Get Me to Netroots!…please?

(Let’s send one of our own. And you don’t even have to leave your house to vote.   – promoted by Middle of the Road)

Hey Y’all,

I applied for a scholarship to get to Netroots Nation this year. Please help me by clicking on this link and adding your support. C’mon, I’m beggin’ ya!

http://www.democracyforamerica…

Thanks for your help!

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Super Tuesday Predictions and Live Blog

(If Santorum becomes the frontrunner tonight, I’m still not turning in my “come from behind” puns, and you can’t make me. – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

Super Tuesday marks the most states voting at any one day during the Republican primary. It will be a day that might determine whether Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will be viewed as legitimate contenders moving forward. It may also weaken Mitt Romney’s candidacy and sap momentum gained from wins in Washington, Michigan, and Arizona.

Here is the run-down on states that are hosting primaries and caucuses today:

Ohio – 66 Delegates, Proportional Primary

A victory in Ohio is vitally important to the future of Rick Santorum’s candidacy. Ohio’s electoral make-up favors Santorum and he had an early lead following his victories in Colorado and Minnesota. That lead has been erased following the results of the Arizona and Michigan primaries.

The polling is very current, and almost all of it is within the margin of error. Romney’s well-funded and disciplined operation has a good chance of overcoming Santorum, especially since his momentum has slowed. However, if Santorum wins Ohio, it could be a major blow to the seeming inevitability of a Romney nomination.  

Note: Santorum doesn’t have a full delegate slate in many places and won’t be eligible to win delegates in these areas.

There are a couple of reasons why I believe Santorum will be victorious. After Michigan, Ohio has the second-largest automobile industry in the country. Mitt’s opposition to the auto bailout wasn’t enough to topple him in Michigan, but I think it’ll be a factor. I also think that the large amount of evangelical voters will hurt Mitt more than it did in Michigan. Look for this state to be counting ballots till bedtime.

Tennessee – 58 Delegates, Proportional Primary

Mitt Romney is also closing the gap in Tennessee. In a similar situation to Ohio, Santorum had a healthy lead in the polls early on. The race has tightened. Polling: PPP has Santorum leading by 5%, WeAskAmerica shows Romney up by 1%, and Rasmussen has Santorum up by 4%. Newt Gingrich is closing in on Romney and Santorum’s portion of the vote and has a chance of breaking the threshold to receive delegates.

A win for Romney here would send a signal that he is able to win Southern states and bolster his chances to end the nomination battle earlier. This will be another tight one, but my bet is that Santorum ekes it out.

Georgia – 76 Delegates, Proportional Primary

By all accounts, Newt Gingrich will win Georgia handily. Most projections have him garnering upward of 40% of the vote, and this is the one state that he will certainly hang his hat on tonight. Gingrich must go further tonight by proving his electability in states outside of Georgia, gaining enough delegates to keep his candidacy alive. After his campaign’s several resurrections, Gingrich needs some surprising showings in several states to demonstrate his candidacy’s viability.

Oklahoma – 43 Delegates, Proportional Primary

Rick Santorum is especially strong in Oklahoma. Most recent polling shows him up by double-digits and the make-up of the electorate favors him heavily. This one is in the bag for Santorum.

Virginia – 49 Delegates, Hybrid Primary

VA has a large population of wealthy voters and the most recent poll I could find shows Mitt capturing nearly 70% of the vote. Nothing to see here, folks.

North Dakota – 28 Delegates, Non-binding Caucus

Nobody has gained the courage to poll North Dakota. Maybe it’s the bleak landscape or the local cuisine, but it hasn’t happened. Rick Santorum has had strong showing in flat places, particularly in the Eastern Plains of Colorado. I gather that because of population density, Romney takes some of the urban vote (whatever that means in ND) but gets overpowered by Santorum in the rest of the state.

Massachusetts – 41 Delegates, Proportional Primary

You already know damn well who’s gonna win Massachusetts.

Idaho – 32 Delegates, Proportional Caucus

Outside of Utah, Idaho has the largest portion of Mormon residents of any state. Some estimate that one out of three caucusing tonight will be Mormon. Romney also has the support of virtually every top-tier elected official in the state. I’m calling it for Romney.

Vermont – 17 Delegates, Hybrid Primary

There has only been one poll of Vermont, which showed Romney ahead by 7%. However, the date of the survey was during Santorum’s surge. Given the momentum loss after Washington, Arizona, and Michigan, I am sure this one ends up in Mitt Romney’s column.

Alaska – 27 Delegates, Proportional Caucus

Nobody really knows what is going to happen in Alaska. I have an inkling that Ron Paul’s style might play more to the independence of Alaska’s voters. Romney did win here in 2008, but the electorate of Alaska seems fairly unpredictable. Who knows, maybe Ron Paul will finally win a state! R(evol)ution, baby!

 [poll id=”1440″]

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Rick Santorum (Will Probably) Win Iowa Caucus

(So what you’re saying is they’ll never be totally sure if Santorum is #1 or #2? – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

A two-week recount and certification of the Iowa caucus has, for the time being, rendered Rick Santorum the winner. From the Washington Times:

After a two-week recount the state GOP, which runs the caucuses, announced the certified results – but said it could not declare a winner because there are still too many errors which will never be resolved.

Still, the news could dent the air of inevitability after Mr. Romney had seemed to go two-for-two in the first two contests.

As of Jan. 4, the party said Mr. Romney had 30,015 votes and Mr. Santorum was eight behind.

Now the party says the tally stands at 29,839 for Mr. Santorum, and 29,805 for Mr. Romney.

I posted a story on Jan. 7th outlining the reasons why Santorum might win; voting discrepancies in several counties between local party officials and the state GOP website. It now appears that Santorum will be victorious. And with James Dobson’s endorsement… it looks like he has the primaries in the bag.

I hate to say I told ya so…

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Did Mitt Romney Really Win Iowa?

Reports from news agencies are surfacing with some bad news for Mitt Romney; he might not have won the Iowa caucuses. From the Des Moines Register:

Mitt Romney received 20 fewer votes than were reported in a Moulton precinct by the Republican Party of Iowa, the Appanoose County GOP chairman said Friday.

The issue came to light after Moulton resident Edward True signed an affidavit saying that he helped count the vote at the Garrett Memorial Library in Moulton and that the precinct had two votes for Romney, not 22, as reported online by the state GOP.

Terri Haub, a Moulton resident who was secretary of the precinct, also confirmed Friday that the count signed in True’s affidavit is accurate. Haub, who works at the Elmer Wood Co. in Moulton, said she checked the numbers twice.

The official count shows Romney winning by only 8 votes. Voting discrepancies have also been reported in the Illyria and Westfield townships in Fayette County. The two-week certification process is underway and the Appanoose Republicans are sticking to their guns. Here is a statement from Edward True, who certified the vote:

Dear Iowa GOP, I am a nominated delegate for my Precinct and the true winner from the vote count in my caucus was Santorum with 21 votes. I am not a person in a position controlled by you I am in a position to serve the interests of the people I was nominated by. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution gives me the right to speak up and make sure the numbers are correct and reported honestly.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially since Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn has stated that he doesn’t believe that the review process will reveal a new winner.

