve seen in recent polls.

Unfortunately, the rollout of this legislation in Colorado hasn’t been well-served either by opponents hammering away for months about legislation that didn’t even exist yet, or the early references in the local press to what we are going to call the Colorado Option and stick with it–message discipline 101 here, folks–as a “public option.” Because, as the Colorado Sun’s John Ingold reports way below the fold his story today,

When lawmakers first began talking about this idea last year, they talked about wanting to create a “public option.” But what the state has come up with here, technically, is not that. [Pols emphasis] In wonk-speak, a public option refers to an insurance plan that is run by the government — like the ideas being floated on the presidential campaign trail to allow people to buy into Medicare coverage.

But Colorado lawmakers and state officials, not wanting to put the state budget at risk by creating a government-run insurance company, decided to go with this privatized but heavily regulated approach. We at The Sun have continued to refer to this proposal as a “public option,” mostly for continuity and lack of a better name…

But reportedly the Sun is going to stop calling it a “public option” now, and we’d say that’s a positive development for getting a bill passed. Given that the final legislation does not meet the technical definition of a “public option” in any sense, and that the words “public option” have been the target of a well-funded negative ad campaign from for-profit hospitals and the health insurance industry, proponents would do well to purge those two unfairly loaded words from their vocabulary.

The winning message for the Colorado Option is to keep it simple, and focus on the theme Gov. Jared Polis has defined for health care policy in Colorado under his administration: saving people money on health care. Keeping the message of tangible savings for consumers front and center without politically charged buzzwords effectively sidesteps the negative messaging from opponents. And if it comes to it, don’t be afraid to make for-profit hospitals and insurers explain their massive profits.

The steps Gov. Polis and the legislature are taking to bring down health care costs are not just good policy, they’re politically invaluable to Democrats. Much like the reinsurance bill Gov. Polis signed into law last year, which has been so successful that Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner actually tried to take credit for it, what matters is the end result.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 5)

Yeah, that’s right: You get an afternoon version of Get More Smarter today. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The U.S. Senate voted 96-1 to approve an $8.3 billion package for Coronavirus response. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul was the sole “NO” vote in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was one of just TWO House Members to vote “NO” on Coronavirus funding. President Trump is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

 

As Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post, President Trump’s penchant for making up numbers is a particularly bad habit during a global pandemic:

On Tuesday, a World Health Organization official stated that the mortality rate for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is at 3.4 percent globally. Asked about it during an interview Wednesday night with his friend Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump disagreed with that number.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump said. “Now, and this is just my hunch [Pols emphasis], and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about those people.”

Trump eventually settled on a number of “way under 1 percent” for the COVID-19 mortality rate. The source for this information? There is no source:

Trump twice admits that he’s simply making up the percentage he’s talking about, calling it a “hunch” and saying that it’s his personal assessment. Yes, he has access to more experts on the subject than your average American, which may inform that personal estimate, but his access to experts didn’t prevent him from reiterating obviously inaccurate information at an event with drug companies earlier this week.

Bump sums up Trump’s manufactured numbers with a sober warning:

We don’t know the mortality rate of the coronavirus in the United States in part because we don’t know the spread of the virus thanks to the government’s slow, faulty start in measuring it. We do know, though, that, by themselves, numbers offered by Trump aren’t trustworthy. That the world he presents is often not the real one.

Swell.

 

 According to data from Public Policy Polling, Americans are very nervous about Coronavirus and very dissatisfied with how the federal government is handling response efforts:

Voters take the virus a lot more seriously than the president does. Only 8% of voters agree with Trump’s claim that the virus is a Democratic hoax, while 82% think the virus is real. Only 16% of Trump’s own voters agree with him that the virus is a hoax.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus could threaten his reelection. By a 20-point margin, voters say his administration’s handling of the virus makes them less likely to vote for him this fall. Independents say they’re less likely to vote for Trump by 32 points because of how he’s dealt with this issue. Only 37% of voters agree with Trump’s assessment that his administration is doing a “great job” dealing with the coronavirus, while 53% disagree.

 

►  The Colorado Option has landed. As The Denver Post reports:

The long-awaited Colorado bill to create a variation of a public health insurance option — an effort that has garnered national attention and the ire of hospitals — was unveiled Thursday, just before the midway point of the legislative session.

