Repeal Obamacare! Oh, Wait a Minute…

obamacaresThe AP has a great story up today via the Fort Collins Coloradoan on the dramatic drop in the number of uninsured Americans following passage of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Much to the chagrin of local Republicans bent on repealing President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment, Colorado is at the top of the list of success stories:

GOP presidential candidates are vowing to repeal “Obamacare,” while offering hardly any detail on how they’d replace it without millions losing coverage.

Politically, the eight states with statistically significant coverage gains in the National Health Interview Survey are a mix of red, blue and purple. They are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and New York. Five have GOP governors.

As a whole, the nation had an uninsured rate of 9.1 percent during the first nine months of 2015, according to the survey, an ongoing research project by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The uninsured rate was 14.4 percent in 2013, before the law’s big coverage expansion…

That poses a dilemma for Republican presidential candidates. Indeed, a recent blueprint from a group of conservative policy experts for replacing the health law said Republicans will need some kind of “grandfathering exemption” to avoid disrupting the lives of people who have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act. [Pols emphasis]

What we’re seeing here is exactly what Republicans who opposed the passage of Obamacare in 2009-10 were most afraid of–not that they could admit being afraid of it, but was always the bottom line lurking beneath their shrill and desperate arguments against passage. After passage, the fear of what’s happening today drove the GOP campaign to repeal the law before it could take full effect, instilling Republican opponents of the law with a profound sense of urgency to stop it, and rationalizing all of the outlandish claims of harm the law was inflicting on Americans.

They were afraid because they knew that Obamacare would work. That it would make health coverage affordable for millions of Americans, absorb those millions into a less selective risk pool, and put in place a system that will hurt millions of people to take away. The fact is, Obamacare is not a “government takeover of health care”–the plan has its origins largely in conservative designs for health care reform, a mandate to obtain coverage and assistance for those who can’t afford it.

It hasn’t happened yet, but there remains a strong possibility that the success of Obamacare will do lasting political damage to Republicans who so bitterly opposed it. What’s missing right now, frankly, may be a successful repeal effort, or at least one with an appreciable chance of success. Up until now, Republican threats against Obamacare have been threats against an abstraction, a monster they could define for the public. But increasingly, the public can see with their own eyes that Obamacare is helping people. They know someone who is getting coverage cheaper, or for the first time. Or, like millions of Americans, they are themselves directly benefiting.

And folks, there is no going back. Too many would suffer, for no other reason than to help the GOP win a six-year-old political struggle that has lost its ability to frighten–except maybe to frighten those who could now lose what they have gained.

The war on Obamacare is over. It’s time for the politicians to catch up with that reality.

Are CO Republicans Really Proposing to Cut Health Care to Old, Disabled, and Other Poor People?

(Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) told 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman last month that Medicaid spending is siphoning money from “every other program,” including schools and roads.

As he told 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman:

Cadman: “[Democrats] have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the Constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program.

Cadman and other Republicans have made similar statements in multiple interviews.

The missing follow-up question in all these interviews is, does he propose to cut Medicaid? It sounds a lot like he is, but he doesn’t say so directly.

Cadman: “What I am suggesting is, when you have something that is supposed to be the safety net, you should protect it for those who need it the most,” Cadman told Rittiman, when asked if he wanted to eliminate Medicaid. “And if you grow it beyond that, and you are creating a program that is, one, cannibalizing the other programs and, two, has no funding source, you are creating a conflict.”

So, clearly, reporters should ask Cadman, whose spokesman did not provide a comment to me, if he thinks Medicaid, has grown beyond the “safety net” it’s “supposed to be.”

If he thinks so, he could, for example, advocate changing the formula for qualifying for the Medicaid. Currently, to be eligible for Colorado’s Medicaid program, families of four must make less than about $32,000 a year and individuals less than $16,000. Over a million people are enrolled state-wide. Keep in mind that about 75 percent of people who receive Medicaid are working already.

But before anyone starts throwing poor people off Medicaid, as Cadman seems to be proposing, or charging them more, he should be clear that the driving force behind the growing state costs of Medicaid aren’t coming from adding new people to the program.


Get More Smarter on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10)

Get More SmarterSlowly but surely, the Presidential race is moving toward states where people actually live. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► The New Hampshire Primaries concluded last night, but not before making a significant impact on the Presidential race. As expected, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were victorious in their respective Primaries, but it was the rest of the ballot that really made New Hampshire interesting. Here’s how Politico and the Washington Post viewed the fallout from New Hampshire. If you missed any of the coverage, we’ll catch you up with a couple of bullet points:

♦ Hillary Clinton lost by 22 points to Bernie Sanders, and the Clinton campaign is now bracing for a long, protracted Primary fight.

