Archive for the 'Caplis and Silverman Show' Category

You’ll miss Caplis and Silverman, even if think you hated them

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

On any given day you could hate Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, if you’re on the political left, in the center, or to the right of center.

Their KHOW radio show was mostly a debate between a die-hard social/fiscal conservative and a right-leaning social moderate, and the illusion of a real left-right debate could kill you.

But still, the show, which ends today, offered more real political debate than you’ll find anywhere else on Denver radio, and it was a great part of the Denver media scene.

I’m really sorry to see it go.

Politics-wise, Caplis and Silverman hit their stride during the 2010 election cycle, when there’s little doubt that the program had a major impact on the election.

Among Colorado media outlets, only The Denver Post had a greater political impact that year. Click here for more details.

When he wasn’t kissing ass, Silverman asked some of the toughest and most logical questions of any media figure in Denver. For example, check out his questioning of GOP candidate Ken Buck in Aug., 2010:

Craig: You’re saying even in the cases of rape or incest, you’re not for abortion?

Buck: That’s correct. You know, Craig, if you believe that life begins at conception, which I do, then with the exception of rape and incest, you’re taking a life as a result of the crime of the father. And even though I recognize that the terrible misery that that life was conceived under, it is still taking a life in my view, and that’s wrong.

Craig: Right. And I believe life begins at conception. I think that’s a matter of science. To me the question is, when does somebody become a human being and entitled to the same rights and protections that any human being in America deserves, or frankly around the world. To me, that’s the debate. How did you come to your position? Is it informed by your religion?

Buck: It’s my upbringing. It’s my faith. It’s my life experiences, the three things that have brought me to that position.

Craig: And have you always been there, or is this something that you’ve evolved to.

Buck: No, I think it’s something I’ve evolved to. It’s something that I realized in my mid-twenties. I certainly as a teenager hadn’t thought through the positions. As I got out of school and was observing things and growing in my faith I came to that position.

Craig: And would it transfer into the legal world. You’re going to be a legislator if you’re voted into the United States Senate. Would you create a law that would prohibit abortion in the cases of rape or incest?

Buck: I would favor that position in law, yes.

Craig: -Let’s say, god forbid, that a 13-year-old boy impregnates his 14-year-old sister and does it by forced rape. You’re saying that the 14-year-old and anybody involved in the abortion should be prosecuted, if they choose to terminate the pregnancy, either through surgical abortion or a morning after pill?

Buck: I think it is wrong, Craig. I think it is morally wrong. And you are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one but an extremely rare occurrence.

Craig: Incest happens. I’m sure your office prosecutes it. And we know rape and sexual assault happen all the time, and your office prosecutes it. So it’s not completely rare. I agree that most abortions have nothing to do with that. I don’t know if I’d go with rare.

You knew if there was a big political story breaking, you’d likely find a major figure talking about it on Caplis and Silverman in the afternoon. Unfortunately, some Dems stopped going on the show, which was a mistake on their part, but to their credit, GOP leaders almost never rejected invitations. Click here to see some of Caplis and Silverman’s interviews that caught my attention over the years.

I’m goning to miss the Caplis and Silverman show a lot, and Denver is definitely worse off for its departure from the airwaves.

Pundits who think Coffman is a moderate should note his opposition to abortion in the case of rape and incest

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

After Rep. Mike Coffman told supporters that “in his heart,” Obama is “just not an American,” some in the media debated whether Coffman’s statement, which he apologized for, was 1) a departure from Coffman’s image as a moderate or 2) a continuation of his alignment with extremists and fringe causes.

On abortion, the topic of today’s blog post, reporters should note that it’s clearly the latter. That would be number two, above.

In its latest comments on Coffman, Colorado Right to Life’s blog stated in 2010 update, that Coffman is “on record supporting Personhood and is on record as Pro-Life with no exceptions.”

Earlier this year, Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks told me that “no exceptions” means abortion would not be allowed in the case of rape and incest.

Coffman has opposed abortion even in the case of rape and incest going back to at least 2008, according to the Colorado Right to Life website.

For example, in 2008 Colorado Right to Life complained to Coffman after hearing him say, on the Caplis and Silverman show, that he favored allowing abortion in the case of rape and incest.

Coffman subsequently sent a letter to Caplis and Silverman, and to Colorado Right to Life, clarifying that he is opposed to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.  Here’s the story, as told on Colorado Right to Life’s website:

Last week, while appearing on the Caplis & Silverman radio show (630 KHOW, Denver), Congressional candidate Mike Coffman was heard to say that he did not oppose abortion in cases of rape or incest. This sent CRTL and many other pro-lifers into a tizzy, because it went against what Mike had pledged in his Candidate Survey, as well as what we all thought we knew about Mike’s beliefs.

