Eight reasons why a Denver Post reporter’s scrubbed blog post was newsworthy and should be re-posted on Post’s website

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are eight reasons why Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee's blog post, quoting Rep. Mike Coffman about personhood and abortion-for-rape-and-incest, was newsworthy and should not have been deleted from The Post's website.

1. It was news! The core of Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett's written explanation for scrubbing the piece is that it was basically old news. But Lee's piece advanced our understanding of Coffman's thinking both on the personhood amendment (he opposes it under any circumstances; see number four below.) and on abortion-for-rape-and-incest (he supports it beyond his previous narrow support of it in a specific piece of legislation; see number three.)

2. It was the first time Coffman made a public statement himself about un-endorsing the personhood amendment and withdrawing his longstanding opposition to abortion-for-rape-and-incest. These are major flips, and journalism is all about providing a record of actual statements by public officials, not their mouthpieces.

3. Lee's deleted piece, for the first time, informed the public that Coffman has completely changed a long-held position and now broadly favors allowing a woman raped by her father to have an abortion. Last year, as Lee noted in his piece, Coffman supported a provision in a bill allowing abortion for rape and incest. But this anti-choice bill focused narrowly on banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, and no news outlets covered Coffman's position. It was completely unknown, until Lee asked Coffman about it, if Coffman favors broad rape-and-incest exceptions to his overall extreme opposition to abortion. It turns out his flip was complete. So Lee's headline for his post reflected actual news: "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest."

4. Lee's deleted piece reported, for the first time, that Coffman is opposed to any version of the personhood amendment, even of it were narrowed. In his deleted piece. Lee reported that "Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it." This advances Lee's March 25 story, which quoted Coffman's spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, as saying only that Coffman did not support the personhood amendment in 2012 or this year, and the matter is settled because voters rejected it (not that Coffman's thinking had changed).

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Ryan Budget Barely Passes; Colo. GOP Delegation All Vote Yes

UPDATE: Mike Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff responds:

The Ryan budget does not reflect the values most Americans share. It would force middle-class families to pay more in taxes, students to pay more for college, and seniors to pay more for health care. The House I led balanced the budget every year. But we didn’t do so on the back of the middle class. Some estimates suggest the Ryan plan would cost the country as many as three million jobs. Among the other casualties: 170,000 at-risk children, who would lose access to Head Start.

The winners? Those in the highest income bracket, pharmaceutical manufacturers and corporations that offshore their employees.

If you’re serious about growing the economy, you don’t eliminate job training. You eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

If you’re serious about balancing the budget, you allow Medicare to negotiate deeper discounts in prescription-drug prices – instead of sticking seniors with higher bills.

If you’re serious about strengthening the middle class, you vote against the Ryan budget. 

—–

Gardner Ryan Budget

Cory Gardner loves him some Paul Ryan

As the National Journal reports, the latest "Ryan Budget" has passed the House (barely). All of Colorado's Republican Members of Congress voted 'YES' on the budget — Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

The House on Thursday narrowly passed Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican budget carrying $5.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years without closing tax loopholes, as Ryan and other GOP leaders averted a potentially embarrassing defeat on the bill because of party defections.

The measure passed 219 to 205, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting no. A swing of just seven Republican votes would have defeated the measure…

…Even some Republicans acknowledge passage of the Ryan budget is more an aspirational declaration of their party's priorities and vision of government spending.

But the vote Thursday showed that it is not necessarily a reflection of all House Republicans' vision. Some conservative defections were anticipated.

Having already flip-flopped on major issues such as Personhood, we're a little surprised to see both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman sticking with Rep. Paul Ryan on a vote that will almost certainly hurt them with General Election voters.

Immigration Rights Activists Rally in Pueblo – and Everywhere

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican and Democratic politicians alike were denounced by the 50 activists rallying at Bessemer Park in Pueblo on April 5, 2014, as part of a national Day of Action on Immigration. Barack Obama has deported more immigrants than any other President; Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton, and Mike Coffman have all voted to defund programs to make it easier for undocumented "Dreamers" to stay in the USA, and have repeatedly voted against comprehensive immigration reform.  Ken Buck and Tom Tancredo were also called out for their unrelenting history of opposition to not only immigration, but immigrants. All of the Republicans have opposed a path to citizenship, calling it "amnesty".

