Republicans in Colorado face tough choices

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

This post also ran on ColoradoPolitics.com on Nov. 27.

Colorado’s 2018 midterm election was an across-the-board smackdown to Republicans.  Democrats won every statewide office for the first time in 80 years and gained their largest legislative majority since 1958.

In several local elections, voters rejected Republicans and chose Democrats who were either manifestly unqualified or incredibly outside the mainstream.

Shell-shocked Republicans are asking, “Want went wrong?”  The answers may not be what Republicans want to hear.Read More

Media talking heads, get over yourselves!

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

If anyone in America has a bigger ego than President Trump, it’s surely someone in the media.

Maybe it’s CNN’s Jim Acosta, but he certainly gets a run for his money from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and the editorial boards of the Washington Post and New York Times.

A foreign correspondent once described the White House press corps as “the most arrogant, obnoxious group of people,” calling them “opportunistic, rude, really self-centered.”  And that was during the Obama administration when they were comparatively well-behaved.Read More

How I will vote on Colorado ballot questions

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS (need 55% to pass) 

Amendment V: Lower Age Requirement for State Legislature

NO.  Would lower the minimum age for state lawmakers from 25 to 21. I was 31 when first elected to the Colorado Senate.  I’m now 51 and recognize what I didn’t know 20 years ago.  The last thing we need is laws made by inexperienced kids freshly indoctrinated by college professors.Read More

We can agree: Yes on Amendments Y&Z

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

Every 10 years, Colorado must redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative district lines to ensure equal population.  And every 10 years, Republicans and Democrats wind up in a costly court battle asking a judge to settle their differences.

Our process for drawing maps is broken.  Amendments Y&Z would replace that broken process with a new 12-member commission that assures equal representation to Democrats, Republicans and independent voters.

I’ve been a part of both processes, and here’s what I know from experience:

Read More

Polis’ health care promises don’t add up

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

Like so many Bernie Sanders Democrats, governor candidate Jared Polis keeps making promises about health care that aren’t backed up basic math.  Recall that the Boulder congressman wants to put all Coloradans on Medicare, except that wealthy Coloradans (like Polis) can always buy their way into a better, private system.

This is the mantra that today animates the progressive/socialist wing of the Democratic Party.  Never mind that Canada, where government provides “health care for all,” just set a new record for longest delays as sick patients die while waiting for treatment.

How does Polis propose to pay for this new entitlement which would more than double the cost of state government?  Unlike socialist darling Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Polis knows better than to pretend that he can make the numbers add up because they don’t.

While Ocasio-Cortez pretends that $2 trillion in tax hikes will cover $40 trillion in new spending, Polis relies on platitudes, as if certain incantations will magically produce savings if repeated incessantly.

For example, look at what Polis told Westword on “How He’d Implement Universal Care in Colorado.”Read More

Let’s be honest with each other – and with ourselves

In Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

Public discourse is so polarized today that Americans can’t even agree on certain obvious facts for fear that they may discredit “us” or lend credibility to “them.”

Intellectual honesty is indispensable to self-government.  If we are honest with ourselves, we can determine what is true or factual.  However, that discernment is complicated by agenda-driven journalism that presents facts or allegations selectively and without context.

Let’s consider some obvious facts:

FACT: Donald Trump’s campaign team was willing to find “dirt” on Hillary Clinton by consulting foreign sources, including Russians.

FACT: Hillary Clinton’s campaign team was willing to find “dirt” on Donald Trump by consulting foreign sources, including Russians.

FACT: President Obama and his administration knew that Russians were working to influence the 2016 presidential election but did nothing to stop them.

FACT: The disparity between the establishment media’s treatment of President Obama and of President Trump is undeniable.

FACT: When Obama asserted, with a straight face, “We are probably the first administration in modern history that hasn’t had a major scandal in the White House,” the establishment media repeated his claim as fact.  The “fact-checker” at the Washington Post merely said the statement “needs context.”

