Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

Will Gardner slip by reporters again on Planned Parenthood?

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner built his political career in Colorado, and rallied grassroots Republican support, by opposing abortion, even for rape and incest. Part of that, of course, has meant that he’s opposed and vilified Planned Parenthood.

Now it appears that the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement legislation would remove federal funds for Planned Parenthood, just like the House version did.

And you’d expect Gardner to be fully on board with this.

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood two years ago, Gardner said,

“We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis in 2015.

He said the move would provide “more access” to men and women across the state, even though many low-income woman want to go to Planned Parenthood clinics for specific and understandable reasons, like privacy, trust, and convenience.

And even though no federal funds are used for abortions at Planned Parenthood, the organization provides abortions. In contrast, community health centers don’t offer abortion services that many woman obviously want available at their clinic of choice in the year 2017.

But Gardner apparently doesn’t think women care. When confronted with his extreme anti-choice positions during the 2014 election, Gardner responded by saying Democrat Mark Udall was trying to “distract voters” from the real issues.

Now Gardner should face the same question from reporters. Does he think women in Colorado care about Planned Parenthood? About the U.S. Senate’s and the Republican Party’s assault on abortion rights?

Gardner may try to say his opposition to Planned Parenthood isn’t about opposition to Planned Parenthood, just like he tried to say, during his last election campaign, that his support of abortion-ban legislation wasn’t support for an abortion ban.

Despite heroic efforts by journalists to untangle Gardner’s wordpile on his support for an abortion ban, packaged at the time as “personhood,” Gardner got away with it. He’s Colorado’s Senator.

Will he slip by again on Planned Parenthood?

Key question for Gardner is, how many Coloradans would lose insurance under GOP Obamacare replacement?

Monday, June 19th, 2017

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner continues to talk about making Medicaid “sustainable” and stable, but the key question Gardner needs to answer is, Will Colorado Medicaid recipients lose health insurance under the GOP’s Obamacare replacement?” And if so, how many? And how long a “glide path” until they’re cut out?

That question cuts through Gardner’s vagaries about what will happen to Medicaid under the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement bill, which Gardner is helping to draft in secret. On this topic, Gardner has said:

Gardner June 15: “If you don’t have a sustainable Medicaid program, then you risk the Medicaid programs.”

Gardner June 14 (at 9 min 30 sec). “A health care plan that focuses on … making sure that we make Medicaid sustainable and allow a program that gives greater functionality and flexibility to the sates to manage that program in a way that the states know how to do better for their people than Washington does….”

Gardner also frequently says he wants to pass a law that’s “better than Obamacare.”

Great. But in the name of alleged improvement, sustainability, and stability, how many Coloradans will lose health insurance?

About 400,000 Coloradans gained insurance under Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to include adults, without children, who earn less than $16,000 per year. Under the Obamacare-replacement bill passed by the U.S. House, 14 million Medicaid recipients would lose coverage within a year, and 12 million more would be dropped within 10 years. Within five years, most of the 400,000 who gained insurance in Colorado are expected to lose it.

Back in March, Gardner was tagged as a defender or Medicaid when he signed a letter, along with Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, stating that “we will not support a [Obamacare replacement] plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.”

Again, the key question is, how many Coloradans will lose coverage in the name of stability?

Cutting through the spin: Gardner wants to end, not protect, insurance coverage for 400,000 Coloradans

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Back in March, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner joined fellow Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, in stating that “we will not support a [Obamacare replacement] plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.”

Since then, Portman and Capito have added a measure of definition to this vague statement by endorsing a seven-year phaseout of Obama’s Medicaid expansion, which provided over 400,00 Coloradans with health insurance. Portman called it a “glide path” that would gradually reduce federal Medicaid funding to the states beginning in 2020.

But Murkowski and Gardner are refusing to discuss their current thinking on the Medicaid expansion. The Hill asked Murkowski twice last week if she’d agree to a gradual phaseout, and she declined to say.

In May, Gardner declined to answer a direct question from The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews about whether he supports the plan, in the Obamacare replacement bill passed by the House, to begin the Medicaid-expansion phaseout in 2020.

But Gardner did tell Matthews,“We need to have a glide path that works for the states.”

