Minority Leader Neville, Who’s The “Tyrant” Now?

SUNDAY UPDATE: Call him President Backpedal, reports Politico:

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he would not be quarantining New York City’s metro area, which has emerged as the nation’s largest hot spot for the coronavirus, after floating the idea earlier in the day…

Federal law gives the president and the federal government vast emergency powers in a pandemic, [Pols emphasis] including the ability to quarantine people to slow the spread of disease between states. But it’s not clear how the federal government would enforce what Trump described, and Cuomo and others questioned whether it would be legal.

Just remember, folks–when Donald Trump breaks out the “vast emergency powers,” it’s heroic. Gov. Jared Polis is a tyrant, but obviously Trump is not. Obviously!

—–

President Donald Trump.

NBC News reports, look out Gov. Jared Polis! There’s a new dictator in town:

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he was considering an “enforceable quarantine” in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying the decision could come as soon as later in the day.

“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot. New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places. Certain parts of Connecticut quarantined,” Trump said as he left the White House en route of Norfolk, Va. to see off the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship that is headed to New York to provide extra hospital space to help fight the outbreak.

“I am thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short term, two weeks, on New York. Probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump continued.

Now before you get your libertarian britches in a twist over what exactly an “enforceable quarantine” consists of, fear not–we have no doubt that the disgraceful number of Colorado Republicans who lashed out at Gov. Polis for his statewide stay-at-home order here in Colorado this week are busy right now working up an explanation for why Polis’ order is “tyranny,” but President Donald Trump shutting down three East Coast states equivalently Makes America Great Again™. We’re guessing it will fall somewhere between “East Coast libs have it coming” and “foreigners in New York all kiss each other.”

Much like Cory Gardner twisting into a pretzel to explain why the 2020 stimulus he’s proud of is nothing like the 2009 stimulus he rhetorically crucified President Barack Obama for, sometimes it would be better to just walk it back already. But somehow we doubt Gov. Polis’ excitable critics will be able to do so.

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Ken Buck Goes 0-for-3 on Coronavirus Legislation

Who has a crooked forefinger and keeps voting against coronavirus relief?

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa) had his third chance to vote for coronavirus relief legislation today.

As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post:

With the apparent support of all but one Coloradan, the U.S. House passed the largest economic stimulus package in American history Friday, a more than $2 trillion agreement to boost a national economy ravaged by coronavirus.

The bill passed on a voice vote, a tactic used for uncontroversial legislation. As a result, House members were not required to record where they stood on the historic bill. But in comments before, only one Coloradan signaled opposition.

“I agree we are facing an unprecedented emergency, one tied directly to China’s nefarious actions. However, as President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” said Rep. Ken Buck in a speech on the House floor.

Buck has been consistent in his opposition of new funding to combat coronavirus — whether to help first responders or the American economy — as well as his general opposition to, well, science. Buck has been vocal about his disagreement with the idea of closing businesses where people tend to congregate in groups, and he reiterated on Friday that he believes we’re almost done with this virus problem anyway:

“There is no attempt by Congress to reduce spending elsewhere in the budget to pay for this bill. The sad truth is that most of this money in this bill is unrelated to fighting the coronavirus. We believe that the fight against the virus will take six to eight weeks, yet this bill spends money decades into the future,” added Buck, who is the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, during his remarks Friday.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) had a much different take, which seems to place him well within the overwhelming majority of Members of Congress:

“Our country and the American people are in crisis and it requires our action now,” said Crow, of Aurora, in a speech on the House floor Friday. “To be clear, this is not a perfect bill, but it is the bill that America needs today.”

Rep. Ken Buck only presses the red button.

Let’s recap Rep. Buck’s record over the last few weeks:

♦ Thursday, March 5: Buck is one of only two House Members to vote “NO” on coronavirus relief legislation aimed at providing emergency resources for first responders and other healthcare professionals. The bill quickly passed through the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump.

♦ Saturday, March 14: Buck votes “NO” on the second major piece of coronavirus legislation, known as The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill also quickly passed through the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump.

♦ Friday, March 27: Buck completes the trifecta and opposes a $2 trillion stimulus package that had already sailed through the U.S. Senate without a single vote of opposition and will absolutely be signed into law by President Trump as soon as it hits his desk. And get this: Buck didn’t even have to record an official vote (Congress approved the measure by a “voice vote”) but he still insisted on making it clear that he would not support legislation to provide financial relief to struggling Americans.

Congressman Ken Buck absolutely doesn’t get it, and neither does Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck. These “positions” probably won’t cost Buck his Congressional seat in 2020, because he’s firmly entrenched in a strong GOP district. His hot takes on coronavirus probably won’t cost him his State Party Chairmanship, either, in part because state GOP leaders are equally baffled about how to respond to the outbreak.

But if you think Buck’s actions this month are going to age well, both politically and in general, that’s a bet we wouldn’t hesitate to accept.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

We’d wish you a “Happy Friday,” but today kinda feels just like Thursday. And Wednesday. And also Tuesday. Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► UPDATE: The House passes the stimulus bill. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck voted against the legislation, giving him a perfect 0-3 record on coronavirus-related legislation.

—–

Members of the House of Representatives are heading back to Washington D.C. to vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is in no danger of failing because one Kentucky Republican (and it’s not even Mitch McConnell) is being kind of a dick. As The Washington Post explains:

The House of Representatives prepared to vote Friday on a $2 trillion economic relief package to address fallout from the coronavirus, with scores of lawmakers begrudgingly returning to the Capitol after one GOP member threatened to raise a procedural objection.

