Paula NoonanPaula NoonanJuly 31, 20175min305
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election, but she, with other women senators, representatives, and governors, has begun the ascendancy of women leaders over political and social policy.  The trend brings forward an interesting question:  how will men deal with women not only as political leaders but as drivers of policy and prodigious fundraisers.

All Republican women senators were excluded from negotiations over health care.  That decision by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cost his repeal and replace cause.  The first signs of trouble came when some women GOP senators objected to cutting Planned Parenthood out of the Affordable Care Act.  GOP men senators see abortion, but GOP women senators, some of whose family or friends probably use Planned Parenthood facilities, also see annual gynecology exams, mammograms, contraception, and general health care.

While a majority of men GOP senators see Medicaid as a funding drain and a major cause of increased taxation, Republican women senators, especially three who’ve decided to kill any current repeal bill, see Medicaid as health insurance for many single mothers and their children, the disabled, and elderly seniors, a majority of whom are women whose caretakers are women.

So while the vast majority of men GOP senators support the latest repeal bill, 60 percent of women GOP senators reject it (three out of five).  President Donald Trump said he’s “very angry” about the lack of progress on repeal and replace.  His latest plan is to let the ACA hang in the wind.  But that won’t happen because the same women senators concerned about repeal and replace have a stake in a stable health care market.

The next big tests for women policy leaders will be tax reform and the budget.  Many women Republican leaders are fiscal conservatives.  Trump is placing a big bid on increasing defense spending and reducing education funding.  Some congressional legislators want even more spending than Trump on defense.  It will be an eye opener to watch how competing priorities – defense vs. health care vs. education vs. climate change – get played out among Republicans as seen through a gender lens.

On a local level, fund raising for women running for elected office will put the pinch on some male candidates.  State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, is running against two men candidates for CD-7, currently held by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter.  She outraised her opponents about 2 to 1.  Democratic state Sens. Andy Kerr and Domenick Moreno are likely splitting contributions, while Pettersen is winning money from women.  She has the support of Emily’s List, a fundraising juggernaut for women candidates.

Cary Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, hasn’t caught up with Democratic former state Sen. Michael Johnston and won’t catch Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in fundraising.  But she has a more Colorado-based donor list and beat out both Polis and Johnston in the most recent fundraising period.

The details tell the story.  Polis put in $250,000 of his own money and had roughly 500 donors during the reporting period.  Johnston pulled in $301,505 with about 1,600 donors.  Kennedy received $339,680 from about 1,750 contributors.  Of 124 donors for Johnston at $1,150 each, 91 are out-of-staters.  Of Kennedy’s 305 donors at $575 or more, 20 are from out of state.

Pettersen and Kennedy face daunting races.  So does Democrat state Rep. Diane Mitsch-Bush, who’s running against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for CD 3.  If these women win, they’ll provide more insight into whether women will actually govern differently than men.


Paula NoonanPaula NoonanJuly 27, 20175min497
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Presidencies since John Kennedy have been “owned” by generations.  Kennedy started the “greatest generation” cohort.  President Bill Clinton started the baby boomer reign.  It’s time for a new generation to steer the ship.

The “Greatest Generation” is great.  They lived the Great Depression, fought World War II and Korea, and created the biggest economic boom the world has seen.  The Greatest Generation presidents include Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. They ran the country from 1960 to 1992.

Unfortunately, for much of that time, it was more guns than roses.  VietNam, the boiling cauldron for young baby boomer men, set the tone.  Then there was the cold war, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, nuclear weapons, and the drug wars.  And, of course, there were the great social movements of civil rights trying to reverse Jim Crow and feminism bringing women into the workplace.  At the end, for baby boomers, it seemed the Greatest Generation leaders were never going to move along.

Baby boomers finally wrested the helm when Clinton beat President Bush with the help of Ross Perot.  Clinton had a big Electoral College win, but he eked out only a plurality of voters, given that almost 20 million people went for Perot. Sound familiar?

