Yesterday, the Independence Institute's Jon Caldara was among the driving forces behind a large gathering at the state capitol in favor of opting out of any federal health care plan, either via legislation or a ballot measure. Then, that evening, Republican Scott Brown was elected to Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat in Massachusetts, much to the chagrin of progressives like Michael Huttner, who calls the outcome "a huge wake-up call" for liberal America in a blog published earlier today.
Because Brown's triumph subtracts a crucial vote from the sixty need to pass health-care reform in the U.S. Senate, does that mean Caldara's opt-out scheme is no longer necessary?
"Absolutely the opposite," Caldara says. "Let's remember that two weeks ago, [Scott Brown's win] was unheard of -- and two weeks from now, we don't know what's going to change. There's only one vote between us and government-run health care. We're one heart attack or one text message to a male page from going back."
Adds Caldara: "Remember that scene from Fatal Attraction? You think Glenn Close is dead -- drowned in the bathtub. And you turn your back for one minute and the bitch pops up again. We don't want that to happen with health care."
Besides, Caldara says, his proposal has another important element aside from simply being able to say "no" to anything the feds pass.
"This plan opens up cross-state health-care purchases in Colorado," he says. "Right now, by state law, you can't purchase a policy in Nebraska if there's a policy there you want. And we want that choice. Coloradans have a right to health-care choice, and this will guarantee that now and hopefully forever."
At present, Caldara doesn't know if the legislature will be able to pass a bill that accomplishes all he hopes. As such, he's moving ahead on an amendment as well.
"We'll be proceeding on both things at the same time," he says. "We've submitted everything to the state, which is the first step toward taking it to the ballot. If a bill passes, we'd be happy to pull the ballot measure. But it's not easy to get things on. I've done this before, and people think it's a piece of cake -- but it's only a piece of cake if you've got a lot of money. It's only a piece of cake if you're Tim Gill. And despite those reports in Fortune magazine, I'm not made of money."
Regarding the rally, Caldara says the crowd, which he estimates at between 500 and a thousand people, was "much larger than I'd hoped for. It was a work day in the middle of a cold day, so we did everything in half an hour. We spoke, we put the gauntlet down, and then, later that night, the Scott Brown victory said, 'We mean it.' I've got to imagine that what looked like a complete impossibility -- the state doing something to protect us from Obamacare -- has become a bit of a reality.
"But I'm not holding my breath."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.