Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

Pundit who first noticed Beauprez’s support of Obamacare mandate is still unhappy about it

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Colorado political writer Ari Armstrong was apparently the first media figure to notice, back in 2007, Bob Beauprez’s unqualified support for the central tenet of Obamacare, the requirement that everyone have health insurance. That’s called “the individual mandate.”

Armstrong, who writes from a pro-free-market perspective, wasn’t happy with Beauprez’s position on the individual mandate back in 2007, writing at the time:

Armstrong: Some of Beauprez’s proposals (none of which are original to him) are fine, such as reducing the tax distortion that has entrenched employer-paid insurance. But his call for mandatory health insurance overwhelms anything positive he might have to say. “Both Ways Bob” simply does not understand the nature of individual rights, the meaning of free markets, or the proper purpose of government.

Now that Beauprez’s Obamacare position has blown up into a major issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary, I asked Armstrong if he sees any lessons for the Republican Party, flowing from his original piece.

Armstrong: As for the Republicans, the lesson is that they should stop advocating policies that violate individual rights. Republicans hardly ever even mention individual rights, much less work toward a government that protects people’s rights. As a consequence, the typical Republican politician is an ineffective, unprincipled compromiser who surrenders the moral high ground every time he opens his mouth. That is why Beauprez likely will lose, and that is why he deserves to lose.

Here are more of Armstrong’s thoughts on the topic today, in response to my questions, including whether he thought Beauprez was making a policy recommendation in 2007.

Armstrong: Obviously Beauprez intended his remarks as a policy recommendation. The title of his article is, “Health Care Reform—The Battle is Joined: A Case for Patient First Health Care Reform.” In the article, Beauprez explicitly calls on government to force people to buy health insurance. On the issue of mandatory coverage, Beauprez anticipated the position of Hillary Clinton and of post-election Barack Obama. (Of course, prior to his election, Obama opposed the mandate of Clinton’s plan.)

It is worth noting that Beauprez was hardly alone in this. (He’s not an original enough thinker to come up with something like that on his own.) Many conservatives, and even some libertarians (see Reason magazine), supported an insurance mandate. It was only after ObamaCare became so unpopular (a result that quite shocked many Republican leaders) that conservatives and libertarians finally got consistently on board with the idea that forcing people to buy any product is wrong.

I do not know whether Beauprez has changed his mind on this or not. If he has retracted his support for an insurance mandate, I am not aware of it. Of course, I am not one of those people who pretends that any time a politician changes his mind, that’s a bad thing. If a politician is wrong, he should change his mind.

Armstrong was way out in front on this story in 2007, we’ll see where the issue goes now.

Ross Kaminsky discusses his column about Gardner, Tancredo, and immigration politics

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

American Spectator columnist Ross Kaminsky was the only media figure who reported on a private meeting last month between Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner and “a small group of Republicans” to discuss immigration policy.

“The roughly 10 people in the room,” Kaminsky wrote in his much-discussed column about the meeting, “included representatives of business, of the media (me), prominent former Colorado politicians and party leaders, and — perhaps most interestingly — two evangelical Christian pastors.”

What I’d have given for an invitation to that meeting, which sources tell me occurred at the Denver law firm of Holland & Hart. (At least I get to sniff around there for a June 10 fundraiser for my kid’s East High debate team. Email me if you want to donate.)

Impressed with Kaminsky’s access and the debate his piece generated, I called to find out more about the meeting and his role as media representative.

“I was there partly in my capacity as a media person and partly because the people who organized the meeting know my views on immigration and wanted me to express them to Congressman Gardner,” Kaminsky told me. “So I was there in a dual role.

“They wanted me to write about it. I wanted to write about it. The only stipulation given to me was not to name the meeting participants, other than Congressman Gardner. And I thought that as long as I could describe their function in life–a minister, a political operative–that it wasn’t really important what their names were. So I was fine with that. I didn’t think it impacted the substance of my article.”

I asked Kaminsky if he had any insight into why the meeting was private.