When contacted about this, Mike immediately expressed surprise that he’d said any such thing. He thinks he may have gotten confused and said the opposite of what he meant. While with many candidates, we might suspect evasion, this didn’t seem to be the case with Mike. He has written to attempt to clarify with Dan Caplis, so no one will misunderstand. Here is his note (copied to CRTL):

Dan,

First of all, thanks so much for your help with my campaign and for inviting me on your show. During the debate, Craig Silverman was questioning me on the issue of abortion. My response was focused on arguing that Roe v Wade was bad law. During that exchange, Craig asked me about the issue of rape and incest. Apparently, my answer came across as supporting abortions under a rape and incest exception. I absolutely do not believe in that.

Dan, I would deeply appreciate it if, during your show, you could state that I wanted to make sure that my position was clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest. I believe that all life is equally sacred irregardless of how it came into being.

Thanks again, Mike Coffman

It takes a big man to admit such a mistake. And Mike Coffman’s strong relationship with the pro-life community over many years is obviously important enough to him that he wanted to make this correction/clarification despite the fact that he surely has Colorado’s 6th District race locked up and will almost certainly be one of Colorado’s newly elected Congressmen in 2009.

This is great news for unborn children!

The above exchange came after Coffman, who gave $75 to the Colorado Right to Life Committee in 2008, according to campaign donation records on TRACER, defeated Ted Harvey and Wil Armstrong in a tough primary battle to represent the ultra-conservative 6th Congressional district. Now the 6th is considered much more moderate.

During the 2008 primary, Colorado Right to Life wrote of Coffman:

In a previous blog post, we reported that we believed both Sen. Ted Harvey and Sec. State Mike Coffman hold uncompromised positions on Personhood and Life issues, according to the CRTL candidate questionnaire. Sadly, we must correct this information.

We now know that Sec. State Mike Coffman is the only candidate for the GOP 6th District Congressional primary who holds uncompromised views on abortion, and the only candidate who has promised not to continue supporting compromised legislation….

Mike Coffman also has a decades-long history (20 years or more) of not just support, but active involvement in the pro-life community, over and above what would be expected of any typical Republican official.

Mike Coffman has been a good and consistent friend to CRTL for many years, up to and including the last couple of years when even CRTL’s strongest legislative supporters (including Harvey) found excuses not to attend CRTL events.

Coffman has yet to comment this election cycle on his abortion stance, and he hasn’t said whether he’ll support this year’s personhood measure.

Obviously, these are issues that reporters should pursue, assuming Coffman talks to reporters again, as he used to do frequently, before he made his comments about Obama’s heart.

KHOW lands Coffman interview when other media outlets can’t

Friday, May 25th, 2012

KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show featured Mike Coffman for a long segment yesterday, talking about his statement at a GOP fundraiser that Obama “in his heart” is “just not an American.”

Coffman happily answered Dan Caplis’ questions after his spokeswoman, Danielle Adams, told The Denver Post Coffman had nothing to say for a Post article about the “possibility of repercussions and challenges to his campaign.”

(Nothing to say? Coffman? You’d think The Post wouldn’t lie there and accept this response, but that’s what it did, running a tiny sentence in paragraph 15 about Coffman’s rude treatment of the state’s leading news outlet. When will The Post show its loyal readers that the newspaper hates it when public figures blow off its reporters?)

If it makes The Post feel better, Coffman is also ignoring KNUS’ Kelley and Company, a morning radio show that’s getting more conservative by the minute. KNUS’ Steve Kelley said today on air that Coffman, a frequent guest on the show, did not return calls (plural) to be on the program.

Under soft questioning from KHOW’s Dan Caplis, with Craig Silverman away for the day, Coffman reiterated his apology for the birtherish statement. Coffman did not do so in the automaton-fashion he used the other night when confronted by 9News’ Kyle Clark, who deserves a lot of credit for tracking down Coffman after he’d been ignoring his interview requests as well.

A progressive website, Think Progress, pointed out, in a blog post titled Birther Congressman Confirms That He Only Walked Back His Comments ‘For Political Reasons’, that Coffman acknowledged during the KHOW interview that “to some extent” Coffman actually believes Obama is not an American “in his heart.” Think Progress’ Scott Keyes wrote:

The hosts told Coffman that a gaffe in Washington “is when somebody tells the truth” before asking the Colorado Republican, “Were you just at that moment speaking what was in your heart and are you now feeling you need to walk it back for political reasons?” Coffman conceded that this was the case — “to some extent that’s true” — before explaining that his main regret was talking about the issue because birtherism is a “horrible issue” for Republican.

Think Progress also spotlighted Coffman’s statement, in the KHOW interview, praising birthers:

Later, Coffman praised those who don’t believe President Obama was born in the United States. “[Issues are] going to determine this election, not focusing on the birther question. God bless people that do that. I understand their passion.”

