Valentine’s Day is on Thursday; those flowers aren’t going to order themselves. ” 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…
► Today is the day that Congressional leaders were supposed to announce a deal on keeping the federal government open, but there is no indication as of yet that a proposal is in the works. President Trump and the GOP are trying (again) to blame Democrats for inaction, but as James Downie writes for the Washington Post, Republicans are going through the exact same motions that drove us into the last shutdown:
The truth is, three weeks after the last shutdown ended, the White House and the GOP still have no idea how to get out of the corner they’ve worked themselves into. They promised the base a “border wall,” but they have even less leverage now than they did when the first shutdown started. So they’ve returned to the first page of the playbook: scaremongering about violent immigrants.
Of course, we all saw how well fanning fears over immigration worked for the president and his party during the last shutdown, not to mention during last fall’s midterms. If anything, one wonders whether spinning the bed issue will make any deal harder for the GOP base to swallow. What was once a nonissue becomes, in the base’s mind, another cave.
As CNN reports, you’ll need to look elsewhere for silver linings:
Bottom line: There is no agreement on the path forward on the conference committee. There is no agreement on what, if any, alternatives could pass both chambers and be signed by the President if the conference committee fails. Monday is a crucial day as lawmakers try and figure a way out of another mess, all as the clock ticks away. At this point, each day leading into the February 15 deadline is enormously consequential.
Shutdown 2: Electric Boogaloo.
► Denver teachers are off the job today as part of the first DPS strike in 25 years; many students are joining the picket lines in solidarity. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association will hold a rally on the West Steps of the State Capitol this afternoon.
Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.
People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.
The uproar follows the passage of a major overhaul to the tax code in December 2017, which was enacted with only Republican votes and is considered the biggest legislative achievement of Trump’s first year. While the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut in 2018, refunds are a different matter. Some refunds have decreased because of changes in the law, such as a new limit on property and local income tax deductions, and some have decreased because of how the IRS has altered withholding in paychecks…
…The average tax refund check is down 8 percent ($170) this year compared to last, the IRS reported Friday, and the number of people receiving a refund so far has dropped by almost a quarter.
Lower tax refunds mean bad news for the American economy.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► President Trump is in El Paso, Texas today to host a rally in support of his great big wall proposal.
► Westword profiles longtime progressive activist Michael Huttner on his foray into the legal marijuana industry.
► Two religious congregations in Denver held candlelight vigils on Saturday in an effort to push Congress toward a deal that would prevent the government from shutting down for the second time this year.
► The former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (under President Clinton) is now a freshman member of Congress. The Washington Post catches up with Rep. Donna Shalala for her perspective on healthcare reforms.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) didn’t like the cheering from a section of female Congresspeople during last week’s State of the Union speech.
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) continues to creep toward making a run for President in 2020.
► Here’s Chris Hansen, one of Sen. Cory Gardner’s closest advisors, promoting the idea that Politifact is a secret Democratic “front group.”
— Curt Anderson (@CurtOnMessage) February 9, 2019
► Don’t call him “Congressman.” The Colorado Independent profiles freshman Rep. Joe Neguse after his first full month in the House of Representatives.
Neguse said he’s been “very inspired and encouraged” by the colleagues he’s met, particularly his fellow freshmen.
“I think this class is going to do some historic things, not just in this session, but I suspect in sessions to come, much like the class of 1974 during the Watergate era,” he said.
Even in a crowded freshman class packed with headline-grabbing lawmakers, like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Neguse has gotten noticed.
He was elected as one of two freshmen representatives to the House leadership team, was selected to give the Democrats’ last weekly address in 2018, and he’s been churning out legislation during his first month in office.
► As the Colorado Sun reports, local cable access television stations could be in trouble under a new proposal from the FCC to limit “franchise fees”
► As Politico reports, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is almost single-handedly killing efforts to strengthen cybersecurity efforts in the United States:
Johnson or members of his staff have derailed many of the most significant cybersecurity-related bills in the past four years, including legislation to secure elections, study whether the growing use of encrypted apps hampers law enforcement, and hold companies accountable for the proliferation of insecure connected devices, people who track the legislation told POLITICO.
His panel “is the place where legislation goes to die on cybersecurity,” said Mieke Eoyang, a former Hill aide and vice president for the national security program at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington that works on national technology policy issues.
While no official accounting exists of cybersecurity bills in Congress, Third Way counted 15 in the last Congress that passed the House and didn’t advance through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Johnson has led since 2015.
► Governor Jared Polis selected Michelle Barnes to be the new executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Service.
► Here’s a look at fundraising numbers in the race for Denver Mayor.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The Denver Post publishes what it calls the “definitive” guide to one of Colorado’s most infamous restaurants: Casa Bonita.
► The “insect apocalypse” may be upon us:
More than 40 percent of insect species are dwindling globally and a third of species are endangered, concluded the peer-reviewed study, which analyzed 73 historical reports on insect population declines.
Chillingly, the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5 percent annually, the review’s authors said. If the decline continues at this rate, insects could be wiped off the face of the Earth within a century.