The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. 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

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

On this day in 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first caught sight of land in what is now Florida; nobody was around to tell his cruise ship to go somewhere else. 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

 

As The Associated Press reports, jobless claims in the United States are skyrocketing to literally unprecedented levels:

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.

 

► It is not hyperbole to say that states with Democratic Governors have generally responded better to the coronavirus outbreak than states with Republicans in charge. There are two stark examples of this in the southeastern United States, where Republican Governors in Florida and Georgia are reacting at the speed of molasses.

As The Washington Post reports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday…much too late:

DeSantis took heavy criticism from state lawmakers for refusing to enact such an order until this week, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly surpassed 7,000 in the state, including at least 85 deaths as of Tuesday.

The daily reports from the Florida Department of Health drive the fact home: The number of people testing positive for covid-19 has accelerated rapidly, nearly doubling in the past four days, with 3,274 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 6,741 as of Tuesday evening.

The state reported 857 people hospitalized and 85 deaths as of Tuesday, with the heaviest concentration of infection in Broward and Miami-Dade counties along the southeast coast and pockets in other areas like Tampa and Orange County, home of Walt Disney World. On Tuesday alone, 14 deaths were reported in the state, according to the Miami Herald.

But DeSantis looks like a damn rocket surgeon compared to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Again, from The Washington Post:

After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.

Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.” 

It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. [Pols emphasis] That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.

Really? Really? Kemp just learned that asymptomatic people are transmitting COVID-19??? Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the bumbling coronavirus responses of DeSantis and Kemp.

States with Democrats in charge, like California and Washington, are seeing a flattening curve of coronavirus infections thanks to their swift actions.

Governor Jared Polis — who has notably not had the same trouble as DeSantis and Kemp — is asking the federal government for more assistance in procuring personal protective equipment (PPE). From a press release:

On March 28, Governor Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional PPE and ventilators to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.

“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Governor Polis wrote.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is working quickly to secure its own medical supplies because the federal government has not been able to answer the call quickly enough. The Department of Homeland Security says national stockpiles of PPE are essentially depleted.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Polis announced that Colorado schools would remain closed for in-person learning through at least April 30.

 

► Kudos for CNN for its daily fact-checking of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► The State Supreme Court has ruled that the Colorado legislature can pick up where it left off when work was suspended last month because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Lawmakers had asked the court to rule on whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

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

 

(more…)

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Sorry Republicans, COVID-19 Won’t Break The Legislature

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker).

As Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled yesterday on an important constitutional question regarding the Colorado General Assembly’s 120-day legislative session–after being forced to adjourn for public health reasons as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, can the legislature get back to work seamlessly once it’s safe, or does a narrow interpretation of the law require the further disruption of normal life in a public health emergency?

The ruling, fortunately, came down on the side of not making it harder for government to do its job:

The Colorado legislature can pause and pick up where it left off when it was adjourned on March 14 due to coronavirus concerns, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Under Colorado state law, the legislative session is limited to 120 days unless the governor calls a special session. But in a 4-3 decision, the state’s high court agreed that the days do not have to be counted consecutively during a state of an emergency, meaning the clock on the legislative session has essentially been paused…

With this ruling, the General Assembly will be able to count only “working calendar days” toward the 120-day limit, in the context of this public health disaster emergency.

As Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reported a week ago when opposing briefs were submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court, this is not the ruling Republicans in the General Assembly wanted:

A brief filed on behalf of all 40 Republican lawmakers from the General Assembly was submitted Tuesday by former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, a former cabinet official in the Owens administration.

In that brief, Eid argues that the plain language of the state Constitution, as amended by voters in 1988, says the regular legislative session is 120 consecutive days. He also claims Joint Rule 44(g) which lawmakers adopted in 2009 as a way of dealing with a public health crisis, is unconstitutional because it attempts to amend the Constitution. He also maintains that there are already alternative ways to deal with an emergency, such as a special session called by the governor or the General Assembly…

Eid cited a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial on Nov. 5, 1988, that said “at the very least, if you believe the adage that one’s life, liberty or property are safe when the Legislatures is in session, then Amendment 3 would keep us safe for two-thirds of the year.”

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

GOP leadership in the House and Senate were in unanimous in saying nay to allowing the session to resume without counting the days missed due to the pandemic–which would just happen to have had the effect of derailing most of the legislative agenda of the Democratic majority ahead of a major election, the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reported late last week:

“In November 1988, the People of Colorado overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to limit their state legislature to no more than 120 general session days each year, with each session ending on a date certain,” [Senate Minority Leader Chris] Holbert said in a statement. “That literally means that legislative days must be counted consecutively.”

