Heritage Foundation: A BSing Too Far?


The Heritage Foundation has gone into damage-control mode in the last few days, after coming under fire from Republicans and conservative outside groups over a report it published that puts the price tag of immigration reform at $6.3 trillion.

The conservative think tank is considering hiring a high-profile public relations firm to help deal with the fallout of the report that was supposed to be their big play in the immigration debate, according to two sources familiar with Heritage.

The group has also come under scrutiny after it was reported that one of the authors of the report asserted previously that white Americans have higher IQs than immigrants…

Adds the Washington Post:

The Post’s Wonkblog pointed out that the study’s co-author has argued that there are deep-set, likely genetic IQ differences between races and that low-IQ immigrants should be kept out of the country. Heritage distanced itself from that argument, saying “its findings in no way reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation.” The American Prospect highlighted the fact that the anti-”amnesty” study is featured far less prominently on Heritage’s Spanish-language site…

That’s not to say the opposition to immigration reform is dead or that Heritage’s numbers won’t again be used in the argument against it. But thanks to a divided right and a more nimble left, supporters are no longer easy to catch by surprise.

For decades, the Heritage Foundation has been the conservative "gold standard" for research and talking points. In this way, Heritage serves the same role nationally that the Independence Institute does in Colorado, with numerous working groups churning out ideological backup on the broadest possible range of issues.

Well folks, it seems somebody has taken a look at the changing demographics in this country, and realized that Heritage's ideological hard line against immigration reform is now a liability. And suddenly the same methodological problems Heritage has always had, even relied upon to fill gaping holes in their logic, are a huge problem that Republicans must pre-emptively smack down in the name of factuality! Good on them regardless, we guess.

Maybe they'll step up next time Jon Caldara says "guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again."

“Overreach” is Overwrought. Give it a Rest.

There are 65 members of the Colorado House of Representatives, and 35 members of the Colorado State Senate. The Colorado legislature as a whole is a representative body, with each Senator representing about 143,691 constituents, and each House member standing for 77,372 Coloradans.

The Colorado Constitution outlines the makeup and duties of the state legislature, but it is a guarantee in the United States Constitution that every state shall have a republican form of government (with representatives elected by the people), rather than a direct democracy governed by the citizens.

Even Dawson doesn't cry this much.

Even Dawson didn’t cry as much as Colorado Republicans in 2013

Why the brief history lesson? As the legislature closes out its 2013 session, Republicans and some political pundits are busy accusing Colorado Democrats of "overreaching" for passing a lot of progressive pieces of legislation, yet they seem to forget that this "republican form of government" is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Members of the Colorado legislature are elected by popular vote, the purpose of which is to see that the majority of Colorado citizens are not overruled by the minority. It is a logical extension of the process that the minority may not be happy with the results of an elected body chosen by the majority.

To put it bluntly, that's kind of the point. The system is working as designed.

But don't tell that to Colorado Republicans. Take this recent press release from the Colorado House Republicans titled: "ICYMI: Democrats continue to run up the score."

The posting from the House GOP quotes liberally from an April 28th story in the Denver Post, though they notably failed to quote the sillier parts of the story about a "marathon legislative session":

Rep. Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch raced to the microphone and, in a thundering voice, accused Democrats of "doing a touchdown dance at the expense of the minority." [Pols emphasis]

…Republicans have accused Democrats of "overreaching," waging war on rural Colorado and introducing bills to reward unions and trial lawyers while harming businesses.

Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, disagrees.

"Overreaching? No," he said. "I think we've been listening to the people of Colorado and they've told us, 'We put you in charge and we want you to get something done.' "

Hey McNulty, ask Carly Simon if this is about you.

Hey McNulty, ask Carly Simon if this is about you.

Pabon is absolutely right here, and we've made the same argument before in this space. But before we get to that, let's examine how Republicans are so upset at the Democrats for continually beating them in elections that they think the 2013 legislative session is actually about them. To quote Carly Simon (no, seriously):

You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you

You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you

Don't you? Don't You? Don't You?

