RAISE TAXES?: More People Struck By Lightning Than Think Taxes Are Too Low (Well, Almost)

Governor John Hickenlooper the second and his BFF former Mayor of Nanny State Michael Bloomberg thought it’d be a grand idea to raise a billion dollar tax on Coloradans last November.  Know who didn’t think this was such a great idea?  Everyone else.  The measure was absolutely curb-stomped at the ballot box last November by a two-to-one margin.

Gallup’s annual poll on taxes this week shows what should come as no big surprise.  More than half the country (55%) said taxes were too high, while only 3% said they were too low.  We’re guessing a majority of those three percenters suffered a fat-finger malfunction or didn’t understand the question.

What should have Democrats— with their tax and spend ways— most worried is that unaffiliated voters think more than Republicans do that taxes are too high (58% to 57%).  Then again, no Democrat has ever met a problem they don’t think they can’t solve if they take enough of taxpayers dollars.

But like the old proverb says: a fool and his money are soon parted.  Now, we just have to figure out if the fool refers to Democrats, or just the people who vote for Democrats.


IF THIS IS WHO’S FOR YOU…: Neguse Shows Poor Judgement Promoting Inept Ortiz Praise

Democratic Secretary of State candidate Joe Neguse might have an interesting family story, but including one of the state’s most inept County and Clerk Recorders’ endorsement of you in your very first video shows an incredible lack of political awareness.  Hey Joe, campaign 101: don’t have someone say you’ll do a great job when that person sucks at theirs.

PeakNation™, you may not remember Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz. Here’s a reminder.  We last saw him using an abacus to tally up votes in Pueblo’s recall election (rumor has it, the vote totals took so long because the abacus got unplugged not once, but twice!), but Neguse decided Ortiz’s words were the perfect way for Neguse to introduce himself to Colorado.  Ortiz sticks to basic boilerplate stuff when talking about Neguse, vision, integrity, blah, blah… before he busts out this odd-ball phrase:

…who has, you know, unstoppable ethics.

Huh?  Unstoppable ethics?  What is that?  The tagline to a reboot of the Judge Dredd films?  But don’t take our word for it, plug the phrase “unstoppable ethics” into Google and see how prodigious this phrase is, go ahead, we’ll wait…

…Yep, of the 30 trillion webpages Google searches the exact term “unstoppable ethics” shows up on exactly 57 of them; which means we are either dealing with a genius, or a man who failed a few classes in high school.

Not only do such nuances escape Ortiz, but so do the basic functions of his job:

The last is probably the most damaging for Neguse, as the Republican candidate running against him showed Colorado and Ortiz just how smoothly and efficiently a recall election could go despite numerous unknowns from a newly-minted elections law.

Then again, hopefully Neguse will stick another camera in Ortiz’s face and we’ll get another delightfully new phrase: perhaps something as whimsical as “furious integrity!” (172 websites, fyi)


ALTERNATIVE CREATIVITY: Scott’s Bill for Alternative Fuel Trucks Should Be Applauded

Republican state House Rep. Ray Scott was a sponsor on a bill that will modernize a tax exemption for low-emissions trucks.  The gist?  HB14-1326 will promote the use of clean and energy-efficient trucks by offering a tax credit for their purchase.

Why does this bill matter?  Supporting the demand for natural gas-powered vehicles will only bolster Colorado’s economy.  According to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Colorado ranked 7th nationally both in natural gas production and the number of natural gas wells drilled in 2010.  An increase in demand for natural gas production will only lead to more jobs in Colorado. Further, transitioning from a reliance on traditional gasoline to natural gas will strengthen our country’s energy security.  Translation: the United States depends on itself, not potentially (and actually) hostile countries.

Additionally, it’s better for the environment.  And, you thought we didn’t care.

The bill passed this week in the House on third reading 48-15.  It takes leadership to sponsor a bill when you know members of your own party may not support it, so kudos to Scott for seeing the larger picture and supporting Colorado’s economy.





SNOB ALERT: Mark Udall Snubs Greeley Residents

Considering how hard Sen. Mark Udall tries to portray himself as a “man of the people” he’s really off to an abysmal start, and The Greeley Tribune is calling him out on it. 

Udall recently stopped in Greely but only made time for a “private political event,” AKA a fundraiser.  He didn’t spend any time actually courting local voters, visiting with local businesses or learning about local issues.  Of course, Udall’s inattention is only further highlighted by the fact that Gov. John Hickenlooper recently showed Greeley some love.  During his visit, Hickenlooper spoke to a crowd of 200 and actually took time to answer questions.

Sadly, Udall’s attitude toward Greeley doesn’t surprise us.  He’s never cared much for anything east of I-25.  But as the Tribune rightly points out, Weld County is an important part of the state, and those voters deserve face time with those who want their vote.  If Udall thinks he can win over Greeley and Weld County by answering a few softball questions from a local reporter, then his strategy is severely flawed. 

Maybe Udall was just afraid that if he actually talked to voters in Weld County they’d want to know why he hasn’t opposed a statewide fracking ban that would kill local jobs and cripple the local economy?  As we’ve mentioned in this space before, Weld County can directly attribute its success to a booming energy sector that accounts for 92,100 jobs.  Udall should be visiting Weld County often and thanking them profusely for driving growth.



