Tremendous amounts of political news. 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…
► Gun deaths in the United States have reached a new high, as CNN reports:
Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, marking the highest number of gun deaths in 38 years, according to a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database.
A similar analysis was first conducted by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a non-profit gun policy advocacy group.
CNN replicated that analysis and found that 39,773 people died by guns in 2017, which is an increase of more than 10,000 deaths from the 28,874 in 1999.
CDC statisticians confirmed with CNN on Thursday that these numbers are correct and they show gun deaths have reached a record-high going back to at least 1979.
We’re #1! Dammit.
► A new farm bill made it through the House of Representatives on Wednesday and is now on its way to the desk of President Trump.
► Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) emerged as a major player in discussions that will likely ensure that Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House. Perlmutter helped negotiate a deal that will set term limits on Democratic leadership to pave the way for new “generational” change in two years.
► “Medicare X” is not the name of a new superhero. The Colorado Sun explains:
Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is giving a new push to his grand idea for fixing America’s health insurance market.
He calls it Medicare-X — “the best name I ever came up with,” he says. Bennet, a Democrat, touted the idea last week at the Colorado Health Institute’s annual Hot Issues in Health conference, then spoke about it afterward with reporters.
On the political spectrum of health-policy ideas, Medicare-X sits somewhere in the middle — a more moderate and incremental approach than the single-payer plans many of his fellow Democrats have been endorsing, but with plenty of federal involvement to draw fire from Republicans skeptical of government meddling in the marketplace.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► As the New York Times reports, Big Oil used a quiet campaign of lobbying and influence to move the Trump administration to weaken vehicle emissions standards:
When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them.
But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry.
In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, the country’s largest refiner, worked with powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by the billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch to run a stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards, a New York Times investigation has found.
The campaign’s main argument for significantly easing fuel efficiency standards — that the United States is so awash in oil it no longer needs to worry about energy conservation — clashed with decades of federal energy and environmental policy.
► This week the Trump administration began implementing plans to gut the Clean Water Act.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) joins Republican efforts to take the “protection” part out of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
► A Russian spy pleaded guilty in federal court today, as CNN reports:
Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday for conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent in the United States.
Butina, 30, was accused of working to infiltrate Republican political circles through groups such as the National Rifle Association to bolster Russian interests.
Butina said she acted “under direction of” a Russian official whom CNN has identified as Alexander Torshin, the recently retired deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia.
“Butina sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over US politics,” the prosecutor said in a Washington courtroom.
Her guilty plea and agreement to cooperate comes with the hope that prosecutors will ask for a reduced sentence. She agreed to turn over any evidence of crimes she is aware of, submit a full accounting of her financial assets, sit for interviews with law enforcement (and waive right to counsel during those interviews) and testify before grand juries or in trials in Washington or elsewhere.
► Former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender has signed his name to a letter asking federal immigration officials to stop arresting immigrants at local courthouses.
► 2019 is not going to be a good year for President Trump:
— Sheryl Gay Stolberg (@SherylNYT) December 13, 2018
► Survey results from MoveOn.org members are not positive about the Presidential hopes for Gov. John Hickenlooper.
► The Grand Junction Sentinel updates the story about a legal challenge to Rep-elect Matt Soper in HD-54. The man pursuing the challenge is raising money to fund the legal costs associated with a claim that Soper doesn’t actually live in the district he was elected to represent.
► Pueblo county commissioners rejected a controversial plan for a 100-megawatt solar project. Nearby residents were concerned about the effect that the solar facility might have on property values, which is the same argument many homeowners make about the rise in oil and gas drilling near populated areas.
► The Washington Post looks at some of the key quotes from Wednesday’s sentencing hearing for former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Elsewhere, Politico reports that President Trump is scrambling for cover:
The president first denied advance knowledge of the payments but has since shifted his position to state that even if he was aware of the payments, they had nothing to do with the election.
Trump’s prior claims that the payments were not intended to sway the election conflict with Cohen’s statements as well as a non-prosecution deal between federal prosecutors and American Media Inc., the publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer, which coordinated the hush-money payment to McDougal.
On Thursday, Trump appeared to argue that he relied on Cohen to know the statutes and that he himself lacked the necessary criminal intent to violate any campaign finance laws.
► Far-right extremism is on the rise; should we have seen it coming?
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Former professional baseball player Jose Canseco wants to be President Trump’s next Chief of Staff. He’d be a perfect fit:
► President Trump is now claiming that Mexico is actually paying for a border wall because of NAFTA, or something.
► It’s not just you: Nobody really knows anything about the potential 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates.