On Tuesday 1 August Representative Mike Coffman held a town hall meeting. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Coffman he is the representative of Colorado’s 6th Congressional District and a Republican. Donald Trump lost this district while Mr. Coffman retained his seat, yet he votes with the Trump administration about 95% of the time when last I checked.
Mr. Coffman said a number of things I think most progressives could get behind, a number of things that need improvement and a good number of things that, not to mince words, are just plain awful. These are my opinions and I am hoping other OFA members will post their thoughts as well. I should note these are my impressions on issues I am most concerned about. Other issues, immigration in particular, were raised and I will leave it to an OFA colleague to cover these if possible.
1. He held a town hall and did not screen questions or just look for softballs. He is showing a good deal more courage in that regard than a number of elected Republicans and is certainly doing far better than Colorado’s GOP Senator, Cory Gardner. The only time Mr. Gardner’s face is seen by his constituents is when activists bring out “Cardboard Cory”
2. Towards the end of the gathering Mr. Coffman mentioned providing medical care and treatment to veterans with less than honorable discharges, specifically mentioning the high number of suicides in this population. Often these veterans have brain injuries or PTSD received in combat. The resulting behavioral changes often lead to their less than honorable discharge status and this, in turn, prevents them from receiving care from the VA. The suicide rate among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are far too high. We have a sacred duty “to care for him who shall have borne the battle” as Lincoln said. This is something that we can all agree on.
There was really only one item I would place here. Mr. Coffman reiterated his statements about the need for special counsel to investigate Russian interference with the last election and possible collusion from the Trump campaign with the Russians.
Progressives can agree with this, but it should be recognized that a special counsel’s writ does not begin to cover all of the issues raised by Russian interference. The current special counsel, Robert Mueller, can only focus on whether a crime was committed and the prosecution of the perpetrators of that crime. In addition, we need an independent blue ribbon commission similar to the 9/11 commission to investigate the Russian hack and separate bi-partisan committee to look into Trump’s use of the Oval Office to enrich himself and his family.
This does not come close to covering all of the additional issues raised by Russian interference in the last election. To list just a few:
· How did this happen?
· What can we do to defend ourselves from this interference in the future?
· Are the sanctions sufficient and appropriate?
· Is anyone else, such as Iran, North Korea or ISIS, taking a page from the Russian playbook and trying this themselves?
Moreover, special counsel Robert Mueller is charged with investigating Russian interference only, not the self-dealing, the financial conflicts of interests, emoluments clause violations and outright graft of Mr. Trump and his family.
Since the election, we have seen Mr. Trump has spent an extraordinary amount of time at the properties he still owns. Various federal agencies such as the Secret Service and the Defense Department must pay Mr. Trump’s companies to access these facilities with the profits going directly into the Trump family’s wallets. Jared Kushner’s companies have been selling real estate to Chinese investors with the promise of favorable immigration treatment. Administration spokespeople have hawked Ivanka Trump clothing during interviews. Anyone seeking to curry favor with the Trumps makes it a point of staying at the Trump hotel in Washington or holding events there. Indeed, we were treated to the head of the EPA hosting a meeting with oil company executives at that hotel. Greenpeace and the Sierra Club were left off the guest list.
In short, the Trumps have turned our government into a banana republic. Mr. Mueller does not have the authority to look at these matters. It is for Congress to deal with these abuses of power, emoluments clause violations and conflicts of interest.
I had a specific question that I have put to all my representatives from Colorado and I have yet to get a straight answer. If my brother, an American soldier, is sent into combat will it be for the good of the country, the good of Russia or the good of Trump’s finances? Without an independent blue ribbon commission, how can you be sure of your answer?
Just Plain Awful
While Mr. Coffman voted against the repeal of the ACA he is convinced that the ACA should be repealed and these measures left to the states. He seemed to accept that healthcare is a right but distinguished that from health insurance, which (he claims) is not a right.
This position is absurd, cruel and inhumane.
How are the poor supposed to receive healthcare if it cannot be paid for? Mr. Coffman appears to believe that they should not receive care.
What should the family of an elderly person suffering from dementia do when the money runs out? Should nursing homes just boot such people to the street to die? Mr. Coffman seems to think that would be an acceptable solution.
Why should families be forced into bankruptcy because of medical expenses? “Because health insurance is not a right” appears to be Mr. Coffman’s answer
Is it not cruel and inhumane to pile financial worries and issues onto those already sick, infirm or disabled? Mr. Coffman apparently finds this to be an acceptable outcome
The Border Wall with Mexico
Mr. Coffman is in favor of it.
The border wall is a huge expenditure of money on something that will not work but will cause extensive environmental damage. Need we say more?
A number of issues were not covered, but I am hopeful that they will be during Mr. Coffman’s next meeting
1. Global warming and environmental issues
2. Voting rights
3. The degradation of the office of the President by Trump and his family, including the conflicts of interests, emoluments, and self-dealing.
4. Trump’s constant lying to the press and public (from inauguration crowd size to his most recent lie about a call from the Boy Scouts)
5. Trump’s insulting and alienating our allies and a foreign policy that may politely be described as “bumbling”