“One thing that came up in the meeting, which I think is true, is, when you’re talking about immigration, it seems people will give very different answers in small private groups than they will in public, especially on the Republican side,” replied Kaminsky, who’s registered as an independent. “I think there are a lot of Republicans who are becoming more sympathetic to immigration reform but are a little bit afraid to say it in public. It might be the equivalent of a pro-life Democrat. So I think the purpose of the meeting was not to hide stuff, because if it was I wouldn’t have been invited, right? I think the organizers felt like getting a small group together would allow a more honest conversation. And I think it happened that way. I think that analysis was right.”

Kaminsky told me Gardner mostly listened, but he added:  “[Gardner] did offer short comments, generally, after each person spoke. When he responded to a person’s comment, it was not just some broad platitudes and generalities. He responded in short but detailed answers that related directly to what the person said. He was really paying attention.”

Kaminsky, who’s a talk-show host on 850 KOA, favors immigration reform, he says, but not the comprehensive variety, and without a path to citizenship (except possibly for young immigrants). Kaminsky wants a bite-sized approach, as he would with any legislation. In his column, Kaminsky’s argued, among other things, that hard-line self-deport immigration policies, like those of Tom Tancredo in particular, will poison Republican candidates in Colorado.

Kaminsky complimented Gardner for favoring a guest-worker program, and he’s not troubled by the fact that Gardner opposed a guest-worker program back in 2008 in the state legislature that would have created a guest-visa program for agricultural workers.

“People change, things change,” replied Kaminsky. “And you know what, staying cynical, even though I like Cory, politicians frequently do what’s best for politicians. Even the ones who I think are good people, they are always balancing, how do I make sure I keep my job versus what’s best for the country. And I think that of all of them. I don’t think Mark Udall is a bad person. I’ve met him. He was very pleasant to me, and I enjoyed talking to him. I just disagree with him. Whether it’s him or Cory Gardner, their just considering their futures.”

In his column, Kaminsky accused Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of having “no interest in actually dealing with the question; they, like their party leaders, want a wedge issue more than they want a solution.”

Given that 68 Senators passed comprehensive immigration reform in bipartisan fashion, with 32 Republicans opposed, how is immigration reform, as accomplished via the Senate bill, a wedge issue? (Gardner has made no secret of his opposition to the Senate immigration bill, even though he supported comprehensive reform after the last election.)

“I think there’s a continuum here,” Kaminisky said. “I don’t think it’s exactly fair to say that I think it’s just a wedge issue. I do think, on balance, they would prefer to have the issue than any solution that’s actually politically conceivable at this time. I think there are reform measures that Democrats would accept and give up having the issue, but I think what they would accept would include a path to citizenship that’s shorter and easier than would have any chance of getting through the House of Representatives at this time. I don’t give politicians a lot of credit for voting for something that has no chance of passing… This is true on the Republican side as well. They know it would have absolutely zero chance in the House of Representatives and therefore their consideration is not so much for the policy as it is about their own personal political situation. I don’t think a vote for the Senate bill proved that they would rather have a solution than the issue.”

Kaminsky agreed with me that, along the way, media coverage made it appear as if the Senate bill might pass the House, and it certainly would have had it come to a full vote, but Kaminsky never thought House passage was possible.

Kaminsky told me he wrote his column, which was titled Changing Immigration Politics in Colorado, to try to change the Republican Party.

“To me the most interesting part was those two evangelical pastors from different churches and how surprised they were in the rapidity of the change in the views of the people of their congregations, how fast and how far those views have been changing,” Kaminisky said. “And for these guys to say that they think that evangelicals, both in the leadership of churches and within the congregations, are more likely to support reform than oppose it, I thought was pretty amazing.”

 

Media omission: What’s Beauprez’ explanation for flip on individual mandate? And how will it play in GOP primary?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Last week, ColordoPols reported that gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez agreed, in no uncertain terms, that the federal government has the right to require you, dear citizen of the United States, to have health insurance. It’s called the “individual mandate” and, of course, it’s the foundation of Romneycare and, later, Obamacare.

