Archive for the 'Colorado 6th Cong. Distroct' Category

Trump comment should put media spotlight on Coffman’s position on raising debt limit

Friday, August 28th, 2015

The Donald, whose trick to political success is never playing defense, continued his offensive stance (pun intended) this week telling Bloomberg TV that congressional Republicans should fight to stop an increase in the debt limit.

And in doing so, The Donald sounded almost exactly like … Rep. Mike Coffman.

You may recall that the last time Republicans fought an increase in the debt limit, the economy teetered and America’s credit rating was actually factually downgraded by Standard and Poor’s for the first time, mostly because of the political sparring, not the state of our economy.

But no mention of these little problems by Trump and Coffman:

First, The Donald this week:

Presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday said he thought it was “worth the fight” for congressional Republicans to threaten not to raise the U.S. debt limit as a way to pressure the Obama administration to agree to spending cuts.

“I would say that it’s worth the fight,” Trump said on Bloomberg TV. “Honestly there is so much fat in Washington that if you had the right people in there you could cut it.”

Next Coffman in 2013, as reported by Fox 31’s Denver’s Eli Stokols at the time:

But Republicans, having agreed to put off decisions about spending cuts, now view the looming debt ceiling as leverage — and they’re promising to use it….

Coffman: “I don’t think going over the fiscal cliff would have been a huge deal. Temporarily, the markets would have been aggravated until the next Congress could have passed new tax cuts and ironed things out.

“But the real big deal is what’s upon us and going past the debt limit. I have to see a way out of this, real spending cuts, before I vote to raise the debt limit.”

Sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t he? So did Sen. Cory Gardner.

As I reported before, the two sound a lot alike on immigration (here and here) as well.

I know reporters don’t have time to hook every national political development to our humble locale. But they should give it their best shot, because the stakes are so high.

Republicans and Democrats increased the debt limit over 100 times (Bush and Reagan did it) until 2011, when disaster struck.

Trump gives us a chance to air the issue out again, in advance of the crisis and in front of the public.

.

Media omission: Trump’s stance against birthright citizenship mirrors Coffman’s

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Donald Trump sort of clarified some aspects of his immigration position over the weekend, giving local media a chance to educate us about the illusory stance of Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Trump released a document outlining a number of ideas, but the headliner was his newly articulated opposition to “birthright citizenship,” the longstanding U.S. law granting citizenship to people born on American soil, even if their parents are not citizens.

Coffman has been way ahead of Trump on this one, reaffirming his opposition to birthright citizenship in a Denver Post interview in 2013.

Coffman: You know, I think we should probably adopt the policies of other countries, that you are a citizen of your parents. But the fact is, that we have children who were born under current U.S. law. And therein lies the challenge that I have, particularly in meeting families up in what is a very new district. And that –

Denver Post: You’d see that changed, right? Is that what you’re saying?

Coffman: Sure. I mean, I think we ought to look at that. But , the fact is, what we have to understand, the fact is, we don’t revoke citizenship once it’s given. [BigMedia emphasis]

Trump’s immigration paper, which received substantial attention, also renewed his call for deporting all undocumented immigrants, cattle-car style, back to their country of origin. And then expediting the return of the good ones, but not granting them a path to citizenship.

Like Trump, Coffman has also called for giving a vague “legal status” for adult immigrants, without a path to citizenship. He hasn’t said whether he’d require cattle-car deportation first. Either way, Coffman appears to be aligned with Trump on creating an underclass of workers, in the great tradition of taxation without representation.

High-profile policy pronouncement by celebrity presidential candidates continue to offer a great avenue to educate the public about the positions of their local politicos. I’m hoping reporters jump all over these local angles as we get closer to next year’s election.

 

Coffman and Rubio’s path away from immigration reform

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

A good way to understand (or get further confused) about Rep. Mike Coffman’s illusive position on immigration is to compare it to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s. And reporters should consider using this comparison to help explain Coffman’s (non)position to voters.

Back in 2013, Rubio was part of the “Gang of Eight” Senators (including Michael Bennet) who pushed a comprehensive immigration bill that, miraculously, passed the U.S. Senate. It offered major border security, along with a long path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in America.

Despite claiming to be for “comprehensive immigration reform,” Rep. Coffman opposed the Rubio bill and its path to citizenship. And House Republicans, with Coffman’s blessing, never voted on the Rubio bill, and it died a truly tragic death.

Asked why he wouldn’t support the comprehensive-immigration-reform legislation, after he’d thumped his chest in The Denver Post in favor of the idea, Coffman said he didn’t want it all in one bill.