♦ Tuesday was a terrible night for the Republican “establishment.” Trump easily won New Hampshire by nearly 20 points, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich pulling a surprise second-place finish. Ted Cruz finished in third place, followed by Jeb! Bush and Marco “Roboto” Rubio in a distant fifth place. Conservative commentators, including National Review, had been saying that Rubio needed to make sure he finished ahead of Jeb!, which didn’t happen.

♦ Rubio’s fifth place finish also means he left New Hampshire without a single delegate pledged to his campaign. If Rubio can’t recover in time to perform well in South Carolina on Feb. 20th, it could be the end of the line for the Florida Senator’s Presidential hopes.

♦ Here’s a fun fact: In modern history, Republicans have not elected a nominee as President who didn’t win either Iowa or New Hampshire. If history holds, the GOP is looking at Cruz, Trump, or bust.

♦ With a sixth place finish, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has reached the end of his Presidential rope; Christie announced today that he would “suspend” his campaign.



► Republican Ben Carson said on Tuesday that he “would consider” an offer to be Donald Trump’s running mate if His Hairness wins the GOP nomination. Of course, Trump didn’t actually suggest that he might tap Carson for that role.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

New Hampshire Primary Open Thread

UPDATE #3: With 46% reporting, Kasich looks to have second place sewn up. Christie appears to have hit a wall. Jeb! maintains about a thousand-point lead over Rubio for fourth place; at this rate, it appears that Rubio is just waiting to find out whether Jeb! or Cruz will finish ahead of him in the fourth spot.

As the National Review wrote earlier today, Rubio absolutely cannot afford to finish behind Jeb! in New Hampshire.


UPDATE #2: With 37% of the polls reporting, Rubio trails Jeb! by nearly a thousand votes in the battle for fourth place. Chris Christie is still climbing slowly, and is now about 2 thousand votes behind Rubio and fifth place.


UPDATE: As expected, the drama in New Hampshire is the race for second place; Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been declared the winners in their respective parties.

The early surprise is the freefall of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is struggling to keep it together for a fifth place finish. As of 7:00 pm (Mountain), Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a pretty good hold on second place, followed by Jeb! Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Roboto. After last week’s surprising third place finish in Iowa, Rubio might be looking at a scenario whereby his entire campaign rests on the results from South Carolina on Feb. 20.



Polls in New Hampshire close at 6PM Mountain time. Use this thread to live and die by the results.

Or not, depending on your level of excitability.

Stay Classy, Cory Gardner (Hillary In Supermax Edition)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins, Colorado’s freshman Sen. Cory Gardner goes unscripted on the stump in New Hampshire for Marco Rubio:

As a fresh-faced conservative on the rise in his party, Gardner has been introducing himself to audiences in early primary states where attendees might not know much about the young pol from Yuma, Colorado.

So he has an ice breaker.

“I introduce myself most of the time by saying, ‘Hi, I’m Cory Gardner from the great state of Colorado, home of the Rocky Mountains — and Hillary Clinton’s private email server,” he told an audience at a restaurant in South Carolina recently, adding that perhaps that’s what his state is known for.

Hutchins notes correctly that, talk radio apocrypha notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton’s “private email server” was never located in Colorado. We’re pretty sure that former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s private email server wasn’t in Denver either, or the private servers used by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s top employees, or the private email server extensively used by Bush White House employees, or…you get the idea. It’s both wrong and kind of stupid.

But that wasn’t Gardner’s real punchline anyway:

The U.S. Senator from Colorado continued:

“You know, they’re trying to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to Colorado where we have a Supermax prison, and I said, ‘You know what, with what’s happening I don’t want to keep them in Supermax, because we need to make room for Hillary.’” [Pols emphasis]

Okay then! So it wasn’t the “pipeline of terror from Kabul to Colorado” Gardner was worried about after all.

Of course everyone knows he’s joking, right? Except for the fact that many Republicans are not joking when they say these things, and a lot of rank-and-file Republican voters really believe it. In that context it’s not a joke at all, at least not all that funny. As a Rubio surrogate on the campaign trail, this wisecrack reflects on Rubio’s campaign as much as Gardner personally.

For those of us who follow Gardner, it’s another reminder that under that beatific smile a much less congenial politician is lurking.

