Progressive Activist With Degenerative Disease Can’t Find Congressman Tipton at Pueblo Town Hall Meeting

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you had a horrible disease and didn’t know how long you were going to live, would you spend your days driving around the country chasing down politicians who cast votes to repeal Obamacare?

That’s what Ady Barkan is doing. The progressive activist, who has nerve-degenerating Lou Gehrig’s disease, is spending 42 days in an RV on a mission that led him to Pueblo last Sunday in search of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO).

Tipton, according to a video Tweeted by Barkan, was invited to a Pueblo town-hall meeting on health care issues, but didn’t show up, leading Barkan to pull out a cardboard cutout of the Congressman, who’s represented southwestern Colorado since 2010, when he defeated Democrat John Salazar.

Barkan’s video shows the Tipton-less meeting, with folks directing questions about health care at the cutout and Barkan saying the Congressman “seems reticent” to answer the queries, drawing laughs from the group.

Barkan, who gained viral fame when he pleaded with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in 2017 to save lives by voting against the Trump tax bill, speaks slowly in his video, claiming Tipton hasn’t held a town hall meeting in Pueblo since 2016.

Tipton’s office did return a call seeking to know why he’s avoided Pueblo–or if he could dispute the no-show allegation.

“The point is to highlight for the American people just how irresponsible and unresponsive their congress members are,” Barkan told the Reno Gazette Journal, explaining his tour. “They refuse to prioritize our best interests.”

Health care issues are a top concern of voters in southwestern Colorado, according to one recent poll from a Democratic pollster.

Tipton represents what’s been considered a solidly Republican district, but national political analysts at the Cook Political Report recently determined that Democrats have a greater chance to win Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District this year than they have in recent elections, though Tipton is still favored.

Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is prepared to move ahead on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the West, according to reports.

Grand Junction is expected to be a prime possibility for the new national headquarters, partly because of the work of Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Michael Bennet of Denver…

…Rep. Scott Tipton’s office said Thursday that the department will conduct an analysis to help choose a location in the next six to eight months, Interior Department senior adviser Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the release Thursday. “Ninety-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a Western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

Moving the headquarters of the BLM to the American West has been a long-running project that has the support of Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation, as well as the backing of local officials and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado isn’t guaranteed to be the new home of the BLM, but Grand Junction is at least among the frontrunners.

It’s too soon to tell if this pending move will have a significant effect on BLM policies in the West or is more of a publicity stunt, though a new HQ would almost certainly create some new jobs in Colorado.

Cook Political Report Shifts Tipton’s District Leftward

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

Nonpartisan Cook Political Report made a number of adjustments to their congressional race rankings today, including one that locals should note carefully–Colorado CD-3, held by GOP incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, is no longer considered solidly Republican:

CO-03: Scott Tipton (R) – Western Slope: Grand Junction, Pueblo

Likely Republican. This Western Slope district is increasingly fractured between conservative ranch country and liberal ski resort towns, which makes it difficult to traverse politically. Democrats’ ideal candidate here would be a Blue Dog who could appeal to ranchers and Hispanic voters in Pueblo. But since Tipton ousted moderate Rep. John Salazar in 2010, Democrats have had a hard time broadening their base.

State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a social policy professor from wealthy Steamboat Springs who grew up in Minnesota, won the June 26 Democratic primary with 64 percent. She emphasizes her ranch conservation efforts, but may have a hard breaking out of the liberal stereotype. Still, Tipton didn’t crack 55 percent in 2016 (President Trump took 52 percent here), and it’s worth watching in a wave.

It’s an overall accurate view of the state of play in this district. Affluent liberal resort towns compete with large areas of conservative hinterland, with the cities of Pueblo and Grand Junction offsetting each other to create a politically complex environment for both parties. Tipton has held on to this district since 2010 by margins that Democrats remain convinced are not representative of the electorate as a whole, and the expected midterm backlash against Trump in 2018 gives Democrats their best shot since John Salazar held the seat.

With that said, a move from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” isn’t going to make Republicans throw Tipton to the wolves–at least not yet. If in the fall Tipton is in real danger of losing, it will mean that the overall climate for Republicans in the midterms has deteriorated even from where it stands today. It’s a safe prediction that if Tipton loses, Republicans have already lost the House in closer races elsewhere.

