Category Archives: Federal Budget

Biden Economic Policies Produce $1.3 Trillion Decrease in Deficit, Largest 1-Year Decline in History

The White House is justifiably touting a $1.3 trillion decrease in the budget deficit – the largest one-year decline in U.S. history – to demonstrate the success of its fiscal policies, and particularly, its success in getting control of the coronavirus pandemic and justifying its FY2023 budget proposal. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration is justifiably touting a $1.3 trillion decrease in the budget deficit – the largest one-year decline in U.S. history – to demonstrate the success of its fiscal policies, and particularly, its success in getting control of the coronavirus pandemic and justifying its FY2023 budget proposal. Here’s a statement from the White House:

When the President took office, the pandemic was raging in communities across the country and our economy was struggling to recover from the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. The economy shrunk, and the unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent. And, the deficit had risen to $3.1 trillion in 2020—yet with trillions in resources, the Trump Administration didn’t secure vaccines for all Americans, most schools were closed, and testing and medical equipment shortages continued.

Even before the pandemic, the Trump tax cuts had added $2 trillion to deficits over a decade. The deficit increased every year of the previous administration.

Unlike his predecessor, President Biden prioritized fiscal responsibility. In the face of the extraordinary challenges he inherited, the President made clear that bold action was needed to jumpstart the economic recovery. He knew that robust investment to change the course of the pandemic and support workers, families, and small businesses was not only the right strategy to build a stronger economy, but also to decrease the deficit. A strong economic recovery would result in less emergency spending and drive future deficits down. In March 2021, he signed into law the historic American Rescue Plan.

The President’s Budget shows that this strategy paid off. The strongest economic growth in four decades, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has also contributed to a historic decline in the deficit—by fueling strong revenue growth and allowing the Administration to responsibly phase down emergency pandemic-related spending. The President’s Budget projects that the deficit in 2022 will be more than $1.3 trillion lower than last year’s—the largest ever one-year decline in our country’s history. It will be less than half of the 2020 deficit the President inherited.

The President is now working to build on that progress and further reduce the deficit by reforming the tax system so that corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. As the Budget shows, with these reforms, we can cut costs for families, continue growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out, and put America on a sound fiscal course for the future—shrinking the deficit the President inherited by two-thirds as a share of the economy.

President Biden’s Strategy to Combat the Pandemic and Jumpstart the Economy is Driving Down Deficits

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the President’s strategy to control the pandemic, in 2021 our economy grew at 5.7 percent, the fastest rate in nearly 40 years. We created more than 6.5 million jobs, the most our country has ever recorded in a single year. The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8 percent, lower than the Congressional Budget Office had projected in its pre-American Rescue Plan baseline at any point over the next decade. And between the start and the end of 2021, we went from about 41,000 to more than 200 million Americans vaccinated, and from most schools closed to 99 percent of schools are open for in-person learning.

The Administration’s economic success and success in controlling the pandemic is lowering the deficit in two ways.

First, because of the historic pace of our economic and labor market recovery, the economy no longer needs the kind of emergency support it received last year. With businesses open and people back at work, the Federal Government will spend about $1 trillion less on pandemic and economic support in 2022 than in 2021. That includes hundreds of billions of dollars less support to businesses, which are now making investments and creating jobs without the need for help. Likewise, after historic drops in both the overall unemployment rate and the long-term unemployment rate—the share of people out of work for more than six months—we no longer need emergency unemployment assistance, and ongoing Unemployment Insurance claims are at their lowest level since 1970.  

Second, a stronger economy means higher incomes for households and higher earnings for businesses. Because of this economic progress, the government is projected to collect more than $300 billion in additional revenues compared to last year, a nearly 10 percent increase.

The President’s Budget Continues to Lower Deficits

Even before the pandemic, the Trump Administration added $2 trillion to deficits over 10 years through tax cuts that largely helped wealthy people and large corporations. President Biden believes in a different approach: growing the economy from the middle out, not the top down, and paying for all new investments by ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and large corporations pay their fair share.

As he made clear in his State of the Union address, the President is committed to working with Congress to enact legislation that lowers costs for American families, expands the productive capacity of the American economy, and further reduces the deficit: by reducing prescription drug costs and fixing the tax code to ensure corporations and wealthy people pay the taxes they already owe and close loopholes they exploit.

The President’s FY 2023 Budget also proposes additional smart, targeted investments designed to spur durable economic growth, create jobs, reduce cost pressures, and foster shared prosperity—while more than fully offsetting their cost. The Budget reduces deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Under the Budget policies, deficits as a share of the economy would fall to less than one-third of the 2020 level the President inherited. Overall, the Budget details an economically and fiscally responsible path forward—addressing the long-term fiscal challenges facing our country while making investments that will produce stronger economic growth and broadly shared prosperity for generations to come.