In the absence of more details from Gardner, journalists are on solid ground reporting that Gardner is on board with ending the Obamacare Medicaid program that covers over 400,000 Coloradans. The only question is the time frame, the number of years in the glide path.

And journalists are also completely justified in reporting that Gardner’s phaseout doesn’t square Gardner’s promise to defend the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, as stated in the The Denver Post’s March 6 article headlined, “Sen. Cory Gardner defends Medicaid expansion as GOP reveals Obamacare replacement.”

During the 2014 campaign, and ever since the first Ryan budget introduced a partial privatization of Medicare, the often repeated message from Gardner was that making dramatic cuts to health programs was a way to protect them for future generations.

Now Gardner is talking about a “glide path.”

These sort of policy justifications can make sense within their own inverted logic, but the plain meaning of the words are likely lost on the average voter. Journalists have the burden of making sure the facts are presented alongside the spin.

Bennet defends journalism, saying Trump has “hard time” distinguishing between reality and “somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet”

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet took the fight against fake news to the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday, saying Trump resorts to “talking about ‘fake news’ when he doesn’t like [journalists’] reporting” and that Trump has a “hard time” distinguishing between “something that is real” and “somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet.”

Bennet did not suggest, as I would have done, that Trump sign the Fake News Pledge for elected officials, but it’s great to a politician stand up for journalists, who are almost as unpopular as politicians themselves. Which is exactly why Trump attack them.

Bennet made the fake news remark as part of a blistering attack on Trump, focused on his firing of FBI Director James Comey but touching on Trump’s overall disrespect for American institutions of government.

Watch Bennet here.

And here are his comments on journalism and fake news:

Bennet (at 5:30): And [the American people] remember his attacks on the free press as well, when he doesn’t like their reporting and his resorting to talking about ‘fake news’ when he doesn’t like their reporting. Mr. President, I have had to talk to so many high school students. and middle school students in Colorado over the last four or five months about this whole question of fake news and what the importance is of edited content to our society–and again to the rule of law. The importance that middle school students and high school students place on edited content on curated content, their ability to distinguish between something that is science or something that is real, something that is edited versus somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet. The president has a hard time making that distinction as well.

Reporters should persist in asking for Gardner’s nonexistent Obamacare replacement

Monday, May 1st, 2017

 

Appearing on a conservative radio show last week, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said it’s “politics at its worst” to be “celebrating the defeat of a replacement” for Obamacare.

Politics at its worst looks more like Gardner’s vicious opposition to Obamacare for seven years, then being unable to point to a replacement he actually supports.

Even now, after all the embarrassing GOP drama on this issue, Gardner is trashing Obamacare without offering a solution.

On KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show April 27, Gardner said it was “way too early” to comment on Trump’s latest Obamacare replacement proposal.

And Gardner was undecided, even vaguely critical, of the last month’s failed Trump-Ryan bill that was crashed with such drama.

But Gardner has the audacity to continue to insist that some unknown replacement be produced.

“But what I will tell you is this,” Gardner told Caplis, “We have to put something in place of the Affordable Care Act that actually works. And the Affordable Care Act has hurt hundreds of thousands of Coloradans through higher premiums, made access to insurance nearly impossible because of those higher costs, costs people their doctor. We have to do better. And for anybody, particularly for partisan reasons, to say they want to keep the Affordable Care Act in place, and it’s an absolute failure. And they are celebrating the defeat of a replacement. You know, that’s politics at its worst.”

Gardner was more subdued on 9News’ Balance of Power on Sunday, telling Brandon Rittiman,

“What I am looking for in a health care bill is something that is going to reduce costs and give access to people in the state of Colorado and across the country that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I hope we’ll have bipartisan support to do that.”

So, whether media figures see the hard-edged edition of Gardner (e.g., on talk radio) or the softer Gardner (e.g., on 9News) they should keep asking what health care bill Gardner supports.

 

FACT CHECK: Gardner misleads constituents during telephone call

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

During his conference call with constituents last week, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) boasted about being bipartisan when, in fact, he was just being a manipulative partisan Republican.

Asked why he’s voted with Trump 100 percent of the time, Gardner told constituents on the call that most of his Trump votes were for cabinet posts, and Gardner believes any president should be allowed to select his own team, unless extreme circumstances dictate otherwise.