With the economy reeling and millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, House leaders had hoped to pass the sweeping measure by a “voice vote” that would not require members to show up in person. Those who wanted to could come to the Capitol to speak in favor of or against the legislation that will send $1,200 payments to many Americans and free up large loans for businesses of every size.

If they used a “voice vote,” members in quarantine or who simply did not want to travel would not have to do so. There are now roughly 86,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 1,300 people have died just in the past few weeks.

But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) threatened to raise procedural objections that would require a majority of the House to be present to quash, and so on Thursday evening leadership in both parties began urging members who could do so to return to Washington in order to have the numbers to overcome whatever objection Massie might raise. [Pols emphasis]

Massie may have seriously misread this situation, because President Trump is not happy:

As The Washington Post notes in a separate story, Rep. Massie’s colleagues are not at all surprised that he’s needlessly throwing wrenches:

During his seven years in Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has established a reputation as a uniquely irascible congressional gadfly — one who is frequently at odds with his own party’s leadership, rarely votes for major bills negotiated with Democrats, and, to make an ideological point, is willing to use the House rule book to inconvenience his colleagues.

In other words, he’s the Kentucky version of State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs).

Just in case you thought opposition to the relief bill was relegated to some looney from Kentucky…Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are railing about their own grievances with the legislation.

 

 Eight of Colorado’s 9 Members of Congress are urging President Trump to approve a Major Disaster request for Colorado. Who was the lone dissenter? Hint: His name rhymes with “suck.”

 

► Many of Colorado’s most prominent Republican lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — are growing increasingly vocal about their opposition to “stay at home” orders because…tyranny, or something. These actions are bad for their health and the health of their friends and family — and new polling info suggests that these positions will hurt them politically in November.

If you are interested in making specious and dangerous arguments yourself, here’s a cheat sheet to get you started on messaging.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post have more on the partisan pushback to coronavirus responses.

 

► Not all the coronavirus news is bad news, as The Washington Post reports from the state of Washington:

The suburban hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago — a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national health crisis — is now offering cautious optimism to people across the United States who are searching for an end to the springtime nightmare: They believe they might have flattened the curve here.

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals…

…“It is a glimmer of hope,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is suggestive that some of the things we’re doing together is having some very modest improvement. The things we did two weeks ago are now appearing in our hospitals.” [Pols emphasis] 

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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“Resist” COVID-19 Orders? Politically (And Literally) Hazardous

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

New polling released yesterday by the Pew Research Center provides the answer to one of the bigger political questions surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially here in Colorado: does the public support the sweeping measures taken to slow the spread of the disease–measures that many high-profile Republicans in this state in have condemned and in some cases promised to disobey?

The answer, overwhelmingly, is yes:

The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 19-24 among 11,537 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that despite the partisan differences in views on several aspects of the outbreak, there also are important areas of agreement. Notably, majorities in both parties say it is necessary to impose strict limitations on commerce, travel and entertainment in order to address the outbreak. [Pols emphasis]

About seven-in-ten adults (71%) say that to address the coronavirus, it is necessary to require most businesses other than grocery stores or pharmacies to close. A larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (81%) than Republicans and GOP leaners (61%) view this requirement as necessary.

An even larger majority (85%) thinks it is necessary to limit restaurants to carry-out only. And with a growing number of states announcing delays of their upcoming primary elections, 70% say this is a necessary step to take because of the coronavirus.

With most of the various COVID-19 response measures polled, the partisan split in opinion was very small. Around 95% of both Republicans and Democrats support restricting international travel, and Republicans support both cancelling major events and closing K-12 schools at or above 85%. The widest partisan disparity of opinion is over the temporary closure of most businesses, and even on this point 61% of Republicans agree it’s a necessary measure. The one figure that irritates Democrats in this poll, 48% approval of Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic so far, is less important than the lopsided support shown for the strong measures being implemented by state governments. With the benefit of hindsight, the former (Trump) will take a much greater hit than the latter (states fighting the pandemic).

What does this mean for our local politics? In the simplest terms, it means that once again Colorado Republicans have positioned themselves as a brand on the wrong side of the issue dominating the headlines and impacting the lives of every Colorado voter. In a state already becoming more hostile to Republicans at the ballot box in every election, branding themselves as the “COVID resistance” party as a way of contrasting with our state’s Democratic majority government seems extremely ill-advised. Based on these numbers, and especially if the pandemic in the U.S. continues to worsen, Republicans are inviting a backlash from voters in November that could be truly historic.

Between now and then, we can only hope the real-world harm they do will not be too great.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 26)

Happy Purple Day, which is probably not what you think it is. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

If you are reading this in Colorado, you had better be doing it from home. As part of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus, Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday announced a “stay at home” order that takes effect as of 6:00 am today and runs until April 11. The Denver Post has more on the order from Gov. Polis.

♦ CLICK HERE to watch the press conference announcement.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the full text of the Governor’s order.

♦ CLICK HERE for an FAQ guide about the “stay at home” order.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the public health order.

The decision to issue a “stay at home” order for the entire state came as some of Colorado’s most highly-populated areas were issuing similar decrees locally — most recently the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening).

The statewide order puts a bit of a lid on a controversy stirred up Wednesday by six Republican legislators from Douglas County who would apparently prefer to become a Sanctuary Virus County. Here’s 9News with more on this shameful political stunt:

House Minority Leader Neville also said Wednesday on The Peter Boyles Show that he feels the orders, in general, are leading to a Gestapo-like mentality.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that he would defer to the department to make the decision for his city. But Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert told 9NEWS he considered it an overreach…

…”For an unelected bureaucrat at Tri-County Health to put out this order and have no accountability to any elected official, that is wrong,” said Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert. “It is, in my opinion, against the spirit of our nation and our state it is against our constitution.”