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, said extending the session would set a dangerous precedent.

After losing their case yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville put out considerably more restrained statements, with Holbert actually claiming to be “grateful” that the Court provided guidance on how to proceed–just the opposite of what he asked for.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy, however, was not exactly what you’d call restrained. The word is unhinged.

In the end, what we have here is another striking example of the two very different approaches Republicans and Democrats take to governing, in Colorado and elsewhere. Republicans rely philosophically and in practice on often absurdly rigid interpretations of the law to demand outcomes which are plainly at odds with what should be everyone’s goal: government that functions effectively to meet the needs of the governed.

For everyone who doesn’t want to see government “drowned in the bathtub,” this decision is a big win.

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Let The Colorado GOP COVID Backpedal Begin

Rep. Mark Baisley (R).

When considering last week’s round of angry protestations from local Republicans, first vilifying the Tri County Health Department for their enforceable stay-at-home order covering Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties, then Gov. Jared Polis for his statewide stay-at-home order which superseded Tri County Health’s order, the question has not been whether these GOP protests would age poorly–it was a question of how long it would take for Republicans who took part in second-guessing measures to reduce the impact of a deadly global pandemic to realize they have made a terrible mistake, with potentially the worst possible consequence in the form of the deaths of those who listen to them.

Well folks, here’s GOP Rep. Mark Baisley, who joined the misguided call for Douglas County to pull out of the Tri County Health Department in protest, making his attempt to walk things back shortly after the news broke:

Regarding our letter to the Douglas County Commissioners, please understand; the intent of our request is for Douglas County to dissociate from Tri-County Health as the health agency for Douglas County. We have NOT suggested that people ignore the practices recommended by the order. [Pols emphasis]

It makes sense to a civil society that we need to maintain distance in order to slow this new virus that will eventually make its way into our general immune systems. That is why people already voluntarily participate by staying at home as much as possible.

Tri-County Health is under contract with Douglas County to fulfill the county’s statutory requirement to maintain a health agency. They overstepped their role when they included a threat to imprison and fine Douglas County citizens whom they deem to be noncompliant. This threatening order places the government in an adversarial position with the people. We believe that it is wholly inappropriate to entrust an unelected, contracted agency that is headquartered in another county with the power to imprison Douglas County residents…

Rep. Baisley even professes some embarrassment that the public knows about what he did:

As we discussed last week, the power vested in public health departments to enact mandatory orders to protect the public in an emergency were granted to them by the Colorado General Assembly–the body Baisley as a member of which would participate in changing the law if anyone seriously desired to do it. But that apparently doesn’t matter, because Baisley thinks everybody should be doing what Tri County and by extension Gov. Polis have ordered–it just, you know, shouldn’t be “an order.”

We of course have no reason to believe that any sane person wants to see the pandemic fulfill worst-case scenarios, and the view expressed by some conservative media figures that an uncontrolled pandemic would be preferable to the disruption of “freedom” caused by measures to contain is not shared by a majority of the American public.

What we can say with confidence is that the worse this pandemic gets, the worse it will get politically for Republicans who protested and even encouraged resistance to common-sense measures overwhelmingly supported by the public to slow it down. More than any event in our lifetimes so far, this is not a game–and political games at this dire moment will not be rewarded at the polls.

Any political pleasure from this development is undone, however, by the fact that Coloradans are going to die first.

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One More Time: Dirt ≠ People

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R).

On Friday, the 14 out of 16 of Colorado state senators in the GOP Senate Minority sent a letter complaining to Gov. Jared Polis about the statewide stay-at-home order currently in effect to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Two Republican Senators who have broken moderate on a range of issues in the past year, Sens. Kevin Priola and Jack Tate, did not sign. Denver7’s Ryan Osborne:

The senators’ letter to Polis on Friday described a “disconnect” between the social distancing needs in larger areas that have seen more cases, such as the Denver metro, and smaller rural communities, where the overall number of confirmed cases has been low but where testing has not been prevalent thus far. [Pols emphasis]

“With the Denver metro area already under a ‘stay at home order,’ what is accomplished by closing down the business activity and daily routines of Coloradans living in a county that has fewer than five cases of COVID-19 after weeks of dealing with this crisis?” the letter said.

