Gov. Jared Polis “could answer Democrats’ 2024 prayers,” reads the headline on conservative George Will’s September 14 column in The Washington Post. Will makes the case for Democrats nominating Polis to run for president.
“If so, a national audience can assess his knack for leavening his high-octane progressivism with departures from that church’s strict catechism,” Will wrote.
Indeed, Polis has crafted a moderate image. Will credits Polis for growing up the child of hippies and choosing “to make a mint from capitalism rather than overthrowing it.”
After founding three high-tech companies and selling them for more than $1 billion, Polis initiated and funded two Colorado charter schools — a sacrilege among the Democratic base.
Polis talks about eliminating Colorado’s income tax but has taken no action. He takes election-year credit for taxpayer refunds required under the state constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — a law most establishment Democrats despise.
Will is far from the first to extol the governor’s moderate, tax-cutting, libertarian image. Key word: image.
The Wall Street Journal credits Polis for standing up to environmental extremists. Fox News has called Polis a moderate, pro-business Democrat. The libertarian Reason magazine insists “Jared Polis wants to leave you alone.”
This branding reminds us of John Stauber’s “Toxic Sludge is Good For You” – a book about lies, damn lies and public relations.
Polis excels at distracting attention from actions that place him among far-left Democrats, socially and fiscally. To his credit, he communicates and works with detractors. He spoke to conservative evangelicals at Colorado Christian University’s Western Conservative Summit.
The governor dispensed with any semblance of moderation when he enacted the world’s most permissive abortion law — one so extreme it makes California look like the Vatican. So much for challenging the progressive catechism.
The governor’s affability has failed to sway policy analysts at a national hub of libertarian thought — the Denver-based Independence Institute.
The Institute will throw a tongue-in-cheek “Not-So-Libertarian Block Party” to “honor” Polis September 29 at The Mile High Station. A mailer explains:
• “Polis IS the extreme environmental movement. He destroyed our oil and gas industry with SB-181, empowered a new air quality commission that wants to fine employers when their employees drive to work, tied us to California’s car standards, and populated his administration with green whack-a-doos.”
• “Polis doesn’t want to leave you alone. He has signed bills allowing localities not only to ban your guns, but also your right to carry them. He’s banned tobacco and vaping products, and hiked up minimum wages.”
• “Polis obliterated some 40,000 businesses in Colorado with his COVID shutdowns, so he isn’t pro-business.”
Admission to the party costs a dime but goes to $35 “after you add in all the Polis ‘fees.’ ” The governor declined a special invitation.
In advance of the celebration, the Independence Institute’s Fiscal Policy Center conducted a months-long study to determine the cumulative effect of bills Polis signed into law.
Polis ran on a promise to even the playing field by eliminating special interest tax loopholes. The report claims he increased tax benefits to special interests at a cost of $640 million over a decade.
“Despite repealing and reducing some tax benefits, because Polis increased far more tax benefits by a much larger amount in total, this report concludes that he has failed to deliver on his tax reform campaign pledge,” the report concludes. “…his actions mostly contradicted the tax reform platform upon which voters elected him in 2018.”
If Polis wins re-election, he could emerge as a presidential contender. To win nationwide, he’ll need his image to continue defying his record.
Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board