Yesterday’s Coffman interview on KHOW, as well as his response to 9News’ questions this week, shows the value, from a public-interest perspective, of going the extra mile to get public figures to air out their views on topics they’d rather dismiss with a simple sorry-I-misspoke soundbite.

Journalists shouldn’t settle for this treatment during the election season which is upon us.

KHOW radio host says election fraud a difficult topic for talk radio

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Should I write another blog about Secretary of State Scott Gessler? Probably not, but then I say to myself, if my three readers don’t know the kind of stuff smart talk-radio hosts like KHOW’s Craig Silverman let Gessler get away with saying, without raising a peep of protest, then there’s no hope that lesser radio hosts will do the right thing and ask Gessler follow-up questions that would illuminate the innuendo and misinformation in his statements.

You still  might say, who cares? Gessler and the radio hosts are hopeless. Let the hot air go float out of the room undisturbed.

I’d be inclined to think the same way if I didn’t hear the things Colorado’s top-dog election official says. But once I hear Gessler, I can’t convince myself that doing nothing is the proper response.

It started on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman on Monday when Craig Silverman, hosting alone with Dan Caplis away, asked Gessler, “You always hear rumors about voter fraud, election fraud.  What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in Colorado that you’re aware of?”

Good question, right? It’s a polite way of asking, “Mr. Secretary of State, you’ve spread baseless claims of voter fraud, including right here on this radio show when you said there’s a ‘pretty high incidene of fraud’ here in Denver, but can you cite a specific example of fraud in Colorado, ever?”

“Well,” replied Gessler to Silverman’s question, not mine (his office won’t talk to me). “There’s, historically, you know, going back like forty, fifty years ago, there were very clear instances of just outright stealing elections. In fact, I think it was down in southern Colorado some of the mining camps, the company towns there that they had, the companies would control the polling places and steal elections. And those were overturned. In Colorado, the last prosecutions I’m aware of, we’ve had some people vote in two states. And then when ACORN was operating, there were several people who were prosecuted, and convicted I believe, of voter registration fraud here in Colorado, as well. So, we’ve seen it happen historically in the past, you know, several decades ago, and we’ve seen it happen very recently too.”

I wish Silverman had asked Gessler about the “some people” who were allegedly prosecuted for voting in two states. When? How many? Where? I did some research and cannot find a recent case like this.

I wish Silverman had pointed out that “voter registration fraud” is a completely different animal than voter fraud. Because no one actually voted. So his reference to ACORN, apparently referring to a 2005 case when employees were convicted of submitting false voter registration forms, is misleading.

And I wish Silverman had jumped all over Gessler’s conclusion that “we’ve seen [election fraud] happen very recently, too.” Very recently? Gessler didn’t provide any facts to support this.

Asked about his interview with Gessler, Silverman told me he was too pressed for time to deal with the complicated topic of voter fraud.

“I did not have time to flesh that out,” he told me, adding the topic would  lead to a “ten-minute rabbit hole.” “A follow up would have led to an insider-baseball discussion about those cases.”

I don’t think asking for basic details about the cases, where and when they occurred, is insider baseball. Neither is a discussion about the distinction between “election fraud” and “voter registration fraud.”

“If you get into the minutia of legal cases it’s is a turn off [for listeners.],” said Silverman. “While I care about the issue, it’s not one of my areas of expertise.”

“I will say this,” Silverman said. “Gessler is good for talk radio. He’s in the eye of the storm.”

So here’s question that might lead Silverman, me, and Gessler out of the rabbit hole and into the sunlight.

(Sorry in advance if it sounds too lofty.)

Gessler may be good for talk radio, and for bloggers for that matter, but what about our basic trust in government, which rests to some degree on faith in elections? How seriously should we take it, or should we ignore it, when our Secretary of State is running around on the radio and elsewhere making accusations of very recent election fraud (we’re talking outright fraud, even by noncitizens), that are unproven or have been categorically disproven?

Should elected officials talk to all journalists, progressive, conservative, or rabid?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Secretary of State Scott Gessler recently made an appearance Colorado’s flagship Tea-Party radio show, KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado.

I was jealous because Gessler’s office won’t talk to me, and it’s possible that even my audience of three people is bigger than KLZ’s.

But it made me feel a little bit better when I found out that Gessler’s also boycotting the Colorado Independent and AM760′s David Sirota show, as I’ll explain below.

Still, it raises the question of whether it matters all that much that a conservative elected official, not just Gessler but any of them, boycotts progressive media outlets. Or whether a progressive office holder should feel obligated to talk to conservative media types.

If I were Gessler, I’d look at the actual work of the journalist or media person who’s requesting the interview. If their work shows them to be unfair, inaccurate, and generally unconcerned about civil discourse, then an elected official can justify not talking to them.