In Denver, activists rallied in Civic Center Park and on the 16th St. Mall (below): (Photo by Ray Rodriguez)

Elsewhere in Colorado, Summit County, and  Durango, saw rallies,waves of protests, support for youth and families facing deportation proceedings. On Saturday, the call across Colorado and the United States was  "Not one More Deportation!"

 

Under the Obama Presidency, more than two million people have been deported, most of them for low-level crimes, such as traffic offenses. Sunday talk shows debated whether or not Obama really is the "Deporter in Chief" On  Steve Kornacki's show, "UP", the focus was on how Obama's high deportation numbers may affect Latino voter turnout in upcoming elections.

Victoria De Francesca-Soto posited that the immigration numbers may be exaggerated statistically, as now everyone who is caught near the border, but turned back immediately,  is counted in deportation numbers. De Francesca also pointed out that immigration reform may not necessarily be the top issue among all Latino voters; for most, jobs and health care reform are higher priorities.

Yet, Gabriella Domenzain, another guest on Kornacki's show, said. "Four out of ten Latino voters have a personal relationship with someone who is being deported, and that changes you." People point to the unequal enforcement of immigration law – Canadian citizen Justin Bieber was convicted of driving drunk; yet he is not being deported, and, every year 400,000 Latinos, with similar or lesser convictions, are formally deported, for a total of two million under Obama.

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New Coffman® Triangulates Off Best Buddy Steve King

UPDATE: Democrats work to deny Coffman any room to maneuver on immigration, The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe:

The House Majority PAC ad, shared first with The Hill, highlights the fact that Coffman has not yet signed a discharge petition aimed at forcing a vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. 

Though nearly every Democrat in the House has signed the discharge petition, no Republicans have, and many in the GOP have indicated no desire to tackle the controversial issue in an election year…

Democrats see the issue as potent in the district, which is about 20 percent Hispanic, especially against Coffman, who was previously staunchly opposed to immigration reform before shifting early last year.

—–

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) left.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) left.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Congressman Mike Coffman called out a fellow Republican for opposing his proposal to allow undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship by serving in the military on Thursday.

Coffman, R-Aurora, called out Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, a noted illegal immigration firebrand who Democrats have tried to sought to portray as a Coffman ally in an appeal to Hispanic voters.

“With all due respect, Steve King is dead wrong on the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act,” Coffman said in a statement, responding to King’s contention that his bill amounts to “amnesty.”

…Coffman, who faces a tough challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn 6th Congressional District that now includes Aurora, supported a King proposal last year that would have ended deferred action, President Obama’s executive order sparing young people in the country illegally from immediate deportation. [Pols emphasis]

The context for this public-facing "disagreement," which Stokols notes embattled Rep. Mike Coffman's re-election campaign was quick to publicize, is a group of conservative House members who have announced their opposition to any "immigration riders" to the National Defense Authorization Act. That's the larger bill being debated, which Rep. Jeff Denham of California, supported by Coffman, hoped to amend. Politico:

“I oppose using the NDAA to push any immigration agenda,” [Rep. Mo] Brooks wrote in the letter asking colleagues to join his effort. “That is why I ask you to sign a letter to House leadership informing them that you oppose using the NDAA to push an immigration agenda of any kind.

“If immigration legislation is addressed by the House, it should be done so via the proper process, not by attaching it to must pass legislation,” the letter continues.

As you can see, the opposition to this amendment allowing some illegal immigrants who enlist in the military to gain citizenship is made up of a lot more Republicans than Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Congress' foremost anti-immigrant hardliner after Tom Tancredo left the building. The moderate California Republican Coffman is siding with in this dispute, Rep. Denham, is also a co-sponsor of the Democratic comprehensive immigration reform bill (H.R. 15)–which Coffman opposes.

With all of this in mind, it's quite clear that Coffman is using this intra-Republican disagreement to manufacture daylight between himself and unsightly erstwhile allies like Rep. King (see photo). The policy change Coffman is making a stink about, a path to citizenship for immigrants who join the military, is really quite narrow. Coffman's vote last year with Rep. King against the President's temporary reprieve granted to "DREAMer" undocumented students would have affected many more people, and stands in stark contrast to the impression Coffman wants this latest spat to leave. That vote was a major stumble for Coffman in his quest to reinvent his conservative image, and we don't see how his support for this much narrower proposal rights that wrong.

Especially since Coffman's friend Steve King, and lots of other Republican colleagues, mean to scuttle it.