An interesting side note: a Durango resident’s participation might have changed the outcome of a presidential caucus. From True’s affadavit:

Later that night, about 10pm CST, I saw the screen shots captured by Judy Spady of Durango, Colorado showing that the Iowa GOP state website had 22 votes for Romney, instead of 2 votes for Romney, which we actually voted and witnessed at our local caucus

 

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Romney’s Tax Plan Only Benefits (Surprise!) the Rich

(But I thought Mitt was unemployed and just like the rest of us? – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

A new, independent analysis of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax plan reveals that the only Americans who will benefit are the wealthy. From Ezra Klein:

Compared to current rates, Romney’s plan would cost a family in the bottom 20 percent $157 and save a family in the top 1 percent $82,000.

W3Schools.com

For a more thorough breakdown of the Republican contender’s tax plans, make sure to visit the Tax Policy Center.

For many low income families, $157 less in the budget may mean the difference in being able to afford electricity or prescription medication. A new study highlighted by the Bell Policy Center shows that the number of Americans, and Coloradans, who stand to pay more taxes under a Romney administration is growing quickly:

From 2007 to 2010, the share of working families that are low-income – meaning below 200 percent of the official poverty threshold – grew from 28 percent to 31 percent, according to a new report by the Working Poor Families Project. In 2010, there were 10.2 million low-income working families living in the United States, 125,000 more than the previous year. The number of people living in low-income working families increased by 1.6 million during the same period.

That’s right; 27% of Coloradans are now classified as “low income” and will get a tax hike while the richest among us stand to gain $82,000.

Well, let ’em eat cake.

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Cain’s Supporters Are Gravitating… To Newt?

Pols just posted the results of the new CNN/Time/ORC poll that shows Newt Gingrich well ahead of Mitt Romney in Florida, South Carolina and Iowa. Even his numbers in New Hampshire aren’t too shabby, considering Romney was a given to win the state from the very beginning of the race.

What is truly interesting is that the poll’s methodology lends insight into who Herman Cain’s supporters are leaning to in the wake of his withdrawal from the race. The poll, conducted from Nov. 29 – Dec. 6, only included Cain as an option until Dec. 3. The second choice of respondents who picked Cain have been counted as their first choice.

You can’t help but admit, the size of Gingrich’s gains are just about the amount of support Cain was carrying when he was riding high. The vacuum created by Cain’s absence is showing on the Republican primary field. Even if Romney manages to claim the nomination, his hopes of avoiding a long, vicious, expensive primary are vanishing quickly.  

Newt’s lead in Iowa, regardless of how large it is, has been repeated in several polls, including the Des Moines Register. That coupled with the endorsement of the Union Leader (not a person) in New Hampshire have served to weaken Romney’s front in the early states.

This poll is the second to find Gingrich garnering almost 50% of the vote in Florida. His 25 point lead in South Carolina just reinforces that Romney is losing a part of the electorate to Cain. It would be hard to argue that one of the struggling candidates can really make a run for winning these states, especially when they are continuing to show sluggish numbers after their boom-and-bust cycles in the media.

That said, the respondents of this poll were very “on the fence”; over 50% of them in every state said that they “might change their mind”. Gingrich obviously won the Second Choice award from those polled, but it is hard to say if it will stick through the primary season. If he can piece things together state by state, he might be able to give Mitt a run for his money.

This is rough for Gingrich because Romney is poised to dump some of his $32 million on to TV in what are sure to be some pretty nasty attack ads. It’s a month out, and his organization is much larger and better equipped than his opponent. Gringrich’s campaign has raised just $2.9 million and has $1 million in debt. The increased intensity in the race will force him to compete.

By anyone’s account, this is great news for President Obama and the Democrats. Romney is left with no other choice but to spend a lot of money and attack Gingrich, plunging the party into a mud-slinging, good ‘ol fashion primary. If Gingrich somehow succeeds in clinching the nomination, he has a colorful personal life, will carry a mountain of debt and is about 10 points down in a head-to-head with Obama. Either way, he can only serve to weaken Romney if he loses. The President’s campaign will continue to chug along, raising cash and honing their ground game.

A month out from the start of primary season, and Newt Gingrich is poised to be the Republican nominee. Crazy world we live in, isn’t it?

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Donald Trump to Moderate Republican Debate

You read that right, folks! Just when you thought the Republican presidential primary couldn’t become more of a circus, reality star and birther Donald Trump has stepped up to bring this primary to a whole other level. From the NYT:

Donald Trump is pairing up with Newsmax, the conservative magazine and news Web site, to moderate a presidential debate in Des Moines on Dec. 27.

“Our readers and the grass roots really love Trump,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media. “They may not agree with

him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.”

Newsmax sent candidates the invitation on Friday afternoon. It began, “We are pleased to cordially invite you to “The Newsmax Ion Television 2012 Presidential Debate,” moderated by a truly great American, Mr. Donald J. Trump.” Spokesmen for several candidates did not immediately respond to questions from The New York Times about whether they would accept.

This one will be very entertaining, if nothing else.

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Occupy Denver Sprouts New Movement: Occupy H&M

The Occupy Wall Street movement has a new, tactful cousin in Denver. After around two months of demonstrations, marches, camping and riots, a new occupation has bloomed on the 16th Street Mall.

Hundreds have camped outside of brand-new retailer H&M, bringing much needed energy to the Occupy Denver protesters. Protesters have blocked Glenarm between 15th and 16th due to the girth of the crowd.

W3Schools.com

Despite their relative proximity to each other, the separate movements aren’t short on differences.

The most striking is that after 24 continuous hours of camping on the pedestrian mall, police presence is minimal and riot cops haven’t been sighted.

Some believe that the lack of repetitious, annoying chants, drum circles and yelling has played a role. “After yelling, ‘We are the 99%,’ for three hours, I thought I might walk over to H&M for a change of pace,” said Denver resident Jerry Halworth. Curiously absent are people yelling about some “keystone pipeline”, End The Fed or something incomprehensible about capitalism.

Others believe the extremely trendy, tasteful and stylish dress of the protesters contributed to the absence of armed riot police and tear gas bombs. Almost every protester seemed to have bathed, lacked body odor and didn’t appear to have any dirt on their faces.

In a clear rebuke of Occupy Denver’s tent system, Occupy H&M protesters have decided to go bigger and better. In place of “The Thunderdome” meal tent and squalid encampments, H&M is catering the entire damn thing, probably with fancy tapas or something.

In fact, the Occupy H&M protest has over 25 tents, all with fancy Swedish crap that’s so cultured and cultivated that it’s painful.

From 9 News:

“The best part for me is all the tents we’ll have on Glenarm over this way. Over 25 vendors will be here, including the Denver Art Museum, Art Institute of Colorado and many more,” Schimek said.

The event, called Street Style, will also feature five runway shows…

Occupy Denver organizers couldn’t be reached for comment on whether they will be adopting “Street Style” in place of the lack of fashion style that has plagued the movement.

Prominent Republicans have accused the Swedish of bankrolling the protesters, using the recent protest at the Ikea opening as precedence.

Conversely, Liberals have accused protesters of not being in the 99% for buying from such sophisticated and trendy fashion store. “Hey, I’m here because it’s cheap, too! It’s a rough economy,” said Thornton mom Linda Turner. “And plus, it’s Swedish.”

(Courtesy Westword for the photo)

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Election Night Par-tays!