TRUE HEADLINE: Unemployment Rate Increases in Colorado for March

The Denver Post headline blares “Colorado adds jobs for the 29th consecutive month,” but buried under that misleading headline is that the unemployment rate for Colorado has increased to 6.2%.  Wethinks, if Howard Pankratz had written this article when a Republican was governor the headline would blare, “Colorado’s Unemployment Rate Increases in March.”

Things only get worse for J.W. Hickenlooper when we compare ourselves to our neighbors.  In March, the unemployment rate for Utah and Wyoming fell to the absurdly low 4.1% and 4.0% respectively.  PeakNation™, don’t look at those numbers too enviously, those could easily be ours if we had a governor who was actually good for Colorado’s economy and not just one who skates by on Colorado’s inherent resources.

Now, there will be those who want to argue “this is just one month; look at how far our unemployment rate has fallen in the past year.”  Let us list some states whose unemployment rate has fallen more in the past year: California, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.  Fantastic, even the rustbelt and over-regulated California are beginning to pass us in job growth.  Slick Hick’s next talking point: “40th to 4th to, um, nevermind.  Did you hear I used to be a bartending geologist?  I think the Indiana Jones movies were based off of me.  Oh, that was an archaeologist, well, here, have another beer; I am!”

Yes, Hick, start passing out the beer, because the economic studies that dig a little deeper to forecast where Colorado’s economy will be heading aren’t that bright.  We’re all going to need something to take the edge off the next couple of months.


PeakFeed: “Colorado is a Godsend for Republicans”

The pundits say:

“Colorado is a Godsend for Republicans to get a candidate like Cory Gardner,” says host Luke Russert.

“This recruiting class by (NRSC Chairman) Jerry Moran is so good it makes Nick Saban jealous,” says political consultant Brad Todd.

Our best chance to put the Kansas senate seat into play is for disgraced, recently-ousted, Obamacare-figurehead Kathleen Sebilius to run, responds Democrats.

Yep, it’s going to be a fun election cycle PeakNation™.


TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION: Latest on Obamacare in Colorado

The Colorado legislature has been unable to audit the Colorado health exchanges, yet, at the same time the health exchange can raise a tax on all health insurance plans—including those plans bought through an employer and outside the exchange.  We are quickly approaching a situation where the average Coloradan is getting taxed by an organization it cannot hold accountable.  On top of this, Coloradans cannot opt of health insurance without paying a penalty, meaning it’s impossible to avoid paying a tax despite having no voice or representation with the organization levying it.

As reported by Health News Colorado:

A $13 million tax on all Coloradans with health insurance would pay half the operating costs at the state health exchange next year and in 2016 under the newest financial projections.

The proposed tax would affect at least 875,000 people and includes Coloradans who get their insurance through their employers or outside the exchange. [the Peak emphasis]

Perhaps state Sen. Owen Hill said it best:

“Not only is this not fair. It really is against the law. We have a law here in Colorado that says you can’t increase taxes without a vote of the people,” said Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, who sits on the exchange’s legislative oversight committee.

How do they justify such an outrageous tax?  By vaguely saying all people are better off when people have insurance since emergency rooms will no longer have to pass the costs of treating the uninsured onto people with insurance.  Yet, this ignores the fact that most of the expansion of health insurance has been gained through Medicaid, and Medicaid is notorious for such a low reimbursement rate to doctors that doctors either limit the number of Medicaid patients they have, or refuse them outright, saying they lose money on every Medicaid patient they see.

On top of this, a Harvard study recently revealed people on Medicaid end up going to an ER 40% more than those without.  If Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to reimburse doctors, how are they going to cover ER expenses which are much higher?  And since ERs can’t refuse to treat Medicaid patients, who do you think will end up subsidizing their visits?  Yep, looks like we’re back in the same boat as before, if not worse off, and on top of that, we have a new tax that we have no say over.

It gets worse. Connect for Health Chief Financial Officer is expecting 20% of the 120,000 that allegedly enrolled to not pay, or opt of their insurance in the coming year.  Unfortunately for them, because of the bill liberal Sen. Udall passed (and would pass again) they’ll have no ability to find other insurance until November.


SICK MONEY: Lobbyist for Fraud-Plagued Company Bundles Big Dollars for Udall

Oh, what a tangled web politics weaves.  The Colorado Observer recently reported that two of liberal (and under seige) Senator Mark Udall’s largest bundlers are lobbyists Andrew Woods and Ankit Desai, who have bundled $59,900 and $23,400, respectively for Udall. In fact, Udall is the fifth highest recipient of campaign contributions from lobbyists among all federal candidates.  Peak Nation™, there are a lot of federal candidates – at least 535 (435 Representatives + 100 Senators), probably more like 1,000 federal candidates, so to be number five is kind of a big deal.