“I think it’s important that the president have the people around him that the president nominates,” said Gardner on the phone call.

Gardner then patted himself on the back, and made himself look all bipartisan, by saying he “voted to end debate” on whether Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, was fit to serve.

Gardner during his telephone town hall last week: “In fact, if you look at my vote on Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, I received a lot of heavy lobbying to vote against the cloture vote and cloture’s a fancy way of saying, ‘To cut off debate and allow the nomination to reach the floor.’ There was a lot of people who wanted me to vote against Loretta Lynch and to say that – vote against her nomination from even coming to the floor, and even though I disagreed with many of the positions that Loretta Lynch has taken and took as Attorney General, I believed that the president had a right to that nomination making the floor, and so I voted to end debate. And so again, elections have consequences. Had it been Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders who were elected to president, I’m sure I wouldn’t have liked the – some of the positions that the cabinet members took, but the elections have consequences, and those officials would have been confirmed.”

But instead of a pat on the back, Gardner deserves a spanking for talking out of both sides of his mouth, because after he voted to end debate on the Lynch nomination, he actually voted to reject Lynch.

Thumping his chest in 2015 at right wingers who were apparently applying the “heavy lobbying,” Gardner even shot off a news release after his vote against Lynch.

Gardner on Lynch nomination in 2015: “On topics from the President’s executive actions to when exactly federal law trumps that of the states, Ms. Lynch declined, both in person and via letter, to provide satisfactory answers that would have helped me determine how exactly her confirmation as Attorney General would affect the lives of Coloradans. With too many unanswered questions, I am unable to support her confirmation.”

Unless they happened to possess crazy knowledge of U.S. Senate rules and Gardner’s votes, folks on Gardner’s conference call last week may have thought Gardner really believes a president should be able to select his cabinet members when, in fact, he seems to believe this for Trump but not Obama.

Gardner’s intent was clearly to manipulate his constituents, and reporters should call him out on this tactic.

 

Will constituents be excluded from Gardner’s telephone town halls?

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Gardner's telephone town all web pageOn a new page on his official web site, announcing a series of “telephone town halls,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) writes, “To join our conversations, complete the form below and we will call you before each event starts.”

But if Gardner selects specific people who sign up on his website for telephone town halls, he may be breaking U.S. Senate rules.

“[Gardner’s] communications director told me that they and other U.S. Senators have a company that sets up telephone town halls according to senate rules that require participants be selected randomly from voter rolls,” CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd reported Jan. 30.

I had no luck locating the rules referenced, and my phone call to Gardner’s office routed me directly to voice mail and was not returned. A call to Vakeo, which apparently operates Gardner’s tele town halls, was not returned.

But a Google search yielded numerous references to the “random” selection of participants on telephone town halls organized by members of Congress, like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).

The selection of participants for Gardner’s town halls, the next of which is set to occur March 1, is important, because Gardner is telling constituents who are demanding an in-person town hall to go to his website and sign up for the telephone variety instead.

“We will add you to the next tele-town hall,” Gardner told a woman last week, as shown in a video she posted online. “It’s no problem” (in the top video here at 1 min 15 seconds).

But it is a problem if participants for the telephone town halls are selected at random, because this would exclude some.

Since Trump’s election, Gardner has relied on secretive or expensive private meetings and one telephone town hall to reach his constituents, and he has apparently abandoned in-person town halls. Last week, Gardner ignored a reporter’s question, put to him five times in a row, about whether he’d hold an in-person town hall.

Constituents who sign up to be on Gardner’s telephone town-hall list, must agree to this statement, as written on Gardner’s telephone town-hall page, which was apparently added recently to his website.

By clicking the button below, I provide my signature expressly authorizing Senator Cory Gardner and Vekeo to contact me and send me information regarding their office, telephone meetings, upcoming events or other opportunities via live, automated or prerecorded calls, text messages or emails to my telephone number and email address that I entered above. I also agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Statement. In compliance with applicable ethics rules, we can only accept telephone meeting registrations from constituents of Senator Cory Gardner’s District.  I represent that I am a resident in Senator Cory Gardner’s District. I understand that my telephone service provider may impose charges for these contacts and that I can revoke this authorization at any time (see the “Events, Sign-Ups and Cancellations” section of the Terms of Use for more details).