Polis on Wednesday said the stay-at-home order — which calls on Coloradans to stay inside their homes, except for essential activities — was necessary to “save thousands of lives” as hospitals prepare for an expected surge of coronavirus patients. Health officials from the state and various counties had called for a statewide order in the days ahead of Polis’ decision, as Denver, several other Front Range counties, and some mountain communities had already implemented similar orders of their own.

It’s just another in a growing string of disgraceful political attacks on the party in power for exercising out of necessity powers that admittedly have resulted in considerable hardship–the goal being to prevent the vastly greater harm of allowing the pandemic to spread unchecked. As the pandemic rapidly worsens throughout the United States and cases in Colorado continue to grow, the political wisdom of being the party against stopping this pandemic seems, to say the least, extremely dubious.

But there’s one particular “point” made by Senate Republicans in their letter to Gov. Polis that is sufficiently absurd it deserves its own mention:

In our caucus, four of our State Senators represent 78% of Colorado’s land mass [Pols emphasis] – and none of those four were consulted on how an order such as this would affect their rural communities…

So first of all, a pandemic disease does not respect county or any other boundaries–and it also spreads in assemblies of people, which can occur in big towns and small. That’s why a statewide order was necessary, and the “land mass” represented by four Senators is totally irrelevant.

And that, gentle readers, is where their contention takes a turn for the absurd:

Because although four Republican Senators may represent 78% of Colorado’s “land mass,” meaning Colorado’s vast expanses of dirt, they represent (in 2011 numbers, anyway) the same number of people as every other Senator–about 150,000 each, or all four together about 12% of the state’s population. We rounded up just to be nice.

From the National Popular Vote debate to public health measures to slow a global pandemic, if we never, ever hear the preposterous “dirt=people” argument again we’ll consider that a major breakthrough for reality-based discussions of all these issues.

Fat chance, we know. But it is awfully damned absurd.

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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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TAKE ACTION NOW: Protect essential workers keeping us all fed

The global coronavirus pandemic is making heroes in places you wouldn’t expect.

I hope you’re weathering the current emergency safely, and doing your part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by staying home except when absolutely necessary. But if you’re like me, you’ve had to leave the house like it or not to make an essential trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. Many of us have medical conditions that don’t respect stay-at-home orders, and we count on healthcare workers of all kinds to keep us going.

Every time I go to the grocery store, I see heroes keeping us all alive as surely as the heroes we all know: police, firefighters, and doctors. And in this time of great need, our grocery, pharmacy, and healthcare workers should have the same protections as every essential service provider the people of Colorado rely on.

Click here: sign the petition from our friends at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 asking Gov. Jared Polis to designate grocery store, pharmacy, healthcare, and food production workers as emergency service providers. These essential workers shouldn’t have to choose between going to work and staying home because they don’t have the resources they need.

Thanks very much for acting now to protect the essential workforce keeping our grocery stores open, food shelves stocked, and healthcare services of all kinds operating. By making sure everyone we need to stay on the job in this emergency can do so, we’ll get through this tough time together.

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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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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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GOP Legislative Candidate Posts Cartoon Promising To Be Polis’ “Worst Nightmare”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has earned broad bipartisan praise for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, however, isn’t among those conservatives offering him their approval.

On the morning of March 18, Kirkmeyer, who is a Republican candidate for state senate District 23, posted a campaign cartoon attacking Polis for a variety of policies and promising, “as your State Senator, I’ll be Jared Polis’s worst nightmare.” The cartoon depicts Governor Polis as a wind-powered passenger ship about to be sunk by a torpedo bearing the logo of the Kirkmeyer campaign.

The most prominent policy she appears to be attacking is wind energy, depicted by a large windmill powering the “SS Polis.” Wind power generates nearly a fifth of Colorado’s electricity. Kirkmeyer’s own Weld County is home to three Vestas factories, two in Brighton and one in Windsor, that build wind turbine components. Vestas announced last year that it was adding 200 jobs at its Brighton plants.