While Udall is desperate to portray himself as a true Coloradan, the fact that lobbyists from D.C. are among his top contributors might rub some Coloradans the wrong way.  TCO got a quote from Russ Choma, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics:

“In black and white, the (Udall) campaign is saying that it has a relationship with a registered lobbyist, a person who represent a lot of clients. You can see he represents a lot of health and dental companies. I think you should look at his list of clients and see if they’re necessarily in Colorado’s best interests. (Udall) also takes a lot of money from non-lobbyists. But this is black and white,” he said.

But, it gets better.  Woods heads the lobbying firm Liberty Partners Group, headquartered in Washington, D.C. and represents none other than DaVita, a Denver dialysis firm. We’ve reported on DaVita’s forays into the political arena before – see here and here.  But, that’s not why this story gets juicier.

In 2012, the company paid out $55 million dollars to settle a lawsuit that accused the company of overbilling Medicare for anemia medicine necessary for kidney dialysis patients. While the company acknowledged no wrongdoing in the settlement, the federal government was slated to receive 70 percent or $38.5 million of the settlement.

Then, this February, DaVita HealthCare Partners paid $389 million to settle a federal investigation involving criminal and civil “anti-kickback investigations and plans to end join ventures with kidney doctors involving 28 dialysis clinics”, according to The Denver Post.

Then, if you didn’t read the links we suggested above, it’s worth pointing out that Governor John Hickenlooper, Sen. Mark Udall, and DaVita CEO Kent Thiry all are represented by the same public affairs firm – the same one that ran the failed Amendment 66, the same one that represents the Connect for Health Colorado (Colorado’s Obamacare exchange).

So, what we’ve got here is Udall, one of the largest recipients of lobbyist dollars, taking money from a lobbyist who represents a company that’s been under federal scrutiny not once but twice in serious shenanigans charges, who shares a PR firm with the head of that company as well as the Governor.  Folks, we’re not sure this could even get more incestuous and shady if we made it all up.



CASH DASH: Who’s on Top in CD4?

Since April 15th was the deadline for U.S. Congressional candidates to file their quarterly fundraising reports, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at where things stand in CD4.  Like the Governor’s primary, Republicans have four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the primary on June 24.  After last week’s assembly, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and state Senator Scott Renfroe made the ballot via the assembly route.  Renfroe took the top spot on the ballot with 54% of the vote while Buck garnered 46% of the vote.  Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer and businessman Steve Laffey are petitioning on the ballot.

To the right are the fundraising totals from last the quarter ending March 31.

We’d bring you the totals for the Democratic candidate, too; however, there doesn’t appear to be one.  Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, if there is one, please let us know.

There are several ways to look at this – certainly, Laffey, with $344,000 cash on hand is in a better position than Ken Buck or Scott Renfroe; however, Laffey loaned the campaign almost all of those funds, which is less impressive than Ken Buck, who raised nearly $600,000 in the last quarter.  The next quarterly report comes out in June, just before the primary.  It will be interesting to see if any of the candidates pull ahead in fundraising by then.


DROPPING DOWN: Colorado Slides in Multiple Economic Rankings

Hick toasts the Republican counties that keep him afloat

Good ol’ J.W. Hickenlooper the second would like Coloradans to believe he’s a business-friendly governor.  Slick Hick says, “come look at these nice statistics that tell you how fabulous I am for businesses.”  But, like a man who has come by wealth through inheritance, Hick is only skating by on the great resources Colorado has to offer, and not enhancing them.

The American Legislative Exchange Council released its annual state economic outlook for 2014: Colorado has fallen to 22nd.  After years of consistently ranking in the top ten (#2 in ’09, #2 in ’10, #6 in ’11, #8 in ’12) Colorado has dropped dramatically over the past two years, ranking 16th last year and fallen a further six spots this year.  The six spot drop from 2013 tied Colorado for the second worst drop of all fifty states.

With Slick Hick adding over 24,000 pages of regulations in 2012 and 2013 alone, along with the 10th highest tax increases among the all fifty states over the same period, this tumble in the rankings should come as no surprise.  Luckily for El Deuce (get it? because Hick’s the second) the conservative-bastion that is Douglas County—still considered business friendly—has the jobs rolling in, while Weld County has been pumping out more gas and jobs to keep other traditional metrics of Colorado’s economy afloat.

How much is Douglas County’s 5.9% and Weld County’s 5% growth rate compensating for other counties with lackluster growth across Colorado?  Certainly Colorado’s unemployment would be higher without the thousands of jobs those two counties have brought in.

But it’s not just ALEC that has downgraded the economic environment in Colorado.  George Mason University’s Mercatus Center economic and personal freedom rankings have Colorado falling steeply to 19th in the country when just back in 2007 we were 4th.  Hell, even under former Democratic governor Bill Ritter we only slipped to 7th in 2009.  Since then, and since having J.W. Hick in charge for the past four years, we have slipped a further twelve spots.

While Colorado continues to look pretty compared to the rust-belted states to the East, and the impossibly over-regulated by hippies states to the West, we sure are the ugliest economic step-sister when it comes to the states most like us.  If Slick Hick isn’t replaced this November, we can resign ourselves to an economy more suited to Cleveland than Salt Lake City.

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