But once Mitt Romney became irrelevant, Beauprez changed his mind, with no explanation. And reporters, who’ve pretty much ignored the Pols story, have yet to ask him for one, even though there was ample coverage of Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Beauprez.

Someone should ask Beauprez about it, because this is supposed to be the election when Republicans are so hot mad about Obamacare (and guns) that they’re going to submit mail-in ballots it droves.

As to how the Romney flip is playing out within the GOP base, OGREeXposed.com, which frequently critiques the GOP establishment, had this to say last week:

Perhaps the most concerning and disturbing revelation concerns Beauprez’s position on the individual healthcare mandate, the lynchpin to Obamacare and Amycare (Colorado’s version of the Obamacare exchange.)

In a 2007 op-ed discovered by the far-left blog ColoradoPols, Beauprez clearly and unequivocally supported the imposition of an individual healthcare mandate. Beauprez equated the mandated purchase of health insurance with car insurance. This, of course, was closely related to his endorsement of Mitt Romney for President in the 2008 election. Beauprez would later distance himself from supporting the individual mandate—yet another “both ways Bob” moment.

Beauprez is no stranger to controversy over fundamental policy questions. During his 2006 primary run for governor, Beauprez was accused by his primary opponent Marc Holtzman of joining far-left Democrats and big-government Republicans in supporting referendum C. Referendum C permitted the state legislature to spend above the limits imposed by the Tax Payer Bill of Rights, and ended the tax payer refunds which became so popular. Beauprez was accused of supporting and then opposing Referendum C, which is how he was tagged with the nick-name “both ways Bob” in the first place.

It looks like Beauprez’ previous support of the individual health-care mandate resulted from his you-endorse-me-I’ll-endorese-you, relationship with Romney. But you wonder what good Romney does for Beauprez anyway.

OGREeXposed bluntly tweeted last week:

A @MittRomney endorsement for @bobbeauprez just turned away as many Rs as it attracted. Bob is living in 2006. #copolitics

Ken Clark, co-host of KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, emailed me:

Romney’s endorsement of Bob Beauprez simply means that Beauprez has aligned himself with the establishment arm the the GOP which is really not a surprise.  Beauprez was one of the first in Colorado to not only endorse, but to speak on the behalf of Romney’s failed presidential run.  It further illustrates the divide between candidates whom act upon principle as opposed to what ever seems to be expedient in the moment.  Beauprez endorsed the Romney campaigns  rule changes at the 2012 convention which was nothing more than an attempt to remove the voice of the Grass Roots and the Ron Paul supporters from the political process and control who would be the nominee.  They would like nothing more that to shut the liberty groups down and have us follow them blindly into oblivion, I’m sorry but that simply will not happen.

Rob Douglas, columnist for the Steamboat Pilot, pointed out via email that Romney could become a valuable fundraiser for Beauprez. In similar vein, Eli Bremer, former chairman of El Paso county Republican Party, wrote me that this could help Beauprez, because the “Republican primary electorate around the country in 2014 seems like they are much more serious about evaluating the traits that traditionally make for good general election candidates.”

Douglas added:

On the surface, Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Bob Beauprez might be expected by the casual observer. After all, Beauprez was an early and unwavering supporter of Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign and Beauprez worked hard for the campaign here in Colorado.

But I think Romney’s endorsement goes deeper than political payback. Given the fairly small number of endorsements by Romney so far this cycle, I believe he is exercising discretion in picking candidates to support. That tells me Romney is a true believer when it comes to Beauprez. And, if you look at the personal and professional similarities between the two men, you can see why there’d be a natural affinity. Both have succeeded in business and politics. And while both also experienced the sting of defeat, they continued to find ways to advocate for their beliefs.

Asked if the Romney endorsement would help Beauprez, former state Sen. Norma Anderson said, “It depends. For those that supported Romney in the presidential election it will help. For those who didn’t, it won’t. That’s usually how it works.”

Reporters omit AG candidate’s position on the constitutionality of CO gay-marriage ban

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Reporters have covered GOP Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman’s attacks on Democratic AG candidate Don Quick for saying he wouldn’t defend Colorado’s gay-marriage ban, if Quick were elected state AG.

