Look on the bright side — at least you didn’t get traded to Cleveland. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► While you were sleeping, the federal government shut down and then re-opened again. We’ll let the Washington Post take it from here:
President Trump ended the second government shutdown of his tenure early Friday morning, signing a sweeping spending bill hours after Congress backed the bipartisan budget deal that stands to add hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending on the military, domestic programs and disaster relief.
The 240-to-186 House vote gaveled to a close just after 5:30 a.m., nearly four hours after the Senate cleared the legislation on a vote of 71 to 28, with wide bipartisan support.
But action did not come soon enough to avoid a brief government shutdown — the second in three weeks — thanks to a one-man protest from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who delayed the Senate vote past midnight to mark his opposition to an estimated $320 billion addition to the federal budget deficit.
After signing the bill, Trump used his Twitter machine to say that Congress wouldn’t be able to pass a more cost-conscious budget until more Republicans are elected to office. As James Hohmann writes for the Washington Post, hypocrisy abounds:
This is the largest increase in federal spending since the stimulus passed during the depths of the Great Recession. Republicans almost universally opposed that bill in 2009, which cost $787 billion over 10 years, on the grounds that it would increase the debt too much…
…Rand doesn’t have a totally clean nose here. He voted in December for the tax bill that will grow the debt by more than $1 trillion over the next decade — and probably more. His pushback is that overhauling the code will generate economic growth to offset the lost revenue.
Because Republicans slashed taxes and are now jacking up spending, the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget forecasts that this bill will ensure permanent trillion-dollar deficits. The projected deficit in 2019 is now $1.1 trillion, compared to $439 billion in 2015. (Don’t forget, Trump called for an additional $1.5 trillion infrastructure package during his State of the Union.)
Politico ponders whether we just lived through “the dumbest shutdown ever.”
► White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned on Wednesday amid allegations of extensive spousal abuse. As the New York Times reports, top Trump staffers were well aware of Porter’s background but chose to ignore it instead:
White House officials conceded Thursday that they regretted the way they handled accusations against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned Wednesday after two former wives publicly accused him of abusing them. But they refused to provide any information about when President Trump’s most senior advisers first learned about the episodes.
Mr. Porter abruptly departed the West Wing on Thursday afternoon, one day after John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, and other senior officials had issued statements defending him and said they would prefer that he remain in his post.
Among the questions he left behind was whether Mr. Kelly and other members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle had been willing to ignore accusations of domestic violence to protect a trusted aide. Raj Shah, the deputy White House press secretary, said that Mr. Kelly had not been made “fully aware” of them until this week. But two people close to the White House said that Mr. Kelly and Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff for operations, as well as Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, had known of the issues since late fall.
Domestic violence allegations had prevented Porter from obtaining a top security clearance, which makes it very difficult for top White House staffers to pretend they didn’t know about Porter’s violent past.
► Republicans on Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee are blocking funding for Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission in part because of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that has yet to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans are sad that Colorado businesses are not allowed to discriminate against gay people.
► Senate Republicans in the Colorado legislature are almost at the point where they just pretend not to recognize the name Randy Baumgardner. We will not stand for sexual harassment! We will sit on our hands instead.
Colorado Democrats, meanwhile, are calling on Baumgardner and his mustache to resign from the State Senate immediately.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Are we really sure that President Trump can read? Just sayin’…
► The slow, agonizing death of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s political career is almost difficult to watch.
► Western Governors say that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has not consulted them about a rumored plan to reorganize the entire department. As the Associated Press reports:
The Feb. 1 letter from the Western Governors Association said the group had asked Zinke in April 2017 to be consulted on any reshuffling of the department, which wields considerable authority over public lands in the West.
They said last week that Zinke has still not sought the views of its members, who represent every state in the western half of the nation, from Texas to Hawaii…
…The Western Governors Association sent Zinke 10 questions about the reorganization plan, including why the changes were even necessary, and why all the department’s units couldn’t have the same regions based on state boundaries.
The governors pointed out that under Zinke’s plan, some states would be divided among two or three of the new regions. They asked how that would affect the department’s ability to coordinate with states.
In fairness to Zinke, he has been pretty consistent about not consulting anyone about anything since he took over at the Department of Interior.
► Vice President Mike Pence did not speak with the North Koreans while visiting South Korea for the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games…but Pence staffers made it clear that the North Koreans didn’t try to talk to him, either. Geopolitics under the current White House is basically a 7th grade dance.
► If Congressional Republicans keep their word and shift their focus to crafting a deal on immigration, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will gladly pretend to be optimistic. From the Durango Herald:
Gardner is optimistic that the Senate will turn its attention next week to address legal protections for the 800,000 DACA recipients, 17,300 of whom live and work in Colorado.
“By Wednesday of next week, I think, hopefully, we (will) have significant progress being made,” Gardner said.
A bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of Six, continues to meet to discuss a potential fix as urgency to address the issue rises. Gardner and fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, are working closely. Both have been involved with the group since last year because they support a pathway to citizenship. They also co-sponsored the DREAM Act…
…“I hope we can get that (an immigration deal) done,” he said. “I think we can. We have to do it.”
It’s difficult to take Gardner seriously anymore, because he always says stuff like “we have to do it” whenever he is asked about a big policy issue.
► The 200th Airlift Squadron of the Colorado National Guard is lobbying the Pentagon to spare it from a proposed budget cut.
► The State Senate passed a bill intended to expand rural broadband Internet access in Colorado. Communications provider CenturyLink decided this was a good time to threaten significant rate increases.
► Colorado teachers are spending quite a bit of their own money in their classrooms. From Chalkbeat Colorado:
Colorado teachers spend an average of $656 of their own money on their students and classrooms each year, according to the state’s largest teachers union.
The Colorado Education Association reported surveying more than 2,000 of its members about their spending in 2017. The results were released Wednesday, several weeks into a legislative session in which state lawmakers are poised once again to debate how much money to spend on schools and how to remedy a teacher shortage that’s hitting rural districts especially hard…
…The amount of money Colorado spends per student consistently ranks among the lowest in the country. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed 2018-19 budget would increase that amount by about $343 per student, which is roughly 4.5 percent.
► The budget deal passed this morning in Congress includes a provision to kill the “death panels” that never existed in the first place.
► As NBC News reports, it is not clear if President Trump still supports his own infrastructure spending plan. Because, of course.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The United Nations’ nefarious plot to create a “New World Order” is back in the news in La Plata County:
A faction of La Plata County residents who oppose the county’s proposed land-use codes believe the work is part of an international conspiracy led by the United Nations to create a “New World Order.”
“This is the Agenda 21,” said Ignacio resident Dan Percell, who received loud applause at the end of his speech from many of the more than 600 people who attended a Jan. 16 meeting about the land-use codes.
“Agenda 21 is behind it all. Otherwise, where does this stuff come from? The good news, folks, is we can get rid of the United Nations. We don’t have to have a treaty with them here in our county.”
Just wait until they hear about the U.N. plot to make everyone ride bicycles.
► Check out the latest episode of “The Get More Smarter Show”, featuring an interview with Democratic Congressional candidate Jason Crow. If you already watched the episode…well, watch it again.