Although Democrats are preparing for a contentious fight about the proposal they’re calling the Colorado option, they say they believe they can pass it.

The bill would provide Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual market another choice by the state through private insurance at what’s expected to be a more affordable cost by Jan. 1, 2022. The bill targets counties that only have one option to create competition and lower premiums and will require hospitals to participate. If everyone on the individual market opts to use the plan, that’s about 8% of Coloradans, bill sponsors have said. In some rural parts of the state, participation is expected to be higher.

 

Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, and listen to House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explain what might happen next if a legislator or staffer at the State Capitol ends up testing positive for COVID-19.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Super Tuesday Spectacular!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin spend plenty of time trying to sift through Super Tuesday results; we check in on some more odd behavior by Colorado Republicans; Sen. Cory Gardner’s 2020 campaign narrative confuses us; and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us again for an update on the state legislature — including potential actions the legislature could take if the coronavirus seeps into the State Capitol. 

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

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Get More Smarter on Super Tuesday (March 3)

We’re one week away from going back to Regular Tuesday. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

First things first: DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOT! Ballots must be received by 7:00 pm tonight — the postmarked date is irrelevant — so you need to take your ballot to a suitable drop-off location TODAY. Go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information.

If you already cast your ballot and had voted for one of the candidates who has since dropped out (Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, and Amy Klobuchar in just the last few days), then you’re just out of luck. There is no option for you to cast another ballot this year, though state lawmakers are discussing potential remedies in future elections. If this makes you salty, then complain to the campaign instead of the people trying to handle gazillions of ballots today.

The Denver Post has more on how Colorado voters are viewing their ballots today.

9News also breaks down what you need to know for Super Tuesday.

 

We could be in for a wild night as votes are counted in 14 states and one U.S. territory (American Samoa) today. The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination looks significantly different than it did just one week ago. Steyer, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar are out, and former Vice President Joe Biden is surging at the moment.

Fun fact: With Buttigieg and Klobuchar out of the race, the average age of the field of candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination jumped from 68 to 75. At age 70, Elizabeth Warren is now the baby of the bunch. At age 77, Biden is now the youngest male candidate still in the Democratic field (Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are both 78 years old).

From a national perspective, CNN’s Chris Cillizza lays out his vision of the 5 most likely Super Tuesday scenarios. National Public Radio has a simple guide for each state casting votes today. Philip Bump of The Washington Post looks at how moderate Democrats are doing what moderate Republicans could not (or would not) do in 2016.

 

► President Trump is plainly terrified about the political ramifications for him related to market instability and the COVID-19 virus. Here’s but one more example, via The Washington Post:

The Federal Reserve made an emergency interest rate cut Tuesday, slashing the benchmark U.S. interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest cut since the financial crisis.

The U.S. central bank has not made an emergency move like this since late 2008, and Fed leaders said it was done to protect the U.S. economy and financial markets as the coronavirus spreads.

“We saw a risk to the outlook of the economy and we chose to act,” Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said at a press conference shortly after the rate cut announcement.

The Fed’s action reduces the U.S. interest rate to just below 1.25 percent, down from 1.75 percent. Fed leaders voted unanimously in favor of the rate reduction, and Powell tried to project a sense of calm during short 13-minute press conference. He said repeatedly that the U.S. economic fundamentals still look healthy, but he said “sentiment” had shifted.

The highly unusual Fed action comes on the heels of other central banks around the world lowering their interest rates and calls by President Trump for a “big” rate cut. [Pols emphasis]

The stock market responded to news about the interest rate cut with quite the spasm.

And before you wag your finger about “politicizing” the COVID-19 virus, read this.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 2)

March didn’t really come “in” like a lion or a lamb — more like a mildly-irritating raccoon.  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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Super Tuesday got a whole lot more interesting over the weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the South Carolina Primary on Saturday; Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg subsequently suspended his Presidential campaign (as did businessman Tom Steyer).

Biden is certainly riding the momentum wave at the moment, picking up notable endorsements (including from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock) and raising big money since his South Carolina victory. Sanders, meanwhile, continues to throw down monster fundraising numbers. As for Elizabeth Warrenshe’s not dead yet and is rolling out new endorsements of her own. Finally, Amy Klobuchar will make a last pre-Tuesday campaign stop in Colorado today.