There are many, many reasons why Republicans have never come close to regaining control of the state legislature since their surprise ouster in 2004, and their reaction to being steamrolled in 2013 is just another number on the list. Democrats are pushing ahead with progressive issues because Republicans don't do anything but get in the way. They don't offer reasonable amendments or attempt to debate in good faith — they just try to gum up the works and play procedural games. Anyone who has heard Republican Rep. Bob Gardner's version of a filibuster can understand what we mean here; Gardner just talks comically slow for as long as he can, his only goal to try to bore people into submission. Yet Republicans are annoyed when Democrats try to move things along and actually, you know, do their job?

Republicans call this "overreaching," and take it as a personal affront. But it's not about them, and it never was. It's about Democrats understanding that Colorado voters want them to lead; voters gave McNulty and the GOP a narrow majority in the House in 2010, and they promptly yanked it back from them two years later when it became clear that Republicans still have no intention of actually legislating.

Voters are tired of Republicans who can't figure out if they should still hate gay people. They're sick of Republicans who compare abortion to the Holocaust while everyone else is worried about schools and the economy. They're fed up with Republicans who persist with their ridiculous "Personhood" policy ideas that keep…getting…rejected…again…and again. "Personhood" isn't even about the issue anymore — it's a symbol of Republicans refusing to listen to even the most loudly shouted opinions of voters.

The simple truth of the 2013 session is this: Democrats were given a significant mandate from voters in 2012, and they are putting it to use. Some would say it is long overdue, and perhaps they learned their lesson from Congressional Democrats who did next to nothing with their 2008 mandate and then lost the House of Representatives in 2010. In fact, a closer look at the election results from the past decade tells a story that makes you wonder why Democrats waited so long to push harder on their agenda in the first place…


Gardner’s GOP Tent Is Still too Small for the Dreamers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Just after the November election, a chastened Cory Gardner told Fox 31's Eli Stokols:

Gardner: “Republicans have always talked about having a big tent, but it doesn’t do any good if the tent doesn’t have any chairs in it. Bringing Latinos to the forefront, bringing women in, is absolutely critical.”

So you'd think Gardner, who represents Colorado's 4th Congressional District, would, over the ensuing six months, at least make room in the GOP tent for the children of illegal immigrants, who were brought to this country through no fault of their own.

You'd think Gardner would get on board with Colorado's ASSET law, which allows colleges to offer these so-called "Dreamers" the normal in-state tuition rate.

But on Monday, the same day that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed ASSET into law, Gardner told KNUS' Steve Kelley, that he still opposes Colorado's new policy of granting in-state tuition to the Dreamers, because Gardner does not believe the U.S. borders are secure enough, and that's his first priority. 


GOP attacks Romanoff on immigration, even though Coffman is their candidate

(It's called "chutzpah" – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: This messaging could soon get very complicated for Rep. Coffman. The Hill reports that House Republicans may take up Mitt Romney's infamous "self-deportation plan" as part of their immigration package in an effort "to make a comprehensive overhaul acceptable to conservatives." This idea did more than anything to kill Romney's chances with Hispanic voters in 2012, and if it gains traction in the House, it would be a nightmare for Coffman.

The National Journal reported last week that the National Republican Congressional Committee has released an ad attacking Democrat Andrew Romanoff for favoring "the strictest immigration laws in the nation" which Romanoff "passed as Speaker of the Colorado House." Romanoff is challenging Rep. Mike Coffman, who's seen as in danger of losing 6th Congressional District seat in Colorado.

The 2006 anti-immigration law cleared the Colorado Legislature with bi-partisan support, including the backing of Romanoff and Gov. Bill Owens.

But if Republicans attack Romanoff on immigration, reporters should obviously spotlight Coffman's own record on the issue. The Journal's Ben Terris did a pretty minimalist job of this, pointing out the following about Coffman:

When he first ran in 2008, one of his planks was to “deny amnesty and a path to citizenship to those who violate our laws. But this year, he had a change of heart and all of a sudden supports a path to citizenship."