For my part, I can’t help but be nicer to people if they let me interview them. I normally try to be fair, but I’m even more careful if I actually talk to someone. I like to think most writers are this way.

I asked progressive columnist and talk-show host David Sirota for his thoughts on this broad topic. According to John Turk, producer of the David Sirota Show on AM 760, Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge told him last week, just after Gessler appeared on Grassroots Radio Colorado, that Gessler had “no interest” in coming on Sirota’s show to talk about possible voter fraud.

Sirota emailed me:

My view is that the best elected officials are those who make themselves available to the widest possible audience of their constituents. In Colorado, though, that’s the exception (Ed Perlmutter is one for instance), not the norm. Here, most politicians see themselves – and carry themselves – as if they are part of an elite country club. They typically only make themselves available to their friends in the media who they know won’t ask them a single substantive or hard-hitting question – those who will simply propagandize for their agenda and kiss their ass in a very public way. I’m not surprised by that. I’m a journalist, and genuine journalism is a threat to those in power who are either ashamed of their behavior or who shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. Most of the politicians in the state know that regardless of party, I don’t pull punches and will ask them tough questions, and so many of them avoid my show. I see that as a badge of honor.

The Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic has also gotten the cold shoulder from Gessler. Tomasic offered these thoughts in an email:

The question of officeholder responsiveness matters mostly in its relationship to accountability.

It seems obvious that when people elected to office are willing to go on public record regularly on topics big and small and to field unscripted questions, it’s always a good sign for the city or state or country they’re serving. As any fair-minded person in a position of authority knows, explaining your actions means making the case for them. If you can do that well, you gain legitimacy for those actions and support for them and cooperation to bring off your grand plans.

The energy it takes to explain yourself, even in fraught political or business environments, is worth it

Our secretary of state is a longtime controversial figure. It’s my opinion that he revels in it. He’s a courtroom attorney. I like that about him, the fact that he’s a fighter, if for no other reason than he’s fun to write about. Unfortunately, in office, it seems clear he is increasingly adopting what has become a familiar approach to the media on the right, which is to malign the media and retreat into a silo of friendly outlets while delivering an occasional stock quote to the paper of record. That just seems like a short-haul strategy to me.

Gessler is not a  representative from some very conservative district.

He is a state officeholder. The topics he deals with every day as secretary of state are enormously important for all the citizens of Colorado. He oversees voting, campaign finance rules– really basic stuff that is of equal interest to citizens all across the political spectrum. For that reason alone, he is a person of interest for everyone reporting about politics in this state: newspaper people, broadcast people, bloggers, etc, and he has a crack staff of communication experts at his disposal. Use them, I say! Let’s hear more every day from spokespeople Rich and Andrew at the secretary of state’s office. Turn those guys loose! “Free Rich!” “Free Andrew!”

Granted, the media is a player in the political process and dealing with the media as an elected official can certainly be like navigating a mine field. It’s only my opinion but, as someone who has watched this politics-media tug of war with keen interest for years and who has watched big political stories unfold from the inside, as an editor and reporter, I can say that the subjects of those stories would have nearly always fared better by talking to the reporters writing the stories.

I’m reporting on the war over voting laws that has taken the nation by storm in the past two years. Gessler has put himself on the frontlines of that war, proposing major changes to our state election rules. So I’ll keep asking questions. Maybe some day soon, I’ll get a response.

Meantime, I’m developing a cordial and, I must say, fruitful relationship with the secretary’s office conducted via the Colorado Open Records Act. It could be worse.

I’m ready to join the “Free Rich” campaign, and I’m thinking about offering myself up for the dunk tank at the first “Free Rich” fundraiser.

But as Tomasic illustrates, part of the trick of journalism is to find ways to get information when you can’t get it mouth-to-mouth. Who else knows? What documents are available? Getting blacklisted for interviews, even in an apparently partisan manner from the Secretary of State, is how it  goes.

And obviously both parties do this. Gov. John Hickenlooper won’t go on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show, the hosts allege on air. Though he’s on KOA’s Mike Rosen’s Show monthly.

Rep. Scott Tipton isn’t talking to the tea-party-leaning radio program, the Cari and Rob Show. But Tipton’s Democratic challenger Sal Pace will go on the show.

KHOW’s Peter Boyles likes to say no elected official will go on his show anymore, though I heard Rep. Chris Holbert and Sen. Ted Harvey on Boyles’ show Feb. 15 to discuss their gun bills.

Mitt Romney skipped over all the major Denver media last month, eliciting an admirable Howard-Beale-like outcry from Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols.

It’s always been this way, you’d say. But the changes in the media make the situation worse for real people (who stopped reading this blog post before the first paragraph, even though I put “rabid” in the title to lure them in).

With the major media in decline, and more small outlets lining up along ideological lines, many people are less likely to hear from elected officials they disagree with.