Colorado is among 14 states that will count ballots on Tuesday in a Democratic race that might have become a Bernie Sanders/ Joe Biden battle. For more on the local race to the polls, check out this story from The Denver Post. Here’s a look at the latest ballot return numbers in Colorado.

REMEMBER: If you still have a ballot at home, or in your purse, or wherever, DO NOT PUT IT IN THE MAIL. Ballots must be RECEIVED by 7:00 on Tuesday; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on where to find a ballot drop-off location.

 

► The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which is now being commonly referred to as COVID-19, is quickly becoming a significant political problem for the Trump administration. As CNN reports:

Trump’s earlier rambling, contentious and widely criticized first public appearance on the issue last week as well as inflammatory remarks on the virus and Democrats at a campaign rally Friday night threatened to overshadow its mitigation efforts. His previous comments that the number of US cases could soon disappear and that his administration had made “tremendous” efforts to thwart the virus arriving in the US now look premature.

On Sunday night, the President crowed about a poll that he said showed 77% of adults were confident the government could handle the situation.

“Gallup Poll numbers on the handling of this situation are outstanding, the best. Thank you!”

The poll that he was referring to, however, appeared to be one conducted between February 3-16 — well before the deaths on US soil, the spike of new cases and the stock market routs last week that exemplified growing panic about the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Trumpistas continue to insist that mean Democrats and those journalist jerks are at fault for politicizing the fact that President Trump is screwing up:

Vice President Pence defended the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., for saying that Democrats were rooting for “millions” of Americans to die so the coronavirus could hurt Trump politically. And he complained that the President — who has done more to coarsen public life than any other modern politician — had been the target of “very strong rhetoric” from his opponents and the media.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported on the Trump administration’s panicked attempts to get control of a coronavirus narrative.

Here in Colorado, COVID-19 is starting to impact larger events.

 

► The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will take up two cases that could decide the ultimate fate of Obamacare…but probably not before the 2020 election. From Vox.com:

The Republican legal arguments against Obamacare in this case are widely viewed as ridiculous, even by many lawyers and scholars who spent much of the last decade trying to convince the courts to repeal President Obama’s signature achievement…

…And yet, the lawsuit has received very favorable treatment from Republican federal judges. Judge Reed O’Connor, a former Republican Senate staffer turned district judge, ordered the whole Affordable Care Act repealed in its entirety. Two Republican federal appeals court judges reached a somewhat more mild conclusion — striking down a small portion of the law and then sending the case back down to O’Connor to reconsider which other provisions should fall. But, while that holding creates more work for Judge O’Connor, he remains likely to kill as much of the law as he can.

In addition to weighing the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments, the Supreme Court will need to consider whether any federal court has jurisdiction to hear this case. As a general rule, no one is allowed to challenge a law in federal court unless they can show they were injured by that law. Because the zeroed-out mandate does nothing, it’s highly doubtful that anyone is allowed to challenge it.

In the meantime, Colorado isn’t waiting around to push forward on health care changes.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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“Democrats Are Anti-Christian,” Says Colorado Republican Lawmaker

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

A Colorado Springs Republican lawmaker is standing behind his radio comment that his House Democratic colleagues are “anti-Christian,” saying they attack “family values.”

State Rep. Dave Williams (R-CO Springs) made the comment on conservative KNUS radio Feb. 15 during a discussion about a legislative hearing.

Williams, who’s the El Paso County Republican Party’s official liaison to the Trump Campaign, said, during a hearing on bills that were voted down by Democrats, he’d sat through “13 hours of the radical left, you know, talking about how good people of faith are terrible people.”

“I mean, what they engage in is, they’re anti-Christian,” Williams told KNUS’ Randy Corporon. “At the end of the day, Democrats are anti-Christian and, you know, they want to try and besmirch good people of faith like Jack Phillips [who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple], and that was their whole goal that day that we heard those bills.”

Williams was referring narrowly to Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives, not everyone who is part of the Democratic Party.

“I stand by the statement,” Williams told the Colorado Times Recorder when asked about the comment on Friday. “I was referencing the House Democrats, who I believe are radical. They were trying to spin the narrative that day about Jack Phillips and Christian families.”