Biden: ‘Budgets are statements of values. This budget values fiscal responsibility, safety, security, investments in equitable growth and to build a better America’

What’s in the Biden FY2023 Budget

President Biden presents his FY2023 budget: “Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span

This is President Joe Biden’s statement about his FY2023 budget proposal:

Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.

My Administration is on track to reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.3 trillion this year, cutting in half the deficit from the last year of the previous Administration and delivering the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history. That’s the direct result of my Administration’s strategy to get the pandemic under control and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. We spent less money than the last Administration and got better results: strong economic growth, which has increased revenues and allowed us to responsibly scale back emergency spending. My budget will continue that progress, further reducing the deficit by continuing to support the economic growth that has increased revenues and ensuring that billionaires and large corporations pay their fair share.

At the same time, my budget will make investments in securing our nation and building a better America. We will secure our communities by putting more police on the street to engage in accountable community policing, hiring the agents needed to help fight gun crime, and investing in crime prevention and community violence intervention.

I’m calling for one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world.  In addition, I’m calling for continued investment to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine with US support for Ukraine’s economic, humanitarian, and security needs. 

My budget also makes the investments needed to reduce costs for families and make progress on my Unity Agenda – including investments to cut the costs of child care and health care; help families pay for other essentials; end cancer as we know it; support our veterans; and get all Americans the mental health services they need.

All told, it is a budget that includes historic deficit reduction, historic investments in our security at home and abroad, and an unprecedented commitment to building an economy where everyone has a chance to succeed.

And here’s what in the Biden budget:

FACT SHEET:
The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2023

Under the President’s leadership, America is on the move again. We created more than 6.5 million jobs in 2021, the most our country has ever recorded in a single year. Our economy grew at 5.7 percent, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years. And the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent, the fastest decline in recorded history. At the same time, the deficit fell last year—by around $300 billion. This progress was a direct result of the President’s strategy to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out and his effective management of the American Rescue Plan—a strategy that was built on smart, fiscally prudent investments that helped jumpstart our economy.
 
As our historic economic and labor market recovery continues, the President’s Budget projects that the deficit in 2022 will be more than $1.3 trillion lower than last year’s—the largest ever one-year decline in our country’s history. The strongest economic growth in four decades, powered by the American Rescue Plan, has also contributed to a historic decline in the deficit—by fueling strong revenue growth and allowing the Administration to responsibly phase down emergency pandemic-related spending.
 
Today, the President released a Budget that details his vision to expand on our economic and fiscal progress—investing in our economy and our people while cutting deficits, improving our country’s long-term fiscal outlook, and keeping the economic burden of debt low.
 
As he made clear in his State of the Union address, the President is committed to working with Congress to enact legislation that lowers costs for American families, expands the productive capacity of the American economy, and further reduces the deficit: by reducing prescription drug costs and fixing the tax code to ensure corporations and wealthy people pay the taxes they already owe and close loopholes they exploit.
 
The President’s FY 2023 Budget also proposes additional smart, targeted investments designed to spur durable economic growth, create jobs, reduce cost pressures, and foster shared prosperity. These investments are more than fully paid-for through tax reforms that ensure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, while also fulfilling the President’s ironclad promise that no one earning less than $400,000 per year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. Overall, the Budget reduces deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and deficits under the Budget policies would fall to less than one-third of the 2020 level the President inherited.
 
The Budget improves our country’s long-term fiscal outlook while also delivering on the ambitious agenda the President laid out in his State of the Union address—to build a better America, reduce costs for families, advance equity, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. It proposes significant new investments in proven strategies to reduce gun crime and keep our communities safe. It makes additional investments in the American people that will help lay a stronger foundation for shared growth and prosperity. It advances a bipartisan unity agenda through proposals to take on the mental health crisis, combat the opioid epidemic, support our veterans, and accelerate progress against cancer. And during what will be a decisive decade, it strengthens our military and leverages America’s renewed strength at home to meet pressing global challenges, deepen partnerships and alliances, and manage crises as they arise.
 
PUTTING THE NATION ON A SOUND FISCAL AND ECONOMIC COURSE
 
The Budget proposes smart, targeted, fully-offset investments while also cutting deficits, improving our country’s long-term fiscal outlook, and keeping the economic burden of debt low. The Budget’s investments are more than paid for with tax reforms focused on making sure the rich and the largest corporations pay their fair share, reducing deficits by over $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
 