“I’ve advised them to sever the contract as soon as possible. If it costs Douglas County money, what’s the cost of freedom and liberty — it’s probably worth it.”

Just so we’re clear, the Republican Senate Minority Leader and the Republican House Minority Leader would like Douglas County to sever its relationship with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

At least one Douglas County Republican is not a complete twit. County Commissioner Abe Laydon supports Tri-County Health and says “Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic.”

Elsewhere, Colorado Republicans across the state are pounding their chests about their brave opposition to social-distancing guidelines meant to prevent people from dying from the coronavirus outbreak.

 

► The Senate finally passed a $2 trillion coronavirus recovery bill late Wednesday. As The Denver Post reports:

The legislation passed by a vote of 96-0, with aye votes from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat. Both Colorado senators made clear earlier in the day that they supported the massive agreement…

…Before the vote, Gardner and Bennet voted against an amendment from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s full salary.

In remarks Wednesday, Bennet criticized Senate Republicans for not including a $600-per-week unemployment insurance increase, which was later added at the request of Senate Democrats. He also credited Democrats with adding money for the health care system, middle-class Americans and lower-class Americans.

“States and local governments not only have to fight this health crisis, they have to pay teachers, police and firefighters, even as their tax revenues collapse,” Bennet said in a lengthy statement. “The initial bill included nothing to help them confront these yawning budget caps. It was ridiculous.”

The Washington Post has more details on the guts of the stimulus bill. Democrats had been pushing for $4 billion to support elections in the wake of the pandemic; they only ended up with $400 million.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Friday.

 

► Coronavirus deaths in the United States have surpassed the 1,000 mark.

 

► Health officials are sounding the alarm about a second wave of the coronavirus. As The Washington Post explains:

The 1918 flu hit the United States in three waves — a mild outbreak in the spring, the deadliest wave in the fall and a final spike when the virus returned that winter. All told, the pandemic infected a third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people, including at least 675,000 Americans.

One of them was the great-grandmother of Debbie Birx, the lead coordinator of the federal government’s coronavirus task force. “My grandmother, for 88 years, lived with the fact that she was the one, at age 11, who brought home flu to her mother … when her mother had just delivered,” said Birx, 63. “She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”…

…The 1918 case study weighs on leaders of the public health community as they scramble to ramp up capacity and spur vaccine development in preparation for a sustained war against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “We’re dealing with Cycle A right now, not the one that could come in the fall of 2020 – although we’re getting prepared for it by the innovations that are being worked on,” Birx said at the White House on Wednesday evening.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Darwinism In Action: Colorado Republicans “Resist” COVID Order

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO).

Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis took his biggest step yet in the response to the hockey-sticking COVID-19 global pandemic, as cases and fatalities in Colorado rapidly increase–a statewide stay-at-home order obliging most of us to stay in our houses except for designated essential trips. As our readers know, Polis’ statewide order came shortly after Republican lawmakers assailed a stay-at-home order issued by the Tri County Health Department for its jurisdiction of Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties. The Denver Post updates the controversy we covered yesterday:

A Republican Douglas County commissioner, however, said authority for such decisions rests with the health department under state law. [Pols emphasis]

The Tri-County order was superseded Wednesday afternoon when Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but the argument over local control remained.

The six Colorado lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock — sent commissioners a letter Wednesday, saying they learned that the health agency was issuing the order despite opposition from at least two Dougco commissioners. Sen. Jim Smallwood of Parker, who said he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, also signed the letter.

Like we said yesterday, the irony of Sen. Jim Smallwood signing this letter after he traveled to California following the adjournment of the General Assembly and contracted COVID-19 somewhere along the way is probably worth its own blog post. What this group of Republican lawmakers didn’t seem to understand is that health departments have the authority to issue such orders under state law–meaning if these lawmakers don’t like health departments having such authority, they’re the ones who can change it. In the end, all this off-base grandstand against Tri-County Health accomplished was to scare Colorado citizens into second-guessing emergency public health orders.

Folks, that’s really bad.

Former GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham.

This is former Senate President Kevin Grantham, responding to Gov. Polis’ statewide stay-at-home order yesterday evening by more or less declaring he’s going to disregard it. Grantham is now running for for a seat on the Fremont County board of commissioners, and we assume he’s decided a little coronavirus civil disobedience is a political net positive. Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville actually invoked the words “civil disobedience” to forecast the response to the statewide order issued yesterday. And up in Weld County, as the Colorado Times Recorder reports, politically promiscuous Sheriff Steve Reams says it even more plainly:

Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather take my risk with the virus then socialism. [Pols emphasis]

After conservative media spent weeks downplaying the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak and echoing President Donald Trump’s repeated denial of the severity of the crisis, by all estimates the pandemic is on a trajectory for the worst-case side of the scenarios that have been plotted by experts looking at the disease’s spread. The economic devastation resulting from the effective shutdown of large parts of the global economy is very serious, but it’s happening because the loss of life from not containing the spread of this pandemic would be far worse. Politically, a campaign to “resist” measures to contain the virus is only sustainable among people who don’t know–or don’t want to know–the truth.

Sheriff Reams’ selective enforcement of the law based on his opinion is well-documented in relation to gun safety laws. But resistance to the emergency orders issued from the governor down to health departments with the clear statutory authority to do so by local Republicans is irresponsibility that could have much bigger destructive impact than refusing to take a suicidal individual’s guns under the “red flag” law.

Some people who take their advice, or their family or friends, will die. It’s not hypothetical, it’s arithmetic. And that escalates this from cheap-shot political rhetoric into something that should outrage every single Coloradan regardless of your politics.

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GOP Lawmakers Push for Sanctuary Virus County

THURSDAY UPDATE: As 9News reports, Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon is not the dumb one of the bunch:

While the Douglas County Commissioners are politically aligned with the Republican lawmakers, not all of them agree. Republican Commissioner Abe Laydon supported Tri-County’s mandate.

“Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic,” he told 9NEWS.

Laydon said his focus will be on working within the parameters of an order to keep people and businesses safe.

“Where I stand is — do everything we can do to make sure that hospitals, doctors, nurses, first responders, senior citizens are not decimated by what we’re hearing,” he said.

—–

UPDATE: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is some kind of jackass:

—–

Letter from Douglas County Republicans

As Denver7 first reported today, Republican lawmakers from Douglas County are hopping mad about a new “stay at home” order implemented by the Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties. A similar order has also been issued in Boulder and Jefferson counties.

Six Republican legislators who apparently support becoming a Coronavirus Sanctuary County signed the letter addressed to the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners: Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Jim Smallwood, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, Rep. Kim Ransom, and Rep. Mark Baisley. You can read the full text of the letter here, but this is the important part:

It has come to our attention that Tri-County Health has issued a “shelter in place” order, which includes Douglas County. As a result of that order, we urge you to terminate whatever contract exists between Douglas County and that organization.

It is our understanding that at least two of you opposed this heavy-handed application of governmental power. To those who did oppose the action, thank you for standing with the constitution and with the majority of your constituents here in Douglas County. We consider it unacceptable that a contracted health agency could somehow ignore the will of a majority of our elected and accountable Douglas County Commissioners.

Sigh. Where to begin?

First off, this is more than just Douglas County Republican lawmakers screeching at one another; Chris Holbert is the Senate Minority Leader, and Patrick Neville is the House Minority Leader, so they are effectively speaking for the entire GOP caucus here. Their message is simple: If health experts don’t do what non-expert elected officials tell them to do, then we should fire them. 

We’re also perplexed that Sen. Jim Smallwood would sign his name here. Smallwood recently tested positive for coronavirus and is currently living at his second home in California. He’s not even IN Colorado at the moment, so how can he make this judgment?

Douglas County Commissioners Roger Partridge, Lora Thomas, and Abe Laydon.

More importantly, the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is represented by three Republicans, none of whom are qualified to make public health decisions of this magnitude. Here’s the official biography for Abe Laydon, who was elected to the BCC in 2018:

Prior to being elected as County Commissioner, Laydon served as a Douglas County Planning Commissioner for two terms, and as the Douglas County Republican Party’s first vice-chairman and treasurer. A graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, Laydon has been involved in philanthropy and civic service his entire life. He sits on the board of many local nonprofits, was an officer and member of Denver Active 20-30 and the Metro Denver Board of Christian Legal Society.

Yeah, let’s put that guy in charge during a global pandemic. Roger Partridge previously owned a physical therapy business, and Lora Thomas is a former trooper with the State Patrol who served as the elected Coroner of Douglas County from 2011-15.

Screenshot from Patrick Neville’s Facebook page

Laydon, Patridge, and Thomas may be very nice people, but none of them are public health experts. In fact, we’re guessing that Douglas County contracts with the Tri-County Health Department in part because they don’t already have a bunch of public health experts roaming the building.

Oh, and to make matters worse, Rep. Neville also appears to be doxxing members of the Tri-County Health Department (see image at right), including the wife of State Rep. Kyle Mullica; you should know that Kyle Mullica is a trauma nurse working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, and Julie Mullica is the Systems Director for Infection Prevention at SCL Health.

Finally, it’s important to note that this letter from Republican lawmakers doesn’t provide any sort of alternative suggestion for how to handle the coronavirus outbreak in Douglas County. Holbert, Neville and friends aren’t for anything — they’re just against this for reasons they don’t even bother to explain.

We could go on and on about how irresponsible and shameful it is for a group of elected leaders to be publicly questioning a literal life-or-death health decision in the middle of a global pandemic, but the insidiousness of this letter speaks for itself.

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Want a Better Stimulus? Elect a Better U.S. Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill reports on today’s big news out of Washington, bipartisan agreement after days of fraught negotiations on a $2 trillion-with-a-T bill to steady the economy as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic:

The revamped Senate proposal will inject approximately $2 trillion into the economy, providing tax rebates, four months expanded unemployment benefits and a slew of business tax-relief provisions aimed at shoring up individual, family and business finances.

The deal includes $500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $377 billion in small business aid, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments…

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) hailed the legislation as “the largest rescue package in American history.”

“This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” he said.

In a lengthy Twitter thread this morning, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado explained the concessions Democrats were able to win from the GOP majority to improve the stimulus bill in ways to benefit ordinary Americans bearing the brunt of the economic fallout:

“Good but not enough” appears to be the consensus view from progressive Democrats and their allies, and though Speaker Nancy Pelosi agrees that more will be needed, what’s imperative at this point is to get relief in people’s hands without further delay:

She said the package did not go as far as a separate House bill, but argued that “thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.”

…The Democrats won a long list of victories in the $2 trillion package, including billions of dollars for hospitals, students, the unemployed and states struggling to finance the wave of emergency services. [Pols emphasis]

Democratic leaders in both chambers are highlighting those provisions as they race to bring their members on board. It’s not as strong as the House’s alternative bill, Pelosi said, but marks a stark improvement over the Republicans’ initial proposal — an indication she wants to move it quickly through Congress.