“Those Democrats, the House Democrats, are anti-Christian, and they want to attack family values,” he said.

State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver) said Williams should help create a “inclusive and just” society, instead of calling people anti-Christian.

“I’d say to my Republican colleagues, Rep. Williams included, that honesty is a virtue,” Herod told the Colorado Times Recorder in a statement. “It would be better for all of us if they would simply be honest about these bills and their rhetoric. There are LGBTQ Coloradans who are good people too, who are people of faith, and who simply want to live, work, and exist in a state free from discrimination. The truth is that some, but not all, of my Republican colleagues would rather resort to demagoguery–calling people ‘anti-Christian’ and proposing questionable pieces of legislation– instead of joining the rest of us in creating a society that is inclusive and just.”

Williams is unabashed conservative, known for speaking out on social issues (e.g., opposing civil unions) and immigration (e.g., proposing lawmakers representing sanctuary cities be liable for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants).

Williams is seen as a leader of the Republicans’ legislative efforts to loosen vaccination rules in Colorado.

Listen to Williams on KNUS’ Randy Corporon Show here.

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A Few Words About “Accommodating” Anti-Vaxxer Crazies

A short while ago, Senate Bill 20-163, a bill to improve Colorado’s bottom-of-the-nation childhood vaccination rate, won final passage in the Colorado Senate. For those who haven’t been paying attention to the noise over what should be an uncontroversial bill, SB-163 is a compromise measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Kyle Mullica and Sen. Julie Gonzales along with Republican Sen. Kevin Priola, which makes a few modest changes to the procedures by which parents obtain a personal belief or religious exemption from vaccination requirements for their children to enroll in public school–primarily by requiring parents to obtain a certificate from the health department to submit to the school in order to claim a nonmedical exemption. The bill also establishes a statewide “vaccine protected children” standard of 95%, which would represent a large improvement over the current 89%.

Rep. Mullica, as readers will recall, introduced a bill last year that was even tougher–originally requiring parents to appear in person at a state health department office to apply for a nonmedical exemption. Gov. Jared Polis controversially shot that bill down for putting what he saw as an excessive burden on anti-vaxxer parents. But in the end, criticism of that move combined with continuing bad press about disease outbreaks and Colorado’s dismal vaccination rate helped bring, as they say inside the Colorado capitol, “the first and second floors together.”

The opposition to this very sensible legislation–which does not in any way prevent Colorado parents from obtaining a nonmedical exemption to vaccines even though doing so would have broad public support–has not been well-grounded in reality.

These are a few examples of the reprintable comments from the anti-vaxxers among the hundreds who testified in a Senate committee earlier this month against SB-163. Testimony in that committee hearing was in many cases only loosely tied to the details of the bill, and many others not at all. The more reasonable testimony expressed concern that the database set up by public health authorities to register nonmedical vaccine exemptions might be hacked or otherwise misused at some point in the future.

The less reasonable testimony…was very difficult to listen to.

Given the overwhelming public support for tightening vaccination requirements, including eliminating nonmedical exemptions entirely or tightening the requirements to obtain one far beyond the scope of this bill, there is a strong case for hearing out the variably shaky-to-crazy objections to SB-163 and then disregarding them with prejudice. Despite this, several Democratic Senators worked patiently to address any reasonably-addressed concerns to the bill in the form of a number of successful amendments.

As the bill moves to the strongly Democratic House, the irrational opposition to this compromise measure aimed at one of the state’s biggest public health deficiencies should tell House members all they need about their responsibilities. There is a responsibility to hear all sides, but there is also a responsibility to tune out irrational noise.

On this issue, the time for the latter has come.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Surveys, Sausages, and Sanders

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we get some fascinating new polling insights from Fawn Bolak (1:10); House Majority Leader Alec Garnett is back to take us through the latest in legislative sausage making (14:16); President Trump makes a bananas visit to Colorado Springs (35:27); and we’re feeling the Bern — whether we like it or not (50:25).

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 27)

Happy “National Protein Day.” Go eat a burger, or something. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

As the United States braces for what appears to be an inevitable Coronavirus outbreak, more attention is (rightfully) being paid to Trump administration decisions that have left the country more vulnerable to a pandemic. From The Washington Post:

President Trump insists the United States is “very, very ready” for dealing with the coronavirus. Yet two years ago, his administration undercut its own ability to respond to such an outbreak.