This race, like much of the country this year, is moving in the direction Democrats want it to be moving in. Time will tell whether it can get to the elusive 50%+1 needed to actually send Scott Tipton into retirement.

Hope Springs Eternal As EMILY’s List Backs DMB

Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs).

David O. Williams writes for the Vail Daily:

EMILY’s List, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest resource for women in politics,” is betting on former Eagle County state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush to do something that’s never been done in the 103-year history of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: be the first woman to win the seat.

In fact, since Socialist Edith Halcomb garnered a scant 2 percent of the vote in the 1918 election, only a handful of women have even sought election in the sprawling, mostly rural, suburban and Republican district that stretches from Pueblo in the south to Grand Junction on the Utah state line, including roughly the western two-thirds of Eagle County.

Women have not fared well in District 3 since it was first formed in 1915. Democrat Linda Powers lost to Republican Scott McInnis by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin in 1994, Independent Tisha Casida twice picked up small percentages of votes in 2012 and 2014, and Democrat Gail Schwartz lost decisively to incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, 54 percent to 40 percent, in 2016.

But Mitsch Bush, who quit the State House to take on Tipton, thinks 2018 will be different.

It’s important to keep in mind that, although EMILY’s List endorses women candidates for office, not just any woman candidate makes the list. To qualify for support from the organization means a candidate has met specific benchmarks that assess the viability of a candidate before they are endorsed–a process that helps the reputations of both the candidate and EMILY’s List as a credible endorser. The organization’s support doesn’t end with an endorsement, either, as candidates can tap into a pool of financial and in-kind support for their race.

All of which brings us back to the central question, whether Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush has what it takes to successfully challenge entrenched incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton. To her credit, Mitsch Bush dispatched her Democratic primary challenger Karl Hanlon by a much wider-than-expected margin. After years of disappointment in this district, Democrats do see the 2018 election cycle as the best chance of flipping Tipton’s seat that has existed since Tipton himself unseated a Democrat in the 2010 wave year.

As of this writing, there’s every reason for Democrats to be hopeful. There are two realistic locations where Democrats can advance the cause a House majority in Colorado–Rep. Mike Coffman’s district, and Tipton’s.

So if you’re ready to believe in a 2018 Democratic wave, here is where you’ll put that belief to the test.

Thanks For Nothing, Scott Tipton (Dead Letter Office Edition)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

As the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports, the Trump administration’s self-inflicted debacle over child separations along the southern border is tripping up GOP Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez–who is quickly emerging as a “reach goal” target for Democrats in the upcoming elections:

Two Democratic challengers who are seeking to replace Colorado’s 3rd District U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton are pressing the congressman after he Tweeted earlier this week about his position on U.S. border patrol family separations.

“I recently signed onto a letter w/ some of my colleagues to be sent to DHS, that expresses disapproval of the current policy of separating families & requests additional information on what is being done when a family arrives at the border in-between legal port of entry,” Tipton stated, responding to growing criticism of President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy of separating children from parents, before he signed an executive order Wednesday reversing the policy.

However, asked Wednesday for a copy of the letter outlining Tipton’s position on the issue, staffers in Washington, D.C. said they couldn’t immediately provide a copy.

Apparently, as of Wednesday the reason that Rep. Tipton could not provide a copy of this letter to the Department of Homeland Security is that it hadn’t been delivered yet! The crisis over family separations has been front page for nearly a month, and a major bone of contention for months prior to that, so a letter delivered Wednesday (or later, who knows) when President Donald Trump rescinded the policy that same day can be fairly categorized as totally meaningless ass-covering.

“I think that is classic Tipton, that he is trying to avoid taking a position on an issue because he doesn’t know which direction the political wind is blowing.” [Pols emphasis]

[Democratic CD-3 candidate Karl] Hanlon continued, “If I am sending this letter to the Department of Homeland Security, and speaking to a humanitarian crisis within our borders, I absolutely want my constituents to know what I said.”

In addition to the overwhelming public disapproval of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to families being separated at the border, Tipton’s district has been impacted by the Trump administration’s crackdown with documented shortages of both agricultural and seasonal resort labor. The state’s extremely low unemployment rate combined with visa programs for the needed labor that haven’t grown in decades is demonstrably holding back the economy in Tipton’s district.