But strangely, they haven’t reported if Coffman thinks the ban, which is overwhelmingly opposed in Colorado, is constitutional.

So, to fill in the media gap, I asked Coffman and Rep. Mark Waller, who dropped out of the race yesterday, for their views on the marriage ban.

Jason Salzman @BigMediaBlog
Dear @Rep_Waller & @CynthiaHCoffman, i’m filling a media gap & asking you, do you believe CO gay marriage ban is constitutional? #copolitics

No response yet, but I’ll  update this post when I hear back.

Hat tip to blogger at Independence Institute for acknowledging health-insurance cancellations didn’t leave people bereft of health insurance

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

With more and more ads implying that Coloradans lost their insurance under Obamacare, and senatorial candidate Cory Gardner saying directly that “335,000 Coloradans…lost their health insurance” thanks to Obamacare, it’s worth a trip to the archive to see if conservative bloggers agree with fact checkers, like 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, who noted that getting an insurance-cancellation notice due to Obamacare was “not the same thing as losing insurance.”

So I extend a good-on-ya to Todd Shepherd, who blogs for the conservative Independence Institute. Shepherd reported back in January:

Shepherd: Without question, 249,000 health care policy cancellations did not mean 249,000 Coloradans were left completely bereft of insurance coverage.

I’d prefer Shepherd use a contextual statement highlighting the renewals and new-and-improved insurance options available under Obamacare, but, still, Shepherd’s formulation is something closer to the truth than the simple words “lost” or “cancelled.”

Shepherd did not respond favorably to phone and email requests for comment.

Media omission: Tancredo sees public education as government mind-control

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

ColoradoPols has called on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to address rumors that “GOP power-brokers” are pushing for him to be Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

Pols didn’t get into whether Tancredo, who’s currently leading the gubernatorial GOP primary field, would be a logical selection for the Tea-Party-controlled Jeffco School Board. No need to fall off your chair because yes, unfortunately, Tancredo’s views on education are thoroughly right-wing.

He’s not only a consistent supporter of diverting public-school funding to private schools through vouchers, but he also sees the public school system as a way for public officials to control the small minds of America’s children.

Tancredo: “Why we can’t at least give kids in those [poverty] circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining.

Where’s the evidence that public-school education is about anything but freedom from indoctrination? Teachers wouldn’t tolerate it. They don’t want to indoctrinate their students. They want to teach them to understand how the world works and ask questions about it. American public education is about mind control?

Tancredo expressed these views on the Peter Boyles show April 1, with Chuck Bonniwell subbing for Boyles.

Jeffco teachers, supported by community members, are at an impasse with the Jeffco board, whose current leaders would certainly applaud Tancredo views, as stated here:

TANCREDO: That’s for sure! And what a great debate to have over the implementation of that. I just – I relish the opportunity to debate that issue with the governor, or with the CEA, the teachers union, and all the people that are opposed to such an idea. “What?” you know, they say. “What? Are you some sort of chauvinist–”

BONNIWELL: Racist pig.

TANCREDO: “– suggesting that America is actually a better place to be than anywhere else?” Yes! The answer to that is, “Yes!” And it’s empirically prove-able. This is not subjective. You have—you have – when – as I remember my old boss Bill Bennett used to say, “When you open the gates, all over the world, people only run one way, and that is a pretty good indicator that there is something better they’re going to. People don’t leave hearth, home, kith, or kin to go to something as good or worse. They only leave all of that for something better. We have it. We have to — We have to maintain it. Because if you do not teach children what is good about this country, instead of all of the stuff that they read constantly about, you know, how – about the negative things. And I don’t mean to whitewash this. I don’t mean that children should not be told about the problems we have had. But, you know what? In comparison to what we’ve accomplished, in comparison to what we have provided for so many millions, that — you know, those problems pale in comparison to the great things America has done, and the idea of a republic, and what those founders did, how they put it together. Yeah, I want to debate this, whether or not kids should be taught that, and taught to actually appreciate it. That’s the important part.