Instead, Coffman said he wanted a “step-by-step,” multiple-bill strategy, telling the Aurora Sentinel that a “comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill.”

And Coffman scrubbed the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” from his website.

Now Rubio is running for President and facing Republican voters who are hostile to immigrants entered our country illegally. And so he’s given up on his gang-of-eight, comprehensive bill and is now favoring of a vague “three-step” dance that ends with a “further discussion about whether they’re allowed to apply for a green card.” The path to citizenship is gone.

In its place, Rubio has advocated Coffman’s position to give “legal status” to adult undocumented immigrants, creating a taxation-without-representation underclass of America workers.

With this new stance, Rubio is no longer considered a moderate on immigration. He’s joined Coffman and the Republican right in opposing serious reform. At this point, with his position such as it is, Rubio would vote against his own immigration bill of 2013.

For his part, Coffman hasn’t even said which parts of Rubio’s vague “step-by-step” process he favors, since Coffman has never outlined the steps—even in bare bones terms–much less identified specific bills that he actually factually would vote for.

So Rubio’s flipping and flopping sheds some light, such as it is, on Coffman’s immigration mushiness. It’s a useful trip back, and, for reporters, there will be more opportunities like this to review policy stances of local politicians as the presidential campaign drags on.

 

Recalling Coffman’s proposal for English-only ballots, as the Voting Rights Act turns 50

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Over the weekend, I enjoyed reading Jim Rutenberg’s piece in the New York Times magazine on how conservatives have methodically dismantled the Voting Rights Act, which turns 50 on Thursday, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision gutting major provisions of the law.

Here at home, one conservative who’s been throwing his congressional spear at the Voting Rights Act, widely credited for finally giving African-Americans actual factual access to the voting booth, is Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Coffman, you recall, introduced legislation in 2011 repealing the law’s requirement that bilingual ballots be provided in areas with large numbers of voters don’t speak English very well.

In other words, Coffman wanted to leave the decision about whether to provide bilingual ballots to local authorities, and if you take the time to read Rutenberg’s article, you’ll see that, as much as we’d all like to believe otherwise, local politicians are apparently still trying to keep black Americans from voting. That’s why we need federal requirements for stuff like bilingual ballots–to make sure everyone can participate in democracy, such as it is.

But Coffman, who once suggested that immigrants “pull out a dictionary” if they’re having trouble understanding an English ballot, doesn’t see it that way.

Coffman: “Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all,” Coffman told the Denver Post in 2011.

Last year, Coffman doubled down on his support for English-only ballots, saying during a Univision debate that he still opposes the Voting Rights Act’s requirements for mailing Spanish-language ballots, because it’s expensive.

But Coffman said it in a more friendly way, “I would hope that every voter will be able to get the information that he needs in a language he can understand.”

Again, most of us have to share Coffman’s hope, but there’s also reality lurking out there, embodied in politicians who care more about self-preservation than democracy. And you can read about it in the New York Times.

Trump puts media spotlight on immigration policies of Colorado politicians, like Coffman

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Reflecting yesterday on Donald Trump’s recent pledge to deport, cattle-car style, each and every one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America–and then expedite the return of the “good ones”– the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called on reporters to extract detailed plans from the herd of Republican presidential candidates regarding their positions on immigration.

Indeed, one hopes that the moderators of the upcoming GOP debate will see an opportunity in Trump’s cattle car musings: why not ask all the GOP candidates whether they agree with him? And if not, where dothey stand on the 11 million exactly? Remember, Mitt Romney’s big “self-deportation” moment came at a GOP primary debate…

The point is that eventually, we’ll need to hear from all the GOP candidates as to what they would do about the 11 million — beyond vaguely supporting legal status, but only after some future point at which we’ve attained a Platonic ideal of border security. Trump may have just made it more likely that this moment will come sooner, rather than later. One can hope, anyway.

It’s a good idea and has direct application here in Colorado, where Republicans, like Rep. Mike Coffman, continue to slide by journalists with vague and shifting statements about immigration.

Like Trump, Coffman has said he favors some sort of “legal status” for adult undocumented immigrants, but it’s not clear whether he’d boot out everyone first, and then allow the good apples to return–or if he’d skip the cattle-car phase and grant “legal status” to the immigrants here.

Either way, would he wait for seamless border security? And what’s good enough, when it comes to the border?