“I want to hear from you,” Gardner wrote on the telephone-town-hall page of his website. “Get your questions ready and join me for live, interactive events.”

But unless Gardner’s communications director gave inaccurate information to CBS4, Gardner won’t necessarily be calling you–unless you’re selected at random.

Are Colorado Republicans really guaranteeing that people who have health insurance now will continue to have it under an Obamacare replacement?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) if he could guarantee to his constituents that they’d “have coverage if you have it now.”

“The answer to that is no, right?” asked Hayes.

“Yes,” replied Sanford. “The answer is, we don’t know with precision.”

Colorado Republicans need to be asked the same question, because over the past months they’ve repeatedly implied that no one will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. But am I hearing them right? Is this a promise?

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stated KOA 850-AM Feb. 17, “And let me just say, nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

If nothing means nothing, then no one will lose their health care coverage, at a minimum, much less all the other benefits of Obamacare (e.g., coverage for under-26 family members, pre-existing conditions, no caps on coverage).

Coffman’s office sort of confirmed his stance to 9News this week.

9News: Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

But that’s a aspiration, not a promise, and Coffman’s constituents want to know if Coffman would vote for a still-unkown Obamacare replacement that would throw people off the health insurance rolls.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed the same promise in the form of an aspiration, as he likes to do when dealing with a tough question.

Gardner: “What we have to do is create a bipartisan health care plan, health insurance plan, to make sure that we can do better than Obamacare,” said Gardner on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13.

Is he saying his constituents won’t lose their insurance? I think so, but he needs to be asked point blank–and repeatedly, because that’s often what it takes with Gardner (e.g., Will he vote for Trump? And will he hold a town hall? And what about the federal personhood amendment?)

In some communications, Colorado Republicans are stopping short of promising that their constituents won’t lose their health insurance, but they’re guaranteeing that elements of Obamacare won’t be lost.

“…[U]nder the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike,” wrote Congressman Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton in The Denver Post Jan. 13.

That’s a serious promise.

But the larger question remains. What exactly are you saying? Will you vote for a bill that doesn’t guarantee health insurance for all Americans who have it under Obamacare? If not, how many are you willing to throw off the rolls or put at risk of losing their coverage?

Reporter does his best to find out if Gardner will hold town hall meeting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George made journalism proud today as he pressed U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to answer the straight-forward question of whether he’d be hosting an in-person town hall meeting.

But, exhibiting the same allergy to direct questions that Gardner’s had before, the junior senator from Colorado flat-out refused to answer the question, leaving it open to be asked again (and again) until it’s answered. (Click here to see St. George’s interview.)

St. George: As you know, there’s been protests outside your office. There’s a protest outside this hotel, people wondering, during this week of recess, why aren’t you hosting a town hall?

Gardner: Well look, we’ve had a number of opportunities to engage with a number of Coloradans around the state. And we’ll continue to do that, whether it’s through this opportunity to visit with the Governor’s Agriculture Forum. I just spoke at the Colorado Space Coalition. I was out at Ft. Morgan and Burlington earlier this week. We’ll be in northern Colorado today and tomorrow. And so it’s a great opportunity to hear from Coloradans, and I appreciate the people who are expressing their points of view, whether they support what the President has done or whether they oppose what the President has done, it is very good to hear what’s going on.

St. George: But no town hall? Will you commit to doing a town hall sometime in the future?

Gardner: In my time in Congress, we’ve held over 100 town halls. Last year, we were across all 64 counties in the state. We’ve met with protesters. My office has met with protesters. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll hold a number of tele-town halls in the future. And I hope that people will go onto our website and join them.

St. George: Is a tele-town hall a way to avoid that confrontation, because as you know, some of these town halls are getting heated. Is that why people like yourself are choosing telephone town halls?

Gardner: Well, I think it’s a great opportunity to reach people across the state. And we try to do it as often as we can. We do it at different times in the day. Sometimes we do it in the morning. Sometimes we do it at night, just depending on when people are able to answer the phone. That’s why we want to vary the time of day that we do this at. And we can reach out to more people. We take positive questions. We take negative questions. We take them all. It’s a great way to hear what’s on people’s minds. In addition to the many meetings we’ve held with people across Colorado. The office outreach that we’ve had. The time to meet with protesters throughout the state, individually at these forums as well. It’s very important.