Progressives, for example, who consume news from progressive news outlets, won’t be hearing from Scott Gessler directly any time soon, it appears.

That’s not good, and you have to think it will get worse, because, politically, Gessler can write off the left, talk to his conservative base, and try to reach moderates through other means, which may or may not include The Denver Post in the long run.

Under this scenario, how does the partisan divide do anything but get wider?

To be fair, and this is my attempt at ending on a hopeful note, I should tell you that even after Gessler’s office rejected my own interview requests, Gessler was willing to speak with me when I approached him after a speech  he gave at Colorado Christian University. I told him I was a liberal blogger, and he still spoke with me.

In the semi-public setting, maybe he felt a responsibility, as an elected official, not to turn away from me?

But,  like Westword, I didn’t ask him the right follow-up question. Who knows if I’ll get another chance?

Romney’s tour of Colorado talk radio leaves questions lingering

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Mitt Romney apparently isn’t making himself available to real journalists in Colorado, in advance of Tuesday’s GOP caucus, but he called into conservative talk-radio shows today, where, predictably, he found a copacetic environment, free of annoying follow-up questions.

That’s unfortunate, because Romney said a few things that deserve a closer look by reporters, if they ever get access to Romney.

On KOA’s Mike Rosen this morning, Romney suggested that he didn’t like the insurance mandate that was included in the Massachusetts health care bill, and he would have vetoed it in favor of offering tax breaks to people with insurance.

Romney told Rosen:

“In one important respect, the incentive to get people to have insurance in our state was associated with a penalty, which is if you don’t have insurance, you have to help pay the cost of your health care in our state. I would’ve rather given a, if you will, a benefit — a tax break — to people who had insurance. So you’d give people a, if you will, a positive, as opposed to a negative. When you do that you accomplish the same objective, which is to get people insured and have people take responsibility for their own health care.”

Romney said, “There were a number of features in the [MA] health care bill I vetoed, and those vetoes were all overridden by a legislature which is 85 percent Democrat.”

Romney has tried to separate himself from the mandate before, though you may not believe it given that it’s central to the Massachusetts policy.

But as this New Yorker article shows, and others have documented, Romney agreed with the policy and sold it.

Romney’s appearance on the Cari and Rob Show, with hosts Rob Douglas and Cari Hermacinski, was similarly pleasant for Romney, with a few questions that were leading toward difficult territory but went nowhere with no follow-up questions asked from two conservative hosts who’ve asked tough questions of Rep. Scott Tipton in the past.

Romney trashed Obama’s entire economic record, literally “everything” Obama has done for the economy, despite this morning’s news that unemployment is heading toward a three-year low.

“I’m delighted that we’re seeing some job growth finally,” Romney told Douglas and Hermacinski. “It’s taken a long, long time. This has been the slowest recovery since Hoover, and one of the reasons it’s been so slow is because this president has frankly done everything wrong when it relates to building an economy. [BigMedia emphasis].

Douglas and Hermacinski might have asked Romney if he supported extending unemployment insurance or cutting the payroll tax, or some itty bitty thing Obama did, but alas, nothing like this flowed from the two hosts.

I hoped Craig Silverman on KHOW would have the courage to ask uncomfortable questions of Romney, like he did of Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck in 2010. But his questions, like should Colorado host the Olympics and does the GOP want pro-choice voters, were easy for Romney. Dan Caplis, Silverman’s co-host, was his usual GOP-mouthpiece self.

So, Romney’s apparent plan of talking to friendly radio hosts in Colorado, and avoiding journalists, paid off this time, though I hold out hope for Silverman and Cari and Rob, if he tries it again.

Ironically enough, Scott Tipton is refusing invitations from Douglas to appear on his show, which is known for its Tea-Party bent, but that didn’t scare off Romney or Sal Pace or Rick Santorum, and others who’ve been on Cari and Rob Show recently.

You wonder where that puts Scott Tipton.

I asked Douglas if he’d tried to land Tipton lately.

We’re very pleased that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michael Reagan, Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Doug Lamborn, Sal Pace and many others are coming on our program to speak to our audience about the current campaigns and issues that are important to our audience. From the start, our goal has been to provide a venue for Coloradoans and others to have their voices heard and to hear from elected representatives and others who impact public policy.

To that end, we always welcome elected representatives and legitimate candidates on our program.

While we have not extended an invitation to Congressman Tipton recently, he is always welcome on our program and we expect he’ll want to speak with our audience between now and the time when he must stand before the voters in his district. Given Congressman Tipton’s interaction with our audience as both a candidate and as a elected representative over the last several years, we assume he knows he has a standing invitation from our program.