And then, assuming the border is sufficiently seamless, and whether he chooses the cattle-car or no cattle-car opition, does Coffman really want t0 create an underclass of millions of noncitizens in America, with no voice in government? Would we be looking at good old fashioned taxation without representation? What rights (voting?) and responsibilities (military service? taxes?) would be denied? Even Helen Krieble, a Colorado resident who first proposed the cattle-car option, advocates giving a political voice to undocumented immigrants through citizenship.

Details, details. I wouldn’t want to go there either, if I were Coffman–because he’d get bitten by both progressive and conservative sharks. But that’s not a problem for journalists who should be asking him the questions.

Radio host should have asked Coffman why he featured a Planned Parenthood logo in an ad last year, given that he sounds now like he’s never liked the organization

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Rep. Mike Coffman came out swinging against Planned Parenthood yesterday, telling KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis, “It’s just one thing after another with Planned Parenthood.”

Then why did Coffman feature a Planned Parenthood logo in a campaign ad just last year, Caplis should have asked Coffman. Coffman’s 2014 ad stated that Coffman “was praised for protecting women from violence” and showed the Planned Parenthood Action Fund logo on the screen.

Judging from yesterday’s radio interview, Coffman has a list of longstanding grievances against Planned Parenthood, and Caplis would have done his listeners a favor by asking Coffman what they are. What was Coffman thinking of when he said Planned Parenthood has done “one thing after another?”

When Coffman’s ad ran last year, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains responded by pointing out that Coffman “voted many times to de-fund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide many important health services to women including birth control, family planning services, and lifesaving cancer screenings.”

In 2011, Coffman voted against Planned Parenthood funding, as part of a House resolution to the federal budget billHR 36, which prohibited  making funds available  “for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. or any affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.”

For most of his political career, Coffman maintained his ardent opposition to abortion,even in the cases of rape and incest, as well as his support for personhood ballot measures in 2008 and 2010, which would have outlawed all abortion and some forms of birth control.

However, in 2013, Coffman flipped, and his office stated that the Congressman supported giving rape victims the option of having an abortion. Coffman has never explained what motivated this change, leaving everyone to conclude that he was trying to shine himself up for women voters in his swing district. Hence, his unauthorized use of the Planned Parenthood logo in the ad.

Coffman made his comments about Planned Parenthood in response to Caplis’ question about recent allegations by conservatives against the organization, which it has denied.

 

As pundit, Kopel shows independence in praising Morgan Carroll

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Last week on Colorado Public Television’s Colorado Inside Out, Dave Kopel showed real independence, not allegiance to the ideology of the Independence Institute, where he works, when he called Democrat Morgan Carroll  “formidable” and a “really excellent” candidate to take on Republican Rep. Mike Coffman next year.

Kopel, who also praised Coffman, has a reputation as an arch conservative, but he also has an admirable independent streak. And it was good to see him calling the Aurora congressional race like he sees it, rather than caving to Coffman’s backers, who undoubtedly swarm around Kopel’s office.

Kopel (Watch at 7:35 here): She is a formidable candidate. Her political skills are not only the ones she’s developed in her own life, but her political DNA is about as powerful as you can have in Colorado… The Carroll family has been involved, usually as winning candidates, in Colorado politics since the 1930s. So she is going to be very strong. And Mike Coffman works very hard. So I think you can look at this as a national A plus versus A plus marquis match up of really excellent candidates on both sides.

Kopel, who’s a regular guest on the Channel 12 public affairs show, is best known nationally as a fierce opponent of gun control measures. He’s been involved in Second-Amendment cases across the country, and even before the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s an expert on a wide range of topics, including the Virgin Mary.

Carroll formally announced her run against Coffman earlier this month.

Radio interviewers should have questioned Coffman when he compared Veterans officials to ISIS

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

On Friday, after Rep. Mike Coffman suggested that if leaders of the Veterans Administration were put in charge of ISIS, they would be too incompetent to keep track of beheadings, neither of the radio hosts who conducted the interview questioned Coffman about whether Coffman’s comments were appropriate.

Instead, Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh, the co-hosts of KOA 850-AM’s Colorado’s Morning News, reacted this with:

Tubbs: I don’t know what they’re putting in your orange juice back there.
Zesbaugh: [laughing] He’s on a roll! …It felt like a little stand-up there from the Congressman for a little bit.

Asked whether he thought he took Coffman’s comments too lightly, Tubbs emailed me:

Tubbs: “I was surprised by the Congressman’s remark at the very end of our interview, thus my comment. If someone is concerned with what Congressman Coffman said, they should contact his office.”