Credit to Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:

Happy Haynes

Tuesday, November 1st

7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Bogey’s on the Park

2500 York Street

Denver, CO

Arturo Jimenez

Election Night Party

Tuesday, November 1, 6:30 PM

Chili Verde, 3700 Tejon St.

Jennifer Draper Carson

Highland Tap and Burger

2219 W. 32nd Ave (32nd and Vallejo)

Denver CO 80211

6:30pm

Emily Sirota

Beau Jo’s Pizza (Colorado and Yale)

6:30 pm

Anne Rowe

Wellshire Inn

3333 S. Colorado Blvd.

6pm

Yes on 300

Chances Bar And Grill

1135 Bannock St.

Denver, CO 80204

7pm

No on 300

7:00pm

Lala’s Winebar + Pizzeria, Denver, Colorado

Yes on 103 campaign election night watch party

6:30PM. Tuesday, November 1st, 2011.

La Rumba. 99 West 9th Avenue in Denver

Ryan Frazier election night

Aurora/DIA Marriott Hotel

16455 East 40th Circle

7pm

Steve Hogan

Aurora Hills Golf Course Club House

50 S. Peoria

7pm

Jude Sandvall

Flavor of Havana Cigar Bar

2295 S. Chambers Rd. (N.W. Corner of Iliff & Chambers) Aurora, Colorado

7pm

Debbie Stafford

will be at the city, where returns are being posted starting at 7 pm

15151 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora

Faith Winter Election Night Bash

G’s Bar and Grill  

9100 W. 100th Ave, at 100th and Wadsworth

Feel free to add any I missed.

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Obama: “Fundraising Juggernaut”

A lot has been made of presidential polls in the last few weeks; who the strongest Republican contender is, who will win the nomination and, most importantly, how they match up against President Obama.

A lesser amount of attention has been given to how much money the candidates are raising. From the OpenSecrets.org blog:

President Barack Obama continues to be a fund-raising juggernaut, practically exceeding the fund-raising total of the entire GOP field combined. During the third quarter, Obama raised $70.1 million, his campaign announced today. That sum includes $42.8 million that went directly into his own campaign war chest and $27.3 million raised for the Democratic National Committee.

By contrast, none of his GOP rivals are on the same level. No GOP contender cracked $20 million during the third quarter, and only two cracked the $10 million mark.

The campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said Perry raised about $18 million during the third quarter. Meanwhile, the campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has said Romney raised about $14 million and the campaign of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has said Paul raised about $8 million.

Obama’s massive third-quarter haul brings his campaign’s cycle-to-date fund-raising total to about $91.5 million, not including the large sums he’s helped the DNC raise. That amount nearly matches the sum he had raised by the same point in time four years ago, as he battled for the Democratic Party nomination against political heavy weights including Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

As of Sept. 30, 2007, Obama had raised $106 million, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s only about 16 percent more than he raised through the third quarter. And this time around, Obama will not face a contentious primary fight.

That last sentence is a very important one. Primaries cost money.

Look, it is a lot of fun to argue about polling more than a year out, but it is only a snapshot of where the race is now. It certainly isn’t clear who will emerge from the primaries and how they will match up against Obama.

One thing is clear: if Obama’s campaign keeps raising money at a steady pace, any GOP nominee will exit the primaries to find themselves at a massive disadvantage in fundraising.

Of course, 2010 was the the year of the PAC and 527, which Republicans used handily to their advantage. It is yet to be seen whether Democrats can use PACs and 527s to an equal advantage.

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Questions for Fmr. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Hey All,

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be having a forum on the Auraria Campus, this Thursday at 11:30.

Having an Attorney General with such a sterling reputation come by to answer some questions is a real treat.

I’ve got a chance to offer up some of these questions, but I could use some Polsters’ help. What questions would you like to be asked?

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Merida Money Mismanagement Makes News

From a story that EdNews Colorado broke this morning, 4 out of 7 DPS board members spent more than the $5000 they are allotted for a fiscal year.

That includes board president Nate Easley, who overspent by $462.84, and board treasurer Mary Seawell, who overspent by $452.56. The fourth overspender was Arturo Jimenez, who exceeded the $5,000 limit by $1,623.95.

Board President Nate Easley has written a check to repay the district and Mary Seawell has pledged to repay the district, as well. Vice President Jimenez couldn’t be reached for comment. All of these amounts wouldn’t have made the news had it not been for Andrea Merida:

Board member Andrea Merida spent more than $12,000, an overspending of $7,000 in a single year, or 153 percent of her annual permitted limit. Thousands of dollars were charged to the district in restaurants and coffee shops, with her credit card statements noting their purpose as “constituent meetings.”

Merida also went over the $5,000 cap – by just $35 – in the previous fiscal year, despite only having been sworn in Nov. 30, 2009, when that fiscal year was already five months old.

Merida’s egregious mismanagement of district money shouldn’t surprise those that paid attention to her campaign; the denver paper and others have reported on her past fiscal troubles. The irony of such mismanagement is that Merida has been accusing Superintendent Boasberg and Sen. Bennet of financial malfeasance since she worked as a paid staffer on Andrew Romanoff’s campaign (while serving on the DPS board).

This begs the question; where did she spend all of that money?

In the fiscal year concluding June 30, at least $4,000 of Merida’s total, close to a third, was spent on credit-card charges at fast food establishments, restaurants, and coffee shops.

Take a close look at her documented expenditures. They look a lot like personal expenses to me. When asked whether she would reimburse the district for around $7000 of excess:

“No, I don’t intend to pay anything back because these are all legitimate community engagement kinds of things, and there is a lot of professional development lumped into that,” she said.

I wouldn’t characterize caloric intake as “professional development”. This statement contrasts with every other board member who was reached for comment, who apologized and promised to pay back their overrages promptly. Merida claims that all of this money, which appears to have been used on personal expenses is,”…the price of community engagement”. She emphatically states that she will not pay the money back because,”(school board members) weren’t given guidance on this”.

Not so, says former board member Michelle Moss:

“I recall that on at least two different occasions, talking to her about the $5,000,” said Moss. “One was the first time I met her, and that was at my house, in July or August (2009), before she was elected. I told her at that point about the money. I told her it can be expensive, all the mileage, all the places you have to be going, if you have to go to lunch with someone, or if you want to go to a conference.”

The second time she briefed Merida, Moss said, was closer to the November 2009 election, when the two had dinner; Moss believes it was after one of Merida’s debates.

 

In addition to all of this, Merida simply stopped listing what her expenditures were for after a while.

Asked why she stopped writing down the purpose of her expenditures, Merida said, “I think I just didn’t have time. There were a couple board meetings where maybe I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see it. My intent was always to be very transparent about that, even though people weren’t asking me for it.”

Merida’s audacity is simply breathtaking. After using the vast majority of the money allotted to her on what are obviously personal expenses, exceeding that amount by more than $7000 and failing to disclose the purpose of a large amount of expenditures, she is refusing to reimburse the district.

The gall; after creating DEFENSE to recall Nate Easley (an election that would have cost the district $100,000) and railing against Superintendent Boasberg and Sen. Bennet on trumped up charges of impropriety, she is the one guilty of mismanaging district money.

Every Coloradan contibutes to the coffers of local school districts. They deserve accountability. I hope that barely a day after her diary, Ms. Merida might be able to join us online for a “community meeting” to answer some questions. No pizza required.