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog

Reporters should ask what gives? Coffman for balanced budget amendment but supports deficit spending to stimulate the economy?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Rep. Mike Coffman is in The Denver Post today telling us again that he led the charge for the Balanced Budget Amendment, which would have, in Coffman’s words, held “Congress’ feet to the fire with a Constitutional amendment requiring that they, like every family and nearly every state in the country, balance their budget.”

Coffman’s proposal specifies an exception. Deficits would be allowed during war or serious military conflict. (Families don’t get such an exception, in case you’re wondering whether your warring family can spend willy nilly.)

But Coffman himself has advocated for another crisis situation during which, he’s said, deficit spending by the feds should be allowed.

On KHOW radio, back in April, 2009, Coffman said he “would certainly support deficit spending,” if it were “truly stimulative” during the dark years of the great recession, 2009 and 2010.

In February, 2009, Coffman was equally clear on KHOW radio that the recession, which was slamming the country, was “so severe” that Coffman supported more deficit spending to stimulate the economy:

Silverman: So what are you suggesting? That we not do it? That we not have the stimulus package? Because Barack Obama said last night, hey, I didn’t come up with this $800 billion figure on my own. This is what the Republicans and the Democrats are talking about. The size of the stimulus package that is necessary given the dire condition that we are in. I like to live within my means. I am not big on borrowing for anything other than to buy a house. Are you saying we shouldn’t borrow money? I am not big on borrowing for anything other than to buy a house. Are you saying we shouldn’t borrow money?

Coffman: I do think that the situation is so severe that it warrants it. And obviously, from my point of view, that the greatest stimulus to the economy is by allowing individuals, small businesses owners, and corporations to keep their money in their pockets. And let the individual spend it versus the government spend it. So they can spend it their way. [BigMedia emphasis]

Here’s what Coffman told Caplis and Silverman April 15, 2009:

Coffman: I think it’s all about today politically and not about tomorrow. And so it’s kind of whatever happens tomorrow happens tomorrow. Let’s see how much influence we can buy or how much political support we can buy today. It’s a sad process. And I certainly support deficit spending, if it’s wise, if it’s truly simulative in this year and next year. I think the problem is that there is no effort in the budget plan that I see to close the deficit. We are going to be running trillion dollar deficits, you know, in the next ten years.

Later, as Coffman amped up his campaign for the Balanced Budget Amendment, KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman should have had Coffman back on their show to find out why an exception for deficit spending, to stimulate the economy during bleak economic downturns, was not included in the Balanced Budget Amendment that Coffman helped craft. (It died in the House in November.)

Reporters are all about consistency, and so they should ask Coffman, who helped form the 70-member House Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus and then chaired it, to explain his view in favor deficit spending “if it’s truly stimulative.”

And while they’re questioning Coffman about fiscal matters, reporters might ask to hear more about his unusual proposal, which he made on KHOW in 2009, to put Marines on U.S. merchant ships that might be threatened by pirates. Coffman claims this will save money, but further questioning about the risks of such a military presence are warranted.

Coffman: We don’t have the naval resources to patrol this area, which is a little over a million square miles. And so we need a fly swatter instead of a sledgehammer. And it would be much more cost effective to put small military detachments on the US-flagged merchant ships in order to deal with the pirates. And it wouldn’t take very many. We did this during World War II. And we can do it now. So we just deal with the problem and we write rules of engagement to where any of these pirate crafts approaching US merchant vessel that demonstrate hostile intent would be taken out.

Coffman could be right about the cost savings from the deployment of Marines, as he’s a budget maven when it comes to military spending, having advocated sensible cuts in the past.

Equally bold, from a political and fiscal perspective, are Coffman’s positions, aired on talk radio, against the Bush prescription drug plan and against using federal money to construct new DPS schools, because the DPS doesn’t “need to build more schools” due to enrollment declines.

There’s clearly public-interest value in airing out views of Congresspeople representing safe seats. But the time and space for political reporting, from serious journalists, is at a premium these days. So the media spotlight naturally should shine most brightly on politicians in competitive districts, especially guys like Coffman, and his likely opponent Joe Miklosi, whose words mean more because more voters with different opinions are listening to them now as they decide who to vote for in November.

Reporters should get details on Coffman idea that Colorado should get into catastrophic health-insurance biz and deregulate insurance industry

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

You don’t have to spend much time on Google to find out Rep. Mike Coffman hates Obamacare and has voted to repeal it, though he says he likes parts of it.

But what’s Coffman’s alternative, beyond vagaries about wanting to make the health-care market more competitive?

You have to look hard, but one of his suggestions, as articulated in a 2010 radio interview, is to get the state of Colorado into the catastrophic health-insurance business.

Yes, you read that right.

Coffman believes that “Colorado could come up with a great health insurance plan that would focus on catastrophic care.” This plan, under Coffman’s proposal, would be snapped up by health-insurance buyers nationally and bring a windfall of business (and tax revenue) to our state, creating, if you will, a mini catastrophic health-care economy here.