Trump announced in a news conference last night that Vice President Pence will lead the federal government’s response to the deadly coronavirus, trying to reassure Americans amid growing concerns of a global health crisis that has led to tumbling stocks as the virus spreads around the world…

…Trump didn’t mention that there’s evidence the virus could now be spreading within the United States. A person in Northern California has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or coming in contact with anyone known to have the infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last night…

And he didn’t point to the history that is making his administration’s response to this new outbreak more difficult. Two years ago, the administration disbanded two permanent groups formed by President Obama to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak one within the White House National Security Council and another within the Department of Homeland Security.

That sounds bad, right? But it’s just the beginning…

That’s not all Trump did. He also proposed cutting the parts of the budgets at NSC, DHS, and Health and Human Services designated for fighting global disease. And in early 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dramatically downsized its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money was running out. 

We should also mention that putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of Coronavirus response is a dicey choice considering Pence’s history with such efforts; Pence was Governor of Indiana during the worst outbreak of HIV in state history, and he regularly overruled suggestions by health officials on how to handle the problem.

If you are concerned about how to prepare for Coronavirus coming to Colorado, experts say to plan like you might for a big snowstorm. 9News.com has more on separating fact from fiction.

 

► Colorado lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that will repeal the death penalty in Colorado. As The Denver Post explains:

After nearly five hours of debate Wednesday, the state House voted 38-27 for the repeal, with three Democrats joining all 24 House Republicans in voting against the bill.

In total, lawmakers spent about 36 hours debating and taking testimony on the bill since late January, when the bill moved through the Senate.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who will have 10 days to sign it or allow it to become law without any action.

 

► There had been scant polling information in Colorado related to the Democratic Presidential Primary until recently. A new poll from Data For Progress shows Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren in Colorado. Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies sees similar numbers.

Meanwhile, Colorado Public Radio reports that more candidates are spending money in Colorado ahead of Super Tuesday…but nobody is dropping more coin than Michael Bloomberg. Of course, nobody seems to be dropping in polls more than Bloomberg, either.

 

 If you still have a mail ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, DO NOT DROP IT IN THE MAIL. In order to make sure that your vote is counted, take your ballot to a drop-off location in your area; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information. You might also check out this Super Tuesday Q&A from Colorado Public Radio.

Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies updates its ballot return numbers HERE.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 26)

Yes, that person you walked by on the street is well aware that they have a black smudge on their forehead. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Democratic Presidential candidates took to the debate stage in South Carolina on Tuesday, where many a sharp elbow was thrown — most of them aimed at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here’s a local perspective from The Post and Courier in South Carolina.

If you’re looking for the obligatory “Winners and Losers” analysis, here’s CNN; The Washington Post; Politico; Vox.com; and The New York Times. Most seem to agree that the biggest “losers” were the inept moderators from CBS News.

As Slate.com writes, the problem with digesting these debates may just be that there are too many candidates in the Democratic field.

 

► Congressional leaders have decided that they can no longer wait for the Trump administration to get off its collective butt and start taking action to deal with the spread of the Coronavirus. From The Washington Post:

Congressional leaders on Wednesday planned to begin designing a large emergency spending package for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, revealing the wide gulf between lawmakers who have demanded more action and a White House that has sought a more measured response.

Even government officials have been split internally about how to respond, with some health officials urging more public preparedness while a number of political appointees have sought to downplay any risks. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, appearing at a congressional hearing Wednesday, sought to clarify that the near-term risk to Americans was low, but that the number of cases would likely increase.

The White House on Monday evening requested $1.8 billion to deal with coronavirus, and $535 million of that would be rerouted from an account that is designed to deal with Ebola. But Trump administration officials told senators Tuesday that they knew their request would need to grow, said a Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe discussions with the White House.

Democrats and a number of Republicans have decried the White House request as insufficient and are aiming for a more robust package.