And that’s before we even talk about Pueblo. In short there’s real danger for Tipton here, and he appears to already be well behind the curve in addressing the biggest headline in the national news today.

This isn’t a good year to be complacent.

Trump’s EPA, Colorado Springs’ Pollution: Dirty Deeds Afoot?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

A story published Friday by the Colorado Springs Independent, a frequent source for the straight dope on happenings along the Ronald Reagan Highway when the Phil Anschutz-owned newspaper of record for that city turns a blind eye, is causing considerable concern among Colorado Springs’ neighbors to the south along the city’s principal drainage Fountain Creek. It’s a situation we’re discussed a number of times as Pueblo has sought to hold the Springs accountable for unchecked stormwater and sewage pollution surging into Fountain Creek–but under Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, the story may be taking a sinister turn:

Despite protests from fellow plaintiffs, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to revisit a possible settlement with the city Colorado Springs over alleged Clean Water Act violations caused by the city’s longterm neglect of stormwater management, according to documents obtained by the Independent.

The renewed negotiations come as U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch scheduled an August trial in the lawsuit on May 22, the day after the state’s lead attorney in the case was reportedly fired for a reason the Colorado Attorney General’s Office won’t discuss.

Margaret “Meg” Parish, first assistant attorney general in the Natural Resources & Environment Section, wrote several scathing letters to the EPA in recent months, calling the EPA’s action “shocking and extraordinary” and expressing “deep concern and disappointment” that the agency would unilaterally reopen settlement discussion without consulting co-plaintiffs. Besides the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), those include Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The move was particularly alarming, she noted, because the state and EPA had signed an agreement in which both agreed not to communicate with the city without the presence of the other.

The EPA is a lead plaintiff in the long-running litigation over Colorado Springs’ pollution of Fountain Creek, obviously possessing resources local municipalities do not have–especially smaller, poorer communities like Pueblo versus Colorado Springs–to force polluters to work in good faith to clean themselves up. What’s happening here could be interpreted as an end run around the upcoming trial, allowing Colorado Springs to settle on terms vastly more favorable to the city than the trial would likely produce. It follows a request last year by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn for the EPA to drop the lawsuit entirely.

What changed between the EPA working in good faith with Pueblo and other downstream communities to hold Colorado Springs accountable for stormwater and sewage pollution? Donald Trump became President, appointing the most controversially permissive EPA administrator in the agency’s history in Scott Pruitt. The recent completion of the Southern Delivery System, which pipes Arkansas River water north to Colorado Springs, facilitates future growth in Colorado Springs while increasing the treated sewage flows into Fountain Creek. And now you have the Republican city administration of Colorado Springs cozying up with this new EPA, seemingly in opposition to the parties the EPA was charged with assisting.

When Lamborn’s request to the EPA to terminate its involvement in the lawsuit agaist Colorado Springs was reported, Lamborn’s fellow Republican Rep. Scott Tipton who represents Pueblo stood up for his constituents–reminding Lamborn that “the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason.”

Now that it appears the treachery is moving from the planning to the operational stages, it’s definitely time for Pueblo’s representative in Congress to throw down! If Tipton’s split loyalties between his constituents in Pueblo and his party allow Colorado Springs to escape accountability for polluting Fountain Creek, it’s a very serious problem for Tipton’s re-election.

However this situation resolves, it’s a hard lesson in how times have changed–and how elections matter.

This is Really Not a Good Year for Incumbent Republicans

Clockwise from top left: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo. Springs).

Four states held Primary elections on Tuesday (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia), and perhaps the biggest takeaway from those results is this: 2018 is a terrible year to be an incumbent Republican.

As the Washington Post reports:

Republican members of the House fared especially poorly Tuesday in primaries across four states, offering fresh evidence that this fall will bring another change election and a new batch of outsiders promising to shake up Washington.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger was felled by former Baptist pastor Mark Harris despite a massive spending advantage, an outcome that caught D.C. Republicans off guard. Harris portrayed the third-term lawmaker as a creature of “the swamp” and relentlessly hammered him over his March vote for the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Pittenger is the first incumbent of either party to be forced out of Congress this year.

