Ken Buck Retirement Rumors Heat Up

Whether he’s Buckpedaling forward or backward, Ken Buck wants out of Congress.

As we’ve been predicting for months on the Get More Smarter Podcast (both HERE and HERE), Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is on his way out of Congress. According to a new report from The New York Post, Buck is waiting only for the right exit strategy:

The White House’s go-to Republican critic of the impeachment inquiry into President Biden is considering leaving Congress for a new job — and expressed interest in being an on-air commentator for CNN, The Post has learned.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a five-term fiscal hawk, has surprised fellow conservatives by repeatedly criticizing the probe launched last week into Biden’s alleged corruption, including with a Sept. 15 Washington Post op-ed that other Republicans said included glaring inaccuracies.

Buck said privately last month that he was interested in a job at CNN, a source told The Post, after he weighed other options over the past year — including joining a DC-based law firm or seeking Biden’s nomination to the Federal Trade Commission.

Buck, 64, confirmed to The Post he’s exploring his options and said it would be “great” to join CNN.

Buck’s interest in a TV gig has been obvious in recent months; as we noted on Tuesday, Buck spent most of the August recess yammering about budgets and impeachment to every network (and even pretend networks, such as Newsmax) that would give him air time. Buck has been all over the place on the subject of impeaching President Biden, which is as much about his own indecisiveness as it is about being available to take whatever position a TV news show might desire.

After telling the Post that he was very interested in working for CNN, Buck even took the time to call back and add more details:

The congressman called back later in the day to say that he had also expressed interest in a position at right-leaning Fox News or Newsmax.

“I didn’t want to give you the impression that I’ve only talked to folks at CNN, on the left. I’ve also talked to others about this,” Buck said. [Pols emphasis]

Buck represents a vast rural district that spans the entire eastern border of the Rocky Mountain State and said Tuesday that it was unclear if he will leave office “this Congress, next Congress or whatever — but [I have] just really explored the possibility of … putting together some different things before I leave.”

This guy would really like a job on TV.

The NY Post also reports that Buck talked to a couple of Senators earlier this year about potentially earning a nomination from the White House to serve on the board of the Federal Trade Commission. It appears that if anyone has a job that involves “not being in Congress,” then Buck is more than interested in applying.

Buck has long been rumored to be looking for an exit strategy from Congress. We reported on retirement rumors in May 2019, and quickly received a reply from Buck’s communications director that he “has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.” Those rumors continued, however, until Buck made it official in October 2019 that he would indeed seek re-election, but it didn’t make him any more interested in doing the work; Buck was regularly absent in December 2019 for House Judiciary Committee hearings into the first impeachment of former President Trump.

Buck was easily re-elected in 2020, but it was obvious at that point that he was quickly losing interest in Congress. Buck sorta flirted with the idea of running for U.S. Senate in 2021, though he was never believed to be serious about another statewide run (Buck lost a 2010 Senate race to Democrat Michael Bennet). Beyond the logistical challenges of a statewide race, Buck’s positions on various issues have become significantly more malleable in recent years; to the extent that he even bothers to pay attention anymore, Buck often wanders off in strange directions (such as his insistence last summer that George Soros funded Antifa, or something).

The likely Republican field of candidates once Buck makes his retirement official.

Buck was re-elected for a fifth term in 2022 after surviving a surprise Primary challenge from Bob Lewis, who nearly received enough support at the Republican Congressional Assembly to keep Buck off of the Primary Ballot altogether. This weakening of support in the fourth congressional district surely rattled Buck, though we hear the last straw took place after Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives and Buck was passed over (despite his seniority) for the Chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.

After we noted on Tuesday that State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron) was looking at a 2024 Primary challenge, Colorado Public Radio reported on more details about Holtorf’s seemingly-inevitable Congressional bid — including his claim to have formed an “exploratory committee.” There is no such thing as an “exploratory committee” in federal campaign filings — you’re either a candidate or you’re not — and it’s rare that a candidate pretends to be “looking” at a campaign but ends up NOT running.

We’d guess that Holtorf has heard the same rumors and isn’t waiting for Buck to make a decision on his future. Once Buck does make it official, every Republican with a pulse will consider their own campaign; CO-04 is a safe Republican district, and a GOP Primary winner could probably hold this seat for at least the next decade.

Buck could always change his mind and run for re-election in 2024, but his hemming and hawing on issues such as Biden’s impeachment have given Republican challengers more than enough reason to go after him anyway. What was looking like a rather sleepy 2024 election cycle in Colorado is about to get a lot more interesting.

Pick a Lane, Ken Buck

Congressman Ken Buck is definitely a Republican. Beyond that, it’s impossible to tell what Buck believes about anything at any given time. Few politicians twist themselves into pretzel shapes as often as the five-term representative from congressional district four, which is how he earned the term “Buckpedaling” (HERE, HERE, and HERE for just a few examples).

As we noted last week, Buck has again been all over the road on the issue of (attempting) to impeach President Biden for crimes that Republicans have yet to figure out. Buck spent most of the August recess appearing as a guest on every national news outlet that would take his calls, where he regularly discussed his belief that it was a terrible idea for Republicans to be trying to impeach Biden when a) Republicans haven’t found any proof of anything despite more than three years of looking, and b) There are much more pressing issues facing Congress (like a looming government shutdown).

True to his namesake phrase, he Buckpedaled as soon as he returned to Washington D.C., telling POLITICO that he was totally on board with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to instruct House Republicans to more forward with their Biden impeachment investigations.

“I think it’s a good move. We have to focus on spending, we have to make sure the government doesn’t shut down. We have to get our job done. And I think taking this off the table and not having a distraction is a good move.”

— Rep. Ken Buck on impeachment investigations into President Biden (Sept. 12, 2023)


That same day, Buck showed up for an interview on MSNBC, in which he explained to Andrea Mitchell that he had changed his mind but maybe hadn’t changed his mind:

MITCHELL: You have said as recently — to my colleague, Jen Psaki — I think on Sunday, that you did not think this was a good idea, that you did not think it was warranted. What do you think today?

BUCK: What I wanted to do was look at the evidence. I said I’ll go where the evidence takes me. And I still want to look at the evidence. I’m going to get a briefing later in the week on what evidence links [Joe Biden] to Hunter Biden’s activities. I haven’t seen that link yet, and so I’m reluctant to agree with Speaker McCarthy.



Beetlebert! Beetlebert! Beetlebert! (feat. Micah Parkin)

Micah Parkin of

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons — this time getting kicked out of a production of the musical version of the seminal 90’s movie, Beetlejuice; the madness continues in Congress under weak loser House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the MAGA caucus continues to demand things, move the goalposts, investigate Joe Biden and try to shut down the government (hey didn’t they all campaign on crime and inflation? What the hell happened to that?); and our seventh favorite member of Congress from Colorado does a head spinning reversal after doing a Sunday show audition tour pretending to have integrity.

But that’s not all! Our guest this week is Micah Parkin, executive director of, who sits down to talk about a potential 2024 ballot initiative to fight climate change in Colorado.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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Ken Buck Tellingly Spares Boebert As The Knives Come Out

UPDATE: One Buck forward, Two Bucks back as Politico reports this afternoon:

Ken Buck, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who was previously skeptical of an impeachment inquiry, seems to have changed his mind after Speaker Kevin McCarthy moved to open the inquiry without a vote.

“I think it’s a good move. We have to focus on spending, we have to make sure the government doesn’t shut down. We have to get our job done. And I think taking this off the table and not having a distraction is a good move,” he said Tuesday.

It’s quite a climb-down for Ken Buck, who seems to have just proven that he too can be bullied back in line when it matters most. We think he’s trying to say that bypassing a vote and proceeding directly to a dead-ender impeachment inquiry is a win for keeping Congress on track, but nobody is going to appreciate the nuance.

And the last we heard, Buck isn’t doing a damn thing to keep the government from shutting down.


In recent weeks, the growing breach between Colorado’s arch-conservative GOP Rep. Ken Buck and his contemporaries in the Freedom Caucus has become impossible for either side to ignore. After years of generally loyal if occasionally bumbling service to Republican leadership, Rep. Buck first broke from his hard-line colleagues back in December of 2020 when he belatedly accepted that Joe Biden was the legitimately-elected President of the United States. As the new House GOP majority in 2023 driven by Freedom Caucus demands turned toward vengeance on behalf of twice-impeached Donald Trump, Buck has refused to play along, blasting Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s appeasement of impeachment-demanding hardliners as “theater.” Buck even committed the cardinal sin of agreeing that the criminal charges in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case in particular are very serious.

CNN’s political team is reporting today that in the wake of Buck’s vitriolic exchange of fire last week with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over January 6th “political prisoners,” the up-to-now private dissatisfaction with his far-right colleagues has gone fully public:

Conservative Rep. Ken Buck is just one of several House Republicans standing in the way of the right’s push to impeach President Joe Biden.

