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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is back in Colorado this week not holding town hall meetings as Congress takes its annual July 4th holiday recess. Colorado’s cherubic junior Senator has risen quickly in the political world over the last decade by smiling broadly and throwing bombs at Democrats, but his strategy of climbing the partisan ladder at the expense of his home state has turned even once-loyal supporters like the Denver Post against him.
Late last week, the Post published two separate editorials critical of Gardner’s performance. In the first editorial, which appeared in Saturday’s print edition, the Post wrote that it was “ashamed” of Gardner after his office sought to have protestors with disabilities arrested. On Sunday, the Post then published another strongly-worded editorial calling on Gardner to show some actual leadership in the Senate healthcare discussions:
Here in Colorado, the spectacle has placed Sen. Cory Gardner in a most damning spotlight. It’s time for him to exercise his leadership within the party — Gardner runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee — and join the growing bipartisan rejection of the McConnell effort.
Gardner’s silence on what he’d like to see changed in the bill is deafening in a state where a shockingly high percent of voters support a more liberal approach to health care.
Our first-term Republican senator needs to think long and hard about who he represents and what he stands for.
He needs to spend his break telling constituents how he’d like to fix health care and why he’s the right man for the job in D.C. Because now there is clear reason for doubt. While he’s shown himself too skilled at dodging town hall meetings of constituents of late, Gardner can’t escape the public record. Gardner was one of the select members of a working group meant to inform McConnell’s bill…
…Nothing about the path he is on will be easy, but if Gardner wants to prove his mettle as a leader, this is his chance.
He ought to take it. [Pols emphasis]
Elsewhere, Politico points out just how big of a problem Trumpcare has become for Gardner.
► Senate Republicans remain perplexed by President Trump’s ever-changing strategy (and we use the word “strategy” very lightly here) regarding GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. As the Washington Post reports:
When congressional Republicans zig, President Trump zags. When they follow suit and zag, he zigs. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to overhauling the Affordable Care Act.
Trump jerked the GOP-led Congress around on a puppet string last week when he abruptly tweeted that the Senate should suspend its uphill climb to pass a health-care bill and instead just vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement already lined up.
But that two-step strategy of first repeal, then replace is precisely what the president had convinced Republican leaders not to do earlier this year.
“I feel that repeal and replace have to be together, for very simply, I think that the Democrats should want to fix Obamacare,” Trump said in a Jan. 10 interview with the New York Times. “They cannot live with it, and they have to go together.”
At a news conference the next day, Trump promised an Obamacare replacement “simultaneously.” “We will be filing a plan,” the president said. “It will essentially be simultaneously.”
Perhaps Trump meant to say that he would be “simultaneously” promoting competing narratives on healthcare.
► One Colorado woman profiled by NBC News shows how the healthcare battle over Medicaid spending is deeply personal:
Kelly Stahlman’s twin sons were born 12 weeks prematurely in 1992, and soon after, both were diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other severe health issues that required around-the-clock care.
After two years of constant care with the help of neighbors, friends and au pairs, Stahlman and her husband, Bruce, found themselves nearly broke — both financially and mentally, she told NBC News.
She says their search for assistance to help with the medical bills yielded nothing and even included advice to seek a divorce and give her twins up to foster care so they could receive adequate help.
Both sons required care that private insurance wouldn’t cover at a cost the middle-class family couldn’t afford as the bills reached hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
“We weren’t poor enough” to get financial assistance, she said, “not in the right county. No matter where I went or what I did we couldn’t access anything.”
► Maine and New Jersey have joined Illinois on the list of states facing massive cutbacks because of decimated state budgets. The causes of these state budget woes are too many to list here, but it’s no coincidence that all three states are led by Republican governors.
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