George Brauchler’s Ugly Consolation Prize

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, the failure of Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler to win the death penalty phase of the trial of the Aurora theater mass murderer last year–a loss that contributed to Brauchler’s momentous decision to not run for the U.S. Senate this year–has provoked a controversial response from his Republican allies in the Colorado General Assembly.

And by controversial, we mean, well, bloodthirsty:

Currently it takes a unanimous vote of all 12 jurors, but Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud wants to get that number down a little lower. Like, maybe nine. Or 10. Or maybe 11 jurors. But not all 12. That just makes executing someone in Colorado too hard, he says. He doesn’t like the idea that one lone holdout could spoil a death sentence.

“If the policy is that the death penalty is appropriate for the worst of crimes, then a jury should not be composed of people who disagree with that basic point,” Lundberg told The Colorado Independent about his bill. Critics of the measure say it might not pass constitutional muster, and the bar shouldn’t be lowered for easing executions.

The senator will make the case for his legislation at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the Senate calendar.

The Denver Post’s Jordan Steffen has more from the bill’s primary sponsor, GOP Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Loveland:

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he is sponsoring the bill because he “wants to save lives” and have a penalty “that will cause the bad guy to think twice before they pull the trigger.”

…But critics peg the legislation — which could still be amended — as an effort to make it easier to obtain a death sentence.

“We require the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all criminal charges to a unanimous jury,” said Colorado public defender Doug Wilson. “So (under the proposed bill) someone charged with shoplifting would get a unanimous jury, and yet when we decide we want to execute one of our citizens, we would leave it to a jury of less than 12.” [Pols emphasis]

At a time when capital punishment in the United States is under more scrutiny than at any point since it was relegalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, and with so much controversy over the methods of execution in America and the possibility of wrongful executions, the idea of making it easier to execute people in any way seems radically counterintuitive. It’s even worse to think through the implications of executing someone over the objections of a sitting juror, which is apparently only possible in three states today. No matter how robbed Brauchler may feel over the three jurors who objected to imposing the death penalty in the Aurora shooting case, that is not something we think a majority of voters in Colorado would find morally conscionable.

In fact, this could get voters thinking about the death penalty in ways proponents won’t like at all.

Colorado Polsters Pick New Hampshire

Last week Colorado Pols held a contest to predict the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, and several readers ended up being this close to getting the final numbers correct. Pols’ reader “flatiron” ended up winning the coveted Jim Gilmore for President button (which we may or may not have forgotten to mail until today).

Tonight is the New Hampshire Primary, so let’s get to guessing once again. We have one more Gilmore for President button for the winner.

Not actual size


To enter the contest: Copy the sample “ballot” below, insert your predictions, and paste it back into the comments section. Please don’t forget to include the percentage of the vote that you are predicting for each candidate — vote percentages will be used as the tiebreaker to determine a winner.

If you need some rough numbers for comparison, here’s the results from the 2008 New Hampshire Primary, and here are the final numbers from the final CNN/WMUR tracking poll.

*Entries must be entered into the comments section of this post by 5:00 pm today in order to be eligible to win the totally-rad Gilmore button.

1) Candidate Name, XX%
2) Candidate Name, XX%
3) Candidate Name, XX%
4) Candidate Name, XX%
5) Candidate Name, XX%

1) Candidate Name, XX%
2) Candidate Name, XX%


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Feb. 9)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowGood luck trying to get a sandwich on your lunch hour in Denver today; the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos will be parading through town around noon. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► The New Hampshire Primaries are today, and if polling results are to be believed, we aren’t in for much of a surprise at the top of the ballots. Bernie Sanders is expected to easily defeat Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, while Donald Trump appears to have things locked up in the Republican Primary. The real drama of the evening will be the race for second place in the GOP field, as Politico explains:

But New Hampshire isn’t called the “graveyard of pollsters” for nothing. The margins by which both Sanders and Trump might win — and the order of the next four Republican candidates, all of whom run close in the polls — could still tighten or widen considerably. And there could easily be eleventh-hour swings that the polls, the last of which concluded early Monday, didn’t pick up.

The margins matter: A blowout win for Sanders could give him momentum heading into next week’s Nevada caucuses, while a closer finish might be seen as a disappointment for the Vermont senator, who still trails Clinton nationally and in most other states…

…Among Republicans, not only do the other competitors want to close strong and challenge Trump — the order in which they finish could mean the difference between quitting and hanging on, even if they are only separated by small margins.