But his high-profile seat on the key House Judiciary Committee, recent outspoken interviews railing against the House GOP’s investigative efforts, and long track record of bucking his own party have put a target on his back in conservative circles.

Now, there is a serious effort underway to find a candidate to mount a primary challenge against Buck in his solidly red district in eastern Colorado, three GOP sources told CNN – the latest sign of tension as the House GOP grapples with internal divisions over everything from its agenda to former President Donald Trump…

“This is the same guy that wrote a book called ‘Drain the Swamp’, who is now arguing against an impeachment inquiry,” Greene told CNN. “I really don’t see how we can have a member on Judiciary that is flat out refusing to impeach. … It seems like, can he even be trusted to do his job at this point?”

Before we get to the topic of a potential primary challenge, there are a number of complicating factors that could make MTG’s threats against Buck toothless. For one thing, Rep. Greene was herself booted from the Freedom Caucus earlier this year after calling Colorado’s other conservative hard-liner Rep. Lauren Boebert a “little bitch” on the House floor, which sent MTG fleeing into the arms of Speaker McCarthy. Although McCarthy appears to have given in to the Freedom Caucus on a dead-ender impeachment inquiry, we don’t see any incentive for McCarthy to punish Buck for disagreeing. When this latest bout of tit-for-tat impeachment fever has run its course, Buck will be the moral victor–which as we’ll discuss in a moment may be all that matters.

As for a primary challenge against Buck in 2024?

Among the names of people being floated to potentially challenge Buck in a primary, according to several sources familiar: state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, who sources said thought about challenging Buck last cycle but ultimately did not, and state Rep. Richard Holtorf, a pro-Trump Republican who is currently minority whip in the Colorado general assembly.

It’s no secret that GOP state legislative lifer Jerry Sonnenberg has aspirations to run for Congress someday, but Sonnenberg simply does not have the clout or the infrastructure in place to mount a serious challenge to Buck on Buck’s home turf. Colorado has never been a MAGA stronghold where disloyalty to Trump is some kind of career-ending sin. Sonnenberg may well be waiting for the perennial rumors of Buck’s retirement to come true, but he’d be a fool to try to take Buck’s seat perforce. Rep. Richard Holtorf is nutty enough to be less predictable than Sonnenberg, but likewise would pose no real threat to Buck in a primary.

One of the biggest unanswered questions about Buck’s now-sustained pushback against the retributive agenda of his far-right colleagues is why Buck has focused almost all of his attention on blasting Rep. Greene, when every bit of the criticism Buck is leveling at Greene applies equally to Buck’s Colorado colleague Rep. Lauren Boebert if not more so. Boebert is at the tip of the spear with her bestie Rep. Matt Gaetz in demanding either impeachment or Speaker McCarthy’s head, in stark contrast to McCarthy’s fast friend MTG. Buck tearing into MTG while leaving Boebert untouched–or at least unnamed–could be interpreted as fear that bashing Boebert might rouse image-tarnishing resistance to Buck in CD-4.

Overall, the best assessment we can offer is that Buck is positioning himself for life after the House as a cable news talking head. Over the past few months, Buck has been a regular guest on CNN and more recently MSNBC, giving him a mouthpiece for many of these contrary positions that have enraged his conservative colleagues. Rumors of Buck’s imminent retirement have circulated in basically every election cycle since he was elected to Congress in 2014, and at some point Buck is going to oblige them.

If Buck sticks to upbraiding his fellow Republicans as a TV news talking head, he’ll do fine. If the on-air conversation progresses to any other issue, Buck might find his career on cable news–at least outlets on the reality-based side of Newsmax–to be rather short.

Ken Buck’s Mavericky Misgivings Set Off MTG X-Bomb

Earlier this week, GOP Rep. Ken Buck set off a political firestorm when he responded in smackdown-laying detail to a falsehood-ridden letter sent from the Colorado Republican Party urging lawmakers to make the plight of January 6th, 2021 insurrection “political prisoners” a “top priority.” The Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain:

Buck, a former chair of the state Republican Party, shot down the petition’s claims in a four-page letter that included footnotes. His letter is dated Friday but was distributed on the same Republican Party email list Tuesday.

“It is irresponsible to allege without evidence, as your letter does, that Americans are being systematically denied their most basic Constitutional rights based on their political beliefs,” Buck wrote…

Buck rebutted the accusations point-by-point: That those still in custody ahead of their trials are facing felony charges and that most of those people are accused of assaulting a law enforcement officer; that people being held without bond are charged with felonies and most defendants were released on their own recognizance; that the Washington, D.C., jail — while “a miserable place, rife with abuse and dangerous for even the most hardened criminal” — is not especially worse for Jan. 6 defendants; and that courts have been making accommodation for detainees to ensure they have enough time to meet with their lawyers ahead of trial.

You can read the full original letter and Buck’s response here as originally reported by Erik Maulbetsch of the Colorado Times Recorder, but since picked up by news outlets nationwide as a notable intraparty challenge to the campaign to reinvent the January 6th rioters as heroic political prisoners. Buck didn’t mention Rep. Lauren Boebert by name, but she too has made sympathetic visits to January 6th defendants while attempting to recast the violence of that day as “an escorted tour into the Capitol.”

And although this isn’t the first time Rep. Buck has thrown cold water on the latest red-hot far-right cause célèbre, on this occasion Buck drew a furious response from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the prime movers in the campaign to rehabilitate January 6th rioters:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA).

MTG follows with a lengthy Twitter/X thread bitterly denouncing Buck for his lack of enthusiasm to impeach Joe Biden, “supporting Joe Biden’s election” (meaning not reciting the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen), never visiting the January 6th defendants in jail, and “apologizing for communists abusing their power to persecute their political enemies.” Were it not for the fact that MTG was kicked out of the Freedom Caucus and Ken Buck was publicly cool with it, we would call this a friendship-ending j’accuse. As it is, there’s no friendship left to spoil.

If there was any doubt, Rep. Buck put it to rest this morning on fellow prosecutor-turned talk radio blowhard George Brauchler’s radio show. Here’s what Buck said when asked about why he hasn’t visited the January 6th defendants in custody:

BUCK: I’ll tell you, Marjorie did do it and she did have access to [the J6 defendants] and she did talk to them.

And frankly, I have a lot of things to do and I’m not gonna go to the DC jail and talk to a bunch of people who assaulted police officers. My sympathy is not with people who beat up cops. [Pols emphasis] My sympathy is not with people that destroy a building that I consider sacred, the US Capitol. My sympathies are not with people who want to stop a Congressional function which is counting the votes in an election. That’s not where my sympathies lie and I’m not gonna spend time going there…

When when I was teaching law school, I learned and and taught certain constitutional principles. When Marjorie Taylor Greene was teaching CrossFit, she learned a whole different set of values then. [Pols emphasis] Because my idea of what this country should be like is based on the Constitution, and she sees the world differently. She’s criticized me for, you know, voting to certify the election in 2020. The Constitution says Congress shall count the votes. Some say Congress may overturn an election result. It doesn’t say Congress can do whatever the heck it wants with. This election shall count the votes. That’s what the Constitution says in her CrossFit class. Maybe they didn’t cover that.

As averse as we are to offering praise for Ken Buck, who will right after this moment of clarity happily launch into a tirade about the myth of climate change or how nobody in Congress wants to punish Working America like he does, this is one of the most powerful repudiations of the whitewashing of January 6th we’ve seen from any Republican. Again, it shouldn’t be difficult for Republicans to disown violence against police officers and smashing up the hallowed seat of American democracy. That so few Republicans are able to make these basic admissions is not so much a testament to the few like Buck who manage the bare minimum, but an indictment of the overwhelming majority who won’t.

But the curve today is historically low, and credit where due.

dOR i oImkUNg N FJize xTAlidBA

Boebert Once Again Substitutes Tweeting For Governing

As Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog, most of Colorado’s congressional delegation representing both parties signed a letter to the Internal Revenue Service this week, asking as they did last year during a similar brief period of uncertainty to not treat refunds to taxpayers under Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as federally taxable income:

All but one member of the state’s D.C. contingent signed on to a letter led by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, both Democrats, asking IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel to “resolve the current ambiguity” over TABOR refunds in response to guidance released Wednesday by the agency.

State officials warned the IRS against changing its policy on TABOR refunds following the publication of a notice covering various state income tax refund scenarios, with some emphasizing that it is unclear whether Colorado’s unique situation is covered by the proposed rules.

The fresh controversy comes on the heels of a dust-up in February when the IRS initially told Colorado taxpayers to delay filing their 2022 income tax returns until the agency decided whether to tax refunds issued the previous summer by the state. Within days, the IRS announced there would be no change regarding TABOR refunds after the delegation unanimously called on the agency to stick with the policy in place for decades.