The baby boomer years in power are marked by more wars and a technology revolution beyond any other on earth.  But these presidencies brought personal and political messes far exceeding what any of the Great Generation could come up with, excepting Nixon and maybe Reagan, if Iranamuck counts.

It wasn’t that people didn’t know that Clinton was a philanderer when they voted for him.  Everyone knew he was an anti-VietNam war guy, which half the nation took as unpatriotic.  He won with his feminist wife. With the various women imbroglios and consequent lying, his presidency was ugly.

Was George W. Bush any better?  He didn’t quite dodge military service during Vietnam, but he sure didn’t fight over there. His youth was naughty. Sept. 11, and thus the war in Afghanistan, possibly could have been prevented.  His administration fudged its way into the Iraq war and set the stage for the big bust at the end of his watch.

It’s just bad when Democrats argue that Bush’s lying wars were worse than Clinton’s affairs, and it’s just as bad when the Republicans’ best moral argument is that Bush didn’t cheat on his wife.

President Barack Obama, the youngest of the baby boomer presidents, didn’t have personal scandals and didn’t start any wars.  He was almost a transition to a younger generation, but he didn’t get as much done as many Democrats wanted and got too much done, according to Republicans.

But now there’s President Donald Trump, at the oldest end of the baby boomer generation. In just six months, he’s in a “category five hurricane” mess-up, according to the Washington Post’s leaked reports from White House staff.  His crude comments, wild tweets, erratic policy, egocentrism, former womanizing, draft dodging, prevaricating, bombast, mismanagement, fighting with allies, and cozying up to unfriendly governments has taken baby boomer leadership to a whole new level of tragi-hilarity.

The western world and Russia need a massive reboot to get out from under these calamities.  Baby boomers have more than run their string.  Gen Xers and Millennials, please step up.  The helm needs a new generation to steer the ship.


Paula NoonanPaula NoonanJuly 24, 20175min244
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

The yoke of bad health is a freedom killer.  Not only does disease limit opportunity, it eliminates choices available only to the healthy.

These facts begin for me in 1934 when my mother, a bright and lively girl, was struck out of nowhere by the auto immune disease juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  At 13 she had a stuck left elbow and right wrist.

In 1950, the new pharmaceutical prednisone came on the market.  My mother needed it.  Our grandparents and aunts kicked in enough money to buy the pills.

In 1959 on her 13th birthday, my sister, a bright and lively girl, was struck by the auto immune disease juvenile diabetes.  Every item of every meal was weighed for grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  She used a big, thick needle for her daily shot of insulin.

In the early 60s, the impact of large doses of prednisone taken over many years dissolved my mother’s tissues.  She had three operations that included a temporary colostomy.  Her bones were fragile and broke easily.  Her tendons and ligaments tore and snapped.  Many operations.  Her hospital bills, even then, were way beyond our family’s income.  My father, a World War 2 POW, couldn’t change jobs because he needed health insurance to cover the catastrophe.

In the late 60s, my father lost his job due to the high costs of my mother’s health care to the small company he worked for.  He wanted to join a group of guys who were starting a new enterprise but decided he couldn’t.  No health insurance.  He went to work for less pay to make sure he had insurance for my mother and sister.

In 1975, my mother died at 54 after three months in a hospital for a flu that turned into a massive staph infection that overwhelmed her.  In 1980 my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a result of years as a textile chemist working with dyes and bleaches.  In 1986, my sister was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in addition to her diabetes, a double auto immune whammy.

My father’s Parkinson’s got progressively worse and he ended up in a wheel chair with a catheter and lots of pills.  He was thankfully on Medicare with Kaiser and eventually got help with his medications through the VA.  He finally told us to tell doctors to “knock it off” when they said he needed a feeding tube.  He passed in 2002.

My sister worked hard as a teacher in low income schools in San Jose, CA.  She had health insurance and needed it.   Her diabetes care progressed. On her Kaiser plan, she got a new finger pricker device to test her blood sugar levels and an automated injector for her insulin.