President Trump, meanwhile, is blaming the media for stoking fears about Coronavirus while many administration spokespeople continue to insist that everything will be just fine. Trump is holding a press conference to address the subject today; there has been talk that the White House might appoint a “coronavirus czar” to oversee the government’s response. The White House also wants to fund some coronavirus response by cutting money meant for low-income heating programs.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren ripped Trump for his slow response to the spread of the virus on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was a matter of “when,” and not “if,” Coronavirus starts spreading across the United States.

CBS4 Denver has more on how Colorado officials are preparing for a potential outbreak.

 

 Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted in favor of two more anti-choice bills in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

 

 If you plan to mail your Presidential Primary ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, you should probably make sure to drop it in the mailbox by the end of the day; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on ballot drop-off locations. If you are having trouble making up your mind…you’re not alone.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post looks at ballot returns thus far and notes that more Unaffiliated voters are deciding to cast a ballot in the Democratic Primary. Colorado Public Radio breaks down how the candidates stand on health care, which continues to poll as the top issue among most voters.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Fox News Straight-Up Thieves Denver Post Story

They’re getting lazy over at the Fox News Channel, as a rightfully annoyed Alex Burness of the Denver Post calls out what would definitely meet our old college professors’ definition of plagiarism:

And sure enough, the thinly-disguised (if at all) cribbing is easy to spot–Burness’ story:

A bleary-eyed Colorado House voted for a bill to repeal the death penalty around 4 a.m. Tuesday, after about 11 hours of discussion.

The bulk of that time was taken up by Republicans either making speeches or bringing various unsuccessful bill amendments in an effort to slow the bill’s roll. They forced a couple hours of debate on whether voters should be allowed to decide this matter, but Democrats shot those amendments down.

“I’m not going to dodge the hard issues by sending them to the people,” said Rep. Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins, a sponsor of the repeal bill. “We are the people.”

And here’s Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty:

The vote from bleary-eyed lawmakers finally came around 4 a.m. after Republicans repeatedly tried to slow the process by making lengthy speeches or bringing unsuccessful amendments up for a vote…

At one point, Republicans forced two hours of debate on whether voters, not lawmakers, should be able to decide whether capital punishment should be legalized in the state.

“I’m not going to dodge the hard issues by sending them to the people,” Rep. Jeni Arndt, the sponsor of the repeal bill, said. “We are the people.”

As Scott “McPlagiarist” McInnis can tell you, you have to change more words than that.

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Paid Family Leave Goes Sideways: Just Pass a Damn Bill

TUESDAY UPDATE: The editorial board of The Denver Post shares similar sentiments:

Why is that so concerning? It’s a symptom of the times where our political parties are discouraging compromise and favoring a my-way-or-the-highway mentality. The art of compromise is something that Colorado politicians are acclaimed for embracing and the last thing Coloradans should want is a gridlocked system…

…It would be a shame for these ideas — who gets covered and for how long, and the best mechanism to fund that coverage — to not get a hearing because lawmakers are unwilling to compromise or perhaps unwilling to really heed the concerns of this state’s business community.

Perhaps the legislation is too complicated for us to expect it to pass half-way through the legislative session but at the very least Winter’s bill deserves a robust hearing that hammers out all the potential flaws and benefits of this approach to the paid family leave problem.

—–

UPDATE: Senator Faith Winter and Rep. Matt Gray say they’re not giving up:

Senator Faith Winter and Representative Matt Gray released the following statement regarding their dedication to creating a fair family and medical leave benefit for Colorado.

“We are fully committed to passing a paid family and medical leave program this year. The approach we’ve been working on would provide a much-needed benefit to Colorado workers. This is a very complex policy; we are still working to find the right solution, and we won’t stop until we get there. Too many Coloradans are fearful that one unforeseen event could upend their entire lives and their carefully laid plans for the future. Guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and the economic security it provides will give more Coloradans the fair shot they deserve.”

—–

Sen. Faith Winter (D), champion of paid family leave.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports today, the yet-to-be-introduced bill to create a paid family leave system for Colorado workers–a major policy priority for Democrats in full control of the Colorado General Assembly–has been dealt a setback after two Democratic sponsors pulled out of the effort:

[Sen. Faith] Winter and [Rep. Matt] Gray have been working to craft a bill that would bring paid leave benefits to workers across industries and income brackets. But it’s been immensely difficult, they’ve said, to achieve that goal while also satisfying the long list of concerns from well-funded and politically connected business groups — not to mention the governor, whose fingerprints are all over the latest bill draft…

This bill was a top priority for Democrats entering this session, just as it was in 2019. Asked if it’s now effectively dead, Winter said, “I don’t know. I always want to keep trying. I don’t know what that looks like going forward.”