It’s better for this question to be resolved well before Colorado taxpayers approach their filing deadline, which was the cause of much temporary consternation last February–and we expect that the answer from the IRS will once again rule that TABOR tax refunds should not be subject to federal income tax. This letter requesting the IRS clarify its policy on Colorado’s unique tax refund mechanism was signed by every member of the delegation except one, and you already guessed who she is–Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Instead of signing the letter to the IRS with the rest of the delegation, Boebert put out this suspiciously-timed Tweet/X yesterday afternoon announcing her opposition to taxing TABOR refunds, the timing of which strongly suggests Boebert realized she had missed the boat and was attempting to glom on for credit on the fully-expected other side:

Apparently, doing “everything in my power” does not include signing a letter.

Similar to Boebert’s missed vote on the debt-ceiling compromise she had spent days previously railing against, we can’t explain why Boebert didn’t sign this no-brainer letter with the rest of the delegation, making it a unanimous call for the IRS to solve the problem. What we can say is that Boebert Tweeting her viewpoint on the matter is not a substitute for actually doing her job, which would have been to sign the letter with everybody else.

While it’s not likely to affect the outcome thanks to Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse mobilizing the rest of the delegation, it’s yet another case of Boebert substituting performative outbursts on social media for her duties as a congressional representative.

If the IRS does follow Boebert on Twitter, it’s probably not to get her advice.

Buck Bucks Freedom Caucus Once Again, But Won’t Really Help

The button Rep. Ken Buck could press but won’t.

Members of Congress are out of Washington for the August recess, but as the Washington Post reported Wednesday, a daunting pile of unfinished business awaits to be worked out when members return next month–and the narrow GOP House majority is divided on whether to govern like grownups, or once again force the nation down the familiar path of self-induced fiscal crisis:

The far-right House Freedom Caucus escalated the stakes Monday by releasing a list of demands to support a short-term, stopgap funding bill that will likely be needed to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30…

CRs generally extend existing funding levels and are usually free of such big policy provisions, but the group is seeking to leverage House Republicans’ razor thin majority to force a shutdown showdown right from the start.

The group’s escalatory and “unrealistic” tactics are becoming an increasing source of frustration for some of their GOP colleagues.

If you didn’t know better, once again, you might mistake Rep. Ken Buck for a reasonable voice in this conflict between Rep. Lauren Boebert’s far-right Freedom Caucus and Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Buck was quoted in this story both distancing himself from the Freedom Caucus’ demands and seemingly lamenting a shutdown:

One of the Freedom Caucus’s own members, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), said in an interview that he didn’t support the group’s move. (The group needs support from an overwhelming majority of its members to take an official position.)

“They’ve locked themselves into not voting for the CR if those things aren’t met,” Buck said, adding that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) might need to start looking for Democratic votes. [Pols emphasis]

For Buck to suggest that it may be necessary once again for Speaker McCarthy to seek support across the aisle to pass the spending bills needed to keep the government open is nothing short of heretical coming from a member of the Freedom Caucus. The imposition of this latest list of demands from the Freedom Caucus appears to have shifted Buck’s opinion toward suggesting McCarthy make another end run around his fellow Republicans into the loving arms of Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. As recently as last week, as reported in the Colorado Sun’s Unaffiliated newsletter, Buck was glumly predicting an “inevitable” shutdown:

Buck had a pessimistic view of the coming debate on the federal budget. He said a federal government shutdown is inevitable. “We are going to shut down,” he said. “There is no simple answer other than reducing spending.” [Pols emphasis] The Democrats at the luncheon expressed hope that Republicans wouldn’t let that happen.

Freedom Caucus members not named Ken Buck have already threatened to challenge McCarthy’s speakership, using the expanded power to do so they gained in the deal to allow McCarthy to take the job, if he repeats the deal made with the White House on the debt ceiling last spring and passes major legislation with Democratic support. But that now appears to be the course that Ken Buck is advocating for Kevin McCarthy to take.

So why doesn’t Buck get an atta-boy for suggesting this reasonable yet politically extremely risky course of action? That’s simple: Buck has nothing invested in the outcome. Based on Buck’s well-established voting record, he’s almost certain to vote against any spending deal that emerges. Buck’s preferred solution to the nation’s fiscal issues, as readers know, is to make America’s retirement age the highest in the world–and since nothing close to that drastic remedy ever comes up for a vote, Buck votes against basically every spending bill from either party.

Buck, who often votes against CRs, [Pols emphasis] said the Freedom Caucus should be focusing its efforts on reducing the top-line spending amount.

Ken Buck can identify the problem, and articulate a solution to the problem, but Buck has no intention of actually himself helping solve the problem. As Virginia Woolf said, “on the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.”

History will record that is the best Ken Buck could manage.

Full Buckpedal on Impeaching DHS Secretary Mayorkas

But maybe don’t impeach ’em all.

Politico’s Jordain Carney reports on what appears to be a significant flip-flop on the part of Rep. Ken Buck that, while we consider it welcome on balance, we can’t fully explain based on Buck’s own prior statements:

House Republicans once regarded Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as their easiest impeachment target. Yet even that seems increasingly out of reach…

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Freedom Caucus, said that a recent hearing with Mayorkas didn’t sway him toward supporting impeachment. He remains unconvinced that booting Mayorkas is a necessary step, and summed up the impeachment chatter within the conference as a “new shiny object every week.”

“Think about it — you replace Mayorkas with another Biden appointee,” Buck said, adding that impeachment is “a rare occurrence. It’s supposed to be.”

Although Rep. Buck has been in the news recently over objections to the tit-for-tat campaign by MAGA House Republicans to impeach President Joe Biden, Buck throwing cold water on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas represents a 180-degree reversal from Buck’s own stated position. In April of 2022, the same Ken Buck accused Secretary Mayorkas of “intentionally” sabotaging border security, and told Mayorkas to his face that he should be impeached as a traitor:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, said during a heated exchange Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that those in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District find his actions along the nation’s southern border to be traitorous and deserving of impeachment…

“Many of my constituents have asked me whether you will be impeached when Republicans gain control next year,” Buck said during Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. “They don’t believe that you’ve committed a high crime and they don’t believe that you’ve committed a misdemeanor. My constituents want you impeached because they believe that you’ve committed treason. They believe you are a traitor and compare you to Benedict Arnold.”

“…There’s anger people feel for a lot of reasons with the Biden Administration, but those other areas [energy crisis, treatment of military personnel] are not impeachable,” Buck said. “I believe this is.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, we’ve always questioned the idea that Buck’s “constituents” were the ones clamoring for the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas, who is way down the list in terms of name recognition among the Biden administration’s Cabinet members. But either way, there’s no question Buck’s position on impeaching Mayorkas has undergone a major revision.

So, what changed? We’re sorry to say it’s not an act of altruistic statesmanship on Buck’s part. There’s an ulterior motive at work in Buck flip-flopping from calling Mayorkas a traitor to his face to shrugging off the idea of actually impeaching Mayorkas that has yet to be determined. This move once again puts Buck on the wrong side of his hard-right counterpart in the delegation Rep. Lauren Boebert, who has called for Mayorkas to be impeached along with most of the rest of the Biden administration.

What we can say is that for some years, Buck’s disenchantment with his own party’s corruption and double-dealing, health concerns after a battle with cancer, and a divorce from fellow Weld County Republican politico Perry Buck have been evident factors that might influence Buck’s decision to retire from office–which has led to speculation ahead of several election cycles that Buck had to overcome. Buck seems more interested in complaining about “both sides” on CNN these days than actually trying to change the agenda of the House GOP majority–which makes it look like Buck may be looking to a future of cable news talking headery.

And though his record makes it hard to swallow, maybe Buck doesn’t want to be known as a radical MAGA “impeach ’em all” cable news talking head.

Buck’s Stopped Clock Messing Up The Program

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake took stock late last week of a recent shift in Colorado’s arch-conservative Rep. Ken Buck’s rhetoric concerning the mounting legal tribulations of former President Donald Trump–less in the way of Buck’s former unquestioning, often contorted defense of Trump, transitioning to something like an acknowledgment that Trump is indeed in hot water–while also throwing cold water on the tit-for-tat prospect of impeaching President Joe Biden, the single-minded obsession of Buck’s Colorado colleague Rep. Lauren Boebert:

It’s hardly the first time that a Republican has offered such counterprogramming, calling into question their party’s devotion to Trump and its growing tendencies toward conspiracy theories and bare-knuckle politics. But Buck does so from a rather unusual perch.

Not only is he a member of the House Freedom Caucus, but he’s someone who has long been allied with some of the elements of the party he is now breaking from. He’s played into the idea that Democrats might “steal” elections. He’s floated the idea that global warming is a “hoax.” And there he was the same day as his most recent CNN interview leading the charge against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, invoking the label “traitor” and later blaming him for Americans dying of fentanyl.