Terris should have written more about Coffman and immigration. 


Colorado ASSET Act Signed Into Law

Photo by Colorado House Democrats

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

“It’s perseverance,” [former Rep. Val] Vigil told FOX31 Denver afterward. “You know when you truly believe in an issue, you don’t give it up.”

…Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, a former teacher and principal, described the despair of one of his former students who graduated high school only to watch state lawmakers, for the last three years, defeat legislation aimed at making college more affordable for undocumented students.

“That student right now is working in a fast food restaurant, waiting for the chance to fulfill his dreams of one day becoming an engineer,” Johnston said. “Well, today, we’re here to tell you that the doors are open and the dream is alive.” [Pols emphasis]


Another long-sought goal achieved by the 69th Colorado General Assembly, reports Huffington Post's Matt Ferner:

Undocumented immigrant students in Colorado can celebrate today — a bill that grants undocumented students in-state college tuition rates was signed into Colorado law by Gov. John Hickenlooper today.

Colorado now joins thirteen other states to allow undocumented immigrant students who graduate from state high schools to attend college at an in-state tuition rate. According to The Associated Press, some of Colorado's undocumented students had been paying more than three times higher than the rate in-state students pay.

A congratulatory statement from Sen. Mark Udall:

Mark Udall, who has been a vocal advocate for comprehensive and accountable immigration reform, welcomed the signing into law of Colorado's ASSET bill — legislation that secures fair tuition rates for students who attend at least three years of high school in Colorado, regardless of their immigration status. Udall said Colorado's leadership on this issue should spur Congress to follow suit and pass common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

"Colorado is leading the way to ensure that every Colorado student, regardless of where they come from or their immigration status, has equal access to opportunity. I am proud to stand with Gov. Hickenlooper and my colleagues in the Colorado General Assembly in welcoming this important milestone, the signing of the ASSET Bill, and what it means for high-achieving high school graduates and our future economic growth," Udall said. "I will take Colorado's example with me to Washington and continue fighting for a balanced, bipartisan immigration-reform proposal. I stand with business, religious, agricultural and labor leaders — and Coloradans of all backgrounds — when I say the time has come for Congress to set partisanship aside and follow suit. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act."

We'll round up more statements and coverage as they come in.

Heck’ve-a-Job Brownie having a heck’ve-a-hard time understanding federal immigration bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Michael "Heck've-A-Job" Brownie took to the airwaves Monday to slam Sen. Michael Bennet for promoting the immigration bill that Congress is currently considering.

On his KHOW show, Brown called the bill a "bologna bill" and said he's "so tired of the BS" from Bennet and others, like Bennet's statement in an email, quoted by Brownie, that the bill is "our best chance in a generation to fix our broken immigration system."

Bennet "doesn't give a rat's ass about immigration," Brown said, adding that the bill does "nothing to secure the borders" and "Boston ought to be telling them to secure the borders first, and do everything else later."

Brownie overlooks the fact that, guess what, the bill stipulates that no one goes down the pathway to citizenship until the border is demonstrably secured, as Sen. Marco Rubio tried to explain to Brownie in an interview with Brownie Thursday.

Rubio told Brownie that the bill "creates a program whereby if the [Department of Homeland Security] doesn’t achieve 90% apprehension rate..then control goes to border state governors to finish the job."

"I guess it's my experience within the Department of Homeland Security," Brownie said on air Monday, "I simply do not trust the system to work."

Great. He doesn't trust the system to work. So what's his alternative?

"I don't have all the answers," he said Monday. "…it's going to take some sort of radical action."

OK. So when the Brownies of the world come up with their solution, even if it's some sort of radical action, they should tell us about it. Meanwhile, we can assume they favor doing nothing.