Limited Immigration Reform May Be A Go – Nativists Have Already Conceded That It Would Not Be Amnesty

According to Alex Nowrahsteh of CATO, bipartisan immigration reform of the infamous 3/10 year bar may still be passable this year.  As described in the linked article, the three and ten year bar:

"requires that any immigrant who stays in the United States illegally for more than six months but less than one year may not leave and reenter for three years. Any immigrant who illegally stays for more than a year may not leave and reenter for 10 years. Also known as the 3/10-year bar, any immigrant who violates it triggers a twenty-year ban from reentering the United States – for any reason. Some unauthorized immigrants, mainly the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, can currently apply for a green card. However, they can only do it after leaving the country. Since most unauthorized immigrants have been here for more than a decade and leaving would make the 3/10-year bar apply to them, this legislative catch-22 prevents current law from legalizing many of them."

So one would expect the anti-immigrants to immediately start crowing about this.   However, they have a small problem: one of the chief restrictionists, Mark Krikorian of Center for Immigration Studies, has already conceded that drastically reforming this bar would not be amnesty.  I have attached linked audio from the Spring of 2010 when I had the chance to get Krikorian on the record on Ross Kaminsky's radio show.  In it you can clearly hear Krikorian declare that allowing the spouse of a US citizen to stay in the country after a very minor penalty for overstaying would not be amnesty and also that he is not a "big fan" of the bar in the first place.  In fact, Krikorian stated he would support replacing the 3/10 year bar with a 6 months/1 year bar.

So how will the anti-immigrants handle the latest proposal?  My prediction: they will pretend Krikorian never conceded that it would not be amnesty.  Any bets on whether I am right?

This was originally posted by me at the Colorado Independent

Coffman’s Multicultural Discovery: “Wow, Ethiopians!”

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Hilarity from the Aurora Sentinel today in response to Coffman's "discovery."

QUID HAS HEARD that Aurora’s own congressman Mike Coffman discovered Aurora’s large Ethiopian, Ghanaian, Eritrean, Sudanese and every other African countries’ immigrant population right here in Aurora and he’s eager to spread the good news. In a story written by the Associated Press, Coffman said he visited an Ethiopian church this year (or as we call it, “a church”) in Aurora to celebrate our diversity. Never mind, that he “didn’t understand any of what they were doing … “ according to a recorded conversation posted on the Internet. Hats off to Coffman for making the rounds in his district. Only took him 3 years and a bitter re-election fight to find out Aurora has tens of thousands of African immigrants. Or as his challenger Andrew Romanoff likes to call them, “voters.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

Then the big drums came out, Coffman said.

“Then the big drums came out,” Coffman said.

​A brief aside in an AP story by local reporter Nick Riccardi on the subject of immigration reform and embattled Rep. Mike Coffman earlier this month became much more relevant to us today, as we'll explain:

Coffman was elected in 2008 to succeed immigration firebrand Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. Coffman endorsed Tancredo in the 2010 governor’s race, which he lost, and initially backed measures such as barring U.S. citizenship to children whose parents were in the country without legal permission. Coffman also supported allowing English-only ballots in districts with large immigrant populations.

But his district was redrawn to include immigrant-heavy Aurora. After seeing fast-growing Hispanic and Asian populations overwhelmingly back Democrats in 2012, Coffman embraced citizenship for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He announced his new position in Spanish…

In addition to studying Spanish, Coffman has also spent time in his district’s numerous other immigrant communities. Last month he visited an Ethiopian church. [Pols emphasis] But he says he does not support an immigration bill passed by the Senate and prefers more steps to ensure the border is secure before granting legal status.

We've spent a lot of time discussing Coffman's shifting (some might say shifty) views on immigration reform as he attempts to hold his newly competitive seat in Congress. But for today, let's talk about Coffman's visit last month to an Ethiopian Christian church in Aurora. The Denver metro area, with high concentrations in Aurora, has a large community of expatriates from Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. One Denver Post story last year pegged the size of the Ethiopian/Eritrean immigrant community in the Denver metro area at 30,000 people.

Coffman is evidently very proud of having visited this Ethiopian church, having told the AP's Riccardi the story as evidence of his having "spent time in his district’s numerous other immigrant communities." But based on this clip of unscripted audio of the same Mike Coffman talking about the same visit to the same Ethiopian church, we have to wonder how illuminating his visit really was.