As recently as June, readers will recall, Rep. Ken Buck asserted that Trump’s escalating legal troubles actually gave Trump more credibility, which could be one of the most legally contemptuous statements ever uttered by a former federal prosecutor–even one who like Buck who was reprimanded for his own misconduct. After Trump’s first criminal indictment this year stemming from his “hush money” payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, Buck crossed a line in attacking not just the prosecutor but the grand jury that handed down the indictment–words Buck was forced to eat on live TV in front of CNN’s Jim Acosta. With all of this and Buck’s long blowhard record firmly in mind, no one should accuse Buck of displaying any kind of courage or principle here.

But something undeniably has changed:

He has called into question the wisdom and constitutionality of its impeachment-related efforts; he expressed faith in the FBI and Director Christopher A. Wray as much of his party was pillorying them; and he is among the relatively few Republicans to treat the criminal charges against former president Donald Trump seriously, even saying a conviction would be disqualifying in his mind…

“I think the allegations are very serious. I think there were national security implications from having documents in an unsecure area,” Buck said, adding: “He hid documents, purposefully putting them in a shower, purposely putting them on — on a stage. So there — there clearly is an intent to hide.”

He added that he had “a huge amount of respect” for Justice Department prosecutors and said, “I’m sure they will do the right thing.” He also said he wouldn’t support having “a convicted felon in the White House.”

What we’re being asked to believe is that Buck considers Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified material after leaving office to be more consequential than the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, which is certainly something Buck could have said before if he had wished to. With more criminal indictments reportedly on the way related to arguably the greatest crime of Trump’s presidency, the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 elections including incitement of violence on January 6th, 2021 for that purpose, Buck is about have more opportunities to put daylight between himself and Trump if he chooses. But again, coming from a guy who just told us that the more trouble Trump gets in the better with all of these cases in the pipeline, we’re going to hold any positive recognition for this change of heart until it remains consistent for a few news cycles.

The best that can be said in the final judgment may be that Buck belatedly saw reason. It remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, at least as of this writing, Buck’s party has not.

Buck Takes Giant Dump On Boebert’s Impeachment Fantasy

Colorado Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck.

Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck appeared on CNN yesterday to level some of the harshest criticism we seen from Buck yet against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, slamming McCarthy’s appeasement of the far right of the House caucus by encouraging impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden:

Republican Rep. Ken Buck, a member of the conservative House Freedom caucus, said Wednesday that members of his party were engaged in “impeachment theater” and accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of using a “shiny object” to distract from disagreements over major spending legislation.

“This is impeachment theater. [Pols emphasis] We right now are starting the appropriations process. And there is not consensus on the Republican side about what the numbers should be,” the Colorado congressman told CNN’s Dana Bash on “Inside Politics.”

He added later, “What [McCarthy is] doing is he’s saying there’s a shiny object over here and we’re really going to focus on that. We just need to get all these things done so we can focus on the shiny object. Most of us are concerned about spending.”

What’s interesting about this Buck broadside against McCarthy is that the demand to impeach Biden is coming principally from Buck’s fellow Freedom Caucus members–in particular, fellow Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. It was Boebert’s privileged motion to force a vote on impeachment last month, redirected after much drama to committees to deliberate, that helped elevate the issue to the top of the headlines where it has floated uncomfortably ever since. Along with the constitutionally questionable push to “expunge” ex-President Donald Trump’s two impeachments, which Buck also dissed even as he promised to vote in favor of it, the obsession with rehabilitating Trump’s presidency while attempting to inflict tit-for-tat damage on Joe Biden is a distraction with little political upside for anyone except Trump personally.

But for today, our question is more about Buck’s standing within the Freedom Caucus after having thrown cold water on both expunging Trump’s impeachments and impeaching Joe Biden, high priorities for most of his colleagues. Although Buck didn’t flat-out say impeaching Biden should be off the table, this would seem to be a much more consequential disagreement with Buck’s Freedom Caucus fellows than when Marjorie Taylor Greene called Boebert a “little b—-.”

And MTG got booted from the club for that.

The question is, how far off the Freedom Caucus’ message is Buck allowed to veer?

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Doug and Jean Lamborn

Today in The Colorado Sun, Sandra Fish reports on a practice that is fairly common among Members of Congress and their staff:

Nine of Colorado’s 10 members of Congress have paid at least one of their official office staffers with campaign funds this year, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of Federal Elections Commission filings for fundraising and spending through June 30.

And a 10th — U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn — used campaign dollars to pay a firm registered to his wife.

It’s not unusual — or illegal — for members of Congress to pay their congressional staffers with campaign dollars for campaign tasks. In fact, many staffers perform campaign duties without pay, Insider reported last year, including digital work and accompanying their bosses to events.

“It’s totally legal for staff at a congressional office to work on political campaigns,” said Delaney Marsco, senior legal counsel for ethics at the Campaign Legal Center. “They’re not bound by similar restrictions that executive branch employees would be bound by with the Hatch Act,” which prohibits them from political involvement. [Pols emphasis]

Members of Congress using staffers for campaign duties, and paying them accordingly, is a pretty standard practice; after all, these staffers are already vetted and are more than familiar with the candidate and the issues, so it makes plenty of sense to employ them for campaign-side purposes. The bigger issue is normally whether or not official staff get paid at all for doing other work outside of their official duties.

In fact, the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation who has not recently paid an official staffer with campaign funds in order to do non-official work is Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn. Some of this is because Lamborn doesn’t really do anything beyond the bare minimum required of a Member of Congress, but what Lamborn is doing with some of his campaign funds is much more unethical:

Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, has paid Triple Star Services, a company registered to his wife, Jean, more than $19,000 in 2023 for campaign consulting. Lamborn has paid his wife or her business out of his campaign account consistently during his 16 years in Congress. 

Lamborn to Lamborn expenses — just in the last couple of election cycles

According to Open Secrets, “Triple Star Services” (otherwise known as “Jean Lamborn”) has been well taken care of over the years. Lamborn has been paying his wife for “bookkeeping services” since he was first elected in 2006. As the Investigative Research Center reported in 2020:

Since 2015, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) has paid Triple Star Services LLC, a bookkeeping firm run by his wife, Jean Lamborn, more than $130,000 from his campaign account. Prior to the formation of the LLC, public records show that payments were made directly to Mrs. Lamborn…

In 2013, the Lamborn campaign responded to an inquiry from USA Today about paying his spouse from campaign coffers. A spokeswoman told the newspaper, “Congressman Lamborn and his wife would much prefer to hire this out to someone else but haven’t found the right person for the job.” Seven years later — in August of 2020 — The Colorado Sun asked for comment on the continued arrangement. The campaign reportedly refused to comment. [Pols emphasis]

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records Triple Star Services LLC, has performed “campaign management,” “strategic consulting,” “bookkeeping,” “data management,”  “office management” and “accounting” services for Congressman Lamborn’s political operation.

“Congressman Lamborn and his wife would much prefer to hire this out to someone else but haven’t found the right person for the job.”

   — Lamborn spokesperson Catherine Mortensen responding to USA Today in 2013

That quote is just marvelous. Who else in the entire United States could POSSIBLY do this kind of bookkeeping work other than Jean Lamborn?

None of this is particularly new; we’ve taken note of this family arrangement on previous occasions. In recent years, the Lamborns have even started ordering official staffers to run their own personal errands.

What Rep. Lamborn is doing is similar to an arrangement that former Congressman Scott McInnis had with his wife for many years, though McInnis took the practice to another level by continuing to pay his wife for bookkeeping services even after he had retired from Congress.

Doug Lamborn is an unkillable political zombie for reasons that nobody can really explain, so it’s unlikely that more news about the Lamborn slush fund will hurt his re-election chances in 2024. We just wanted to take a moment to unbury the lede from today’s Colorado Sun story; what Lamborn is doing with his campaign account is absolutely NOT the same as what the other members of Colorado’s delegation are doing with their accounts.

“House Crazies” Threaten Buck’s Commitment To Law, Order

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As Politico’s Jordain Carney reports:

House Republicans are taking their fight with the FBI and Justice Department to a new level — weighing punitive steps against both agencies that would have been unfathomable a decade ago.

Half a year into their majority, and with an increasingly restless right flank, the House GOP is ready for a confrontation after a spate of recent decisions it sees as either anti-Trump or pro-Biden. At the top of the list: Hunter Biden’s plea deal with federal investigators and Donald Trump’s indictment over his handling of classified documents…

Whether they prevail in the form of budget cuts, impeachment, or other measures remains to be seen. Conservative efforts could backfire, instead exposing tension with centrist and more establishment Republicans who embrace the party’s pro-law enforcement roots [Pols emphasis] — the prevailing sentiment inside the GOP before Trump came along.