In the primary to take on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), wealthy businessman Mike Braun won an upset over two GOP congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who have been rivals since college and spent months beating the tar out of each other.

In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) lost to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

The fifth Republican Member of Congress (from Tuesday alone) who will not be returning to the House in 2019 is Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who won the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate in unspectacular fashion; Renacci managed just 47% of the vote against four unknown candidates despite plenty of campaign support from President Trump.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza includes all Members of Congress in his list of “Losers” from Tuesday, though we’re really only talking about Republicans here:

There was a time when being a sitting member of Congress was a major advantage when running statewide. You had a political base and a fundraising base. Those days are done — at least for now.

Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is regularly fighting for his political life, but 2018 may be his toughest challenge yet should Jason Crow emerge from the Democratic Primary (which is likely). Polling results released in February showed Crow with a 5-point lead over Coffman, marking the first time a public poll showed Coffman trailing anyone since he was first elected in CD-6 in 2008.

Recent polling also shows Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) to be in serious trouble this fall, thanks in large part to his support for the Great Republican Tax Cut for Rich People and his regular enthusiasm for gutting health care benefits.

In CD-5, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) almost failed to make the June Primary ballot altogether, though he’ll still have a tough fight for his seat against three four Republican challengers. Our final incumbent Republican is Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who is probably safe because of a combination of relatively-weak Democratic challengers and a sustained effort to build a more “independent” image; still, it’s worth pointing out that Buck seriously considered abandoning his seat in CD-4 last fall in order to run for Attorney General.

We’re still six months out from the General Election, but disdain for GOP incumbents partnered with a growing blue wave should make the rest of 2018 very uncomfortable for at least two long-tenured Republican Members of Congress in Colorado.

Yes Virginia, Rep. Scott Tipton Is Vulnerable

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

The nationwide Health Care Voter campaign released a new poll from Democratic-aligned but trustworthy Public Policy Polling that shows an opportunity for Democrats looking to make big gains in what’s expected to be a wave election year–in the form of vulnerability for Rep. Scott Tipton, the incumbent Republican representing the Western Slope and southern Colorado in Congress:

One year after Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to strip 23 million Americans of their health care, Health Care Voter has released a new battleground poll showing that voters in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district are poised to hold Congressman Scott Tipton accountable for cruel and careless attempts to undermine the health care system.

The new polling shows that voters in the district are less likely to vote for Congressman Tipton following his attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The survey also shows that most voters believe lawmakers should strengthen the existing law, rather than repeal it.

From PPP’s poll memo:

When it comes to the ACA, voters are supportive of the law: 47 percent approve compared to just 37 percent disapproving. However, when it comes to fixing the ACA or repealing it and starting over with a new health care law, there is a much greater appetite among voters to improve the ACA: 62 percent think it should be made stronger rather than repealing it. Moreover, a plurality (47 percent) agreed Republicans are trying to undermine and sabotage the ACA because of their failure to repeal it…

[I]]t is clear from this survey that Scott Tipton is viewed unfavorably, will face a tough re-election campaign, and remains burdened by the issue of health care.

• Approval rating: Just 32 percent of voters approve of Tipton’s job performance, while 44 percent disapprove.

• Election matchup: Tipton is supported by 44 percent [of voters] compared to 42 percent supporting his Democratic opponent – a statistical dead heat.

• Health care repeal vote: 44 percent are less likely to support Tipton because of his vote for repeal, compared to 34 percent who are more likely to support him.

Apropos, Tipton is taking fire on this very issue from a six-digit-buy TV spot running in his district:

Last year’s (mostly) failed assault on the Affordable Care Act is broadly acknowledged to be a political disaster for Republicans no matter where you stand on the law itself. The failure to pass repeal angered conservative opponents of the law, while the attempt to repeal–which Tipton made no attempt to distance himself from unlike some other representatives in competitive districts–fully alienated the majority of voters either in support of the ACA or at least not already indoctrinated against it. The result is a major sore point with voters on both sides that Scott Tipton has no good answers for.

Tipton’s vulnerability is a warning to a large number of what would be considered second-tier incumbent Republican targets that they are vulnerable too in this historically negative environment for their party. If the 2018 wave grows large enough to sweep Tipton from office, enough Republicans will precede him in defeat to flip the House to Democrats by a healthy margin.

These numbers say it can happen.

Some Oversight of Mick Mulvaney, Scott Tipton?

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

CNN Chris Cillizza reports and it’s not a good look for President Donald Trump’s controversial all-things-finance czar Mick Mulvaney, whose fox-in-henhouse management of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is once again in the spotlight after this amazing moment of on-camera truthfulness Tuesday:

Donald Trump famously pledged to “drain the swamp” of Washington if elected president, getting rid of all the career politicians and lobbyists who buy and sell access and screw the little guy in the process.

Fifteen-ish months into Trump’s presidency, the swamp hasn’t been drained just yet. In fact, you could argue it’s swampier than ever.

Witness these comments by Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in a speech to banking executives on Tuesday (bolding is mine):

“What you do here matters. We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you. If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception regardless of the financial contributions.”

As the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush adds, that policy appears to be the rule in Mulvaney’s new office too:

[Mulvaney] has frozen all new investigations and slowed down existing inquiries by requiring employees to produce detailed justifications. He also sharply restricted the bureau’s access to bank data, arguing that its investigations created online security risks. And he has scaled back efforts to go after payday lenders, auto lenders and other financial services companies accused of preying on the vulnerable.

But he wants Congress to go further and has urged it to wrest funding of the independent watchdog from the Federal Reserve, a move that would give lawmakers — and those with access to them — more influence on the bureau’s actions. On Tuesday, he implored the financial services industry to help support the legislative changes he has requested.

As Mick Mulvaney’s troubling actions to weaken the organization he is nominally in charge of align with rhetoric overtly suggesting that lobbyists who ‘give him money’ are the people he talks to, Coloradans looking for answers should contact GOP Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez. He doesn’t get much attention for it, but Rep. Tipton currently serves as the vice chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Financial Services Committee–putting Tipton directly in an oversight role over Mulvaney’s activities. Given the frequency with which Mulvaney is making the news, the silence of Tipton’s committee is worth questioning to say the least.

Of course the fact that you haven’t heard from Tipton, with Mulvaney’s dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau already well underway, could tell the struggling debtors of CD-3 everything they need to know.

State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates

With both the Democratic and Republican state assemblies/conventions now behind us, we’ve made a multitude of updates to The Big Line. If you’re looking for information on who made the ballot and who didn’t, you’ll find those updates in The Big Line. If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Colorado, you will not find that information in The Big Line. If you’re looking for an analysis of the 2018 races for Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Congress…it’s in The Big Line.

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

Alamosa Official Won’t Resign After Writing ‘Republicans hate poor people’

(The foot remains in the mouth – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Alamosa residents decried Councilor David Broyles’ assertion that “Republicans hate poor people,” before calling for his resignation at last night’s city council meeting, which also included a discussion of a possible recall election.

Broyles admitted to being the author of the Alamosa County Republicans’ controversial post on its Facebook page Friday. He has since resigned from his position as Vice Chair of the Alamosa GOP, but remains in his public office as city councilor for Alamosa’s Ward 2. 

The full city council meeting can be viewed online here. The links in the paragraphs below jump directly to the statements being discussed.

Alamosa GOP Facebook post by then-Vice Chair David Broyles

South Alamosa resident Scott White asked directly for Councilor Broyles’ resignation: “We should as a city, ask for Broyles’ resignation as a clear show of support for the poor people that he claims Republicans hate. We are some of the poorest counties in the state and we need to support our people and not encourage or defend hate speech. I ask that Councilor Broyles resign as a city councilperson.”

Following comments from the public that included requests for his resignation, Councilor Broyles apologized for the post, saying in part,

“I made the posting. It doesn’t represent who I am and it doesn’t represent the platform of the Republican party. I sincerely apologize to the public and to the Republican Party. All I can say is that I will show you in the months ahead that my heart really is centered with helping the poor. My whole life has been with working with the poor. One of these days I’m going to write a letter to the editor to tell you everything I do to work with the poor.” 

(more…)

The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner

Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

After briefly threatening a veto — and randomly asking Congress to give him line item veto powers (and eliminating the filibuster) — President Trump today signed a massive $1.3 trillion spending deal that includes changes to background checks for gun purchases that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) opposed to the very end. If that sentence seems complicated…well, it is. There’s no easy way to unpack the giant omnibus spending bill rammed through by Congress early this morning.

Let’s start things off with the Washington Post reporting from the White House:

Just hours after threatening a veto, President Trump said Friday afternoon that he had signed a “ridiculous” $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress early Friday and averted a government shutdown…

…But speaking to reporters at the White House about four hours later, Trump said he had decided to sign the bill despite his reservations, arguing that it provides much-needed funding for the military, including a pay increase for troops and new equipment.

In his remarks to the media today, Trump was in full angry old man mode. From the New York Times:

In a rambling and disjointed 20-minute statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room, Mr. Trump denigrated the bill, which was rushed through the House and the Senate by members of his own Republican Party, as “crazy” and vowed to never “sign another bill like this again.”

“Nobody read it,” Mr. Trump said of the sweeping funding measure drawn up by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. Echoing criticism from those who voted against the measure, Mr. Trump added, “It’s only hours old.”

Trump specifically addressed his anger about the 2,322-page spending bill that lawmakers could not have possibly even begun to have read before voting on the measure. The House version of the bill made it to the floor on Thursday after just 16 hours of debate; all four Colorado Republican members of Congress voted to end discussion, moving things along with a narrow 211-207 result. Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) were ultimately able to vote “YES” and “NO” on the proposal (Coffman and Buck voted YES on the procedural move before pressing the “NO” button on the final vote).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Over in the Senate, the spending bill passed with 62 votes; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was a “NO.” Gardner’s vote is particularly interesting because the bill included the “Fix NICS” background check provision that Gardner had been blocking for weeks. The next time Gardner pretends to be concerned about gun violence, remember that he prevented the popular background fix measure from being debated in the Senate and ultimately voted against its final approval.

What else do we know about the giant omnibus spending bill? As CNN’s Gregory Krieg explains, it’s important to consider everything that was NOT bundled into the legislation, such as: 1) DACA and immigration reform, 2) Billions of dollars for Trump’s border wall, and 3) Serious attempts at preventing gun violence, including no new limits on gun purchases.

How did this all happen so quickly? As Sarah Binder writes for the Washington Post, this was Republican strategerie at work:

One of the reasons GOP leaders were keen to rush the bill to a vote is that they didn’t want their partisan base to notice that it both funds innumerable Democratic priorities and blocks the Trump administration from doing such things as expanding detention of immigrants, defunding sanctuary cities, and ending federal funding for the arts, to name a few. [Pols emphasis] The Trump White House and many conservatives wanted deep cuts to domestic programs. Party leaders ignored that. The more quickly the two chambers vote, the less time potential opponents have to unearth details that could outrage the GOP base, who might pressure their representatives to vote against the deal.

To summarize, Congressional Republicans rammed through a humongous spending bill that they didn’t read and didn’t really like that does very little to address their political vulnerabilities on gun violence and immigration reform…and will also likely anger their base of supporters.

The Blue Wave Keeps Growing for House Dems

Chris Cillizza of CNN sums up some of the notable changes in the world of political handicapping following Tuesday’s big Democratic pickup in a special election in Pennsylvania:

On Friday, CNN changed the ratings of 17 House contests — all in Democrats favor. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan handicapping site, moved 9 races in Democrats’ favor on Friday as well

…CNN rates 69 GOP-held seats as competitive as compared to just 15 for Democrats. The Cook Report now carries 73 Republican seats as competitive compared to a meager 17 for Democrats. Inside Elections, another political tip sheet, has 57 Republican seats in its competitive ranks and just 12 Democratic seats.

Democrats need only 23 seats to re-take the majority in the House of Representatives.

House Passes Final GOP Tax Bill

UPDATE: The star-crossed story continues:

The House is expected to have to vote again Wednesday on Republicans’ sweeping tax legislation after several provisions were ruled out of order in the Senate.

However, it is not likely to stop the momentum for long, with the legislation still on track to be delivered to President Donald Trump this week. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday night after striking the provisions, which relate to expanding tax-advantaged college savings accounts and taxing college endowments.

The stumble is an embarrassment for Republicans, who just hours before were celebrating on the House floor and getting kudos from Trump for passing the landmark bill and sending it to the Senate. It also plays into the hands of Democrats who have been saying the speed with which Republicans are pushing the plan through is a recipe for chaos.

—–

Just in time for Christmas, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

“While distractors will spell every myth and scare tactic under the sun, at the end of the day, this bill will help working and middle-class families by doubling both the child tax credit and the standard deduction,” said [Rep. Mike] Coffman in a statement prior to the vote.

“This pro-growth and pro-family bill will put more money into the pockets of hard-working Coloradans,” he added.

The tax measure, which has flown through both houses of Congress in recent weeks, has attracted widespread opposition for the tax breaks it provides to corporations and the wealthy, as well as the $1 trillion it’s expected to add to the federal deficit.

No  taking it back now–apparently none of the changes to the bill, including those that undid key defenses Rep. Mike Coffman himself had offered for voting yes, were enough to persuade Coffman to stand in the way of paying back the donors. With this vote the U.S. House in 2017 can finally lay claim to something resembling an accomplishment. So there’s that.

Now the voters will judge Coffman’s actions, and based on the polling that doesn’t look promising.

Rep. Scott Tipton Just Makes Stuff Up About GOP Tax Bill

UPDATE: We’d be remiss if we failed to note again that Rep. Scott Tipton’s vote for the House GOP tax bill was also a vote to eliminate the wind power production tax credit, which plays a key role in high-paying jobs at the Vestas wind tower manufacturing plant located in his district. We have yet to see Tipton comment about this rather important detail, but we understand why he omitted it from this op-ed.

Since this wasn’t about, you know, the facts.

—–

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

In a guest op-ed in the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent today, Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez calls out strongly for passage of the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Strongly, but missing the one thing his pitch really needed: accuracy.

In my travels around the 3rd Congressional District, I have met and spoken with many hardworking Coloradans who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. They are single parents who work two jobs, seven days a week, but still cannot pay their bills. They are small business owners on Main Street, who are weighed down by federal regulations and a tax code that punishes them for being successful. They are families who are forced to make the difficult decision of paying their mortgage or putting food on the table.

Despite the pleas for help from their constituents, some lawmakers in Washington voted to keep our current, harmful tax code in place. There are some in Congress who would prefer to preserve tax loopholes for special interests and tell Americans how they should spend their money, rather than deliver relief for families and job creators. These are the same individuals who have characterized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a tax cut for the rich, despite independent analysis that shows it will help Americans at every tax level, especially Americans at the low and middle-income level. [Pols emphasis]

As we have discussed repeatedly as the GOP tax bill has been under debate in the U.S. House and now the Senate, the claim that this is meant in any meaningful way to “help Americans at the low and middle-income level,” is simply not true. Referring again to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the House bill, which is the version Tipton is extolling in today’s op-ed, the facts are clear:

The House bill that passed on Thursday could save Trump and his family over $1 billion, per an NBC News analysis. Key provisions like eliminating the alternative minimum tax (which cost Trump $31 million in his leaked 2005 return), ending the estate tax, cutting the top tax rate for pass-through businesses, and raising the top income threshold for individuals, all directly benefit the rich…a growing minority would see a tax increase over the years, especially if temporary provisions in the bill expire. By 2027, the bottom 40 percent of earners would see almost no average change in their tax bill at all versus current law. Nearly half of the bill’s benefits would go to the top 1 percent. [Pols emphasis]

As 9NEWS correctly noted in their comprehensive look at the Senate version of the tax bill, the numbers are even worse with the legislation currently under debate–with over 50% of taxpayers paying more in 2027 than they do today, and the overwhelming majority of the benefits still going to the wealthiest Americans.

But no matter which version of the GOP tax bill you look at, Tipton’s claim that “it will help Americans at every tax level, especially Americans at the low and middle-income level” has no factual basis. The only people being “especially” helped by this bill are wealthy individuals and businesses. It’s possible that Scott Tipton, whose net worth in 2014 was estimated somewhere north of $6 million, is far enough out of touch with “middle-income” Americans that he imagines himself to be one.

But he’s not. The majority of voters in Tipton’s district, on the other hand, are.

To whom Scott Tipton just told a whopper of a lie.