The final CNN/WMUR tracking poll, concluded Monday morning, shows Sanders with a 26-point lead over Clinton. On the GOP side, Trump is at 31%, followed by Marco Rubio at 17% (followed by Marco Rubio at 17%), Sen. Ted Cruz at 14%, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in double-digits at 10%.


► Marco Rubio continues to face heavy scrutiny over his disastrous debate performance on Saturday. After being widely panned over the weekend for his robotic rhetoric, Rubio was again stuck on instant replay during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Monday. You can watch the short video clip below for the complete Marco Roboto experience. From the New York Times:

Speaking to a crowd in Nashua, he was lamenting the decline in American family values.

Then he lamented the decline in American values again.

This is what he said verbatim, as his wife and four children looked on:

“We are taking our message to families that are struggling to raise their children in the 21st century because, as you saw, Jeanette and I are raising our four children in the 21st century, and we know how hard it’s become to instill our values in our kids instead of the values they try to ram down our throats.

“In the 21st century, it’s becoming harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music, in popular culture.”

Mr. Rubio appeared to notice his own echo: As he repeated the word “throats,” he caught himself, but proceeded to the end of his sentence nonetheless.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Planned Parenthood Colorado Springs To Reopen, Finally

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

A press release today from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains announces that the organization’s clinic in Colorado Springs, which was the target of a domestic terror attack last November by a self-proclaimed “warrior for the babies,” will reopen later this month:

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood health center will once again offer the full range of sexual and reproductive health services beginning on February 15th. The health center will provide services in a portion of the building while construction and repair work continues, and with limited space and schedule.

“On February 15th we will open the doors to serve our community just as we have done for generations. We are in awe of our healing and resilient colleagues in Colorado Springs. They are eager to get back to the mission they so deeply care about and the people they so compassionately care for. We welcome our team and our community back into the space with open arms and full hearts.”

The safety of patients and staff is our top priority. Planned Parenthood has in place strong and increased security measures to ensure that this health center — and all of Planned Parenthood buildings — are safe, supportive, welcoming environments for all people to get the high-­‐quality health care and education they need.

“We stand, stronger than ever, for the belief that every person in this community, this country, and around the world deserves access to reproductive health care without fear of harassment or violence. We promised in those first days after the tragedy to repair and reopen in Colorado Springs as soon as possible and we are making good on that promise.”

As the Colorado Springs Independent reported late last month, the city has been without the abortion services provided by this clinic since the attack in November, forcing patients looking for these services to drive long distances. Other medical services provided by Planned Parenthood, which in fact account for the overwhelming majority of services delivered, were picked up by other health providers in the area but not without delays and inconvenience for existing patients.

Nobody on either side wants to admit it, but the plain goal of accused murderer Robert Dear was to shut down the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs–and he succeeded with his actions in doing just that for two and a half months. When you consider this in the context of GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s explicit blaming of Planned Parenthood for the attack on its own clinic, the campaign against Planned Parenthood over the past year based on heavily edited undercover videos, and laws passed in other states and proposed annually in Colorado that would regulate most abortion clinics out of existence, a disturbing reality comes into focus.

By fiat or by violence, shutting down Planned Parenthood is the common goal.

And it can happen here. It did happen here.

“Robot” Rubio’s Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Debate

Marco Rubio.

Marco Rubio.

As the Washington Post reports, an awful debate performance by GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio this weekend has thrown his campaign into a tailspin at the worst possible moment:

Just two days before the New Hampshire primary, Rubio drew mockery for repeating a rehearsed line four times during the Republican candidates’ debate, even after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had ridiculed him for being a talking-point machine.

Rubio received scathing reviews on the Sunday talk shows and was needled by some of his opponents. On Twitter, he earned the moniker “Rubio bot.” Clips of the debate played repeatedly on cable news and were watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube.

The episode interrupted Rubio’s week-long effort to build on his impressive third-place showing in the Iowa caucuses and consolidate donors and party officials behind him. It also appeared to give new life to the struggling candidacies of Christie, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while improving Donald Trump’s chances of winning the New Hampshire Republican primary.

After Rubio’s disappointing third place finish in the Iowa caucuses, spin doctors allied with his campaign went to absurd lengths to characterize the result as a “victory”–spin that fell embarrassingly flat in the days following, but revealed just how desperate the GOP insider establishment is for a alternative to Donald Trump, and to a lesser extent Sen. Ted Cruz. But after this weekend’s debate, Rubio’s shine has dulled considerably:

“The whole race changed last night,” Christie said Sunday on CNN. “There was a march amongst some in the chattering class to anoint Senator Rubio. I think after last night, that’s over. I think there could be four or five tickets now out of New Hampshire because the race is so unsettled now.”