BONNIWELL: That would be – that would be a great debate with Hickenlooper, who is the head of the NGA [National Governors’ Association] – he’s head of the NGA this year, and I assume is a Common Core supporter. That would be a great – a great debate.

TANCREDO: It certainly would, and I intend to make it a very important part of our agenda and of our campaign. I mean, there—even – because, for one thing, it is a responsibility of the state. You know, so many things really aren’t, and yet the government gets involved. But, this one is. I mean, the Constitution talks about providing a free, thorough, and uniform system of education. And that doesn’t mean, however, you have to own the system. It doesn’t mean that you have to build the buildings, hire the teachers, and determine the curriculum. You know. And so, yes, you can provide choice. And here is another thing I want to debate. I want to debate whether or not Hickenlooper agrees that if you are a child who is from a family that is below the poverty line, or locked in[to] a school that is failing, that you should you be forced to stay there because you’re too poor to make any other choice. I want to just go ahead and debate that — why we can’t at least give kids in those circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining.

Reporting by multiple outlets casts doubts on Gardner’s campaign-origin story

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Political campaigns love to develop a narrative and connect it to everything they say and do. But sometimes they overdo it, and the campaign narrative suddenly looks cramped.

Thanks to reporting by multiple media outlets, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s all-consuming Obamacare narrative is already smelling overdone and forced. It’s not just because Obamacare appears to be working.

Take, for example, Gardner’s foundational story about deciding to enter the Senate race.

Gardner: I thought about reconsidering running for the U.S. Senate, but it really picked up last year when we received our healthcare cancellation notice.

If that’s true, and Gardner has said this numerous times, then Gardner’s thoughts about entering the race “really picked up” in August, six months before he told The Denver Post in February that he was launching his Senate campaign against Udall.

So Gardner left his Republican opponents floundering for six months, even though he had publicly announced June 28, three months earlier, that he would not run against Udall in part because he wanted to get out of the way of his opponents who were “making their decisions” about running.

More doubts about Gardner’s foundational Obamacare campaign-origin story surfaced when Politico reported that Gardner decided to enter the race after seeing the results of a poll conducted by Republicans in Washington DC.

That was January, about five months after Gardner got his letter outlining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

January was also the time period when Gardner stepped up his attacks on Udall, as if his campaign against Udall was suddenly in motion. Gardner sent a Jan. 9 letter from his congressional office to the Colorado Division of Insurance asking questions about it’s interactions with Udall’s office. In mid-January, Gardner asked his own congressional committee to investigate. Gardner’s a member of the Commerce committee. And Then the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which, according to Politico, conducted the poll convincing Gardner to run for Senate, sent a Jan. 17 letter to Udall, with more questions.

This timeline, casting serious doubts on Gardner’s story that his Obamacare letter pushed him into the race, was constructed with the record produced by journalists covering Gardner, day-to-day, month-to-month. It’s a small testament to why political reporting is important and how it creates a picture of a candidate for us to contrast with the messaging of his campaign.

Politico scoop: Gardner promised to help pay off Stephens’ campaign debt, if she’d exit

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

At least three people in Colorado have been dying to know how Rep. Cory Gardner managed to persuade Ken Buck and Rep. Amy Stephens to drop their Senate campaigns, allowing Gardner to jump in with a clear field (assuming you don’t count Owen Hill and Randy Baumgardner).

Politico’s Manu Raju deserves credit for scooping Colorado media today by posting some of the details on how Gardner maneuvered to get in, including the tidbit that Gardner promised to help pay off Stephens’ campaign debt.

In January, Gardner first had second thoughts about his previous decision not to run, according to Politico. This is inconsistent with his oft-repeated story about beginning to have second thoughts in August, when Gardner got a letter from his insurance company explaining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

In any case, in January, after he told Republicans in Washington DC of his renewed interest in the race, they ran a poll, the results of which prompted Gardner to jump in, if he could avoid a bitter primary, according to Politico.

Here’s what happened next:

He first approached his biggest roadblock: Buck. The Weld County district attorney had battled with the NRSC in 201o. But the two sides had smoothed things over during the past year, and Buck had a friendly relationship with Gardner.

