Activity versus progress 
in the Colorado legislature

“It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

— Henry David Thoreau

Here we are, a little more than a week away from the end of the Colorado Legislature’s 2017 session. Precious little time to deal with weighty matters such as transportation funding, the hospital provider fee, underlying budget problems and similar big issues that, for several sessions now, have proven too thorny for our 100 elected representatives to handle.

And what are they talking about?

How about the perennial battle over whether or not Columbus Day should be an official holiday in Colorado? I’m certain that’s at the top of your mind when you’re headed, as my wife will be this afternoon, off to Denver via I-70 or, as we were last week, dodging world class potholes on the failing state highway over Douglas Pass.

Columbus Day has been a state holiday since 1905 and a federal holiday since 1937. Whether or not to celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ landfall in the western hemisphere generates a minor dustup annually in the run up to the annual parade on what the Denver City Council, in an effort to split the baby, has officially designated as “Indigenous People’s Day.” Native Americans protest, Italian Americans rise in defense, there’s a parade and life goes on for another 365 days until the next predictable go-round.

There’ll be just seven days left in the session when a second House committee takes up House Bill 1327, which would repeal Columbus Day in Colorado. It’s a bill that survived its first committee hearing on a party line vote by majority Democrats. And everyone with an IQ above room temperature knows it’s also a bill that’ll die a quick death if it makes it to the Republican controlled Senate, just as similarly time-wasting silly or politically motivated GOP bills meet the same fate when sent to the House.

Perhaps caucus sessions on realities, priorities and time management are in order. That’d be an exponentially more useful discussion than the one that’ll take place in the House Local Government committee tomorrow morning.

Maybe they could schedule those sessions at the summit of Douglas Pass.

■ ■ ■

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies…”

– Donald Trump,
“The Art of the Deal”

How’s that working out for you these days, Mr. Dealmaker?

Not so well, we learned over the weekend when Republican and Democratic congressional leaders announced their agreement on a spending proposal that’ll keep the federal government in business for the rest of the current budget year. Notably absent are several examples of bravado and fantasy as the first 100 days of the Trump presidency were consigned to history.

Like that wall we’ve been hearing so much about. Zero, zip, nada in the way of funding, an answer from both sides of the aisle that echoes what we’ve heard from that neighbor to the south that was supposed to foot the bill. Budget increases for the medical research at the National Institute of Health, despite planned cuts by the administration.

Subsidies for the Affordable Care Act that provide lower deductibles and allay out of pocket costs to low-income insureds will continue. We all know how our president feels about that —  though GOP lawmakers are readying their umpteenth health care plan for debate, one that will likely look more like “fix and continue” than “repeal and replace.”

There were a couple of wins for Trump. Increased military funding, though well short of what the president was seeking. More money for local law enforcement tasked with protecting the first family during weekends on the links or business travel abroad.

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan joined Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi is praising the budget deal over the weekend.

Now that bravado and bluster have failed, we can only hope President Trump might acknowledge political realities and heed some advice from one of his GOP predecessors now that his first 100 days have passed without achieving any of his signature campaign promises.

“Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.”

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Jim Spehar’s done his share of pulling and pushing, occasionally ignoring reality and a ticking clock. Comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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