Obama Backs Debate Dodger Jared Polis, Whose Single-Payer Health Care Would Cost $33 Trillion

On Wednesday, former president Barack Obama endorsed Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate for governor in Colorado. Polis recently decided to avoid a traditionally important debate, and has a long history of supporting single-payer health care, which some estimate would cost $33 trillion in the first ten years. Polis has also come under fire for supporting health care tourism while voting for Obamacare.

"Today I'm proud to endorse such a wide and impressive array of Democratic candidates — leaders as diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they're running to represent," Obama tweeted, with a list of candidates that included Polis.

While Obama should not be getting his hands dirty with current politics, this news could not have come at a better time for Polis. This week, the Democrat turned down a debate sponsored by Club 20, a high-profile coalition of businesses and local governments from 22 counties on Colorado's Western Slope.

According to Colorado Politics, a gubernatorial candidate hasn't bypassed the Club 20 debate for decades.  Polis is sending Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a candidate he beat in the primary, to debate in his stead at the Sept. 8 event in Grand Junction.

Christian Reece, Club 20's executive director, said Democratic members have approached her with concerns that Polis avoiding the event might hurt Democrats in local races.

Republican candidate and Colorado state Treasurer Walker Stapleton attacked Polis for dodging the debate. "Congressman Polis' choice to skip debates focused on issues facing rural Colorado is an insult to our rural communities and shows Congressman Polis is not ready to represent all of our state," Stapleton said in a statement.

"Jared Polis just told the entire Western Slope they're not worth his time or attention," declared Kelly Maher of the conservative group Compass Colorado. "Colorado is bigger than just Denver and Boulder, but Jared Polis isn't acting like it."

Polis is also putting big government ahead of the American taxpayer. He backed single-payer health care long before 2016, putting him in the company of openly socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). During this campaign, Polis reposted an ad from 2008 in which he backed single-payer.

While recent polls have suggested an uptick in support for single-payer — especially among Democrats — a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that when people were told single-payer would give the government too much control over health care, or that it might lead to higher taxes, large numbers of supporters switched sides. This suggests single-payer health care could be electoral suicide for Democrats, and Colorado only became blue fairly recently.

According to Mercatus scholar Charles Blahous, Sen. Sanders' single-payer health care bill current in the Senate, the Medicare for All Act (M4A), would add approximately $32.6 trillion to the federal budget during the first 10 years of its implementation (2022-2031). This would represent about 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022, rising to nearly 12.7 percent of GDP in 2031 and continuing to rise from then on.

These estimates are conservative — in other words, Sanders-style single payer will likely cost even more and do even more damage to the economy. Furthermore, a doubling of all currently projected federal individual and income tax collection would still fail to finance the added costs.

No wonder Jared Polis supports repealing the 2017 Republican tax cuts. If the Democrats were to pass single payer, it would require extreme tax increases that should make Democrats lose elections for decades.

To make matters worse for Polis, it recently resurfaced that he paid no income tax between 2001 and 2005.

Despite the fact that Colorado is home to the Air Force Academy and five other military bases, Polis voted against the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act, which gave Colorado's 47,600 troops a 2.6 percent pay raise.

The editorial board of The Gazette, Colorado Springs' newspaper of record, noted that while Jared Polis is worth $400 million, the average soldier makes $36,200 per year.

Finally, the Washington Free Beacon's Todd Shepherd reported Wednesday that Polis found his wealth double during his 10 years in the House of Representatives. His wealth went from $176 million in 2007, down to $143 million in 2010, and up to $388 million in 2014.

Polis' finances sparked controversy in 2012 when Peter Schweizer revealed the congressman's investment in BridgeHealth Medical — around the same time as he voted for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That company pioneered "medical tourism," the practice by which patients find lower surgery costs in places like India and Costa Rica.

Polis invested in BridgeHealth in the years leading up to Obamacare, leading Schweizer to call his investment "[o]ne of the more creative and cynical plays on health care reform."

"In other words, Polis was betting that there would be more, not less, medical tourism after the passage of health care reform," Schweizer argued. "Companies in the medical tourism industry generally agreed, and favored Obamacare. They did not believe the bill would actually contain costs, and if anything, they expected overseas medical procedures to become more attractive."

Polis shot back, arguing that he had "not purchased stock in any publicly traded company since entering Congress." The congressman blasted Schweizer's claims as "blatantly and verifiably false. Additionally, when I was first elected in 2008, I decided to set up a blind trust to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, a step few members take and that is not required."

The congressman emphasized that his investments into BridgeHealth were loans. "I have loaned this business money virtually every quarter since its founding in order to sustain its operations and to avoid layoffs. I am not otherwise involved in this company as either an employee or a board member," Polis wrote.

Here's the thing — his disclosures list the BridgeHealth transitions as "Convertible Notes Receivable," which are structured as loans with the intention of converting to equity. According to FundersClub.com, "The outstanding balance of the loan is automatically converted to equity at a specific milestone, often at the valuation of a later funding round."

So, this week the former president endorsed a candidate who backs single-payer health care, who turned down a historic debate sending a message that he doesn't care about the Western Slope, who supports raising taxes despite not paying them for years, and who cynically invested in medical tourism while voting for Obamacare.

Better luck next time, Mr. former President.