Among the “centrists” (though in this case far from the political center) questioning the assault by MAGA Republicans on the Justice Department driven by loyalty to Donald Trump is former Weld County DA-turned Congressman Ken Buck–who despite his embarrassing attempts to cover for Trump by slamming the grand jury process that led to one of Trump’s indictments does not appear interested in materially damaging federal law enforcement institutions for political vengeance:

The fault lines emerged during closed-door House GOP spending meetings in recent weeks, as some lawmakers warned others to think twice about how they use spending bills to target specific agencies. In one session, conservative Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said he privately urged his colleagues to “be careful” about how they talk about Justice Department funding, adding: “I’m not in favor of cutting DOJ.” [Pols emphasis]

Buck’s reluctance to go along with the punitive action desired by the MAGA faction drew a rebuke yesterday from none other than Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, taking a break from her ongoing foul-mouthed feud with Rep. Lauren Boebert to clap back at another fellow Republican:

That’s an unveiled shot at Buck’s authorship of a book literally titled Drain The Swamp, in which Buck decries corruption pretty unsparingly on his own side of the aisle. The “Holman Rule,” to very briefly explain, is a constitutionally dubious rule adopted by Republicans allowing Congress to fire individual federal employees, most famously attempted during the McCarthy era where it failed in court in the case of United States v. Lovett.

Within the caucus, the whole conflict boils down to whether you respect the Justice Department as an institution or are personally loyal to Donald Trump. Buck, who is no friend of Speaker Kevin McCarthy but also has no real loyalty to Trump, has little incentive to participate in a campaign against the Justice Department he used to work for, albeit not without scandal, as an assistant U.S. Attorney.

As Trump’s legal troubles continue to pile up, More Republicans will probably wish they had sided with Buck.

Democrats Bring High-Speed Internet Access to Rural Colorado

The internet, more or less

Roughly 10 percent of Colorado households DO NOT currently have access to high-speed internet services. Fortunately, help is on the way.

According to a press release from the office of Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado will soon be on the receiving end of more than $826 million dollars (and 41 cents) in federal money that will be used to build out high-speed internet infrastructure in parts of Colorado where people are still listening to that awful dial-up modem sound:

Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Colorado Governor Jared Polis welcomed the announcement from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that Colorado was awarded $826,522,650.41 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. The BEAD program is the largest broadband investment in American history, and provides funding to build essential infrastructure and connect communities to high-speed internet. The program is based on Bennet’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which was incorporated into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law…

…The BEAD program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs in all 50 states and territories. The program prioritizes unserved and underserved locations that have no or very slow internet access. In Colorado, 10 percent of locations are unserved or underserved, and 190,850 households lack access to the internet. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Colorado Broadband Mapping Hub.

The BEAD program is based on the bipartisan BRIDGE Act that Bennet introduced in June 2021 to provide $40 billion in flexible broadband funding to states, Tribal governments, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to ensure all Americans have access to affordable high-speed internet.

Because we’re talking about a program created through legislation in Congress, there are a lot of acronyms — NTIA, BRIDGE, BEAD — to wade through in order to understand how and why this funding is coming to Colorado. But the short version, and really the only part you need to know, is this: You can thank the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act signed into law by President Biden in November 2021. 

Boebert, Buck, Lamborn: NO, NO, and NO on supporting legislation that enabled funding for expanding high-speed internet access in Colorado.

According to an issue brief from Pew Charitable Trusts:

Among many other provisions, the law established the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the federal government’s most ambitious investment in high-speed, affordable internet to date. BEAD dedicates more than $42 billion to construct broadband networks, establish subsidies to offset the cost of internet service for lower-income households, and create programs to provide end users with the devices and training they need to use the new and upgraded networks. The BEAD Program also marks the first time the federal government is providing grants to states specifically for these purposes.

The Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act was supported by all Democratic members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation (remember, these votes took place in 2021; current Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Yadira Caraveo were not in Congress at the time). All three Republicans in Colorado’s delegation — Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted NO on the Infrastructure Act.

Boebert regularly voiced strong opposition to the Infrastructure Act, despite later trying to get federal funding for a bridge project in Glenwood Springs. It’s important to acknowledge all of this, since Boebert has a nasty habit of later trying to take credit for things that she opposed in Congress. Boebert’s penchant for pretending to deliver federal pork to her constituents in CO-03 even recently drew the public ire of the normally mild-mannered Sen. John Hickenlooper.

The odds are pretty good that Boebert will soon be pretending that she somehow helped bring the internet tubes to her aggravated constituents. She did nothing of the sort, though she probably SHOULD have supported the bill (along with her Republican colleagues Buck and Lamborn). As you can see from the map below, the parts of Colorado most in need of high-speed internet access also tend to be represented by the very same Republicans who make little to no effort to bring federal money for important projects back to Colorado.

Lighter colors correspond to lower availability of high-speed Internet access. Map via

Boebert, Buck, and Lamborn should instead have to explain to Coloradans why they stood in the way of needed infrastructure improvements — including high-speed internet access (although, to be fair, it’s not at all clear that Lamborn even knows about the internet). In the meantime, Coloradans can be thankful that elected Democrats continue to work on their behalf regardless.

Podcast: Climb Rocks, Pass Bills (feat. Dr. Erik Murdock)

We’re right behind you, Dr. Erik Murdock! Not literally, but in terms of public policy.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, it’s a floor fight! Our 8th favorite Member of Congress from Colorado helps prove what we’ve been saying for years: Elect a bunch of clowns, and you’ll get a f***ing circus. The new Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party is hands down the best one the GOP has ever had in Colorado…at least as far as Democrats are concerned. And Republican Mike Coffman, the Mayor of Aurora, is trying to become king of the third largest city in the state, or something.

Our guest this week is Dr. Erik Murdock, Interim Executive Director of The Access Fund. We talk about the CORE act, the PARK act, and how legislation around rock climbing may be the key to bipartisanship in Washington.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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Republicans Make Hero of Rep. Adam Schiff

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

While much of the oxygen yesterday in Congress was sucked up by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s half-baked and ultimately stalled articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden, another tit-for-tat political drama was playing out over a resolution from the GOP House majority to censure Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California more or less entirely for the amusement of ex-President Donald Trump. As ABC News reports, the GOP majority was able to ram the motion through–but what came after wasn’t part of the plan:

The vote was 213-209, with Republicans voting yes, Democrats voting no and six GOP lawmakers voting present…

After the vote on Wednesday, members could be heard chanting as Schiff moved toward the well, where he stood as Speaker Kevin McCarthy read the adopted resolution aloud.

The heckling included shouts of “shame! shame!” while McCarthy repeatedly paused until there was quiet, at one point saying he had time to be there all night.

As the speaker read the censure resolution on the floor, the banging of his gavel could barely be heard over Democrats yelling that the move was a “disgrace” and more…

Although Republicans had the votes to censure Rep. Schiff, the stout defense of Schiff mounted by his Democratic colleagues provided another opportunity to expound on the real reason for this censure resolution, vengeance for Trump against one of his most persistent critics, and deflecting blame for the violence and chaos Trump left in his wake. Here’s Colorado’s Rep. Jason Crow imploring Republicans to “set yourselves free from your servitude of Donald Trump so we can move forward as a country.”

Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado was among a handful of Republicans who voted “present” on the Schiff censure resolution. The other “present” votes were reportedly members of the House Ethics Committee staying neutral, but not Buck–who again expressed his displeasure over the GOP-controlled House focusing on vendettas instead of governing. Washington Post:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) was one of several Freedom Caucus members who supported the blockade of the House floor earlier this month. But on Wednesday, he expressed frustration that Republicans were focused on issues tied to personality preferences and disagreements rather than debating substantive policy, pointing to last month’s fiscal fight. It was a feeling many of his Republican colleagues shared.

“We get to [consider] things like this, and now impeachments,” Buck said after voting present on a resolution censuring Schiff. “It’s just not what we’re here for. We should be striving to do better.”

Instead of doing political damage to Rep. Schiff, who is running for the U.S. Senate in California next year, we expect Schiff to wear this censure resolution like a badge of honor in that race. The only place this censure resolution made any sense was within the counterfactual bubble of MAGA alternate reality, and that’s very far from a majority of California voters. It’s surprising to us that fellow Californian Speaker Kevin McCarthy didn’t realize that in the long run, this move only helps Schiff.

The same criticism applies to Rep. Boebert’s politically boomeranging articles of impeachment, but McCarthy’s ability to impose reason has its limits.

Podcast: Mayoral Madness is Over! (feat. City Cast Denver)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, Dark Brandon signed the debt ceiling bill to avert a global economic catastrophe, for now, and House Republicans are revolting! (But not after supplying a sufficient number of votes to pass the bill in the first place) As a result, we have occasion to ask our favorite question, “What the Buck?” and check in with our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado as she breaks the first rule of holes…over and over and over again. Guns are the number one killer of children in the country, so it’s no surprise that the firearms-obsessed GOP is losing serious ground with young people — even young Republicans.

But first…the election in Denver is finally over, and Mike Johnston is the new Mayor of that city to the east. We have our two Denver experts back on the show: Bree Davies and Paul Karolyi from City Cast Denver join us once more to break down the final tally and ask “is there room for two guys from Lakewood in Mike Johnston’s Denver?”