As Democrats drove a hard bargain in their negotiations with the Senate Republican majority over the past few days, they’ve been assailed by Republicans for “delaying” stimulus relief to Americans whose economic lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. It’s important therefore for Democrats to be clear about the better deal they got for ordinary Americans in those negotiations, and also be ready to act quickly to get this hard-won deal to the President’s desk.

Tangible better outcomes through tough negotiations by Democrats also effectively defang criticism from Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and other Republicans that Democrats were “stalling” a stimulus bill to help American workers. It’s a strange state of affairs to see Republicans urging the swift passage of an economic stimulus package at all, of course, given how they’ve spent the last decade branding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, dwarfed in every respect by the present legislation, as “Obama’s failed stimulus.”

With all of this in mind, it’s true that progressive Democrats will find plenty to criticize about the final bipartisan legislation. The moral of the story, in the end, is that a better deal was only ever possible in a U.S. Senate with a different composition from the one that exists today. White House too, of course but it in is Mitch McConnell’s GOP Senate that the sausage of this stimulus bill was made. In March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, history will record that America responded with the leadership we had.

For good or ill.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

Happy International Waffle Day. Please celebrate privately. It’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The entire Metro Denver area is nearing lockdown status because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stay-at-home orders have been issued from the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening). The Metro Denver population, depending on how you measure it, includes about 3 million people — or more than half of the 5.6 million residents of Colorado.

Colorado’s most populous cities without a stay-at-home order include Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs. The City of Fort Collins is apparently waiting on Larimer County to make a decision on a stay-at-home order. Colorado Springs is likewise leaving that decision to El Paso County officials.

A stay-at-home order has also been issued for Aspen; visitors to the resort area have been asked to leave.

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been self-quarantining for the last week out of concern that he had interactions with people who had tested positive for COVID-19. Gardner says that he has not yet been tested for the virus, but as The Daily Beast reports, he damn well needs to be:

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner walked up to a group of Capitol Hill reporters to share information with them about bills he was sponsoring to counter the coronavirus outbreak. According to people who witnessed the encounter, in order to separate the sheets of paper, the Colorado Republican licked his finger and thumbed the pages before handing them off to reporters to pass around. [Pols emphasis]

Several hours later, he was in self-imposed quarantine.

Gardner began his self-quarantine on March 17, and now he’s back?

 

► This is President Trump’s Coronavirus. Don’t argue with us — that’s what the White House is calling it.

 

► Senate and White House leaders have reached agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. As The Washington Post reports:

The Senate is aiming to vote Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

Senate aides were still scrambling to write the legislation, and House Democrats were expected to take it up no sooner than Thursday. Despite a brief burst of optimism about the landmark deal, they were still dealing with extreme pressure from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make changes, as he alleged his state needed much more aid.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) breaks down the ins and outs of this debate in an epic Twitter thread. Democrats had been negotiating for more money to go to American families and small businesses, while Republicans insisted on bigger checks for big business. Check out this Politico story for more details on differences between a Democratic and Republican bailout plan.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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At Least She’s Not Your Legislator, COVID Wrath Of God Edition

PA state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R).

Newsweek reports on legislation introduced by Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, who has come to the conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic is God’s punishment of…well, America predominately we guess, even though most of the people infected with COVID-19 are not in America? Like most such findings of spiritual as opposed to, you know, reality-based fault for a global catastrophe, it’s complicated:

Pennsylvania State Representative Stephanie Borowicz has called for her state to recognize March 30, 2020 as “A State Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” in a resolution introduced to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly on Monday.

“During the pandemic of 2020 and the ensuing uncertainty and anxiety of this time, Pennsylvanians may be comforted by turning to a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer,” Borowicz wrote in legislation which also said the coronavirus pandemic may be a “punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins.”

However, Borowicz’s resolution does not explicitly state that the prayers of Pennsylvanians will cure the coronavirus. Instead, “the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessing no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our new divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”

Oh wait no, sorry, just America! As for what specific “sins” Rep. Borowicz may be referring to in declaring that America had the coronavirus pandemic coming, that isn’t as clear–but her reputation as an unapologetic GOP culture warrior precedes her. And as WHP-TV in Harrisburg reports, only what Rep. Borowicz calls a “Day of Humiliation” can make COVID-19 at least morally if not epidemiologically right.

The resolution also states, “With assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Her resolution goes on to say that nations are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this work just as humans are.

The resolution has sparked reactions from other state lawmakers such as Rep. Kevin Boyle, who took to Twitter saying, “I do believe this is the stupidest resolution I’ve ever seen a politician introduce.” [Pols emphasis]

Coloradans who had the pleasure of getting to know Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt during his brief service in the Colorado General Assembly most certainly know the feeling. With that said, we of course encourage everyone to repent their sins to the diety, temporal authority, or moral yardstick of your choosing.

Not because of the coronavirus, just on general principles.

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Wednesday Open Thread

“The future is called ‘perhaps’, which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.”

–Tennessee Williams

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President Trump’s Coronavirus

D’oh!

You may soon find some coronavirus franking mail in your (physical) mailbox this week with President Trump’s name front and center…and not in a good way.

“Franking” is the shorthand name given to mail pieces that are produced with government resources that aren’t supposed to work like campaign messages but can be understandably confused for that purpose. Normally you might get one of these mail pieces from your Member of Congress or a U.S. Senator — and usually they come more frequently in election years — but the coronavirus outbreak gave the White House an excuse to send out something with the name “President Trump” in big, bold, uppercase letters.