Below the windmill, the cartoon lists three policies: “Government-run health care, Red flag gun law,” and “Job-killing regulations.” During the coronavirus pandemic other Republicans have thanked Polis specifically for his decision to relax regulations to allow medical professionals licensed in other states to be quickly approved to work in Colorado and suspending via emergency order requirements for state employees to obtain a doctor’s note to call in sick.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 18)

Welcome to the Coronavirus outbreak, Fox News viewers; we’ve been busy. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of 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

 

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is moving “at warp speed” (which is about “half-speed” in regular person parlance) on producing a massive stimulus bill in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As CNN reports:

Two GOP sources told CNN’s Manu Raju that Republican senators are close to reaching an agreement among themselves on the details of Mnuchin’s plan. The conference plans to meet later on Wednesday to discuss where they stand, with one of the sources expecting an agreement by lunchtime.

The idea is to cut a deal among themselves, and then try to hammer out a bipartisan agreement with Democrats on a massive package that could pass Congress in a matter of days. But Democrats have their own plans, so there are hard-fought negotiations ahead.

The bill McConnell is talking about would be the third major piece of federal legislation to move through Congress this month:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). McConnell is pushing the Senate to vote on the legislation this week — though Sen. Rand Paul is again throwing wrenches — and it will almost certainly be signed by President Trump shortly thereafter. Outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to quickly support this legislation.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. Politico has more on this third major piece of legislation:

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Tuesday there is a “high level of interest” among Republicans for a Trump administration proposal to send as many as two $1,000 checks directly to individual Americans to help respond to the economic slowdown, a move that could cost an estimated $500 billion, according to GOP sources.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a pitch for the initiative at a lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, part of an $800 billion-plus package being floated by the White House that also includes as much as $250 billion in emergency loans for smalls businesses being hit by the economic slowdown.

Under the Mnuchin plan, direct payments — on a means-tested basis — could be sent to American via the IRS as early as next month, although even that may not be as fast as some in Congress want.

For more on these bills and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast:

Two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are in self-quarantine after being alerted that they may have had contact with an infected person. From The Denver Post:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow both announced Tuesday that they’re self-quarantining after coming into contact last week with a constituent who subsequently was found to have the coronavirus.

It’s not clear if it was the same constituent, but the contact was on the same day — March 11 — and both men were notified of the contact by the same health department.

“I was alerted today by the Tri-County Health Department that a Coloradan who visited my Washington office for a constituent meeting has tested positive for coronavirus,” Gardner, a Yuma Republican, said in a press release.

“While I am not showing any symptoms at this time, I have made the decision to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution,” he added.

Crow is also not reporting showing any symptoms but is self-quarantining for precautionary reasons.

 

► President Trump is finally getting his border shutdown…with Canada. The United States and Canada have agreed to close the border to all non-essential travel.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Governor Jared Polis: Suspend Rent, Mortgage, & Utility Payments During the Coronavirus Crisis

This is the link to the online petition. Please sign.

Text of the petition:

To Colorado Governor Jared Polis:

COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) has been classified as a global pandemic. Colorado already has at least 132 cases statewide, including 1 death. State and federal officials are encouraging people who feel sick to stay home, but many workers already struggle to make rent or mortgage payments. The choice to skip work for the sake of community health could leave them and their families unsheltered.

In order to protect the health and housing security of our community, we, the undersigned, call on Governor Polis to act now so workers won’t have to make that choice. Specifically, we call for a suspension of all rent, mortgage, and utility payments for 2 full months to allow people to do what they need to in order to take care of themselves, their loved ones, and the community.

The legacy of every public official currently serving will be determined in the next few months.
It’s time to act now, and choose the right side of history. Choose the people.

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Trump to Governors: Find Your Own Medical Equipment

As The New York Times reports:

President Trump told a group of governors on Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to treat people with coronavirus.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times. “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.” [Pols emphasis]

The suggestion surprised some of the governors, who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak and are increasingly looking to the federal government for help with equipment, personnel and financial aid. Last Wednesday, Mr. Trump directed his labor secretary to increase the availability of respirators, and he has generally played down fears of shortages.

Governors Jay Inslee of Washington, whose state is at the epicenter of the domestic outbreak, and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico both reacted angrily to the administration’s slow response to the crisis.

We’ll probably be angry at some point, too. Right now we’re too flabbergasted by Trump’s “leadership” to register any specific emotions.

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Update on COVID-19 Testing in Lowry

UPDATE: Sit tight until tomorrow, updates the CDPHE:

There’s nothing to be done about it, folks. Go home and vampire cough.

—–

Via press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) drive-up COVID-19 testing site in Lowry has collected tests for more than 650 Coloradans since Tuesday, March 11. The results of these test results will give the state much needed epidemiological intelligence that is critical for policy decisions.