(Coffman may be thinking of a Colorado company, not the state, but Coffman did not correct the radio host when he seemed to interpret Coffman’s statement as I did. And even if this is a private sector proposal, it raises many questions requiring explanation.)

Central to Coffman’s plan is our state’s existing tax on health-insurance premiums. Coffman envisions a windfall of tax revenue from this “premium tax” as sales of catastrophic health-care policies soar.

And if you’re wondering how this could possibly constitute an alternative to Obamacare, here’s your answer: Coffman proposes using the tax dollars collected from the premium tax to help lower the costs of health insurance for “people that have chronic health care needs that are just priced out of the market.” (Everyone else apparently should buy a catastrophic plan, with a deductible appropriate, depending on individual circumstances.)

Oh, and some of the new tax revenue would boost Colorado’s general fund.

Now this proposal of Coffman’s has got to catch the attention of more journalists than a measly progressive one like me.

Conservative journalists will want to know more about why Coffman wants to get the government into the health-insurance business, and why he wants to expand the state’s general fund. Business reporters will want to know how the government of Colorado will compete with the private sector. Health reporters will want to know if the chronically ill would really be able to better afford insurance, under Coffman’s proposal to help them, and whether catastrophic care will work for many people. Political reporters will want to know if Tea Party activists would turn against Coffman for advocating a government expansion into health insurance. Legislative reporters will want to know how much of the state’s budget hole could be filled and whether Colorado’s law mandating basic standards of care for catastrophic plans would be overturned in the state legislature, since part of Coffman’s proposal involves deregulating the state health insurance industry.

I mean, there’s plenty of feed here for the media beast.

But apparently no one’s dug into his idea since Feb. 22, 2010, when Coffman said it on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show. Here’s the transcript from which the quotes above quotes from Coffman were taken:

Coffman: What we need is market competition. The President is right when he says there is inadequate competition among private insurance companies. But we do that through government regulations. We say that you cannot purchase health insurance across state lines. It has to be somebody that is licensed in your state. I think that if we opened up the market, if we could deregulate it some, and I think the role of the insurance commissioner is to make sure that these policies are transparent and that they cover what they say they are going to cover. But if we could open up market competition. When I was state treasurer, I  looked and wondered why all the publically traded corporations were moving out of Colorado and incorporating in the state of Delaware. And it turns out that Delaware had a court system that specialized in hearing business cases. And I think they provided a better environment, even though they charged a lot more for their incorporation.

I think if Colorado could come up with a great health-insurance plan that would focus on catastrophic care and opened it up to the rest of the country, if in fact we opened up the market, and we charge a premium tax here. Part of that goes to the general fund but part of it goes to cover a high-risk insurance pool with people that have chronic healthcare needs that are just priced out of the market, and we subsidize that here in Colorado, we could bring down the cost further. If we could sell a policy that would appeal to the country that would be more cost competitive, and other states could do the same. Let’s open it up to competition. [BigMedia emphasis.]

Craig Silverman: Isn’t that part of the deal behind the public option? Make the insurance companies compete with government?

Coffman: Well, what the public option says is, we are not going to do the deregulatory parts that I mentioned that allows competition across state lines. So we are just going to leave it in place and now we’ll say that the only one that can provide competition is the government? No, we need to open up competition to the private sector to bring down prices.

Dan Caplis: Congressman Mike Coffman our guest. And doesn’t this go back to the lead question that I had for you, which is the idea of the federal government now being able to dictate rates for private insurance companies. Because behind this, can’t the intellectually honest agree, that the left for a long long time, and now they are in control of the Democratic Party, has been out to kill private insurance companies, health insurance companies, and replace them with a single-payer government-provided health insurance plan? Isn’t that their holy grail and wouldn’t this be a big stem toward that?

Coffman: Yeah, it really would. And let me tell you one other thing. There are some real constitutional questions here. The notion that the federal government can impose an individual mandate. Certainly I think states can do it constitutionally, but I don’t see where in the U.S. Constitution it gives the power to the federal government the power to do that.  I think that there are other constitutional questions about the power of the federal government to do the things we are taking about doing. And clearly we understand the Commerce Clause and what is involved in that. I think that there are aspects in this legislation that clearly goes beyond that….

Silverman: Hey Congressman, what is the argument offered for not allowing competition state-to-state?

Coffman: Well, I suspect that the argument would be this: In 1946, the Congress of the U.S. pretty much gave, if you are not a multi-state employer that falls under the exemption, then you are subject to state regulation, particularly in the small group market and the individual market. Each state has different criteria, and so I think that they are saying there would be a race to the bottom if you opened up the market? And a given state had a catastrophic policy without all the bells and whistles. First of all, I think that we insure for much too much. I mean, insurance is about the providing oh…

Caplis: Catastrophic-type coverage.