This mail piece from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) unnecessarily and inappropriately include’s “President Trump” at the top of one side — undoubtedly because Trump staffers thought it would be a great way to demonstrate Trump’s coronavirus leadership, or something. In this case, the positive impressions that the White House hoped to generate may end up backfiring in a big way.

“PRESIDENT TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS” is probably not the sort of phrasing that the White House wants Americans to adopt en masse — even if the name fits.

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About Cory Gardner’s “Sinister Chinese Propaganda Campaign”

Why is China unhappy, you ask?

Via the Colorado Springs Gazette’s daily blog on political updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re alerted that Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is vexed, vexed mind you, about far-fetched suggestions by diplomats from the People’s Republic of China pinning responsibility for the outbreak on the United States:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and two fellow Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday called on President Donald Trump to establish a task force to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s “malicious propaganda” about the origins of the novel coronavirus…

Gardner, joined by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mitt Romney of Utah, call it “critical that our country fight back against this propaganda” in the letter, which requests the Trump “formulate a coordinated, (U.S. government)-wide response” under the direction of the National Security Council.

From the letter:

Now that COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the globe, the CCP and its officials have the audacity to spread disingenuous claims that the United States is responsible for this pandemic. This is not simply dishonest, it is dangerous. This tactic, in addition to being a despicable exploitation of a global emergency, threatens to undermine the worldwide coordination necessary to combat this coronavirus. It is for this reason that we request an interagency taskforce within the NSC to counter the malicious propaganda coming from CCP apparatchiks.

No responsible Western observer would ever accuse the PRC of being realistic with their frequently bellicose propaganda and sometimes outlandish suggestions about American actions and intentions. The public statements of press briefing-level Chinese diplomats are probably one step above the North Korean media or “Baghdad Bob” level of credibility, apparently a bit more so if you’re affiliated in the National Basketball Association. But it’s not the sort of allegation we either take seriously or would expect to be taken as such in serious conversation.

But you know what would help Gardner credibly complain about discreditable allegations from China?

A single word of criticism for the President who won’t stop calling it the “Chinese Virus.”

Gardner also defended the president’s calling the new coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” [Pols emphasis]

“This virus did come from China. I think China did some horrible things when they lied about this happening…”

And with that, gentle readers, the diplomacy of outrage is back to square one.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 24)

Happy Birthday Affordable Care Actttttt…Happy Birthday, to you! It’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The World Health Organization says the United States could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. But President Trump is worried that voters are going to ding him for screwing up both the coronavirus response and the economy, so he’s playing doctor — perhaps benching the actual doctors — and suggesting that he’ll soon relax social distancing restrictions. As The Washington Post reports, Trump don’t need no public health experts to tell him what to do:

As he watches stock prices plummet and braces for an expected surge in unemployment, Trump has received urgent pleas from rattled business leaders, Republican lawmakers and conservative economists imploring him to remove some of the stringent social distancing guidelines that he put in place for a 15-day period ending March 30, according to several people with knowledge of the internal deliberations.

The consensus among experts — including infectious disease expert Anthony S. Fauci and other senior officials on Trump’s coronavirus task force — is that restaurants, bars, schools, offices and other gathering places should remain closed for many more weeks to mitigate the outbreak, the worst effects of which are yet to be felt in the United States.

But Trump has been chafing against that notion and impatient to get American life back to normal.

“If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world . . . and let’s keep it shut for a couple of years,” Trump said Monday. “We can’t do that.”

“If it were up to the doctors…”

As Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post, this pandemic isn’t about you — it’s about him:

People are dying. Businesses are failing. Workers are losing jobs.

But above all we as a nation must keep in mind the terrible cost borne by President Trump…

…Trump’s reelection depends on a booming economy.

And so on Monday night he made the ultimate gesture of selfishness: Defying the pleas of scientists and public health experts, he said he would reopen the economy in the next few weeks.

 

► Alex Burness of The Denver Post outlines why Gov. Jared Polis has thus far resisted calls to issue a statewide lockdown or “shelter-in-place” order:

Polis has been walking a tightrope, and he will continue to do so: Measures he takes to force greater social distancing will do economic damage, while leniency on business and other social activities and settings will allow more people to leave their homes, and potentially spread or come in contact with the virus…

…With no statewide stay-at-home order in place, some courts have continued packing dozens into single hearing rooms. Parks are busy and some trailheads are slammed.

Polis not only believes that it’s impossible to enforce these and other behaviors out of existence, but he also has emphasized that there’s “only so much any government can do” in response to coronavirus. He’s repeatedly called on Coloradans to exercise personal responsibility.

A statewide shelter-in-place order is still being sought by some top public health groups.

Meanwhile, local municipalities are pushing ahead with their own measures. As The Colorado Sun reports, the City of Denver will be under a stay-at-home order beginning today at 5:00 pm and running until at least April 10:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday announced a stay-at-home decree, closing nonessential businesses and banning people from congregating in parks and other public places. The order cuts off the last vestiges of normal social interaction in the city as health officials try everything they can to slow the spread of the new coronavirus…

…Denver parks will remain open for people to walk and hike in, but not congregate or play sports. Playgrounds and most retail stores will be shut down.

Public transit, including Denver International Airport and rideshares, are not affected by the order. Restaurants still will be allowed to deliver food and offer takeout meals. Medical marijuana stores are exempt, as are grocery stores, banks, laundromats, and child care facilities.

Denver’s shelter-in-place order originally included the closure of liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and a restriction on construction operations; the order was amended a few hours later to offer exceptions, keeping liquor stores and dispensaries open to the public.

Elsewhere, residents of Aurora are anticipating a stay-at-home order in the near future. Pitkin County and the City of Boulder have now implemented similar orders.