St. George: So as of right now, no plans to hold a town hall?

Gardner: Look, we’ve had a number of tele-town hall opportunities. We’ve had a number of opportunities to go to open forums–

St. George: But no in-person town halls?

Gardner: We’re going to continue working on meetings where we can meet people across the state. That’s what we’re doing today. That’s what we’re doing tomorrow. We’ll continue doing it throughout the week.

If Gardner’s dodges look familiar, it’s because they are. This is how he treats reporters on a regular basis, insulting them with non-answers. You recall this exchange with the Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols during the 2014 election campaign.

Stokols: You don’t support the personhood amendment at the state level anymore. Why keep your name on that Life At Conception Act at the federal level?

Gardner: There is no such thing as the federal personhood bill.

Stokols: Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say–Personhood USA says–that that is what the Life at Conception Act is.

Gardner: When I announced for the Senate, that’s when this outcry started from the Senate campaign of Senator Udall.  That’s what they are trying to do. This is all politics. It’s unfortunate that they can’t focus on–

Stokols: But the facts are —

Gardner: No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill.

Gardner has never given a straight answer about the Life at Conception Act.

Will he try to pull off the same trick with town hall meetings? With Obamacre? You’d have to guess he’ll try, but unlike the few months leading to his election in 2014, there are long months or years ahead for reporters to demand real answers.

Reporters should press Colorado’s Congressional Republicans on replacement for Obamacare

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

The Colorado Republican congressional delegation is talking a lot about a “replacement” for Obamacare, as if they have something in mind, without actually pointing to an actual factual replacement–or even any details leading in the direction of a replacement.

Reporters should be extra careful to point out that Republicans have no replacement plan, because all the talk about one can easily confuse already confused people into thinking that Colorado Republicans have a plan.

As an example of how Republicans try to disguise their absence of a plan as a plan, check out this passage from a Jan. 13 Denver Post opinion piece, authored by all of Colorado’s GOP members of Congress (with the glaring exception of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.)

And speaking of replacement plans, the narrative that Republicans have offered no plan to replace Obamacare is false. Republicans have introduced multiple alternative health care plans since 2010, and we encourage you to review them. The most recent replacement plan was offered by the Republican Study Committee, called the American Health Care Reform Act. The Empowering Patients First Act was a plan put forth in the 114th Congress by future Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Tom Price. Our Better Way Agenda also includes a blueprint for replacing Obamacare that is centered on more choices, lowers costs, and greater flexibility.

Many plans does not mean you have a plan. Gentlemen, which plan do you favor, if any?

Even though Gardner didn’t join his colleagues in the Denver Post opinion, he made a similar statement on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13 (audio below):

Gardner: We have introduced several bills — hundreds of bills, really — small and big over the past several years to replace Obamacare. Some are very targeted, some are much more comprehensive: legislation by Tom Price –soon to be the Secretary of Health; legislation by Dr. Grasso, a Senator from Wyoming who is a physician; legislation from Bill Cassidy, a physician himself from Louisiana that will be introduced next. These are all going to be considered as part of the replacement once it’s repealed.

Hundreds of bills! Small and big! Very targeted! All will be considered! (But, alas, still, no plan.)

But, it’s worth noting, and it’s in fact newsworthy, that  Colorado’s congressional Republicans are saying the Price plan is in the mix, because analysts say that millions of people would lose their health insurance under Price’s proposal. And Price is Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Cassidy plan, also mentioned by Gardner, would leave millions of people uninsured or underinsured, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In fact, Trump’s promises aside, I can’t find someone who’s making a credible case that any of the floated Republican plans, either individually or combined with one another, won’t throw millions of people off the health insurance rolls. (Here’s a look at a few more GOP plans.)

9News anchor Kyle Clark noted Gardner’s awareness of the problem, reporting that Gardner “would not commit to having an Affordable Care Act replacement that covers everyone with insurance now.”

But the big numbers involved might explain why Gardner literally turned and walked away from Vox.com editor Sarah Kliff when she asked about coverage under the Price plan, because millions lose it.

The numbers and obfuscation also are the reason reporters should press for an answer to the questions about a replacement plan and its impact. And not mince words in informing us of non-answers.

Listen to Cory Gardner on 850-KOA Jan. 13.