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BREAKING: Bright Colorado Initiative Makes It to Ballot

POLS UPDATE: Full release from the Bright Colorado campaign after the jump. Says Proposition 103 organizer Sen. Rollie Heath, “during the past few weeks, we’ve seen momentum build as our already strong, largely grassroots coalition gathers support from a growing number of organizations and individuals. We are committed to a person-to-person campaign for our kids that will continue to build toward a positive outcome in November.”

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From the Colorado Center on Law and Policy:

I am emailing you so that you are the first to hear some great news. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office certified that Initiative 25 will be on the ballot this November! They just called Senator Heath to let him know that we collected more than the 86,105 signatures needed to certify Initiative 25, now known as Proposition 103. Thanks to the work by volunteers like you, Coloradans will have the chance to this November to stop the short-sighted school cuts and start reinvesting in education.

Thank you for all that you’ve done to raise awareness of the challenges facing our schools. And thank you for the sacrifices you made this summer collecting signatures so that we can reinvest in our communities.

This great news deserves celebration, but our work is not done. We now turn our attention to persuading our friends and neighbors that voting yes on Proposition 103 is a vote to support  our schools, our communities and our economy. We will need your help in this endeavor. Success on Nov. 1 will require an even larger coalition than the one we’ve built together so far.

The supporters of Proposition 103 have continued to impress with their tenacity and ability to quietly build momentum. With the support of the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Association of School Executives, a coalition is being built bit by bit. It took some major cojones to petition gather without the certainty of these endorsements or that petition gathering would be successful. Given that K-12 funding has been cut half a billion dollars in the last two years and Colorado is last in state support for higher education, one can only hope that their gutsy action pays off.

Coalition celebrates Prop 103 as a chance to stop short-sighted, irresponsible school cuts

“Coloradans will finally have the chance to decide whether to allow another round of devastating and short-sighted cuts to classrooms or to reinvest in our schools, our communities and our economy,” state Sen. Rollie Heath said today after learning that the measure previously known as Initiative 25 will be on the ballot November 1.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office today confirmed the broad coalition of organizations supporting the measure submitted a sufficient number of signatures for it to qualify for the ballot. The Secretary of State announced the initiative will be listed on the ballot as Proposition 103.

The decision comes after the coalition submitted 142,000 signatures collected by more than 800 people in more than 100 Colorado communities during a 10-week period this summer.

“As we collected more than 142,000 signatures, Colorado voters reinforced to me that support for our schools runs broad and deep throughout the state,” Heath said. “Throughout the summer, voters all across Colorado thanked us for taking a stand and giving them a positive choice for our schools. During the past few weeks, we’ve seen momentum build as our already strong, largely grassroots coalition gathers support from a growing number of organizations and individuals. We are committed to a person-to-person campaign for our kids that will continue to build toward a positive outcome in November.”

Proposition 103 asks voters to reinvest in public education by returning the state’s sales and income tax rates to 1999 levels for five years. The measure would increase the state sales tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3 percent, and the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent. This would provide nearly $550 million per year for five years for preschool, K-12 and higher education.

To get involved in the effort to reinvest in Colorado’s schools, communities and economy, visit www.brightcolorado.com.

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The Danger of Digging In

The debt negotiations were not kind to the approval ratings of Republicans in Congress. The debate over how to cut the debt further may reinforce the opinions the public have formed. From Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight:

There has been various circumstantial evidence that the public’s dissatisfaction with the performance of Congress, particularly during the debt ceiling debate, could threaten the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Disapproval ratings for the Congress are at record highs, as are disapproval ratings for the Republican Party. Other polls show record numbers of Americans saying that their representative should not be re-elected, that most members of Congress should not be re-elected, or both.

What we haven’t had, however, are polls comparing Democrats against Republicans in a direct way. That’s why the poll that Gallup published Friday ought to concern Republicans. It shows a 7-point Democratic advantage on the generic Congressional ballot – meaning simply that more Americans told Gallup they plan to vote for a Democrat for Congress next year. Although the generic ballot is a crude measure, it is probably the best macro-level indicator of the direction that the House is headed in.

Last year, Republicans won the popular vote for the U.S. House – essentially what the generic ballot is trying to measure – by 7 percentage points. So a poll showing Democrats 7 points ahead instead is a pretty significant swing.

There is a major battle looming that will create major trouble for the Republican Party on a generic ballot and their bid against President Obama. Bipartisan bargaining is set to take place over the “super committee” and a hypothetical $1.6 trillion deal to reduce the debt. All of the potential Republican nominees for president have said they would not accept a debt deal that raises taxes, even if the cuts-to-tax ratio was 10-1. Rep. Ryan has forewarned his party that they should “dig in” and stand strong against any tax increases in the supercommittee. This contrasts sharply with the American people who in 23 separate polls, by no less than a 20 point margin, want some sort of tax increases included in a bipartisan deal.

The intransigence of Republican leadership in accepting any sort of compromise will likely lead to the same sort of losses in public opinion polling the GOP experienced during the debt deal debacle, further speculation from credit rating agencies and an inevitable sharp dive in the stock market. The danger for them is furthering the notion that President Obama is with the middle of the country, just trying to forge a bipartisan compromise. It is really a matter of how much the Republican party feels like pandering to their base at the expense of losing the hearts of the rest of the American public. At this point, I would advise against digging in.

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Bachmann Wins Ames Straw Poll

SUNDAY POLS UPDATE: After a disappointing third-place showing in the Ames straw poll, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is withdrawing from the 2012 presidential race.

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Here are the results of the Ames Straw Poll:

Bachmann:  4823

Paul:            4671

Pawlenty:     2293

Santorum:    1657

Cain:            1456

Romney:        567

Gingrich:        385

Huntsman:       69

McCotter:        35

From Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post:

For Bachmann, the victory further solidifies her as the clear frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses which are set to kick off the presidential balloting process in early February 2012.

Bachmann entered the straw poll as the favorite, thanks to the fact that polling suggested her surging in the state and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney chose not to participate in an event he won in 2007.

Taking no chances, Bachmann saturated the state with television ads in the run-up to the Straw Poll and barnstormed across the state in the final days before the vote.

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Obama Leads Romney in Colorado

PPP recently polled Coloradans on the presidential race and on the budget crisis. It looks as if President Obama is enjoying a healthy lead over front-runner Mitt Romney:

While the president has gotten less popular, so has Romney, and by a similar amount. Six months ago, voters were split on Romney personally, 40% favorable and 40% unfavorable.  That has now slipped to 30-51.  Thus, Obama’s advantage over Romney has not faltered.  He led 47-41 half a year ago, and 48-41 now.

Since, as almost everywhere, the president is still more popular than any of the

Republicans, he leads the rest of the slate by even larger margins than he does Romney. Obama tops Bachmann, 51-39; Perry, 51-38; Cain, 51-35; and Palin, 54-38. Despite falling with independents, the president still leads by two to 19 points with them, because they like all the Republicans even less. All of these candidates except Romney perform worse than John McCain did in a similar turnout environment to 2008.Poll respondents report having voted for Obama by nine points, his actual victory margin.  