 

► State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-Parker) has tested positive for COVID-19, but says that he is not experiencing serious symptoms and is self-quarantining at his second home in California.

Also on Monday, Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City) announced that she had been misdiagnosed last week as testing positive for COVID-19 and is instead sick with a more common strain of coronavirus.

 

► As Politico reports, the Senate is expected to approve a massive coronavirus relief package today:

Congressional negotiators signaled Tuesday morning that they are likely hours away from clinching a bipartisan agreement on a nearly $2 trillion emergency stimulus package to confront the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — capping five days of frenetic talks that have consumed a mostly empty Capitol.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to announce an agreement later Tuesday, while President Donald Trump pushes for an immediate vote…

…Schumer and Mnuchin met in person six times on Monday, and their final meeting wrapped up around midnight. The Senate could hold an initial procedural vote as early as Tuesday afternoon if McConnell and Schumer can reach a time agreement.

Both sides were huddling with their legislative staff to review final details, and said they expect to unveil a broad deal within several hours with a vote taking place later Tuesday.

Notice who was NOT a critical part of these late negotiations? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As The New York Times editorial board wrote on Monday, McConnell is the reason that a relief package hasn’t already been approved.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appears to be pleased with the negotiations related to unemployment insurance. House Democrats unveiled their version of a stimulus bill late Monday night.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Colorado’s Death Penalty Is History

Old Sparky.

A major news item yesterday almost got squelched in the rush of updates about the coronavirus pandemic–as the Colorado Independent’s John Herrick reports, Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 20-100 repealing the death penalty in Colorado for cases beginning July 1. Separately, Gov. Polis commuted the sentences of the three remaining inmates on Colorado’s death row to life imprisonment:

The governor’s clemency orders, which reference the three men by their Department of Corrections ID number rather than by name, was in part based on Colorado’s new law repealing capital punishment.

“The commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado,” Polis said.

But Polis also recognized that the death penalty reflects a long-standing bias in the criminal justice system that disproportionately punishes people of color. There are 539 convicts in Colorado who could have been sentenced to death, lawyers say. Only three have been. All three are black men. All went to Overland High in Aurora. And all were prosecuted in the 18th Judicial District, currently represented by District Attorney George Brauchler.

Monday’s order, Polis said, is “consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado.”

The debate over repealing the death penalty in the Colorado legislature was very dramatic this year as in prior years, and neither support nor opposition for repeal broke cleanly along partisan lines. A few Republicans voicing religious and libertarian objections to state-sanctioned killing were opposed by a few Democratic representatives whose lives have been permanently impacted by the commission of capital crimes–including by some of the very same murderers whose death sentences were commuted yesterday.

With that said, the state has been on course to eliminate the death penalty for years, going back to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s stay of execution for an inmate set to die in 2013. The high-profile failure by politically vociferous DA George Brauchler in the death penalty phase of the Aurora shooting trial was another watershed moment, demonstrating how the death penalty doesn’t work consistently even for the worst of crimes.

Given the personal nature of this debate to certain lawmakers in the Democratic majority, getting to this point was understandably difficult. But in a broader political context, the abolition of the death penalty is less risky in the long term for majority Democrats than allowing the debate over doing so to go on indefinitely.

And now for Gov. Polis it’s another campaign promise kept.

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Denver Shelter Order Updated: Exceptions for Liquor Stores, Dispensaries

UPDATE #2: From the City and County of Denver:

 

—–

UPDATE: STOP PANIC BUYING — CHANGES ARE COMING!!!

We’re hearing from sources in the City of Denver that this order is being revised and restrictions on liquor stores and dispensaries are being adjusted. From what we understand, the logic here was to start restrictions broadly and then make adjustments as necessary, which follows guidance that has been presented by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States.

—–

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

An unexpected development this afternoon in the City and County of Denver this afternoon, as Mayor Michael Hancock imposes a citywide “shelter in place” order shutting down businesses deemed nonessential–and controversially including liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries in the order, when those businesses have been permitted to remain operating in other jurisdictions–as the Denver Post reports:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday ordered residents to stay in their homes and announced that non-essential businesses such as liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries would close across the city starting Tuesday…He told Denverites to stock up tonight on alcohol (and recreational marijuana) if they need to.

At Argonaut Wine & Liquor, 760 E. Colfax Ave., the mayor’s order created an instant rush Monday afternoon. Within 15 minutes of the press conference, a line about a block long formed outside the building, according to co-owner Josh Robinson. In order to adhere to public health guidelines around social distancing and keep people spaced out inside, staff acted like bouncers, allowing one shopper in for each person that left.

“It’s created a safety issue in the short term,” Robinson said. “The mayor said not to panic buy, but that is exactly what he encouraged people to do by shutting us down.” [Pols emphasis]

We’re hearing reports already of long lines forming outside Denver liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries. For public health officials trying to get the public to isolate and spatially distance themselves, this could be considered counterproductive.

This story will be updated.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 23)

Today is Monday…right? Anyway, it’s definitely time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

The U.S. Senate continues to discuss a big stimulus bill aimed at easing economic concerns related to the Coronavirus outbreak. As The Washington Post reports:

Senate leaders and Trump administration officials are resuming talks Monday morning on a giant stimulus bill aimed at propping up an economy hard-hit by the coronavirus, after weekend negotiations failed to produce a deal.

Senate Democrats voted Sunday evening to block the bill from advancing, infuriating Republicans. Democrats have alleged the bill does too much to help prop up businesses without directing enough money to households, hospitals and health professionals. White House officials have acknowledged the unprecedented assistance the legislation would steer toward corporations, but they have said this money would help protect millions of jobs…[Pols emphasis]

…The legislation aims to flood the economy with money, from individuals to small businesses to large industries amid a wave of layoffs and a sharp contraction in consumer spending. It would direct $1,200 to most adults and $500 to most children. It would also create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states and another $350 billion to help small businesses meet payroll costs.