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 8)

The Denver Nuggets are two wins away from a championship after throttling the Heat in Miami on Wednesday. Game Four is Friday night in Miami. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Wednesday concluded the 30-day period following the legislative session in which Gov. Jared Polis was required to take action on legislation approved in 2023 (Polis could sign or veto legislation, or allow something to become law without his signature). From a press release marking the occasion:

Governor Jared Polis marked the conclusion of the bill-signing period following this year’s landmark legislative session that delivered real results for Colorado.

“I will continue to challenge us to envision what we want Colorado to look like when our beautiful state turns 150. Colorado has among the best economies and talented workforces in the country and I was proud to sign bipartisan new laws to build upon our administration’s efforts to save people money on health care, achieve 100% renewable energy by 2040, improve education for every student, make us one of the ten safest states, cut property taxes and ensure Colorado is the best place to live and work,” said Governor Polis…

…This year, in partnership with the legislature, Governor Polis signed a fiscally responsible and bipartisan budget that includes record savings for the future and record investments in Colorado students. The Governor signed nation-leading laws investing in education and workforce, improving math scores, achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040, harnessing geothermal, making Colorado one of the top ten safest states, and bold efforts to help save people money on health care and prescription drugs, a measure to help cut property taxes for Coloradans and seniors and addressing housing challenges. Gov. Polis also signed a new law that allows Colorado farmers and ranchers to finally be able to legally fix their own equipment, expand freedom and protect access to reproductive health care, and combat gun violence.

Governor Polis signed 473 bills into law across Colorado, the majority of which were bipartisan.


Speaking of legislation signed by Gov. Polis…peace out, growth caps! As Andy Kenney reports for Colorado Public Radio:

Gov. Jared Polis signed a law Wednesday that will ban cities from having “growth caps” that limit the rate of residential development, such as the one in Golden, the community of about 20,000 people west of Denver.

“Colorado is facing a housing crisis, and we must all work together to create more housing opportunities for every Colorado budget, not limit them,” Polis said in a written statement before signing the bill.

Golden has kept a tight grip on housing construction since 1995, when voters approved a growth cap. The law, which was aimed at slowing the growth of suburban sprawl, allows the city’s number of residential units to grow by only 1 percent per year.

The result is that Golden is set to make allowances for just 88 new homes this year, a policy that restricts not just suburban sprawl but also denser development.

It’s exactly the kind of ordinance that state lawmakers targeted this year. The new state law, HB23-1255, says cities may not enforce laws that “explicitly limit” population growth or the number of residential units that can be approved.

Affected cities, potentially also including Boulder and Lakewood, will have until early August to comply with the new law.

Sorry, NIMBYs.


We’ve seen the political impact in Colorado of voters rejecting Republicans who blindly reject any effort at gun violence prevention. As POLITICO reports, this unerring loyalty to the 2nd Amendment is hurting Republicans with their own base of supporters:

Young Republicans aren’t clinging to guns like the rest of the GOP.

As former President Donald Trump and new campaign entrants, including former Vice President Mike Pence, tout their Second Amendment bonafides and opposition to “gun confiscation” to 2024 primary voters, some Gen Z and millennial Republicans are moving in the opposite direction: A significant share of younger conservatives, reared in an age of mass violence, embrace firearm restrictions.

One poll conducted by Harvard’s political institute this spring found that a clear majority of young conservatives supported mandatory psychological exams for gun purchasers. A separate, recurring survey from YouGov concluded in March that Gen Z and millennial Republicans are more likely to believe in tougher gun laws than older Republicans and that young conservatives’ support for the idea has grown in the past year.

The generational disconnect suggests broader GOP opposition to gun restrictions will be a steady irritant inside a party already struggling to appeal to young voters. It could also challenge White House hopefuls and members of Congress to eventually refine their message on guns with Republican primary and general election voters, even if the concerns of young people won’t transform GOP politics overnight.


The House of Representatives adjourned until Monday because members of the House Freedom Caucus are throwing a tantrum over not being allowed to tank the global economy through refusing to raise the debt ceiling. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy continues to deal with half-assed threats from the likes of Colorado Reps. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Lauren Boebert (R-ifle), both of whom are willing to tank legislation that they actually support in order to make some sort of dumb point.


 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled AGAINST gerrymandering in Alabama.

No, seriously. We read the headline twice.


Give your eyes a break and put your ears to work with this week’s episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with State Treasurer Dave Young:

Click below to keep learning things…



Freedumb Caucus Tantrum Escalates Fight with GOP Leadership

Colorado Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck

As part of passing last week’s legislation to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a global economic catastrophe, members of the “House Freedom Caucus” were rolled over by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. We wondered what might be next for the Freedumb Caucus members after McCarthy called their bluff, but we couldn’t have predicted just how silly and dumb this internal GOP fight would become.

As The Associated Press explains:

House conservatives staged a mini-revolt Tuesday in retaliation for Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership on last week’s vote to raise the debt ceiling, the right wing banding together to block progress on a mixture of bills and vent their frustration.

Led by outspoken members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 11 Republicans broke with their party on an otherwise routine procedural vote that threw the day’s schedule — and the rest of the week — into disarray. It’s the first such procedural rule vote to fail in nearly two decades.

The group is among some of the same conservative Republicans who tried to stop the debt ceiling bill from advancing last week and who then threatened to try to oust McCarthy after passage of the debt ceiling package that President Joe Biden signed into law. Short of taking that step, they have demanded a meeting with McCarthy, leaving it unclear how the standoff will be resolved. [Pols emphasis]

House Freedom Caucus (HFC) members from Colorado — Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — took part in right-wing Republicans’ latest bit of performative obstruction on Tuesday by helping to block legislation THAT THEY SUPPORTED from coming to the floor for a vote.

The legislation that was ultimately shelved by the HFC protest was an attempt to prevent the federal government from regulating gas stoves, which was briefly a touchpoint for very online MAGA Republicans earlier this year. It bears repeating that the losers here were Republicans; for example, all of the Democrats in Colorado’s Congressional Delegation happily voted ‘NO’ on the procedural move alongside their nutty colleagues.

This was apparently the next move in the game of stupid checkers that the HFC decided to press after meekly pretending that they might try to call a vote to “vacate the chair” and oust McCarthy. You might recall that Buck himself spoke out against McCarthy with little conviction before scurrying behind the nearest solid object. McCarthy’s GOP opponents know they don’t have the votes to truly remove him as Speaker, which is why they threw this public tantrum instead.

POLITICO calls what happened on Tuesday a mini rebellion, though this was more like kicking the ball over the fence at recess because you were mad at the other team. It apparently also has something to do with accusations from the HFC that House GOP leadership threatened to stop an obscure bill about gun braces:

At the center of Tuesday’s dispute was an accusation by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) that GOP leaders had threatened to sink his bill to repeal a Biden administration gun regulation unless he supported advancing last week’s debt deal. Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), who determines which legislation comes to the floor, had denied Clyde’s allegation hours before the vote.

Nonetheless, Clyde delivered an unusual, high-profile brushback of the majority leader. Scalise was later seen in animated conversation on the House floor with the group of conservatives as they tanked the procedural vote on gas stoves in protest.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise denied these allegations, but Fox News now smells blood. Comments that Buck made to POLITICO make this whole thing look even dumber:

Members of the Freedom Caucus also painted their show of force on Tuesday as retribution for leadership cutting a debt deal late last month that sparked fierce criticism from some of McCarthy’s fiercest opponents. Some suggested that, should they sink additional procedural votes, they would further paint the speaker as incapable of running the House without them.

“How can you govern if you can’t pass a rule?” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) asked when pressed on a future vote to topple McCarthy. [Pols emphasis]

The last time the House defeated a procedural rule for debate on legislation was 2002, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Ken Buck demands things.

So, in order to “get back” at McCarthy, HFC members are going to undercut the leadership of their own House Speaker so that he appears weak and ineffective…which then might eventually lead to gaining the votes that would make a “motion to vacate” more realistic.

There’s no way the HFC has the juice to elect one of their own as Speaker, so even if this “plan” were to succeed, the best that Boebert and Buck could hope for would be a different leader who would likely not be all that different from McCarthy.

It’s not all that clear what the HFC is demanding of McCarthy anyway. Boebert regularly spouts off about McCarthy while also making vague references to some sort of “deal” she supposedly helped negotiate to end the January Speaker vote debacle. Boebert’s credibility is pretty well shot regardless, particularly after she failed to even cast a vote on the debt ceiling bill that she so abhorred and later lied about her reasoning.

Buck’s “line in the sand” is equally ludicrous. Buck has never voted for a debt limit increase based on his own silly principles that don’t mesh with the reality of the devastation that would be caused by a debt default by the United States, so his protests are generally ignored by the adults in the room. Buck’s demands (see image at right) are the equivalent of a seven-year-old girl insisting on a unicorn for her birthday. McCarthy shouldn’t agree to any more federal spending and should not negotiate with Democrats? Yeah, that’s plausible.