Due to the overwhelming response in the first two days, we will be operating with limited capacity on Friday, March 13. This will ensure the safety of our lab and health care workers and minimize unnecessary wait times. Because Colorado now has capacity for private labs to conduct testing, CDPHE encourages anyone who is symptomatic or who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to call or email your physician first for guidance, obtain a doctor’s order for testing, and request information about private providers where you can get tested. Always call first before reporting to a health care facility for testing.

Any medical provider with a relationship with Labcorp or Qwest can send out the test, but be sure to contact your provider ahead of time because many providers have centralized sites for collection due to safety precautions.

CDPHE has determined that traffic patterns, on-site staffing, and lab testing capabilities can handle a maximum of 100-150 vehicles in the drive-up queue.

♦ Testing at the drive-up site will take place from noon-2 p.m. on Friday, March 13.

♦ The first 100-150 vehicles in the queue will have access to the drive-up testing; all other vehicles that arrive after that will be encouraged to seek testing from a private provider. Always call ahead and speak with the health care facility in advance before going there for testing or treatment.

♦ If you have a medical emergency, call 911- do not report to the testing site, as it is not a diagnostic facility not a care facility. If you have severe respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tell the dispatcher about your symptoms. Do not wait for a COVID-19 test to call 911.

♦ If you are ill or suspect that you were exposed, but are not able to be immediately tested, please stay home, self-isolate, and contact your physician.

♦ For the safety of drive-up lab workers, hours of operation will be contingent upon safe weather. We will announce if we need to close the site due to unsafe conditions.

♦ Unsafe conditions include any weather that can make personal protection equipment ineffective, such as any precipitation, wind, or colder temperatures.

♦ While waiting for their test results, individuals should stay at home. Those who receive positive test results may be issued isolation orders. Depending on test volume, we aim to contact individuals directly with their results within 72 hours.

Gov. Polis has deployed the Colorado National Guard to help manage logistics, traffic, and other assistance with capacity for the site.

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Who Needs SB-181? Trump Cheers Plunging Oil Prices

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

As the Denver Post’s Judith Kohler reports:

Oil prices plunged after Russia rejected Saudi Arabia’s plan for steeper cuts in production. Saudi Arabia proposed cutting production another 1.5 million barrels on top of existing cuts of 2.1 million barrels agreed to by the so-called Opec+ alliance to stabilize prices.

But when Russia balked, Saudi Arabia said it would increase its production. That sent prices plunging to about $28 per barrel over the weekend, said Bernadette Johnson, vice president of strategic analytics with Enverus, which provides data and intelligence to energy companies…

Companies in Colorado felt the blows. Occidental Petroleum, the dominant producer on Colorado’s Front Range, saw its stock closed at $12.51 a share, a 52% drop from Friday’s close of $26.86. Noble Energy, another major Colorado producer, saw its stock drop 29.8% Monday and Denver-based PDC Energy’s stock fell 48.2%.

In 2019, the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly passed a landmark reform of the state’s oversight of oil and gas drilling, Senate Bill 19-181. The passage of Senate Bill 181 resulted in what can best be described in hindsight as a wildly inaccurate campaign of misinformation about the supposed “shut down” of the fossil fuel industry sought by Democrats and Gov. Jared Polis, and forecasts of economic devastation to oil and gas producing regions of the state that soon afterward responsible industry shills were forced to concede had no factual basis.

The much greater threat to the oil and gas industry’s profitable operation in Colorado, as we’ve been obliged to point out a number of times before and since the passage of Senate Bill 181, is the volatile and generally declining price of oil at global market rates. In the simplest possible terms, there is a minimum price of crude oil necessary for profitable extraction in Colorado. When oil prices were much higher over the past decade, drilling in Colorado dramatically increased. At $50 a barrel, where oil prices have been trading for the last couple of years, it’s much less so, and the pace of drilling has slowed.

At $30 a barrel, Colorado oil production isn’t worth it. Period.

With all of this in mind, the relatively modest reforms of SB-181 to prioritize public health and safety by oil and gas drilling regulators are at most a small incremental sliver of the total cost of producing oil in Colorado, and well worth the investment–over an industry whose success or failure is determined by global market factors beyond any one state’s control.

Also, President Donald Trump just said it’s all MAGA! Have fun blaming Jared Polis now.

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State of Emergency: Not Just Mashing The Panic Button

UPDATE: 12:10PM: Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is cancelled, reports the Denver Post.