Meanwhile, her arthritis hit her left shoulder and elbow, fingers, toes and ankles. In 2010, she broke her right leg on a visit in Nebraska.  She spent two months away from home in physical and occupational therapy in Lincoln, then another two months in Denver. She couldn’t fly to California due to the risk of blood clots.  She went on Embrel and is now out of a wheel chair, working out with a trainer, and getting some strength and mobility back.

Everyone, unfortunately, is susceptible to chronic disease and consequent disaster. It’s harsh nature removing freedom from life. Health care goes part way to restoring that freedom.  Life is tyranny without it.


Paula NoonanPaula NoonanJuly 3, 20175min350
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Tri-partisanship is on life support in Washington, D.C.  The nation’s health-care system now has three irreconcilable options: Obamacare, RyanCare and MitchCare.  It’s barely possible to see a path to WeAgreeOnThisOneCare.

In our own square state, bipartisanship perked up at the end of the 2017 session, even though the bill that most carries the bipartisan brand is messy.  Work on the issues within the bill show under what conditions legislators will come together.

Issue one was the hospital fee put in place to support hospitals that provide lots of uncompensated care. From spring 2010 to September 2016, hospitals received $1.4 billion to make up for Medicaid and other patients unable to pay their medical bills, according to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

That’s a lot of get-to-even money for mostly rural and urban hospitals.  But the funding comes with a catch.  The hospital fee, if considered a tax, pushes state tax revenues into Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) restrictions.

State Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, has long supported exempting the uncompensated care hospital fee from TABOR.  At one time, he was the one Republican Senate vote that could preserve the fee.

Many GOP lawmakers do see the fee as a tax. If it is a tax, hospitals take a double hit because the state has to reduce the fees and thus matching federal dollars to ensure that total tax revenues don’t trip TABOR limits.

Rural hospitals and the citizens they serve argued to their Senate and House legislators, including Republicans Jerry Sonnenberg, senator from Sterling, and Jon Becker, representative from Fort Morgan, that they absolutely needed all the fee money or they would have to close.  That position put the anti-taxers Sonnenberg and Becker, along with Crowder and some other rural Senators, in conflict with their pro-TABOR colleagues.

Then came the second big issue:  state transportation funding.  HB17-1242 would create a transportation funding initiative to bring sales tax dollars to save the state’s degraded infrastructure.  The bill passed the Democratic House with some GOP votes but couldn’t get out of the Republican Senate, killed in the Finance committee by Republican Senators Tim Neville, Jeffco; Jack Tate, Arapahoe, and Owen Hill, El Paso.

It looked like the provider fee would lose and transportation was done.  But Sonnenberg and Becker hooked up with two Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and House Majority Leader K.C. Becker, as sponsors for the Sustainability of Rural Colorado bill.

In the last days of the 2017 session, the sponsors had to get creative.  They came up with a $2 billion tax go-around using state buildings for lease-to-purchase deals and a new Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise for the provider fee.

Democrats and some Republicans went with the plan, including Sens. Owen Hill and Jack Tate, who earlier voted against the sales tax initiative in Senate Finance.  Democrats added some education money, but the pinch on affected lawmakers hurt enough to get enough to “yes.”

A world of urgent hurt for a large majority of constituents can get lawmakers to bipartisanship.  That may end up the only ticket at the national level.  Lots of constituents and interests from all over the nation are stirring the health care stew and the heat is on high.


Paula NoonanPaula NoonanMay 31, 20175min453

Both “sides” in the arguments over oil and gas development say the other is “taking advantage” of the explosions in Firestone and Mead. This should not be a time for sides. This should be a time for serious analysis. It can also provide an opening that should, for the sake of everyone in the state, cut through sides to allow common sense to function. Both accidents caused violent fire and explosions leading to death and serious injuries in non-industrial environments. The Mead accident occurred 1,000 feet from other buildings, according to reports. The Firestone explosion blew up a house as a pipe leaked gas that followed French drains into the Martinez’s basement.