Things are still stuck today. As The Washington Post reports:

The House remained in a stalemate Wednesday, recessing minutes after the session began, as hard-right Republicans defied GOP leadership and blocked legislation.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met Wednesday afternoon with several members of the House Freedom Caucus to negotiate on their demands after 11 hard-right lawmakers — still angry over McCarthy’s handling of the debt ceiling bill — voted with Democrats against passing a rule for consideration of several bills this week. A resolution has yet to be struck, though ongoing negotiations now involve possibly scheduling votes on key bills the Freedom Caucus prioritizes.

McCarthy admitted Wednesday he had been “blindsided” by Tuesday’s events, which was the first rule vote to fail since November 2002, but insisted that the Republican caucus would emerge stronger.

In other words, Republicans are basically filibustering themselves despite holding majority control in the House.

The one thing that Republicans are actually accomplishing is proving to American voters that they absolutely cannot be put in charge of anything. By that measure, this has all been an astounding success.

Jenna Ellis Tests Ken Buck’s Integrity at WCS

The Western Conservative Summit, a yearly confab of hard-right conservatives held in the Denver area annually that seeks to compete with CPAC and the other big-name conserva-cons coming up this weekend, has frequently aimed to stir up controversy with their roster of speakers. Over the years, WCS has brought in such colorful types as leading Dutch racist politician Geert Wilders who called for a moratorium on mosque construction, in addition to Republican luminaries big and small–the more important the election year for Republicans, the bigger the luminaries including President Donald Trump and Cabinet officials. In recent years as Republican fortunes have waned dramatically in our state, the speaker list at WCS has slipped from relatively “A List” early in the Trump years to this year’s pack of relative unknowns:

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The list does go on from here, and Colorado’s three remaining Republican members of Congress are all set to speak, but this roster is a far cry from the days when Trump and Sarah Palin packed the hall at the WCS. The year’s speaker’s list has more people we’ve never heard of than perhaps any other year, and not even a major presidential candidate on the list.

But if you’re looking for controversy, recently reprimanded attorney Jenna Ellis at least has that commodity in ample supply. Ellis was formally censured by the Colorado state board of attorney regulation for a “pattern of misconduct” related to her false statements about the 2020 presidential election. This admission, which was required in order to save Ellis’ law license, resulted in her being excommunicated from Trump world.

But as the Colorado Times Recorder reported last week, that hasn’t slowed Ellis down in the controversy department:

Jenna Ellis, a controversial conservative talk show host and attorney from Colorado, announced on social media this week that she supports the new, highly criticized Ugandan anti-LGBTQ law, which prescribes the death penalty for those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Ellis is a former legal advisor to President Trump, censured election denier, and a former professor of law, leadership, and ethics at Colorado Christian University, where she taught from 2015-2018.

Even Sen. Ted Cruz has condemned Uganda’s extreme anti-LGBT laws. But for Ellis there’s a more immediate problem in the form of Rep. Ken Buck, who was at least at one point so opposed to Uganda’s persecution of LGBT people that he refused to share a stage with a supporter of their crackdown:

Back then, U.S. Representative Ken Buck (CO-04), another Colorado conservative and member of the House Freedom Caucus, backed out of an event where a Ugandan proponent of that 2014 law on the bill. “I can’t share the stage with someone like that,” Buck said at the time. [Pols emphasis]

Well folks, unless something changes in the next 48 hours, he’s about to. Ken Buck of course knows Jenna Ellis, having fired Ellis from the Weld County District Attorney’s office back in 2012 for “unsatisfactory performance.” Buck also tried to put distance between himself and the 2020 presidential election conspiracy theories that drove Ellis to the pinnacle of fame and then disgrace.

Add it all together and it looks like a real dilemma for Ken Buck.

At the very least, we expect some top-shelf Buckisms as he talks his way out of it.

Buck Says Trump’s Nonstop Legal Trouble Is Actually Great

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

GOP Rep. Ken Buck has a well-earned reputation for making what he thinks is the greatest argument ever on a given issue, oblivious to the fact that everyone in the room including most of his allies are cringing in dismay. 2023 so far has borne this reputation out with several high-profile cable news gaffes, claiming to CNN reporter Phil Mattingly in March that AR-15 assault rifles “are not a danger to anybody.” This was followed by Buck trashing a New York grand jury’s indictment of Donald Trump to CNN’s Jim Acosta…until Acosta pointed out that prosecutors like Buck are supposed to have respect for the grand jury process.

Perhaps the biggest unintended boost Buck gave to Democrats was during the runup to Trump’s first impeachment trial, in which Buck established for the record that Trump could be prosecuted for his actions as President after leaving office. With one criminal case pending and more investigations reportedly on the cusp of charges, that’s an observation that Buck has surely come to regret.

Yesterday on CNN, Buck struck again with what could be the greatest Buckism of all time. Instead of trashing fellow prosecutors, Buck has stopped worrying and learned to love Trump’s investigations!

As reported by Rolling Stone’s Peter Wade:

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, host Dana Bash asked Buck, “You have acknowledged more broadly that Donald Trump is facing some ethical challenges in his campaign, in addition to the classified documents probe, he’s under investigation for election interference in Georgia, Jan. 6, he’s already been indicted in New York. Would Republicans be better off with a candidate who is not facing multiple criminal investigations?”

“You know, it’s interesting,” Buck responded. “I think that the multiple investigations and civil lawsuits that have been brought almost give this presidential candidate and former president credibility. [Pols emphasis] He keeps saying that the world is against him because he’s trying to make these changes.”

It’s like claiming Al Capone was a good guy because prosecutors only convicted Capone for tax evasion.

We’ll start by saying that there probably is a small, disaffected segment of the public who looks at multiple criminal and civil investigations against a public figure and concludes that the subject of all of that scrutiny must themselves be the victim. The much more rational conclusion, which we would expect from a former prosecutor, is that lots of separate investigations tend to indicate someone is in fact breaking the law. Again, like having faith in grand juries, Buck either respects the legal system he was sworn to uphold or he doesn’t.

Buck’s misconduct reprimand as a prosecutor is the one thing in context that does make sense.

All Bark, No Bite: Boebert, Buck, and the Freedumb Caucus

How’s this for a solid metaphor: Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck wielding an inoperable assault rifle in Buck’s Washington DC office.

While you were watching the Denver Nuggets dismantle the Miami Heat on Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the U.S. Senate approved a measure to raise the debt ceiling and avoid economic catastrophe. President Biden is expected to sign the bill today and deliver remarks from the White House at 5:00 pm (Mountain Time).

Failing to raise the debt ceiling would have been disastrous for the United States and would likely have caused a worldwide recession, but Republican opponents of the deal are still sad about not getting enough spending cuts from their hostage-taking efforts.

We noted yesterday that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was kinda sorta calling for a challenge to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the aftermath of the House vote. The Hill newspaper summed up Buck’s weakness in just two sentences:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) “should be concerned” about a motion to remove him after the debt ceiling deal he struck with President Biden moves through Congress.

McCarthy has said he is “not at all” concerned about being removed from his position following the conservative backlash to the debt agreement.


As a result of one of the deals that McCarthy made with MAGA Republicans in January when he spent four agonizing and embarrassing days trying to win the Speaker’s gavel, any one Member of Congress could call a “motion to vacate” and force a vote for a new Speaker. Of course, the next step would require there to be enough votes to actually oust McCarthy, and that’s where fantasy turns into sad reality for Buck and his “House Freedom Caucus” friends. Last weekend, in fact, fellow Freedumb Caucus member Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) and her buddy from Florida, Rep. Matt Gaetz, were gabbing on Twitter Spaces when Gaetz acknowledged that MAGA Republicans don’t have the votes to do anything other than vaguely threaten McCarthy.


The only saving grace for House Republicans is that none of these nitwits can shoot straight.


As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post, this puts Boebert, Buck, and friends in a weird spot:

Even as the House Freedom Caucus assembled for 45 minutes to denounce the deal Tuesday and a protester behind them displayed a sign labeling McCarthy a “traitor,” McCarthy was largely spared the vitriol. When it was her turn to speak, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) even conceded, “I think McCarthy did the best that he could do to some extent with this deal. … McCarthy did his job, but unfortunately, Biden and the Democrat-controlled Senate did not do theirs.”…

…Forcing a vote would then be a recipe for failure — a failure that could actually strengthen McCarthy’s position within the conference. Even if Freedom Caucus types were more talk than walk, that would send a message about McCarthy’s standing. [Pols emphasis]

And then there’s the question of what the Freedom Caucus would even get out of it. Their protestations notwithstanding, GOP strategist Liam Donovan suggests that it’s not much.