Tubbs, who’s a serious advocate (on and off the air) for American troops, was right to express his surprise at Coffman’s comments, which have been criticized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But he also should have questioned Coffman directly about the appropriateness of the remark. Tubbs has shown he’s not shy of asking tough questions, once asking Coffman,who was avoiding reporters at the time, about Coffman’s comment that Obama is not an American “in his heart.”

As it is, in part because Coffman wasn’t questioned during the KOA interview Friday, we’re now only hearing from a Coffman spokesman who told Buzzfeed that Coffman’s VA-ISIS comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

During the KOA interview, Coffman said:

Coffman: It’s too bad we can’t take VA leadership and export it and give it to some of our adversaries around the planet. Let them suffer under the VA’s leadership. Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? They’d probably say, “Well, you know it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded – it was really 24 is the accurate number. We’re sorry that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that were beheaded because they got missclassified in the system as Christians. I mean, that would be [chuckles] the VA, that would be the VA in charge of ISIS.

Yesterday, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement saying Coffman’s comments “do not belong in our public discourse.”

“Veterans and VA employees find [Coffman's comments] highly offensive,” said the VA’s statement on the matter. “(VA) Secretary (Robert) McDonald has spoken to Representative Coffman,”

Tubbs and Zesbaugh should have Coffman back on their morning show to discuss the controversy over the Congressman’s “sarcastic point,” as his spokesman put it.

Coffman does little to promote immigration reform besides create the appearance of support for it

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

In response to my post yesterday urging reporters to spotlight Mike Coffman’s weak advocacy for immigration reform, Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg told me via Twitter that “Google is Your Friend,” and directed me to an instance when Coffman said he was “deeply disappointed” with House opposition to a resolution allowing young immigrants to gain citizenship via military service.

Google is my friend, and it confirms my larger point that Coffman does little to promote immigration reform besides create the appearance of seriousness without the much substance at all.

Coffman has expressed disappointment, yes, and I regret writing that he didn’t use the word, but he hasn’t seriously challenged Boehner, who’s arguably been the biggest obstacle to immigration reform in the country.

Where was Coffman’s disappointment when the Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation, with Marco Rubio’s name on it, died in the House. Coffman didn’t even support a vote on the bipartisan and comprehensive bill, despite Coffman’s public statements in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

And what did he do instead? Nothing on comprehensive reform, except scrub his website of the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” and to tell the Aurora Sentinel, “What Boehner has said, and I agree with, is that a comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill.”

Coffman’s legislation for young immigrants and his alleged support for a guest worker program fall short of comprehensive reform no matter how you wordsmith it, and they’ve failed, in part, because Coffman goes to a fundraiser with Boehner at the Brown Palace and doesn’t talk about immigration on the same day Coffman’s bill is being killed by Republican leadership in Washington.

Via Twitter, I asked Coffman’s spokesman Sandberg to write a blog post explaining how his boss has pushed Boehner for serious immigration reform–and better yet, to show us how it’s done.

There’s no public record of the kind of effort we’ve seen from Coffman on other issues. Nothing close. Google it.

Ambush in the Public Interest

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

In an online Denver Post op-ed yesterday, I urged reporters to seek out and interview hiding politicians. I gave some recent Colorado examples, like Rep. Mike Coffman hiding from reporters after he said he wasn’t sure Obama was an American.

On Twitter, former CU regent Tom Lucero told me I left out instances of Democrats hiding from reporters, but he won’t provide me with any examples, saying he doesn’t want to do my “job.”

Too bad because I’d like to see his examples, and I’m sure they exist. But I couldn’t think of many in recent memory (I mentioned Udall)–and my piece focused on Colorado reporting.

In any case, Lucero should join me, because if journalists did this more often, it would benefit all of us. The ambush interview shouldn’t be relegated to showboaters like Bill O’Reilly and consumer reporters, like (mostly) the investigative units at 9News and channel 7.

In my piece, I quoted Eli Stokols, who told the Columbia Journalism Review in March that among Colorado reporters, “There seems to be a reluctance to hold people accountable for policy positions.”

What’s not to like about that suggestion, regardless of where you sit on the partisan spectrum? But how to do it?

One simple way is to not let public officials hide out and avoid answering questions. Journalists should track them down and force them to respond.

For example, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is under fire for telling conservative radio-host Mike Rosen he did not support a proposed law to bolster Colorado’s public pension program when, in fact, he did support the legislation.

What are some other examples from any politician in Colorado?