—–

UPDATE: As seen in the Colorado Senate today: the lobbyists are reeling!

—–

Colorado Public Radio reports on the announcement today by Gov. Jared Polis declaring a state of emergency in response to growing numbers of coronavirus cases confirmed throughout the state:

By Tuesday morning, health officials had identified 15 cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, and no deaths so far. But the respiratory illness has shown a remarkable ability to spread…

State law gives Polis extraordinary powers to deal with disasters, but rarely has a disaster declaration been used for a pandemic. More often, disaster declarations are called for wildfires, floods and even snow.

The disaster declaration goes into effect for 30 days, and the governor can renew it until the threat is gone. He can restrict the sale of alcohol and guns. He can close public buildings and shut down public events. He can seize medicines from retail and hospital pharmacies. And he can quarantine people or buildings.

The broad powers granted to the governor under a state of emergency declaration are of course not all expected to be implemented, and we’re a long way from any rational basis from restricting alcohol or gun sales. If either of those provisions become necessary, we expect everyone will know why. In the meantime, the ability to manage distribution of necessary medicines, enforce quarantines, and cancel public events are straightforward steps we’re glad the governor is taking proactively as the COVID-19 epidemic spreads.

Next, and we admit it’s a lower priority, we’d be delighted if the governor addressed the toilet paper shortage.

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“The Colorado Option”–It’s All About Saving People Money

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Yesterday, Sen. Kerry Donovan and Rep. Dylan Roberts and the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly rolled out a major new piece of legislation to create a competitive option for individual market health insurance plans, with specific regulatory requirements to save consumers significant amounts of money without compromising care–The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports:

Although Democrats are preparing for a contentious fight about the proposal they’re calling the Colorado Option, they say they believe they can pass it.

The bill would provide Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual market another choice by the state through private insurance. It targets counties that only have one option, aiming to create competition and lower premiums. Hospitals would be required to participate, and it would begin by Jan. 1, 2022.

If everyone on the individual market opts to use the plan, that’s about 8% of Coloradans, bill sponsors have said, with room for expansion. In some rural parts of the state, participation is expected to be higher.

Denver7’s Blair Miller:

Supporters of the new bill say that for too long, consumers have been asked to pay too much for their health care coverage and this fixes a gap in Colorado’s current system.

Part of the idea behind the bill is to create competition between insurance companies to help drive down costs. Currently, there is only one insurance option in 22 counties across the state. With the creation of the public option, each county would have at least two options.

“The days of being forced to pay outrageous premiums because it’s the only option will be over,” Rep. Dylan Roberts said. “Every single Coloradoan will have competition in the market regardless of where they live when this bill passes.”

For months now, the airwaves in Colorado have been overloaded with ads attacking a so-called “public option” or “government option” health care plan, along with the federal health care reform proposals from Democratic presidential candidates like “Medicare for All.” These ads generally rely on clouding or eliminating altogether the distinctions between these very different concepts, and it’s unclear whether they’ve been effective in tamping down majority support for such a plan we’ve seen in recent polls.

Unfortunately, the rollout of this legislation in Colorado hasn’t been well-served either by opponents hammering away for months about legislation that didn’t even exist yet, or the early references in the local press to what we are going to call the Colorado Option and stick with it–message discipline 101 here, folks–as a “public option.” Because, as the Colorado Sun’s John Ingold reports way below the fold his story today,

When lawmakers first began talking about this idea last year, they talked about wanting to create a “public option.” But what the state has come up with here, technically, is not that. [Pols emphasis] In wonk-speak, a public option refers to an insurance plan that is run by the government — like the ideas being floated on the presidential campaign trail to allow people to buy into Medicare coverage.

But Colorado lawmakers and state officials, not wanting to put the state budget at risk by creating a government-run insurance company, decided to go with this privatized but heavily regulated approach. We at The Sun have continued to refer to this proposal as a “public option,” mostly for continuity and lack of a better name…

But reportedly the Sun is going to stop calling it a “public option” now, and we’d say that’s a positive development for getting a bill passed. Given that the final legislation does not meet the technical definition of a “public option” in any sense, and that the words “public option” have been the target of a well-funded negative ad campaign from for-profit hospitals and the health insurance industry, proponents would do well to purge those two unfairly loaded words from their vocabulary.