Senate Democrats are calling the proposed package a “slush fund.” As Politico notes, the Senate is rushing to try to find an agreement on legislation by the end of today.

 

► Governor Jared Polis is taking new steps in response to the pandemic. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to reduce the number of people physically present in the workplace by 50 percent, and more if possible.

He said that while the state was not wielding enforcement authority to keep people at home, there is a more severe enforcement authority that should keep people home for themselves and others: “the Grim Reaper.”

“It is not the threat of you being brought to prison, it is the threat of death,” he said…

…Polis expects private businesses to comply with the order by Tuesday. Businesses that can prove they are able to keep workers at least six feet apart are allowed to keep their workforce in the office…

…The governor also announced the creation of a new team, intended to find innovative ways to address the crisis. The Innovation Response Team Taskforce will focus on creating statewide testing systems, as well as creating services for people in isolation or quarantine such as WiFi or groceries.

As Denver7 notes, Polis is not at all happy with the Trump administration’s Coronavirus response:

“In many ways, I couldn’t have imagined that our nation’s response could have been so slow,” Polis said. “Like many governors of both parties across the country, I’m furious that as the leader of the free world, we’re being forced to close down businesses and restaurants and bars because the United States – unlike [South] Korea and Taiwan – didn’t have enough tests, enough personal protective equipment, or ventilators, to properly manage care for those who would get this virus.”

Governor Polis is also asking landlords and banks to be lenient on tenants and mortgage holders during the Coronavirus outbreak.

 

► Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is the first member of the U.S. Senate to test positive for COVID-19. Paul may have infected many others with his irresponsible actions, as Amber Phillips explains for The Washington Post.

Senator Paul is trying to defend his actions today, but as CNN reports, he’s doing it wrong:

“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol,” Paul said in a statement. “The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.”

Uh…

 

► The Federal Reserve announced aggressive new measures aimed at keeping the United States economy afloat during the pandemic.

 

► President Trump appears to be growing weary already of the country’s (now) aggressive response to the coronavirus outbreak. As The New York Times reports:

President Trump on Sunday night said that the government would reassess the recommended period for keeping businesses shut and millions of workers at home after this week, amid millions of job losses caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr. Trump tweeted in all capital letters shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

Officials have said that the initial 15-day period for social distancing — limiting close contact between people by banning gatherings, closing schools and offices, encouraging remote work and urging people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another — is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, for which more than 30,000 people in the United States have tested positive. The 15-day period would end Monday.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Polis Threads Needle To Keep The Ship Aright

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Colorado Public Radio reports on yesterday’s round of executive orders from Gov. Jared Polis, as the state continues to respond to the rapidly growing COVID-19 outbreak:

On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to reduce the number of people physically present in the workplace by 50 percent, and more if possible.

He said that while the state was not wielding enforcement authority to keep people at home, there is a more severe enforcement authority that should keep people home for themselves and others: “the Grim Reaper.”

“It is not the threat of you being brought to prison, it is the threat of death,” he said.

The order passed by Gov. Polis yesterday does not fully order the closure of non-essential businesses throughout the state, known in some locations as a “shelter in place” order–instead directing businesses to reduce on-site staffing levels and take other actions to reduce the spread of infection in their workplaces. What we’re seeing here is a targeted attempt by Gov. Polis to maximize disease prevention while minimizing disruption of the economy.

For the faction of Republicans–which belatedly no longer includes President Donald Trump–who are more upset about the measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 than the pandemic itself, the fact that Polis has not gone as far as some other states, and is not threatening enforcement of his orders in the manner of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, should leave them nothing to complain about. The real question will be whether or not, in hindsight, Polis’ nuanced approach was sufficient to address the situation.

Before you armchair quarterback, and of course we all will, consider the weight of these decisions.

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Sorry Cory Gardner, That’s “The Story of Life”

Thursday, from his self-quarantined location in Washington after having come in contact with a COVID-19 patient from Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner asked a question no doubt many other Americans have voiced in the past few days:

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Indeed, there does appear to be a channel for obtaining coronavirus tests by the rich and powerful, naturally including sports celebrities, that ordinary Americans do not have. It’s hardly the first time the privilege of wealth in America has resulted in unequal access to a life-saving intervention, but it’s certainly upsetting to all of us who can’t reasonably expect to get a test even with all the symptoms.

The problem, as NBC News reported Wednesday, is that Cory Gardner appears to have asked this question the day after President Donald Trump answered it.

“How are nonsymptomatic professional athletes getting tests while others are waiting in line and can’t get them?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Trump. “Do the well-connected go to the front of the line?”

“No, I wouldn’t say so,” the president said. “But perhaps that’s the story of life. [Pols emphasis] That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Trump’s “that’s the story of life” quote is included in the Washington Post story that Cory Gardner cited in his angry Tweet. Are we to take this to mean that Gardner is actually being critical of President Trump’s dismissal of the problem? This crucial detail, in what’s become a signature move for Gardner, is left unresolved. If Gardner is upset with Trump over blowing off this “class warfare” concern, he has an obligation to be specific on that point–lest the only thing anyone remembers about this kerfluffle is that Gardner has already endorsed Trump’s re-election.

We take Gardner at his word that he’s genuinely worried about what’s happening. We wish him good health.

But even now, Gardner seems unable or unwilling to acknowledge the politically inconvenient truth.

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