“Colorado and Virginia are two states where President Obama seems to be holding his ground right now,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “They may be the ones that get him to 270 electoral votes next year. (Rork Emphasis)

In addition to losing head-to-head match-ups with President Obama, the GOP is taking the lion’s share of blame for debt crisis and the resulting deal:

When it comes to the blame game among voters displeased with the compromise 33% in Colorado fault Congressional Republicans more to 23% for Obama and in North Carolina 35% say the GOP is more at fault to 21% who lay it more on the President.

As Pols has said time and again, the GOP can’t put up a “generic candidate” against Obama. Every time he is facing an actual opponent, he comes out on top. To boot, congressional Republicans will be facing a voting public that places most of the blame for the debt deal debacle on them.

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Sen. Michael Bennet’s Auraria Townhall Liveblog

Sen. Michael Bennet has organized a townhall on the Auraria Campus this morning to hear from his constituents on the recent debt ceiling deal. I’ll be live-blogging, so feel free to chip in on the debate and add your input to his answers to folks’ questions.

If you have a question, post it in the comments section and I will try to get it to one of the staffers.

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President Obama to Address Nation on Debt Ceiling

From C-SPAN:

President Obama will address the nation at 9 pm ET tonight. His address comes as the Senate and the House progress on different plans on lifting the debt ceiling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a proposal to lift the $14.3 trillion dollar debt ceiling through 2012. It includes $2.7 trillion in budget cuts.  Reid’s proposal does not include increases in revenue or cuts to entitlement programs. It “meets both sides bottom lines,” Senator Reid said.  The savings include $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending and takes into account $1 trillion is savings by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also create a committee to recommend additional spending cuts in the future.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Senator Reid’s proposal was “full of gimmicks.” He announced his two-step plan, which would raise the debt ceiling two different times and would cut spending by as much as the debt ceiling is lifted. Speaker Boehner said the plan was not “Cut, Cap and Balance” — the deficit reduction plan passed in the House on Tuesday and killed in the Senate on Friday, but “built on the principles” of the failed legislation.

The President has been winning the battle with the public so far, and seizing the bully pulpit this close to the August 2nd deadline probably won’t bode well for the GOP.  

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Cordray Nomination Battle and the CFPB’s Future

( – promoted by c rork)

President Obama nominated Richard Cordray to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday. The move shocked some liberal activists who had hoped that Elizabeth Warren, who had envisioned and created the agency, would become its de facto leader.

Cordray was handpicked by Warren to become the head of the agency’s enforcement division after he lost a close re-election battle as Ohio’s Attorney General. In addition to being a five-time Jeopardy champion, Cordray’s lawsuits against GMAC mortgage for fraudulent foreclosure practices and Bank of America for hiding its losses during a merger with Merrill Lynch have solidified his reputation as a tough and intelligent watchdog.

Unfortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lost a great deal of its power to protect consumers today. The agency was required under law have a director within one year of the Dodd-Frank law passing. Without a director, the agency doesn’t have the power to regulate non-bank entities. These include debt relief services, student loans, check cashing and consumer credit reports. It also includes payday lending. Yes, the payday lenders who have more stores than we have McDonald’s in Colorado, who have spammed this site mercilessly and who payed for it dearly in the state legislature. While Colorado has passed some protections for consumers in payday lending, the same level of consumer protection is not available in other states or types of financial products.

Despite the pitfalls created by the political process, the new agency is the greatest advancement for the average consumer since regulations instituted at the end of the Great Depression and should bring some comfort to Americans who have called for accountability from the institutions that created our current economic crisis:

Regardless of whether the CFPB has a director by its July 21 “transfer date,” there are certain things it will immediately begin to do. One is to send teams of examiners into banks and credit unions to make sure they are complying with existing consumer finance regulations. When the bureau is fully staffed up–initially, it will have some 500 employees and an annual budget of around $500 million — a majority of the people who work there will be examiners. The bureau has only supervisory power over banks with assets of more than $10 billion, though the rules it writes will still apply to smaller banks. Banks on the low end of the scale will see a team of examiners for a few weeks every two years, unless there are specific complaints to investigate. Most of the biggest banks, those with assets of $100 billion and up, will have CFPB examiners in residence year-round.

Having new rules that the CFPB writes being applied to smaller banks is especially relevant for Colorado, which had Colorado Capital Bank and United Western Bank rapidly expand lending without the necessary capital to back it up. The closure of these banks caused great hardship for farmers, businesses and investors throughout the state. Had the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau existed a decade ago, Colorado, and the rest of America,  might have avoided the Great Recession.

Republicans, who have railed against Warren in congressional hearings and the press, have now placed a blanket hold on any nominee for the director position. Meanwhile, they have tried to institute a partisan board to replace the director position and subject the agency’s funding to congressional approval. The President has threatened to veto any bill that would inhibit the agency’s ability to function and protect consumers. The only route that is left to erect the new agency and fully protect consumers is a recess appointment. Republicans have blocked every opportunity for recess appointments through pro forma sessions.

One person who shouldn’t be feeling any level of comfort is Sen. Scott Brown. Without Warren at the helm of the agency, Brown has a formidable challenger. Warren’s down-home demeanor, working-class roots and ability to to boil down complex issues and make them understandable are major assets on  the  campaign trail. Brown’s camp has been flailing at the announcement that Cordray would be heading the CFPB, sending out wildly inflated “internal polling” showing him umpteen points ahead of a potential Warren candidacy more than 14 months out from the election.

The battle to confirm or appoint a director to the fledgling bureau is far from over. But for the first time since the advent of the Great Recession, there is a watchdog looking out for the best interest of the consumer.

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Cordray Nomination Battle and the CFPB’s Future

President Obama nominated Rob Cordray to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday. The move shocked some liberal activists who had hoped that Elizabeth Warren, who had envisioned and helped create the agency, would become its de facto leader.

Cordray was handpicked by Warren to become the head of the agency’s enforcement division after he had lost a close re-election battle as Ohio’s Attorney General. In addition to being a five-time, undefeated Jeopardy champion, Cordray’s lawsuits against GMAC mortgage for fraudulent foreclosure practices and Bank of America for hiding it’s losses during a merger with Merrill Lynch have solidified his reputation as a tough and intelligent watchdog.

Unfortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lost a great deal of its power to protect consumers today. The agency was required under law have a director within one year of the Dodd-Frank law passing. Without a director, the agency doesn’t have the power to regulate non-bank entities. These include debt relief services, student loans, check cashing and consumer credit reports. It also includes payday lending. Yes, the payday lenders who have more stores than we have McDonald’s in Colorado, who have spammed this site mercilessly and payed for it dearly in the state legislature. While Colorado has passed some protections for consumers in payday lending, the same level of consumer protection is not available in other states or types of financial products.

Despite the pitfalls created by the political process, the new agency is the greatest advancement for the average consumer since regulations instituted at the end of the Great Depression and should bring some comfort to Americans who have called for accountability from the institutions that created our current economic crisis:

Regardless of whether the CFPB has a director by its July 21 “transfer date,” there are certain things it will immediately begin to do. One is to send teams of examiners into banks and credit unions to make sure they are complying with existing consumer finance regulations. When the bureau is fully staffed up–initially, it will have some 500 employees and an annual budget of around $500 million — a majority of the people who work there will be examiners. The bureau has only supervisory power over banks with assets of more than $10 billion, though the rules it writes will still apply to smaller banks. Banks on the low end of the scale will see a team of examiners for a few weeks every two years, unless there are specific complaints to investigate. Most of the biggest banks, those with assets of $100 billion and up, will have CFPB examiners in residence year-round.