The matter could be settled at the ballot instead of in the Capitol. Anticipating that the bill might either get watered down or entirely destroyed, progressive advocates in January announced plans to try to put a paid family leave program onto Colorado 2020 ballot. They said they’ve got significant financial backing.

If such a measure does land on Colorado’s ballot, it’s a near-certainty that business groups will put significant money into defeating it…

After managing only to pass a “study bill” in the 2019 session, paid family leave backers had high hopes going into the 2020 session that some kind of program would make it through this year–legislation that, though maybe not perfect, would still provide a meaningful benefit to thousands of Colorado workers who currently have no paid leave option. Gov. Jared Polis weighed into the debate recommending a privately-administered family leave insurance program, which upset some on the left who wanted a public program with resources fully devoted to benefits instead of corporate profit.

The situation to us is not unlike the blue-on-blue debate over the Affordable Care Act in 2009-10, in which a public option insurance plan to compete with private offerings became a point of contention between Democrats that nearly sank the entire bill. In retrospect, the millions of Americans who have benefited from the ACA even without the public option made the wisdom of “just passing the damn bill” indisputable. The moral of that story is straightforward: defeat never leaves you in a stronger position, and passing an imperfect bill that gets a major reform moving is better than passing nothing.

It is with all of this in mind that we urge Democrats to keep trying to get to majority support on a paid family leave program, and to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good with respect to the finer points. Polling has consistently shown broad public support for paid family leave, including large percentages of family-friendly conservatives. Whatever may be needed down the road to improve what is feasible to pass today, passing something today is both politically and practically the right course.

Now we’ll see once again whether Colorado can have nice things.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 24)

We’re one week away from Super Tuesday, which makes today…still just a regular “Monday.” 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado’s votes in the Presidential Primary won’t be will be revealed until next Tuesday, so you still have some time to make your decision (but only a few more days if you plan on returning your ballot by mail). Go to GoVoteColorado.com if you need ballot or voting information. Today is the last day to register to vote and still receive a ballot for the Presidential Primary. Also, remember that 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday as long as they will officially turn 18 before the November General Election.

Elizabeth Warren held a big campaign rally at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Sunday and is making a late push for undecided Colorado voters. Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, made a campaign stop in Aurora; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on a cool moment from Buttigieg’s “town hall” meeting.

Bernie Sanders was not in Colorado over the weekend, but his big victory in Nevada gives his campaign yet more momentum. Former Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off a second-place finish in Nevada, gets a big endorsement in South Carolina.

CBS4 Denver takes a different angle on recent candidate visits by profiling a local audio/visual company that makes sure these big events can be heard and seen.

 

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post pens a must-read story on the ongoing loyalty purge being implemented at the request of President Trump:

When Trump demands that the Justice Department do his political bidding and/or rages at it for failing to do so, the press tends to treat this as flowing from an actual belief on Trump’s part: He really thinks a “deep state” cabal is out to get him, and he’s fighting back.

But this is a fundamental error. Trump is raging at officials who constitute an obstacle to his own active, ongoing corruption of the rule of law. And it’s working: The Justice Department actually is carrying out his corrupt bidding in many ways.

Barr actually did work to reduce Stone’s sentencing recommendation. (Even if you think the original recommendation was too strict, this is still not okay, given who Stone is.) Barr actually has opened a direct line to Trump’s private attorney for dirt on Joe Biden. The Justice Department actually did try to help block the whistleblower complaint revealing Trump’s Ukraine shakedown from getting to Congress. Barr actually did badly mislead the country about the special counsel’s findings.

As Aaron Rupar writes for Vox.com, Trump’s rambling explanations for some of the reasons behind his purge don’t make a lot of sense.

 

 Stories continue to filter out after last week’s campaign rally for President Trump in Colorado Springs. Among the more notable storylines: Trump’s completely dishonest claims about wind power, which is a burgeoning industry in Colorado. Republican elected officials in Colorado aren’t batting an eye, but at least one notable Mayor is pushing back at Trump’s wind rage.