“The question for these guys is how and why a future speaker would be any better for them when the one who was exceedingly accommodating got no quarter,” Donovan said. He added that the Freedom Caucus needs to decide whether “their disappointment is worth blowing up what has been a pretty effective arrangement for them to date.”

Thus far, despite the Freedom Caucus’s demonstrated affinity for blowing things up to make a point, the answer appears to be no.

In other words, Boebert, Buck and the Freedumb Caucus now have a choice between A) Bad, and B) Worse.

If the Freedom Caucus doesn’t try to oust McCarthy after getting steamrolled on the debt limit deal, they’ll look even weaker than they do now.

If the Freedom Caucus does try to oust McCarthy, they’ll almost certainly fail…which will make them look even weaker than they do now.

Congressional record for Roll Call Vote 243.

But as bad as this situation is for MAGA Republicans, it’s even worse for Boebert. We noted earlier this week that Boebert had two bad options on the debt ceiling debate, but then she surprised us and figured out a third — and even worse — direction. Boebert DIDN’T EVEN CAST A VOTE on the biggest issue of 2023, drawing the ire of her colleagues in Colorado after weeks of empty rhetoric.

Boebert’s inaction has now made her whereabouts on Wednesday a story in itself:

Where was Boebert when she missed the debt limit vote? Why is her office so reluctant to offer any details about what Boebert was doing instead? By refusing to provide details, Boebert has turned her absence into a new lead for reporters to chase. 

Voters in the third congressional district already think that Boebert cares more about social media and defending Donald Trump than she does about doing her actual job in Congress. By missing the most important vote of the year, Boebert handed Democrats the perfect example to bring the message home. And if it turns out that Boebert was doing something she shouldn’t have been doing (when she SHOULD have been casting a vote), things are going to get a whole lot worse for the Rifle Republican.

This is how a Republican incumbent pisses away a seat in an otherwise safe Republican district.

Ken Buck Weakly Sort Of Calls For Kevin McCarthy’s Head

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the New York Times’ Carl Hulse reports, yesterday’s passage of legislation to raise the nation’s debt limit until beyond the next presidential election by the GOP-controlled U.S. House, over the objections of the far-right Republicans who pushed hardest to exploit what should have been a routine vote for maximum political damage, has prompted calls for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to be ousted from his position–a process which, as readers will recall, can be initiated by a single member of Congress as a condition of McCarthy winning the gavel in January:

[I]n the end, he delivered an agreement that met his goal of cutting spending from current levels. It was not pretty; in fact, it was downright ugly. He managed to do so only with significant help from across the aisle, as Democrats rescued him on a key procedural vote and then provided the support needed for passage. Mr. McCarthy exceeded his goal of winning the support of the majority of his members with 149 backing it, but more Democrats — 165 of them — voted for the bill than members of his own party, an outcome that will fuel Republican criticism that he cut a deal that sold out his own people. [Pols emphasis]

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R).

That’s the assessment of Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck, in the headlines today as one of the early critics suggesting that a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair may be in order:

Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said Mr. McCarthy had hurt himself with many House Republicans “big time, big time.”

“I think this is going to be a problem for him,” said Mr. Buck, who along with other critics of Mr. McCarthy said lawmakers would be talking among themselves about how or whether to proceed with an attempt to force out the speaker.

As The Hill’s Jared Gans reports, Buck claims yesterday’s compromise was an abrogation of the deal Speaker McCarthy made with House conservatives to win his office:

Buck on Wednesday reiterated claims from a group of far-right lawmakers who say McCarthy broke his word in the agreement that sealed their initial support for his Speakership.

Buck and others say McCarthy promised that he would push for government funding at fiscal 2022 appropriations levels as Speaker, but his deal with Biden would keep nondefense spending at 2023 levels for the next fiscal year and allow a 1 percent increase in 2025.

Buck said the difference is a “major change for a lot of people.”

As angry as the right side of the House GOP caucus may be at Speaker McCarthy, the heavy bipartisan backup he received on this compromise bill combined with a faction of pro-McCarthy conservatives led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene dims the prospects for any effort to oust McCarthy. At least for now, McCarthy appears to have successfully outmaneuvered the far-right members of his caucus who embarrassingly complicated his ascension to the speakership in January. Meanwhile, one of McCarthy’s most visible detractors from the speakership struggle, Rep. Lauren Boebert, didn’t even vote on the bill–which effectively pulls the plug on her right to complain.

When Buck says this turn of events is a “major change for a lot of people,” he’s right.

The change is that the most obstructionist elements of the House GOP caucus got sidelined.

Thanks For Nothing, Ken Buck (Default Pay Cut Edition)

Rep. Ken Buck with his finger on the problem.

As negotiations between the GOP-controlled U.S. House and the rest of the civilized world continue over what should be a routine vote to honor the nation’s debt obligations as required by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, GOP hardliner Rep. Ken Buck announced last week that in the event the federal government defaults on its debt, he would support legislation to withhold paychecks from members of Congress. MSNBC:

“I have confidence in Speaker McCarthy, and Speaker McCarthy knows exactly what I want. We have to reduce discretionary spending in this country,” Buck says.

Asked whether he would support the bipartisan bill in the House that would block pay for members of Congress if the U.S. defaults, Buck replies, “Yes, I would.”

The irony here is that Rep. Buck was one of only four Republicans to vote against Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s debt ceiling proposal calling for far-reaching spending cuts, which itself is considered long dead as negotiations over a compromise continue. Justifying his vote against McCarthy’s debt ceiling proposal, Buck upped the ante by calling for the retirement age in America for most workers to become the highest in the world.

Buck gets some credit for honesty in stating exactly what he wants no matter how politically unpopular it may be, something that most Republicans can’t or won’t do themselves. But if Buck wouldn’t even support McCarthy’s legislation and its sweeping cuts, how can he possibly bring himself to vote for a compromise brokered between McCarthy and the White House? Given that Buck has never voted for a debt ceiling increase even when Republicans were in charge, we already know the answer. Either Buck is counting on cooler heads than his own to prevail, or he’s wilfully courting disaster.

Either way, we agree that Buck is not exactly earning his paycheck. However this standoff ends, Buck has made sure he’ll be part of the problem not the solution.


The Get More Smarter Podcast Legislative Wrap Up

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, the First Regular Session of the 74th General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die and it was a despicable failure, or a resounding success, or somewhere in between, depending entirely on how much time you spend putting money into Elon Musk’s pocket. Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii break down the results.

To wrap up the session in style, Christy Powell returns to play “Legislating with Crayons,” and we check in on our 6th and 8th favorite members of congress from Colorado to see what in the hell they’re up to (spoiler alert: nothing good).

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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Buck’s Debt-Ceiling Solution: Work Until You Die

Rep. Ken Buck (R) displaying his retirement policy.

Colorado’s arch-conservative but occasionally unpredictable Rep. Ken Buck was one of only four Republicans to vote against GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s sweeping spending cut proposal in exchange for what should be a routine hike in the nation’s debt limit–a proposal itself considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, failing to resolve the impasse as a potentially disastrous default on the nation’s debts looms.

This week, Rep. Buck appeared on local news channel FOX 31 to talk about the debt limit negotiations, and answer the hard question: if McCarthy’s proposed cuts weren’t enough to win Buck’s support, what would be?

Especially if you’re under 30, you might not want to know the answer:

Buck said it’s important the country continues to fund border protections, national defense and social security and Medicare for people currently on those programs. But he also suggested raising the retirement age, saying, “We absolutely need to look at saving those programs and reforming those programs for folks that are under 30 years old.”

The congressman highlighted rising life expectancy nationwide, adding that the retirement age could differ depending on jobs.

“For some folks who have had mostly white-collar jobs during their lifetime and are healthy, the retirement age may very well go up to 70, 71, 72 years old. [Pols emphasis] For those folks who are working in construction, working in other areas, where their body tends to break down, we need to make sure we have a lower retirement age,” Buck said.

Let’s be clear: if Rep. Ken Buck had his way, the retirement age for most American workers would become the highest in the world.

To put this in perspective, most industrialized nations have a retirement age ranging from only 60 in China to 62-67 in most of Europe–notably excepting France, of course, where centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 was met with nationwide protests. To be clear, despite the perennial handwringing over the supposedly imminent “bankruptcy” of the nation’s social safety nets, relatively modest changes like removing the income cap from Social Security and increasing the high-income Medicare tax could fix the system’s “solvency problem” with far less pain. But those are solutions Republicans are ideologically prevented from even considering.

It’s almost always a question that Republicans don’t want to directly answer with the painful specifics, so Buck gets credit for honesty if nothing else. But in reality, Americans would readily choose any number of fixes for Social Security and Medicare before being forced to stay on the job until age 72. That’s one of the reasons you almost never hear specific proposals like Buck’s near elections or from Republican candidates considered in any way vulnerable.

If making Americans work until 72 is what Republicans want, take it to the polls.

The smart ones know how that will end, and that’s why they won’t.