Having new rules that the CFPB writes being applied to smaller banks is especially relevant for Colorado, which had Colorado Capital Bank and United Western Bank rapidly expand lending without the necessary capital to back it up. The closure of these banks caused great hardship for farmers, businesses and investors throughout the state. Had the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau existed a decade ago, Colorado, and the rest of the world,  might have avoided the Great Recession.

Republicans, who have railed against Warren in congressional hearings and the press, have now placed a blanket hold on any nominee for the director position. Meanwhile, they have tried to institute a partisan board to replace the director position and subject the agency’s funding to congressional approval. The President has threatened to veto any bill that would inhibit the agency’s ability to function and protect consumers. The only route that is left to erect the new agency and fully protect consumers is a recess appointment. Republicans have blocked every opportunity for recess appointments through pro forma sessions.

One person who shouldn’t be feeling any level of comfort is Sen. Scott Brown. Without Warren at the helm of the agency, Brown has a formidable challenger. Warren’s down-home demeanor, working-class roots and ability to to boil down complex issues and make them understandable are major assets on  the  campaign trail. Brown’s camp has been flailing at the announcement that Cordray would be heading the CFPB, sending out wildly inflated “internal polling” showing him umpteen points ahead of a potential Warren candidacy more than 14 months out from the election.

The battle to confirm or appoint a director to the fledgling bureau is far from over. But for the first time since the advent of the Great Recession, there is a watchdog looking out for the best interest of the consumer.

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Miklosi Will Challenge Coffman in CD-6

From the Associated Press:

DENVER-Democrat Joe Miklosi of Denver says he’s made up his mind and will challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the Denver suburbs next year.

Miklosi has filed paperwork to run against the two-term incumbent. Miklosi currently lives in southeast Denver, not the 6th Congressional District. Miklosi, who has been mulling a congressional run for a while, says he’ll move to the 6th District as soon as a court settles on new district lines.

“I’m running because I want to restore job growth, economic growth, to increase prosperity,” said Miklosi, who works for a Centennial nonprofit that sends medical supplies to developing countries and was elected to the state Legislature in 2008.

Miklosi is gambling that the ultimate district will become friendlier for a Democrat. The current 6th District leans heavily toward the GOP but must shrink because of population growth over the last decade. Miklosi says he plans to move to Centennial or Greenwood Village.

Well, it looks like the Republicans will have their hands full in 2012, fighting three extremely strong challengers for seats that are seeming more and more vulnerable every day. Wait, did Coffman vote for that Ryan Vouchercare deal?

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Stimulus Hit-Piece Ignores Reality

(Apparently, Adam Savage wrote the GOP playbook for ’12… you know, “I reject your reality and substitute my own?” – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

In an article in the Weekly Standard that has been re-tweeted around the beltway, a new standard has been set for intellectual laziness. The purpose of the blog post, to create a talking point, is just as simplistic as the methodology used to reach it’s conclusion; that every job saved by the Stimulus cost taxpayers $278,000 per job . Using a 4th grader’s math skills, the total amount of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act distributed thus far, $666 billion, is divided by the number of jobs saved or created.

When the Obama administration releases a report on the Friday before a long weekend, it’s clearly not trying to draw attention to the report’s contents. Sure enough, the “Seventh Quarterly Report” on the economic impact of the “stimulus,” released on Friday, July 1, provides further evidence that President Obama’s economic “stimulus” did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy, and a whole lot to stimulate the debt.

Unfortunately, 4th grade reading skills were not used in analysis of the report that the author cites, The Economic Impact of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Employment shows the same pattern of an accelerating decline before the Recovery Act was passed followed by a significant improvement after. In the first quarter of 2009, the economy lost  an average of 784,000 jobs per month.  Job losses fell to 515,000 per month in the second quarter, 255,000 per month in the third, and  138,000 in the fourth.  The economy began adding jobs in 2010, with average gains of 15,000 per month in the first quarter, 97,000 per month in the second quarter, 65,000 per month in the third quarter, and 141,000 per month in the fourth quarter. Solid job gains continued into 2011 as an average of 165,000 jobs were added per month in the first quarter.The reversal in the average monthly change in employment over the past eight quarters was among the largest on record. (Rork emphasis)

The Orwellian assertions about what the report states are pretty bad. Even worse is that in trashing the Stimulus, the Weekly Standard’s columnist is essentially contradicting conservative ideology. Roughly a third of the stimulus was distributed through tax cuts. Among them were $122 billion in individual tax credits, $89.3 billion in “Making Work Pay” tax breaks, $33.4 billion in tax incentives for businesses and $2.1 billion in tax-exempt bonds to expand industrial development. If the amount of the ARRA set aside for tax cuts is included in Jeffrey Anderson’s rudimentary calculation, this marks the first time I’ve heard a conservative columnist argue that tax cuts don’t create jobs.

It is truly breathtaking to hear Anderson admit in his article that the Stimulus has created millions of jobs and stopped an economic freefall, all the while using tortured logic to assert it has cut jobs.

Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the “stimulus” had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs – or 288,000 more than it has now.  In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the “stimulus” has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs.

Goodness me. Looks like someone missed this paragraph on the second page of the report:

The Recovery Act was designed to be temporary. The amount of stimulus outlays and tax reductions has begun to decline and, as discussed in previous reports, as it does so the impact on the level of GDP and employment will lessen over time.

That’s right, folks: because the stimulus is ending, it is bad for jobs. I hope this guy isn’t getting paid for his writing. If he is, it’s really going to hurt my pride. It is as if he wrote his article without the report existing to contradict him.

All sides agree on these incriminating numbers – and now they also appear to agree on this important point: The economy would now be generating job growth at a faster rate if the Democrats hadn’t passed the “stimulus.”

And now the report he is writing about:

CEA estimates that as of the first quarter of 2011, the ARRA has raised employment relative to what it would have otherwise been by between 2.4 and 3.6 million (Rork emphasis)

He even suggests that $100,000 checks should have been given to citizens instead of investing in education, energy, transportation, infrastructure and research and development. The commonality in the areas I just listed? The U.S. is falling behind other countries in all of them. They are investments. Just taking the total cost of the program and dividing it by jobs created, of which there are many estimates, is intellectually disingenuous and completely ignores what can be learned from a 2 minute trip to Recovery.org.

The fact is that the vast majority of economists praise the Stimulus for doing what it was aimed to do, invest in key areas and halt an economic freefall:

Whenever you talk about counterfactual versions of the 2009 stimulus bill, you end up with some version of the same response: The stimulus failed – after all, look how high unemployment is! – and now you’re telling me it should’ve been bigger? What’s wrong with you?

Most authorities don’t think the stimulus failed. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, for instance, says it created between 1.2 million and 4.6 million jobs “compared to what would’ve happened otherwise.” IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com all estimate that the laws ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. Economists Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder put it at 2.7 million jobs.

Look at this pretty graph:



Let’s imagine for a moment that we had 2.5 million less jobs and 3% lower GDP. That is what Jeffrey Anderson is advocating for. Anderson’s post was not written to propose an alternative plan or solution, not to critique the policy behind the stimulus, but to create a deceitful talking point to attack a program that has saved the jobs of millions of hard-working Americans. It is political commentary at its worst.