MIKE COFFMAN: But the, uh, I didn't know there was a large Ethiopian population. [Pols emphasis] I…

WOMAN: And Somali, and Nigerian…

COFFMAN: And Nigerian and Somali! But the, uh, so it was great to go to an Ethiopian church. I didn't understand any of what they were doing… [Pols emphasis]

CROWD: (Laughter)

COFFMAN: But it was a great trip, what was exciting about it is, it started out pretty Western, in terms of the music and everything, and then as it got going, as it got going, then the big drums came out, and the horns came out…

WOMAN: (Laughter)

So, uh, this was a church service that Coffman attended? Can you imagine the outcry if a politician from any other culture were to attend an American church and said, "I didn't understand any of what they were doing," and cracked jokes about the music? But perhaps worse, Coffman has been the representative of this district for several years now. Did he really just now discover there is a large Ethiopian population in Aurora?

We assume Coffman didn't intend for these remarks to ever see the light of day, since they make him look like a culturally insensitive idiot. But coming from the guy who once famously said President Barack Obama "is just not an American," maybe lame xenophobic humor is the closest to cultural bridge-building Coffman can manage.

Coffman’s First Perlmutter-Style “Government-in-Your-Reduced-Hours-Public-Library”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Stealing a page from Congressman Ed Perlmutter's constituent services playbook, Congressman Mike Coffman faced Aurorans one-on-one in the public library a few blocks from his home this morning. About seventy-five constituents stood in line to speak with him, and each was given about five minutes alone, or with a small group. Outside, an organizer from Colorado Fair Share signed up voters on a petition for universal pre-school. While his constituents waited, we discussed questions we wanted to ask him, like the ones listed at bottom, speaking loudly enough that his Secret Service detail paced around us. At one point, I scrapped my questions and nervously told him what was really on my mind. After awhile, Congressman Coffman appeared angry and stood up, and his aides (henchman?) escorted me out of the room. It would have been much more fun to dress up in green and wave to voters with Congresswoman Diana DeGette, but someone had to do it.

Some of the questions we had for Congressman Coffman this morning:

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Reporters should clarify that Coffman is not supportive of citizenship path via college

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE 3/9/24: Associated Press reporter Nick Riccardi sent me a couple tweets, offering additional information about his interview with Coffman referenced in the blog post below:

Nick Riccardi: @BigMediaBlog FYI in his interview Coffman expressed hope that his military bill would be joined to a broader DREAM type bill.

Jason Salzman: @NickRiccardi Thanks very much. Did he say that he now supports a path to citizenship via college for undocumented young people?

Nick Riccardi: @BigMediaBlog Essentially, though I haven't seen the bill he referenced so I don't know how narrow it may be.

Jason Salzman: Maybe it was one of the bills that the GOP was thinking of offering instead of the Senate bill.

Jason Salzman: In any case, if Coffman supports citizenship via college, he's with Dream Act, in most forms. A big shift, as i see it. News.

—–

Journalists continue to report that Rep. Mike Coffman is being nicer to young undocumented immigrants than he really is.

Coffman supports giving young immigrants a path to citizenship if they sign up for military service but not if they enroll in college. The Dream Act, which Coffman has voted against in 2010, offers citizenship through both college and the military to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Reporting on Coffman's position today, the Associated Press stated:

After seeing fast-growing Hispanic and Asian populations overwhelmingly back Democrats in 2012, Coffman embraced citizenship for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

This is accurate, but somewhat misleading because, Coffman isn't embracing citizenship for young immigrants as much as he's allowing it, since his one-track path to citizenship is so narrow.

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Mike Coffman Can Cure Cancer…and Other Nonsense

Rep. Mike Coffman cures cancer, or something.

From a franked mailer sent to CD-6 constituents at taxpayer expense.

Rep. Mike Coffman has become quite adept at taking multiple positions on specific issues, sometimes flip-flopping within less than 24 hours. As he faces his most difficult re-election challenge, against Democrat Andrew Romanoff, Coffman is trying hard to cut-and-paste over his own record, which his campaign must know is incredibly damaging.

Coffman has been an unabashed supporter of Personhood, which is of the belief that "life" starts just before a man and woman have finished having the sex with each other. He supports the "re-definition" of rape (as does Rep. Cory Gardner, BTW) to mean "forcible rape," which is, in a word, ludicrous. Coffman has co-sponsored legislation that would cut off funding for stem-cell research, which is pretty common among Republican elected officials who are as extreme right on abortion as Coffman has been.

Can you guess where this is going?