Delving in to the immigration reform package

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the midst of the craziness of the news of the last week, it’s little wonder that the largest reform to our nation’s immigration policies ended up taking a back burner in news coverage.  Lost in the shuffle were a few items worth of our consideration here in Colorado.

The bi-partisan bill from the Senate’s Gang of Eight includes both a fund for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and an increase of the H-1B visa cap. An increase in the cap was needed to help companies fill the thousands of vacancies in high-skilled jobs. The bill proposes increasing the cap from 65,000 per year to 110,000, and allowing the number of H-1B visas available to continue to expand up to a maximum of 180,000 to better track with demand. Given that all the H-1B visas were snatched up within the first few days of them becoming available this year, it is clear that this expansion is necessary.

It is also encouraging to see a national fund to provide a significant stream of money to all states, which would expand opportunities for more students to pursue STEM fields. The STEM education fund would be paid for with an increase in fees on green cards and wouldn’t present a new cost to the American taxpayer.  Our country faces an immediate and long-term crisis with the shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields as the number of available science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs far outpaces our ability to fill them.

While the increase in H-1B visas helps patch this significant current problem, providing a fund to encourage and retain students in STEM fields is needed to support the jobs of the future. As evidence: Over the last few years, Colorado employers requested on average 2,735 H-1B visas per year for foreign, temporary workers, 74% of which were requested to fill STEM jobs.

If anything, the designated STEM fund in the reform package should be even stronger. The U.S. ranked 41st out of 42 nations in innovation based capacity, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and 35 states are spending less on education than they were five years ago.

If we’re going to improve, there is also important work to be done in erasing disparities in STEM fields. African Americans and Latinos are 28 percent of the U.S. population, but only seven percent of the STEM workforce. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women will fill just 29 percent of the 1.4 million computing jobs expected to open through 2018.

Strengthening the nation’s STEM education pipeline as a part of immigration reform will also strengthen America’s economy and its ability to be an innovation leader well into the future.

Video: Former Denver Mayor Bill Vidal on Immigration Reform

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vidal told his own personal immigration story: how he came to the U.S. from his native Cuba at the age of four as part of Operation Peter Pan because his parents wanted him to have more opportunities.

“I am fulfilling their American Dream for me,” said Vidal, who spent his career working for the Colorado Dept. of Transportation and as Denver’s Public Works Director before becoming mayor to finish out the final six months of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s second term.

“My personal story represents two great truths about this country: first, that anyone, regardless of their humble beginnings, can become whatever they set their mind to, like the mayor of a large city.

“The second truth is that immigrants make contributions to the success of this country daily, especially when they’re allowed to live out of the shadows, as I’ve been able to do.”


Video courtesy C-SPAN yesterday of Guillermo "Bill" Vidal, the first foreign-born citizen to serve as Mayor of Denver, and President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, testifying in Washington DC before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform. Yesterday's Senate hearing turned acrimonious for reasons that had nothing to do with Mayor Vidal's testimony, and we wanted to make sure his very good presentation yesterday in favor of immigration reform was noted in the record.

Gardner Mostly Silent as Radio Host Urges Him to Protect America from Mexican Freeloaders

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

You get the feeling that some Republicans are trying to sneak Hispanics into the GOP tent through the back tent flaps, for fear that welcoming them though the tent's front door will offend the dwindling number of Republicans already in the tent.

That's what I was thinking when KFKA morning show host Devon Lentz insulted the entire country of Mexico last week, and Rep. Cory Gardner, who was a guest on the program, acted as if he'd heard nothing rude or inappropriate.

"We’re going to deal with this immigration thing," said Lentz, who's a former Larimer Country GOP official. "Except that, how do we also keep from advertising in countries like Mexico that when you come here, here’s how to get on the food stamps, here’s how you take advantage of this system, and get housing assistance, and food assistance? How do we at least keep from advertising how to take advantage of our system?"

Who knew the hard-working people from Mexico are out to freeload on America? Are Italians similarly inclined? Brits?