At a meeting with Buck at a Cracker Barrel just north of Denver, Gardner dropped the bombshell: He was seriously thinking about jumping in the race, and he did not want to battle Buck in a bruising primary. For days after that meeting, Buck mulled his options before encouraging Gardner to take the plunge, nodding to the congressman’s stronger polling and fundraising numbers. Buck even entertained sitting out the midterm election season altogether if it would help Gardner in the primary.

Instead, Buck opted to run in a contested primary for Gardner’s House seat. He called up the congressman and asked for an endorsement for his House seat, something Buck said Gardner was “enthusiastic” in offering. The two denied any quid pro quo.

I read the last two paragraphs a couple times, including the denial of a quid pro quo, and it still looks like a quid pro quo, but you can decide for yourself.

But there’s no ambiguity in Politico’s story of how Stephens dropped out after Gardner offered to pay off her campaign debt.

The political horse-trading wasn’t over. Stephens, who was working aggressively to get volunteers to sign her petition in order to register for the primary ballot, was on her way to a women’s fundraiser in Denver when Gardner called and asked to meet with her right away. The two met that evening at a local restaurant. Gardner said he was considering jumping into the race, and asked her if she’d help clear the field. But she had campaign debt to pay off, which Gardner said he’d help settle. The next day, Stephens called up Gardner and told her she was out of the race.

Politico gets high marks for dropping into Colorado and figuring all this out. Nice work.

Reporter omits detail that Hispanic population in Coffman’s district is about 20%

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The National Journal’s Alex Roarty wrote Wednesday it was “surprising” that most House Republicans voted to reverse Obama’s order halting deportations of many undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

He pointed specifically to “House members like Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado” whose district represents a “large Hispanic” constituency.

Roarty should have specified just how large Coffman’s Hispanic constituency is in his new district.

The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee reported in 2011 that when Coffman’s district was re-drawn, the Hispanic population increased “from around 9 percent to about 20 percent.”

This gives you a more precise sense of the stakes involved as Coffman continues to take positions, long-held by the Congressman, that are considered hostile to Hispanics.

You’d expect the Hispanic voting population in Coffman’s district to be less, but still.

No justification for reporters to label Coffman a “moderate”

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

The jaw of anyone who’s followed the career of Rep. Mike Coffman dropped upon reading the National Journal’s characterization of Coffman yesterday as a “moderate who sometimes refers to himself as an independent.”

It’s true that Coffman refers to himself as a moderate. Most endangered politicians trying to appeal to independent voters do so.

But for a reporter to state as a fact that Coffman is a “moderate?” Where’s that come from?

Objectively, the word “moderate” does not come to mind if you look at the majority of Coffman’s record. He’s clearly way to the right on social as well as fiscal issues.

On the social side, Coffman does not hide the fact that he’s against all abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.  (Just last year, Personhood USA labeled Coffman a “statesman” for standing firm against abortion for any reason.) He voted in Congress to change the definition of rape, adding “forcible” as an clarifying adjective.

On fiscal issues, Coffman, who endorsed Gov. Rick Perry for President, has said the flat tax has “tremendous value.”

Coffman has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” and has never retracted the statement.

On immigration, Coffman has expressed an open mind about immigration reform lately. But his record stands in opposition to his recent tone. Coffman introduced a bill mandating English-only ballots, even for areas with large numbers of Spanish-speaking voters who aren’t proficient in English. Coffman has long stood with (and endorsed) Rep. Tom Tancredo, who symbolizes American extremism toward undocumented immigrants and immigration reform.

Coffman has called the expansion of Medicare under Obamacare “very radical.”

Famously, Coffman said doesn’t know if Obama “was born in the United States of America,” but Coffman did know that Obama “in his heart, he’s not an American.” Coffman apologized, but Coffman thinks too big a deal was made of the Obama comment, and it was taken out of context.

If you look at the totality of Coffman’s record, you can say he’s taken an independent view on military spending. But that’s it.

There’s no justification for journalists to label him as a “moderate.”