 

 As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is getting national attention for coming health care battles:

Colorado has become a national battleground in the health care fight, particularly since Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers began pursuing a state insurance option. A “dark money” campaign has aired more than $800,000 worth of ads and sent mailers to voters criticizing Democrats’ efforts.

Sponsors are confident they have the votes to pass a bill in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, but they have made significant changes to the initial recommendations in an attempt to garner more support across the aisle. They’re not proposing a pure public option but rather a statewide health insurance option that would be run by private insurance. Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, said the sponsors are also willing to consider amendments as the bill moves through the statehouse.

 

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Politicians, Proud Boys & the President: Trump & Gardner Rally in Colorado Springs

(Very fine people recap – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Even before the president took the stage, the noise level inside Colorado Springs’ Broadmoor Arena was deafening. When he finally emerged, clapping slowly as he walked out from behind the blue stage draping, the roar was deafening.

Seated in the VIP section, a number of Colorado Republicans joined those cheering from the stands and stadium floor. The Minority Leaders of both chambers, Chris Holbert (R-Parker) and Patrick Neville, (R-Castle Rock), accompanied another ten or so GOP caucus members, including Sens Rob Woodward, Bob Gardner, Ray Scott, Jim Smallwood, Jerry Sonnenberg, Dennis Hisey, and Vicki Marble and Reps Tim Geitner, Richard Holtorf, and Dave Williams.

Colorado Republican legislators took a break from lawmaking on Thursday.

Other notable figures included former Senate President Kevin Grantham, El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller (also a former state Rep.) and Wayne Williams (former Secretary of State), and former Representative Gordon Klingenschmitt.

On the federal side, Republican Representatives Buck, Tipton and Lamborn all attended, along with the rally’s nominal guest of honor: U.S. Senator Cory Gardner. Gardner spoke twice over the course of the event, first as the main warm-up speech, and then again near the end of Trump’s speech, when he called upon the Congressmen and Gardner to join him on stage.

Gardner warms up the crowd at President Trump’s campaign rally.

While Gardner stuck to his positive message of bringing federal dollars home to Colorado, President Trump served up the red meat, particularly on the subject of immigration. He devoted over five minutes to listing the supposed crimes of “dangerous criminal aliens” he claimed were released by various Colorado cities following the passage of last year’s law restricting interactions between Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and and municipal law enforcement agencies.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 20)

Happy National Love Your Pet Day…though that kinda seems like something that should just be every day. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is in Colorado Springs today for a rally with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as part of the post-impeachment payback tour. This event has been publicly known for about a week, but there was an interesting late addition to the schedule on Wednesday: Vice President Mike Pence. It’s pretty unusual for both the President and Vice President to appear in the same place at the same time for a political rally.

Colorado Public Radio has a pre-rally guide for those who will be listening to the speechifying. Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman looks back at how Colorado Republicans became Trumpians.

Oh, and for you local taxpayers: The bill is in the mail.

 

 Democratic Presidential candidates debated in Las Vegas on Wednesday, where former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg played the role of a piñata. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears to be the big winner from Nevada scuffle with a strong, fiery performance that was evident from the first moments of the debate. Warren will visit Denver on Sunday for a campaign rally at the Fillmore Theater.

For more on Wednesday’s debate, here’s “Winners and Losers” from CNN, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, and NBC News.

 

► 9News managed to catch up with “Colorado’s most elusive politician,” finding Sen. Cory Gardner bobbing his head like some kind of maniacal, over-caffeinated squirrel:

 

Gardner danced around when 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger asked him if there was anything Trump could do to lose his support, then mumbled something about how it is inappropriate for foreign governments to interfere in American elections. Gardner really tried to expand the meaning of the phrase “town hall” at the end of this interview; he has not held one of those since November 2017. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is holding three town hall meetings this week.

Maybe Gardner is a bit blue because Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has moved Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race from “Toss Up” to “Leans Democratic.”

 

 It’s been a good week for former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020. Hickenlooper’s campaign needed just a couple of weeks to collect the required number of signatures to grant him ballot access in June. This week he also picked up high-profile endorsements from Senate President Leroy Garcia and Pipefitters Local 208.

 

 

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