Perhaps it should be unsurprising, then, to see a "franked" mailer go out in his congressional district touting Coffman as a champion for curing cancer and advancing stem-cell research. Is it true? Who cares, right? This is New Coffman® we're talking about, after all.

Check out the PDF of the mailer "CoffmanCuresCancer" to see for yourself, or read more from Coffman's "Dear Neighbor" letter below. Coffman says he's made it a "priority in Congress to fund the kind of medical research that helps find the cures that can prevent these hearbreaking losses." It's not true, but it sounds nice, doesn't it? Or how about this line, "We have a moral obligation to continue this research." Really? Then why has Coffman tried to defund stem-cell research? Or was that just Old Coffman speaking?

Coffman-StemCell-Letter

I’m Mike Coffman, and I’d approve this message if I could keep track of what I was trying to say, and when.

 

Who Did The Government Shutdown Hurt? You.

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As the Denver Post's Jason Blevins reported yesterday:

Rocky Mountain National Park ranked as the sixth-biggest loser among the parks and monuments shuttered during the federal government's closure last fall.

The 16-day shutdown cost Colorado's busiest national park $10.9 million, with visitation plunging 73 percent in October compared with the previous three Octobers, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.

The pain spilled into Estes Park, which relies mightily on park visitors spending in hotels, restaurants and shops…

And the Denver Business Journal's Caitlin Hendee:

NPS also reported Monday that the 16-day government shutdown last October resulted in 7.88 million fewer park visits nationwide than would otherwise be expected for an estimated loss of about $414 million.

That closure — and the prior flooding in Colorado, damaging many roads — resulted in a double-whammy last fall for Estes Park, the gateway city to Rocky Mountain park. Estes Park hotels had a decrease in occupancy rates by over 50 percent after the September floods…

“The flood impact [was] difficult for our residents and businesses and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park was a huge economic blow just as we were pulling together toward recovery,” said Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham in an announcement last October.

Last year's shutdown of the federal government by Republicans seeking to kill or delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, most observers agree, was an enormous political miscalculation on the part of those who supported it. That's why vulnerable Republicans like Colorado's Rep. Mike Coffman were seeking an exit–or at least rhetorical cover–only a few days into the crisis. At the same time, Colorado's congressional delegation was attempting to win federal flood relief for communities affected by last year's historic Front Range floods. The combination of these two events, in particular stories that suggested flood relief was being delayed by the shutdown, worsened the political morass in which Colorado Republicans found themselves.

And now we know the shutdown did real economic damage to Colorado communities who depend on our national parks and monuments to bring in business. Even after the state paid out of pocket to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park, the shutdown had already resulted in thousands of paying tourists changing their plans. In answer to all of the hypothetical (and often fictional) economic pain Republicans insist is about to be visited on the people of America from "Obamacare," here is real pain. Inflicted needlessly on real people.

By the four guys you see at the upper right of this post: Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn. Gardner and Coffman are now among the highest-profile Republican candidates in the nation. Polling has consistently shown that the public blame House Republicans for the shutdown.

Folks, if the absolutely devastating attack ads that write themselves from this story aren't obvious to you yet, politics just may not be your thing. Messaged right, this is a potent counterattack on "pro business" Republicans like Gardner. It's harder, or at least it should be harder, to call yourself "pro business" after costing real businesses in your own state millions of dollars.

Romanoff Unsurprisingly Rates “Red to Blue”

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

​A press release from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Steve Israel today acknowledges what you already know about Colorado's 6th Congressional District race, listing Colorado's 2014 marquee congressional battle in the first round of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program.

In total, 35 districts are part of the initial list in the Red to Blue or Emerging Races programs. Of the 16 candidates selected for Red to Blue today, 10 are women.  Chairman Israel announced that three districts with multiple Democratic candidates have also qualified for Red to Blue. In addition, Chairman Israel announced 12 Emerging Races and four Emerging Districts, where campaigns are on track and working hard to put seats in play…

“There’s no question – these candidates are on the side of average Americans, and they’ve shown throughout their careers that they’ll work together to help make the middle class more financially secure and solve our problems – the exact antidote to the flawed priorities of this broken Republican Congress,” Chairman Israel said. “These candidates earned their places in our battle-tested program because of their hard work and the competitive nature of their districts, and we will continue to work with them to build and execute winning campaigns.”