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Ryan Plan Disastrous for Colorado’s Most Vulnerable

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Look who the New York Times’ Carl Hulse leads off the story with:

Sal Pace, the Democratic leader of the State House in Colorado, was already preparing to run for Congress in a district captured by Republicans last year, but his party’s special election win last week in a conservative district in upstate New York made the decision all the easier.

“The New York race confirmed what I thought citizens would feel about Medicare,” said Mr. Pace, who is expecting to soon begin a campaign to oust Representative Scott Tipton, a freshman Republican, in southwestern Colorado. “People are very hesitant to end Medicare as we know it.”

In the aftermath of the New York victory, which hinged on a Republican plan to reshape the health care program for older Americans, members of both parties and independent analysts now predict a more competitive race next year for control of the House, with expanded opportunities for Democrats to reclaim seats they lost in the Republican wave of 2010.

—–

With the surprising victory of Kathy Hochul in New York, Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to fundamentally restructure the nation’s health care systems for the elderly, disabled and poor has been thrust into the national spotlight. Colorado Representatives Tipton and Gardner have defended the Ryan plan as a sensible way to reduce the national debt.

The facts reveal a different picture; elimination on tax credits for small businesses, a massive shift of healthcare costs onto the elderly and disabled, the loss of approximately 2 million jobs over 5 years and tax cuts for the wealthy.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the numbers Rep. Ryan’s staff have provided shows that the cost of healthcare for those on Medicare will shift rapidly to seniors, who will be paying more than double the amount they are now by 2030. From an article by Kaiser Health News:

Seniors and the disabled would pay sharply more for their Medicare coverage under a new plan by House Republicans aimed at curbing the nation’s growing deficit, a Congressional Budget Office analysis shows.

For example, by 2030, under the plan, typical 65 year olds would be required to pay 68 percent of the total cost of their coverage, which includes premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs, according to CBO.  That compares with the 25 percent they would pay under current law, CBO said.

Needless to say, this would be devastating for Colorado’s seniors. This begs the question: why are Tipton and Gardner supportive of this plan?

Rep. Ryan’s plan for Medicare is modeled after Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, colloquially known as Medicare Part D:

“Our premium-support plan is modeled after the Medicare Part D prescription-drug program, in which providers compete against each other for seniors’ business. Medicare Part D came in 40 percent below cost projections done at the time of enactment – that’s almost unheard of for a government program.”

Rep. Ryan’s core plan to turn Medicare into a “Part D” program, in which seniors buy supplementary insurance, shows a basic misunderstanding of what services Medicare Part D provides and how that structure would apply to a system that provides comprehensive healthcare services. From the Washinton Post’s Ezra Klein:

Finally, if you look at them closely, Ryan’s plan and Part D don’t look all that similar. For one thing, Part D only covers drugs, while Ryan’s plan covers all health-care services. It’s not at all clear how applicable the Part D experience is to, say, hospital insurance. But the bigger issue is that Ryan’s plan is capped while Medicare Part D isn’t. In Part D, the federal government pays, on average, 74 percent of program’s costs. And that support grows alongside the program’s costs. Ryan’s plan covers about a third of beneficiary costs, and that support grows at the rate of inflation – so much more slowly than the rest of the program, or than Medicare Part D. This has always been the main criticism of Ryan’s plan, and Medicare Part D’s structure shows what a radical decision he made to structure it like that.

Any reasonable estimate of future healthcare cost inflation shows that the size of the vouchers will be inadequate within a matter of years. Whether seniors would receive adequate coverage would depend on whether congress decides to raise the size of Medicare subsidies to meet the rise in costs, if seniors have enough money to afford treatment and if their private health insurer,”…says yes or no”.

On to Medicaid. From a study by Ethan Pollack of the Economic Policy Center:

Over the next five years (during which time CBO projects that the economy will still be below potential), Chairman Ryan’s Medicaid proposal would cut the program by $207 billion, which includes both eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and even deeper cuts to the Medicaid program. Using a standard macroeconomic model that is consistent with private- and public-sector forecasters, we find that a $207 billion cut would result in a loss of 2.1 million jobs over the next five years, or 2.9 million full-time equivalent jobs. These figures are in job-years, which refer to a job held for a single year, meaning that five jobs lost in a single year is the equivalent to one job lost over five years.

Furthermore, the job loss would overwhelmingly be in the private economy.

Other than this cut being disastrous for the economy and Americans that rely on Medicaid for basic coverage, the plan flies in the face of public opinion. Not only do most Americans oppose cuts to Medicaid, they oppose turning it into block grants:

Most Americans oppose the idea of converting Medicaid to block grant financing to reduce the federal deficit, and more than half want to see no reductions at all in Medicaid spending

While making changes to Medicaid to extend its longevity would be the wise thing to do, the plan also eliminates the advisory board that would recommend ways to do so.

Apparently the majority of Republicans are happy with the plan, even if it repeals parts of the Affordable Care Act that represent decidedly conservative ideals. One of the provisions of the ACA that went into effect are tax cuts for small businesses that decide to insure their employees. Although 99% of businesses with more than 200 employees offer health benefits, only three-quarters of businesses with 10-24 employees are able to do so. Even in a struggling economy, insurers are seeing very encouraging signs that the tax cuts are having a tremendously positive impact on small businesses:

The independent nonprofit insurer has been particularly aggressive in marketing the new tax credit, which can mean a discount of as much as 35% for very small companies with low payrolls.

“One of the biggest problems in the small-group market is affordability,” said Ron Rowe, who oversees small-group sales for the insurer. “We looked at the tax credit and said, ‘This is perfect.'”

Rowe said that 38% of the businesses it is signing up had not offered health benefits before.

The Ryan plan would repeal these tax cuts and would instead cut taxes for the wealthiest. It would lower the corporate tax rate and tax rates for the top income bracket by 10%. The loss in revenue by lowering these rates furthers the notion that Republicans in congress are more concerned with dismantling government programs that benefit the poor, disabled and elderly than they are about serious debt reduction measures and shared sacrifice.

Given the evidence, I believe Representatives Tipton, Gardner, Coffman and Lamborn owe a more thorough explanation than the ones they have given. They owe that much to the most vulnerable Americans.

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Democrat Kathy Hochul Pulls Off Huge Upset in NY-26

(Nervous yet–Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton? Time to get nervous. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE #3: Politico rings up Cory Gardner–entirely by coincidence!

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), whose district has a similar makeup as the upstate New York district won by Hochul [Pols emphasis], said the Republican message should be that the “Democrats’ plan is bankruptcy.”

“We were sent here on November 2 to do the right thing,” Gardner responded when asked if he was nervous about the House GOP Medicare plan. “To cut spending and get our economy back on track.”

“We actually have leadership we are trying to pursue, leadership for our country,” Gardner added. “[Democrats] are refusing and rejoicing and refusing.”

H/T: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols

—–

POLS UPDATE #2: Full statement from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz after the jump:

Just a few months ago, former Republican Congressman Lee won the 26th district with 74 percent of the vote – but since that time Republicans have voted to end Medicare and place a whole host of additional burdens on seniors, young people and working families while preserving tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and big oil and they have been on the wrong side of public sentiment ever since.  

Local readers, see below.