The winning message for the Colorado Option is to keep it simple, and focus on the theme Gov. Jared Polis has defined for health care policy in Colorado under his administration: saving people money on health care. Keeping the message of tangible savings for consumers front and center without politically charged buzzwords effectively sidesteps the negative messaging from opponents. And if it comes to it, don’t be afraid to make for-profit hospitals and insurers explain their massive profits.

The steps Gov. Polis and the legislature are taking to bring down health care costs are not just good policy, they’re politically invaluable to Democrats. Much like the reinsurance bill Gov. Polis signed into law last year, which has been so successful that Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner actually tried to take credit for it, what matters is the end result.

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Forget “Recall Polis,” Let’s “Make CO Red Again”–With Nazis!

After the failure of last year’s half-baked recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis, which limped across the finish line with at most half the required number of signatures need even without factoring for error, one of the two groups nominally dedicated to the recall effort became a headline-making controversy after doling out thousands of dollars in unspent donations to a few original organizers and “friends.” This was particularly offensive to donors since the committee in question, the “Official” Recall Polis committee, publicly disparaged the petition campaign to recall Polis and spent no money on the effort.

When we last heard from the registered agent for the “Official” Recall Polis committee Juli-Andra Feuntes, she was facing potential legal action from the Donald Trump presidential campaign after renaming the committee “Colorado For Trump”–to which Fuentes responded by making an acronym of T-R-U-M-P, which now stands for “Truth will Restore the republic and Unbiased Media gives Power to the people.”

That bizarre report from last October was the last word we’ve had about the “Official” Recall Polis campaign and the recipients of that moribund committee’s loose change, until this week when a budding conflict on a new-ish conservative Facebook group named “Make CO Red Again” was brought to our attention:

Readers will recall that Renee McGill, the Weld County lead organizer for the “Official” Recall Polis Committee, pulled down a $3,000 check from the unspent donations to the committee. McGill is now the administrator of the Make CO Red Again Facebook group. Obviously, given the failure of the Polis recall and the controversy over the money McGill was “gifted,” she should expect to have hurdles to overcome in future political organizing roles.

And she’s not the only one!

The moderator of the Make CO Red Again Facebook is a man our longtime readers know very well: Nate Marshall, a one-time Republican state house candidate whose 2014 run for office against Democratic Rep. Max Tyler imploded after Marshall’s not-so secret online life as an unabashed neo-Nazi became public. Marshall had been allegedly recruited to run against Rep. Tyler by former state Sen. Tim Neville, and was backed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) at the party assembly. When it came out in remarkably similar fashion to the recent outing of a neo-Nazi working at local AM radio station 710 KNUS that Marshall was steeling himself for an “Aryan Revolution” that “begins in just over 40 hours,” the chair of the Jefferson County GOP demanded Marshall pull out of the race.

So if by this point you’re thinking that this is not a Facebook group respectable Republicans should ever want to be a member of, we’d say that’s an astute observation. It is therefore a bit perplexing to understand why…so many…Colorado Republicans…are members of Nate Marshall’s Facebook group:

(more…)

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Colorado May Stand with Immigrants, But Republicans Do Not

Republican lawmakers remain seated after Gov. Jared Polis says that Colorado supports immigrants and refugees.

Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulder) today delivered his second “State of the State” address to an audience of Colorado lawmakers and elected officials.

Polis’ speech focused largely on health care issues and providing financial relief for Colorado families dealing with the high cost of health coverage and prescription drugs. Most of today’s “State of the State” remarks received bipartisan applause, but Republican legislators were noticeably stingy with recognition when Polis briefly touched on the importance of supporting immigrant and refugee families in Colorado. Said Polis:

…In the face of unprecedented hostility from this White House toward our immigrant communities, we can say loudly and proudly that in Colorado, we stand with DREAMers and with refugees.

Most of the room stood and applauded after this line, but as you can see from the video below, Republicans quietly sat on their hands instead. It was not a good look…

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Governor Jared Polis

Jason Bane (left) and Gov. Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down with Gov. Jared Polis to talk about how state government can be more nimble than its federal counterpart; the upcoming legislative battle over a health care public option; and why Colorado can win the great green chile battle. 

Later in the show, Jason and Ian discuss next steps on impeachment; Rep. Ken Buck’s congressional truancy; and President Trump’s claim that he’ll be visiting Colorado “a lot” in the near future.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify,
and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter (@MoreSmarterShow) and Facebook. For questions or comments, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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