In 2012, Democrat Joe Miklosi was lucky to make the cut for the "Red to Blue" program, which steers national Democratic resources both directly and indirectly to key races. This year, the listing of Andrew Romanoff is more of a foregone conclusion. Romanoff's so-far excellent fundraising, even besting dollar-dialing powerhouse incumbent Mike Coffman in the fourth quarter of last year, means that this year will be no repeat of 2012–where underdog Miklosi still managed to perform much better against Coffman on Election Day than expected.

This year, Mike Coffman's swingiest of swing seats is on everybody's list.

Memory Hole: Karl Rove and Mike Coffman At The Brown Palace?

rovecoffman

We've received word from several credible sources that none other than GOP uberstrategist Karl Rove was in Denver last Friday night, holding a fundraiser at Denver's historic Brown Palace Hotel for embattled GOP Rep. Mike Coffman. It's interesting, since we can't find any information about this event at all–even the national government transparency watchdog Sunlight Foundation has no information on their normally-comprehensive website. We wouldn't even mention it but for the credibility of our sources who insist it did take place.

Given Rep. Coffman's delicate political situation going into the 2014, it's easy to understand why he wouldn't be eager to publicize a fundraiser with someone as controversial as Karl Rove–despite the needed money he can doubtless bring in. If you have any information on Friday's event, from photos to audio to a list of guests in attendance, please post in comments or email us at webmaster@coloradopols.com.

Cost of Coffman proposal to deploy troops in Iraq

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

American tanks in Baghdad, 2003.

American tanks in Baghdad, 2003.

It's amazing that Rep. Mike Coffman's call for the redeployment of troops in Iraq hasn't made news beyond this lowly blog, especially when you consider what's at stake, here at home.

The annual cost to deploy troops in Iraq is roughly $1 million per troop, according to former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag. (That's beyond the incalculable human cost.)

Using this as a baseline, and assuming Coffman would deploy between 5,000 and 50,000 troops, we're talking about spending between $5 billion and $50 billion per year on Iraq.

That’s a lot of money, if you compare it to other expenditures of the federal government. For example, the low end of Coffman’s range, $5 billion per year, is more than double what America currently spends on housing for military veterans.

For the amount spent if America kept 5,000 troops in Iraq for three years, the U.S. could more than double the EPA budget. The amount spent in one and a half years would be equal to what we spend on the National Science Foundation.

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Iraq-War Vet counters Coffman’s proposal to re-deploy troops in Iraq

(A third Iraq war. What a great idea! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman

To my way of thinking, Rep. Mike Coffman dropped a bombshell on KNUS' Dan Caplis show last month, when he said he "certainly" supports re-deployment of advisory troops in Iraq, if invited.

Caplis listened as Coffman said America is "suffering the consequences" of not having troops in Iraq today. This would have given the U.S. "some influence there" to help keep the country from falling apart.

The counter view, omitted on KNUS, was articulated this week on the Huffington Post by Jon Soltz, an Iraq-War Veteran and co-founder of VoteVets.org.

First, there is no such thing as "advisory, or "non-regular troops," when it comes to Iraq. As soon as an American service member enters Iraq, they are a target. If attacked, they will respond, and thus are combat troops. In a 360-degree battlefield, where any innocent looking person may actually be an insurgent, those troops must always keep a combat posture, for their own defense…

Second, Iraq is in the midst of a civil war and always has been. Interestingly, it's the same civil war that Syria is now seeing — namely, Sunni versus Shia, fought between proxies, including Iran. That was true when we were there, and is now that we've left. That was always going to be the case. What is also true is that this civil war would never end until Iraqis fought it out amongst themselves, either in a political settlement, or in battle. Our troop presence actually delayed that, and kept the cork on the bottle. But now, it is fully raging, as the radical Sunni group, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), has taken Fallujah, and Iraq's government is poised to take the city back. To put American troops back in at this juncture, on the side of the government, makes them instant participants in Iraq's and Syria's Civil War, no matter how "advisory" we want to say they are.

Third, as with the last Iraq war, Congressman Coffman offers up no end-state, and no exit strategy. Just toss troops back in there, and see how it goes. We've been there and done that, and I think we all know how it goes. If things go badly, the answer from the right is "more troops." Ten thousand troops becomes 20,000, and 30,000. And next thing you know, we're back in conventional war, complete with the "regular troops," that Coffman says he wouldn't send.

Soltz calls Coffman's proposal a "path to a third Iraq War," and I'm sure a lot of Caplis' conservative listeners would agree with him–and Caplis should let them hear form Soltz directly. This issue doesn't divide along progressive-conservative lines. That's for sure.