—–

POLS UPDATE: On the “Ryan Plan” record, Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton:

Yup, folks. It was, now demonstrably, a bad choice.

—–

In a race that has been considered a referendum on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Democrat Kathy Hochul has defeated Republican Jane Corwin in the special election for New York’s 26th congressional district. With 97% of precincts reporting, Hochul had claimed 47% of the vote. Jane Corwin gathered 43%, followed by Tea Party candidate Jack Davis with 9%.

New York’s 26th has been represented by a Democrat only three times since 1856. While reading too much into one special election would be a mistake, Hochul’s surprisingly firm victory in the race does have wide implications for elections in 2012.

The results of the Siena College poll, which predicted the race fairly well, revealed the impact of Rep. Ryan’s plan to radically alter Medicare on the special election. From a series of excellent posts by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver:

In the Siena poll, voters were asked to identify their most important issue. Of the 21 percent who picked Medicare, some 80 percent said they planned to vote for Ms. Hochul (excluding undecided voters).

Nevertheless, of those voters who identified Medicare as their top issue, just 50 percent are Democrats, and an additional 24 percent are independents. Since Ms. Hochul is winning 80 percent of those votes instead, that implies that she is in fact picking up some support from independents and moderate Republicans (of which there are many in this district) on the issue.

This may have ramifications for Colorado’s Republican congressmen, all of whom support Rep. Ryan’s plan to largely privatize Medicare.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has argued that the presence of a third party candidate had a large impact on the outcome of the race. Assuming that Davis sealed the race for Hochul would be a mistake:

Suppose that Mr. Davis and Mr. Miller were not running, and that this were a true two-way race between Ms. Hochul and Ms. Corwin. If Ms. Corwin had won all of Mr. Davis’ vote (and Ms. Hochul won all of Mr. Miller’s vote), she would have won 51-49.

That would still qualify as a bad night for the Republicans, however. Based on the way that the district votes in presidential elections, (the district) is 6 percentage points more Republican than the country as a whole. That means, roughly speaking, that in a neutral political environment with average candidates, Ms. Corwin would have won 56 percent of the vote and Ms. Hochul 44 percent – a 12-point victory. A 2-point win instead, therefore, would have spoken to a relatively poor political environment for the Republicans.

So Republicans can’t really pin the blame for this result on Mr. Davis.

Priebus is right about one thing; the presence of Tea Party candidates in 2012 congressional races could be toxic for Republicans. While Davis’ votes likely would have been split between Hochul and Corwin, 8% of the vote is nothing to sneeze at. With the conservative base undeniably moving farther and farther to the right, the Republican party’s diminished capacity to field moderate candidates and prevent Tea Party candidates from running could have deliterious effects on upcoming elections.

Sen. Reid is planning to bring Rep. Ryan’s plan to a vote in the senate on Thursday, where it will meet its demise. Forcing senators to take a stance on the controversial plan could cause chaos, given Sen. Scott Brown’s public rebuke of the plan in Politico. Also, candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will inevitably be forced to take a position on the plan. Newt Gingrich’s comments on Meet the Press, in which he called the plan “right-wing social engineering”, drew the criticism of prominent conservatives and has been considered the beginning of the end of his candidacy. It will be interesting to see where the rest of the field comes down on the plan considering the results of the special election.

If you’re wondering why this special election even happened, take a moment to remember Rep. Chris Lee’s attempts to find that special someone over Craigslist.

DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz Says Democratic Victory in NY-26’s Special Congressional Election Shows Voters Want Medicare Protected, Not Abolished

Washington, DC – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement after Congresswoman-Elect Kathy Hochul’s victory in the New York Special Election:

“I wholeheartedly congratulate Congresswoman-Elect Hochul and her grassroots supporters for their hard work and dedication despite being outspent by a 2-to-1 margin. Tonight’s election result is not just a victory for Congresswoman-Elect Kathy Hochul, it’s a victory for the residents of Western New York and for Americans who believe that our elected leaders should fight to protect Medicare and ensure that our government works for our seniors, working families and young people.  Kathy’s Republican opponent, and those who spent a small fortune on her behalf in a solidly Republican district, found out the hard way that their extreme plans to abolish Medicare and slash Medicaid and investments in health care, education, innovation and job creation are wrongheaded and unpopular even in a district that should have been a cakewalk for the Republican candidate.

“Just a few months ago, former Republican Congressman Lee won the 26th district with 74 percent of the vote – but since that time Republicans have voted to end Medicare and place a whole host of additional burdens on seniors, young people and working families while preserving tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and big oil and they have been on the wrong side of public sentiment ever since.    

“Tonight’s result has far-reaching consequences beyond New York.  It demonstrates that Republicans and Independent voters, along with Democrats, will reject extreme policies like ending Medicare that even Newt Gingrich called radical.  With this election in the rear-view mirror, it is my hope that Republicans will accept the message being sent by voters in this race, in the polls and at town hall meetings across the country and work with Democrats to get our fiscal house in order while protecting Medicare and other initiatives vital to our economic recovery.”

###

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BREAKING: World Not Actually Ending

Sources confirmed late Thursday night that the lives of all residents of Earth would not face the judgment and wrath of a presumably bearded, pissed off God. Subsequently, a mix of relief and quiet disappointment swept over the nation.

The claims of senile televangelist Harold Camping, notably that homosexuality was the sole purpose of the Almighty’s furlough to the land of mortals, received mixed reaction and interpretations from the public. Common reasons suggested for being denied a place in paradise included the religious, such as not being a Christian or believing in the existence of God, to the colloquial, like driving 55 in the left lane of I-25 or “being a dick”. While 89 year-old Camping had said that 5:59 ET was the exact time that the rapture would occur, there was wide speculation on Facebook as to whether it might be Mountain Standard for residents of Colorado, or perhaps West Greenland time to allow for the Oklohoma City-Dallas game to finish.

The nation’s morons, such as Robert Fitzpatrick of New York, took most of their time during the past week spending their entire life savings, getting divorced, yelling things downtown and thoroughly agitating family members and friends with chain e-mails.

A Time/CNN poll showed 59% of respondents believed the prophesies in the Book of Revelations will come true. What couldn’t have been anticipated was the other 41% of Americans rallying around a more secular “Zombie Apocalypse” that can be enjoyed by people of all religions and backgrounds. In anticipation of the swing in public opinion, the Center for Disease Control manipulated the public into buying basic survival materials that would be needed in the case of a natural disaster. Absent among these was a shotgun, baseball bat or a flamethrower, leaving most Americans at-risk to a zombie apocalypse.

The vast majority of people of all faiths were raucous in the call for a cataclysmic event that would end personal and work responsibilities once and for all. Popular reasons for welcoming the apocalypse included credit card bills, girlfriends, the global recession, local traffic conditions and being forced to choose between Romer and Hancock. A large plurality of people are also confirmed to believe that they will somehow be chosen to enter the pearly gates.

Despite widespread agreement that the rapture has in fact not happened, a small but vocal group of critics is arguing that the rapture has come but that no one was deemed worthy of entering the land of milk and honey.

Reports that Denverites might need to build arks to preserve human and animal life seem to have been precipitous. Weatherman Dave Aguilera has stated that weather this post-rapture week will be “mostly sunny…with a chance of isolated thunderstorms”.

 

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