Coffman: Yeah, really for catastrophic. And so, the fact that we’ve gone beyond that where people don’t have skin in the game.

I found this interview as part of my year-end review of Coffman’s talk-radio appearances, which I’m doing to encourage media types to take another look at some of Coffman’s unexamined views now that he’s in a competitive district.

Leading Democrats and Republicans have said competitive districts make politicians more accountable. One way that plays out in the real world is that when Congressmen like Coffman throw out big ideas, like the one about getting Colorado into catastrophic health-insurance business, he’s more likely to be questioned about it. Now it’s up to the media to do their part.

Reporters should ask Coffman why he thinks the 9-11 compensation law was “vote buying”

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Yesterday I suggested in a blog post that reporters should look again at Rep. Mike Coffman’s reasons for opposing the repeal of the military’s Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell policy, in light of extreme statements Coffman made on the radio.

On the same radio program, KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show Dec 21, 2009, Coffman expanded on his reasons for voting against the so-called 9/11 compensation bill, which became law nonetheless and set up a health fund for ground zero workers.

At the time, Coffman made no secret of his opposition to the bill, saying it was unnecessary and expensive.

But on the radio, talking with Bob Beauprez, Coffman went further, saying the bill was being used for “vote buying” in New York.

Coffman [at 26:10 in the recording]: This is really just about money for New York City. It’s not about, really I think, helping the first responders because we have already done that.

Beauprez: It is a very difficult vote to be no on though, isn’t it?

Coffman: Oh it’s hard. Politically it’s tough. And they know it. And that’s why this is really the [inaudible]. This bill is so vital to them politically. Because it’s obviously vote buying in New York City. But more importantly, I think…nobody mentions, not even the mainstream media, that we have already done this.

Beauprez: No, I’ve been watching a lot of reports and waiting for somebody to bring it up. And I see absolutely nothing. Where are you going to be on the vote if you have to take one?

Coffman: I’m voting against it. I voted against it the first time and I’ll vote against it this time…. But this is really expanding this to create a long-term entitlement program. A multi-billion dollar program. And I think it’s wrong. It’s open ended.

Coffman is in a competitive race now, and reporters should ask him about this, since Beauprez obviously didn’t bother to educate himself on the issue before interviewing Coffman. If he had, he’d surely have seen that Coffman’s view that the bill was unnecessary was widely reported, and, still, the bill cleared the House and Senate overwhelmingly.

But Coffman’s other position, as serious accusation, that the bill was “vote buying” for New York, wasn’t reported, per se, and reporters should ask Coffman about it.

Reporters should ask Coffman why he thinks soldiers can tell who’s gay and why Coffman thinks this matters

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Now that Rep. Mike Coffman’s congressional district is widely regarded as more competitive, reporters should take another look at Coffman’s media appearances over the past years, and ask questions where none were asked before.

Of course, the low-hanging fruit is on local talk radio, where questions about Coffman pile up in your head so quickly you start forgetting good ones unless you write them down.

So I’m going to roll out a series of these interviews over the holiday season, to lay out some questions that linger about him.

Coffman has made no secret of his opposition to repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, for example, at least for combat troops, who are, as he puts it, “at the tip of the spear.”

He’s argued:

“Interjecting sexuality into a ground combat team potentially creates an emotional divide between Marines that undermines confidence and prevents that interdependent bond from forming, ultimately compromising the combat effectiveness of the unit.”

That may sound extreme, but on the radio, mostly with, you-go-dude style enthusiasm from hosts, Coffman has gone further, arguing that combat troops can “just tell” when a fellow fighter is gay.

He dumps the qualifiers, like gays could “potentially” create problems, and goes straight to declarative assertions about the destructive impact of putting gay men in combat situations.

Below, former Bob Beauprez, subbing on the Caplis and Silverman show Dec. 21, 2009, got into the topic with Coffman:

Beauprez: You brought up something that I think is often forgotten. Outward displays of sexuality, however we want to, I guess, let our mind figure out what that really means, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual, they create a problem on the battlefield.

Coffman: Well they really do. And I think it’s hard for people to understand that. But it’s young people. And it’s not you punch out and go home at 5 o’clock. And even if it is no overt sexuality, there is an emotional tension there where people can tell.

Beauprez: Yeah, and that is not a good place for emotional tension.

Coffman: No it’s not.

Beauprez: You have enough of that going on.

I wish I could send one of those WTF Jon Stewart faces out of this blog, because reporters should ask Coffman how combat troops know who’s gay and who isn’t.

And if they think they do, how is that any different from them believing something else about a fellow soldier, like his race, class, or what have you? I mean, soldiers could suspect anything and everything, positive or negative, about  fellow soldiers, and either they’d get over it or they’d get disciplined, end of story.