…Trump has held a dominant lead in the polls in New Hampshire for months. There was a growing sense on the ground in recent days that Rubio might surf a wave of buzz and goodwill to contend for the top spot, but party strategists said the debate probably closed whatever opening may have existed. [Pols emphasis]

Rubio’s robotic verbatim answers about the motives of President Barack Obama recalled a similar on-camera disaster for Rubio backer Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, as Democrats were quick to mashup for posterity after the debate:

But for Coloradans, the worst moment in Rubio’s rough debate Saturday could well be his flip-flop on–yes, that’s right–the Denver Broncos:

We’re pretty sure Rubio’s Colorado backers are still cringing from that one.

Bottom line: we won’t know the full effect of Rubio’s poor debate performance until polls in New Hampshire close tomorrow night, but the timing couldn’t be worse for his campaign. Without a powerful comeback story in New Hampshire, all the insider spin in the world can’t spin Rubio past the two candidates who beat him in Iowa. And sounding like an amateur talking point machine in Saturday’s debate feeds the criticism that hurts Rubio most: that he is an inexperienced and shallow candidate, completely unprepared to serve as President.

And the more Rubio talks, the more unprepared he looks.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 8)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowThe Denver Broncos are the Super Bowl Champions! Just in case there is someone out there in Colorado who hasn’t heard yet. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► What will President Obama do with his time when he is finished with his second term in the White House? He probably does not have a second career in sports handicapping.


► Carolina Panthers fans will probably prefer to forget what happened this weekend, and GOP Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is hoping you’ll do the same. During a Republican Presidential debate in New Hampshire on Saturday, Rubio completely fell apart, with help from a savage debate beating at the hands of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. From the Huffington Post:

If a Rubio rally on Sunday was any indication, the senator’s exchange with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Saturday night’s debate that pointed out his propensity to repeat the same talking points is actually giving Rubio’s supporters, long-standing ones and the prospective kind, pause.

“Rubio got a little beat-down,” Will Stewart of Manchester said at an event that was billed as a Super Bowl watch party with Rubio.

“The whole talking point issue is concerning,” Stewart, who is undecided, continued. “You hope there’s a little more depth there.”

Rubio certainly earned a new nickname with his Saturday debate debacle: Marco Roboto. As The Washington Post explains:

If anything, Rubio showed that he is less rhetorically gifted than the current occupant of the Oval Office. In addition to the governors, Trump joined the Rubio pile on, citing problems at the VA to make the case Obama is in over his head.

Worse, as that battle was playing out, Rubio kept repeating the same talking point, which was cringe-worthy because Christie had attacked him hard for hewing closely to canned talking points. The New Jersey governor pounced when Rubio repeated the same point almost verbatim, and with the same cadence, that he had made minutes earlier. “There it is,” the governor interjected. “The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Republicans Won’t Delete Comments about Blowing up Planned Parenthood and Aborting House Speaker

(More press for Casper Stockham! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Casper Stockham.

Casper Stockham.

Two sort-of prominent Colorado Republicans are apparently refusing to delete offensive comments on their Facebook pages.

Here are the comments, written by commenters on the Facebook pages of Sate Rep. State Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Severence) and Denver congressional candidate Casper Stockham.

In response to an article, posted by Humphrey on his Facebook page, in which Democratic House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) criticizes anti-choice “ideologues,” one commenter, Daniel Lanotte, wrote, “Just think where we would be now if Speaker Hullinghorst’s mother had chosen the Speaker’s solution.”

A comment on Stockham’s Facebook page, written in response to an article with the headline,”Breaking: Grand Jury Indicts pro-life investigator behind baby parts video; clears Planned Parenthood,” “Who the hell is this judge that determined this? I’m so angry at Planned Parenthood right now. I wish someone would just blow up their facilities.”

Stockham tells me he doesn’t have time to delete “stupid” stuff from his Facebook page, though he did have time to write comments in the same thread where the blow-up-Planned-Parenthood wish appears.

Humphrey, who introduced a bill last month in the legislature banning all abortion in Colorado, even for rape and incest, hasn’t deleted the Hullinghorst insult, since I told him about it in a voice mail Thursday. (But the commenter himself, David Lanotte, says he was intending only to express his opposition to abortion, not insult Hullinghorst. Lanotte said, “I was not saying that I wish she were aborted.”)