Rather than throw that question back at Lentz or, perhaps, even praise Hispanics' current contributions to our nation, Gardner said:

"Well, and those are questions that are being asked regularly to the administration about how they’re doing it, and what they’re doing, and how they’re marketing various programs."

Gardner has said he wants Hispanics in the GOP tent, but with Lentz lurking around inside, and Gardner refusing to stand up for a country like Mexico, will Hispanics want to enter? 


At least he’s not your Congressman

(He…didn't know this was an insult? - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Full retreat, reports ABC News this afternoon:

“I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska,” Young, R-Alaska, wrote in his second statement of the past 24 hours. “There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words.”

An earlier statement from Young excused his use of the smear as “a term that was commonly used” during his days growing up on his father’s ranch in central California, but the 21-term congressman’s second statement leaves no ambiguity about his remorse.


NBC News:

"My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," [GOP Rep. Don] Young [of Alaska] said in an interview with radio station KRBD. He was discussing the number of jobs that have been made irrelevant due to advances in automation.


While the veteran congressman wasn't referring directly to immigration reform, his remarks certainly cut against the broader Republican effort to repair the party's dismal image with Latino voters.

Rep. Young says he he didn't know "wetback" was an insult. Seriously.

Republicans have a problem with Latinos, all right. Every time they open their mouths.

Tancredo says Coffman’s proposal for “legal status” without citizenship is “a distinction without a difference”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Rep. Mike Coffman have a tight political history, each endorsing the other at various points along the way. (Tancredo endorses Coffman here and vice versa here.)

So I wondered how Tancredo, who's known for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration, felt about Coffman's recent announcement that Coffman favors giving "legal status" to millions of undocumented immigrants, giving them permission to work here without granting them the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

"It's a distinction without a difference," Tancredo told me, regarding the difference between "legal status" without citizenship and actual citizenship. "Five years, ten years from now, you think we can stop 11 or 12 million people from being citizens, no no.

"It's kind of like the civil union issue. If they could only get civil unions through, then that would be it. But of course the day civil unions passed, they announced that was not it. It needs to be marriage."

Coffman's 6th Congressional District, which Tancredo represented from 1999 to 2009, was substantially changed after the 2010 census, making it one of the most competitive congressional seats in the country.

As a result, multiple journalists have essentially put Coffman on the Endangered Congressmen List, and Coffman has responded, they say, by singing a different tune on immigration and other issues, even if the overarching song remains the same.

"I don't know if the new district is the reason for [Coffman's] moves on immigration.” said Tancredo, “but if it is, it’s a mistake. If I had a chance to pounce on [Coffman], which i do not, I would tell him it's not going to help."

"We've seen that trying to woo the Latino is a losing proposition," said Tancredo. "Latinos vote for Democrats because they want big government. It has nothing to do with immigration."

"He's going to have a tough race," said Tancredo. "Romanoff is a good candidate. Mike has shown himself to be a good candidate. It will not be a presidential year, so the possibility of having a lower turnout will certainly help Mike.

"I want to see him re-elected, and that's why I am concerned that he thinks he can mollify the Hispanic community due to his moves on immigration. It won't help."

The Crayon Plan

Hello, Mr. Hispanic person? I’d like to discuss why my party needs your support in order to win elections.

Hispanics don't really like us. We should try to make them like us better. We've taken to calling it the Crayon Plan, because while it looks colorful, ultimately Republicans aren't going to take it seriously.

Yesterday, our friends at "The Fix" outlined some of the key points from the "Growth and Opportunity Project":

If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesnВ’t want them in the United States, they wonВ’t pay attention to our next sentence. It doesnВ’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our PartyВ’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.

Sounds nice, don't it? Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus was so excited about it that he announced a big $10 million door-to-door "outreach" program. Now, if they could just figure out what they are actually going to say to Hispanic voters.

Today, Allison Sherry of the Denver Post shows us how implementing this Crayon Plan is going to be a lot harder than scribbling it together in the first place:

To understand the difficulty in passing comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill, just ask Colorado's four House Republicans how they would tackle the problem.