So, consider Obama’s non-scandals:

In each of these non-scandals, the establishment media simply reported and moved on without obsessing.  If you believe they would have reacted similarly had these events occurred under Trump’s watch, you’re not being intellectually honest.

Now contrast the current investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose mission is defined: “to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.”

Thus far, the investigation has charged 26 Russians with various crimes related to interfering with the 2016 election.  Paul Manafort and his associates have been charged with financial crimes (unrelated to their work with the Trump campaign) and with lying to the FBI.  Separately, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, which experts argue weren’t even against the law.

None of these charges show any coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.  The worst that we know is that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer thinking she could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Yet the media breathlessly covers the Mueller investigation as if discovery of impeachable offenses is imminent.  Concluding that many in the media think it is their mission to overturn the 2016 election requires little imagination.

The Washington Post virtuously declares “democracy dies in darkness.”  But legitimate journalism dies when the media is so obviously biased that they can’t be trusted and Americans get their news only from selective sources that tell them what they want to hear.

Most Americans have very reasonable expectations of the media: to report the all of the facts, no matter which cause it may advance or harm.

Unfortunately, objective reporting is now an endangered species.

Polis’ health care hypocrisy

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

Just two years after Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a costly, unworkable universal health care ballot measure, Rep. Jared Polis, the Democrat candidate for governor, is sidling up with the same kooky progressives who brought us the failed ColoradoCare proposal by touting “Medicare for all.”

Coloradans should be skeptical that Polis, the $387 Million Man, really means, “Medicare for you – but not for me.”  After all, he can buy his way out of a lousy government health care system after he wrecks health care for the rest of us.

Amendment 69 was rejected 79% to 21% by Colorado voters who were wary of its enormous cost and outrageous expansion of government.  At $36 billion per year, ColoradoCare would have more than doubled the size of state government but offered no guarantee that health care would be any better.

While Polis publicly opposed Amendment 69 in 2016, he co-sponsored federal Medicare-for-all legislation (HR 676) which is even more costly than ColoradoCare.

In a campaign ad, Polis now parrots Amendment 69 propaganda that “Health care is a human right.”  That sounds noble and makes a nice bumper sticker, but health care is not a right – it’s an entitlement that must be paid for by someone.

If health care is a right, then what about food and housing?  Is everyone entitled to food and housing at taxpayer expense?

Progressive politicians like Polis are mimicking socialist countries where heavy-handed governments magically bestow “rights” on people to appease the masses.  But transforming an economic disparity into a government entitlement doesn’t solve the problem.

ColoradoCare’s cost-control provisions would have limited benefits (rationing), increased co-pays and deductibles (paid by consumers), and reduced payments to doctors and hospitals (resulting in fewer doctors and hospitals).  Everyone would equally share in rationing, higher costs and shortages.  Everyone except the ultra-wealthy, like Jared Polis.

That’s democratic socialism – equal distribution of misery.

Forty years ago, health care and insurance weren’t so costly.  People paid doctors and hospitals for their services and relied on insurance to cover high-cost procedures.  Then do-gooder politicians decided to mandate that insurance companies offer and consumers pay for certain coverages.  Government can mandate all the “goodies” it wants, but they still cost something, so the very consumers who receive these benefits, in turn, pay more for insurance.  Health “insurance” became a coerced system of financing our medical bills.

Economist Thomas Sowell reminds us, “The first law of economics is scarcity: There’s never enough of anything to go around.  The first law of politics is to ignore the first law of economics.”

In the last 10 years under two Democrat governors, the number of Coloradans who receive health care through Medicaid has nearly tripled to 1.4 million (almost one-fourth of us).  During that time, state spending on health care and human services programs has grown five times faster than spending on K-12 education and eight times faster than spending on transportation.

Now, progressive Democrats like Polis want to raise taxes for education and transportation, but those tax increases wouldn’t be necessary if previous Democrat governors hadn’t expanded social welfare entitlements in the belief that “health care is a right.”

Ten years ago, K-12 education received 43% of the general fund budget; health care and human services received 30%.  If today’s budget were allocated at the same rate, K-12 education would receive an additional $763 million.  That’s a 15% increase – enough to increase school funding by $803 per student and to entirely wipe out the erstwhile “negative factor” that siphons money away from public schools in order to pay for Medicaid spending.

This year, Colorado voters face a critical choice that will decide whether we take an irreversible step to become Little California by electing an out-of-touch Boulder progressive as governor and passing massive tax increases.

Instead, we should reject the fallacy that “health care is a right,” insist that our public schools be properly funded without raising taxes, and require government to live within its budget – just like we, the taxpayers, must do.

Let’s talk common sense and facts about guns

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

In the debates that rage after each highly-publicized mass shooting, one side claims that more restrictive gun laws could prevent future such tragedies while the other side counters that the rights of law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be sacrificed because of the horrendous act of someone who disregarded existing laws.

It’s never been easy to have a rational conversation about guns, but in today’s hyper-charged political culture, voices on each side too often think that being loudest means you are winning.  My friend and former state Sen. Alice Nichol often recalled her father’s maxim: “The louder you are, the ‘wronger’ you are.”

Insulting gun owners polarizes the debate.  Outspoken Florida high school students may motivate those who sincerely wish that laws would prevent mass shootings, but their condescension and incivility also infuriate defenders of gun rights.  The loudest voices usually make the least sense because loudness is no substitute for logic or reason.

Survivors are sympathetic figures, but they have no special insight into preventing the next shooting.  Why does the media, in this circumstance, confuse proximity with expertise?  Nobody considered survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to be instant experts on terrorism.

Gun owners reasonably ask for evidence that new burdens on their rights will produce the promised results.  The evidence is thin.Read More

The True Meaning of Independence

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

As we observe the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence this Fourth of July, we should consider the unique form of government for which our Founding Fathers chose to risk “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” against the militarily-superior British.

The definitive passage in the Declaration reads:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

In these 57 words, the Founders established that:

  • Our rights — better understood as “freedoms” — are given to us by a power higher than government. No matter what you believe about creation or evolution, you must acknowledge that government did not give us life.
  • Government’s legitimate purpose is to protect the rights of the people. Just as government did not give us life, it did not give us our rights.
  • Government’s legitimate powers are limited to only those given to it by the people.

“The whole point was to show how government might arise legitimately, not to assume its existence,” writes constitutional scholar Roger Pilon in The Purpose and Limits of Government.

These insights are particularly useful because, as a libertarian, Pilon does not advance a religious conservative agenda.  Yet he acknowledges that the Founders’ common view of “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God” provide the cornerstone for all that follows:

We hold these truths to be self-evident….

The signers of the Declaration didn’t negotiate and compromise to define truth.  They agreed that certain fundamental truths were obvious.  For example:

…That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

In that each of us exists because of the same creative process, our individual are necessarily equal.  Such rights are best understood as freedom from interference, whether by government or by other people which, of course, implies that others are entitled to be free from our interference.

Freedom encompasses not simply the opportunity to make choices but the responsibility for those choices.  Freedom does not mean that, because my choice seems superior, I can bend others to my will through the power of government, nor does it mean that when I make an irresponsible choice I am immune from consequences.

…That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Once the Founders established a broad universe of rights, they discussed government, its sole purpose to protect those rights.  Again it is imperative to understand “rights” as freedoms — not as an entitlement taken at the expense of someone else.

When government legitimately protects our freedom, it simply does that which we have a right to do ourselves.  By contrast, government does not act legitimately if it secures my rights by taking the life, liberty or property of someone else.

When the rights of two people may conflict and neither can fully exercise freedom without adversely affecting the other, the Founders reasoned that in these circumstances, the boundaries between competing rights ought to be drawn by the people whom government serves.  However, “consent of the governed” does not empower majority rule to deny freedom to the minority.

This concept of a vast ocean freedoms and tiny islands of government power bears little resemblance to our federal government today, which is why it is so vitally important that we understand the foundation of our government before electing someone to lead it.

As Ronald Reagan warned, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”