Each has a different solution…

Colorado Republicans all said they believed in strengthening the border and as well as instituting some sort of guest-worker program, but the four were split on what to do with the existing illegal immigrants living in the United States, including those brought to the U.S. as children.

To be sure, Republicans need to do a better job in reaching out to Hispanic voters if they ever hope to start winning again. But there's still that one little asterisk in the plan that cannot be erased: The Tea Party. Even if Republican elected officials agree that they need a more moderate immigration reform plan, many are still too afraid of gaining a primary challenge from the far-right. It's an issue they need to address in order to win a General Election, but the slightest misstep will cost them in a Primary.


Los Angeles Times corrects its March 6 article, which falsely stated that Coffman supports path to citizenship for adults

Last week, in an otherwise excellent article about the Rep. Mike Coffman's positions on gun-safety issues, The Los Angeles' Times Mark Z. Barabak wrote:

Since starting to represent his new district — he barely survived in November against a weak opponent — Coffman has changed his position on immigration reform, endorsing a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally, as well as their children. [BigMedia emphasis]

If you've been following Rep. Mike Coffman's immigration position closely (details here), you know he supports offering young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through military service. He does not support a path for undocumented adults. 


Well Played, Morons

UPDATE: Sen. Mark Udall congratulates the House on their belated passage of VAWA, while not letting them off the hook for their lateness (here's looking at you, Mike Coffman):

"In Colorado and across the nation, an unacceptable number of women and other at-risk groups face the threat of violence in their homes, relationships and communities – places where they should feel safest. This is unacceptable," Udall said. "I am disappointed the House left survivors and victims of violence out in the cold while members of Congress quibbled last year and this year over who truly deserves protection, unnecessarily delaying the reauthorization of this bill. Violence against women is not a partisan issue. I am glad the House finally decided to put aside such political games and to support this common-sense and bipartisan law."



Politico incorrectly reports that Coffman now backs “pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children”

On Feb. 10, at a public forum in Aurora, Rep. Mike Coffman told the crowd (See video here.):

“I haven’t resolved the question about a pathway to citizenship for (adults) who’ve overstayed their visa or crossed the border illegally,” Coffman said.

Coffman also said that 1) he supports granting undocumented children, brought to America by their parents, a pathway to citizenship (through military service) and also that 2) he supports granting “legal status” (not necessarily citizenship) to undocumented adults.

Since then, a number of news outlets reported Coffman’s new positions on immigration, and they speculated that he’s modifying his views because he’s now vulnerable (or desperate) in his new district with a large Hispanic population.

But some journalists and bloggers are creating the false impression, or actually misreporting, that Coffman supports a path to citizenship for undocumented adults, when as far as I know, he does not.

Yesterday, for example Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reported, in an article with the misleading headline of “Mike Coffman Does a 180 on Immigration:”

“[Coffman] came out in favor of establishing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children.”

I’ve requested a correction from Isenstadt, but he didn’t immediately respond.

In a blog post last week, I spotlighted a misleading headline atop a blog post by Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard. It read, “Four Reasons why Rep. Mike Coffman, (R-Aurora), Saw the Light on the Dream Act.”

In fact, Coffman supports one of the DREAM Act’s two paths to citizenship (military enrollment) not the other path (high school or college graduation). So, he hasn’t seen much light on the DREAM Act. As of today, he’d vote against it, as he did in 2010.

I have to say that in a previous blog post, I also overstated Coffman’s new position on the Dream Act, and I tweeted that he flipped when he hadn’t. Long ago, I guess, I convinced my own self that he was sure to flip at some point, and when it looked like he did a 180, I rushed to my keyboard. But actually, he just modified his position, as explained above.

I corrected my blog post. I hope the bigger, badder journalists out there correct their stories or stop misleading us about, as AP put it, Coffman’s “change of heart” on immigration.