  • Proposes a New Minimum Tax on Billionaires. The tax code currently offers special treatment for the types of income that wealthy people enjoy. This special treatment, combined with sophisticated tax planning and giant loopholes, allows many of the very wealthiest people in the world to end up paying a lower tax rate on their full income than many middle-class households. To finally address this glaring problem, the Budget includes a minimum tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires who so often pay indefensibly low tax rates. This minimum tax would apply only to the wealthiest 0.01 percent of households—those with more than $100 million—and over half the revenue would come from billionaires alone. It would ensure that, in any given year, they pay at least 20 percent of their total income in Federal income taxes.
  • Ensures Corporations Pay Their Fair Share. The Budget also includes an increase to the rate that corporations pay in taxes on their profits. Corporations received an enormous tax break in 2017. While their profits have soared, their investment in our economy did not: the tax breaks did not trickle down to workers or consumers. Instead of allowing some of the most profitable corporations in the world to avoid paying their fair share, the Budget raises the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, still the lowest tax rate faced by corporations since World War II except in the years after the 2017 tax cut. This increase is complemented by other changes to the corporate tax code that incentivize job creation and investment in the United States and ensure that large corporations pay their fair share.
  • Prevents Multinational Corporations from Using Tax Havens to Game the System. For decades, American workers and taxpayers have paid the price for a tax system that has rewarded multinational corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas. Last year, the Administration rallied more than 130 countries to agree to a global minimum tax that will ensure that profitable corporations pay their fair share and will incentivize U.S. multinationals to create jobs and invest in the United States. The Budget contains additional measures to ensure that multinationals operating in the United States cannot use tax havens to undercut the global minimum tax.

 
Advancing Legislation to Lower Costs, Reduce the Deficit, and Expand Productive Capacity
 
The President is committed to working with Congress to sign legislation that lowers costs for American families, reduces the deficit, and expands the productive capacity of the American economy. That means cutting costs for prescription drugs, healthcare premiums, child care, long-term care, housing, and college; reducing energy costs by combatting climate change and accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy; supporting families by providing access to free, high-quality preschool, up to two years of free community college, nutritious food at school and resources to purchase food over the summer months, and paid family and medical leave and by continuing the enhanced Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit; and providing health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. The President believes these proposals must be paired with reforms that ensure corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, including ensuring that they pay the taxes they already owe.
 
Because discussions with Congress continue, the President’s Budget includes a deficit neutral reserve fund to account for a future agreement, preserving the revenue from tax and prescription drug reforms the President proposed last year for this legislation for the investments needed to bring down costs for American families and expand our productive capacity.
 
BUILDING A BETTER AMERICA
 
The Budget includes smart, targeted investments in the American people that will help build a better America. It will keep our communities safe and combat violent crime; promote job creation and expand the productive capacity of our economy; improve our public health infrastructure; ensure America leads the world in combating the climate crisis; and advance equity and opportunity for all. It strengthens our military and leverages America’s renewed strength at home to meet pressing global challenges, deepen partnerships and alliances, and manage crises as they arise.
 
Combating Crime to Keep Our Communities Safe
 

  • Puts More Police Officers on the Beat. The Budget provides $3.2 billion in discretionary resources for State and local grants, and $30 billion in mandatory re­sources to support law enforcement, crime preven­tion, and community violence intervention, including putting more officers for community policing on the beat across the Nation.
  • Provides More Tools to Tackle Gun Violence. The Budget provides $1.7 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to expand multijurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces with additional personnel, increase regulation of the firearms industry, enhance ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, and modernize the National Tracing Center.
  • Increases Federal Law Enforcement Capacity to Combat Violent Crime. Under the President’s Budget, key Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service will have the resources they need fight violent crime, including through fugitive apprehension and enforcement operations. The Budget also ensures U.S. Attorneys have the necessary support to prosecute violent crimes.
  • Strengthens Civil Rights Enforcement. The Budget makes important investments to support law enforcement while addressing longstanding inequities and strengthening civil rights protections. The Budget invests $367 million, an increase of $101 million over the 2021 enacted level, at the Department of Justice to support police reform, the prosecution of hate crimes, enforcement of voting rights, and efforts to provide equitable access to justice.
  • Supports Criminal Justice System Reform. The Budget includes $100 million for a historic multi-agency collaboration to provide comprehensive workforce development services to people in the Federal prison system and proposes $106 million to support the deployment of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s law enforcement officers.

 
Promoting Job Creation, Reducing Cost Pressures, and Boosting Productive Capacity
 

  • Increases Affordable Housing Supply. In communities throughout the country, rents are skyrocketing and homeownership is becoming increasingly out of reach. This strains family budgets and holds back our economy – making it harder for workers to afford to live near good jobs and good transportation options. To address the critical shortage of affordable housing in communities throughout the Nation, the Budget proposes $50 billion for housing construction and supply – addressing existing market gaps and helping to stabilize housing prices over the long-term. This includes funding, via the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for state and local housing finance agencies and their partners to provide grants, revolving loan funds, and other streamlined financing tools to boost housing supply, with a particular focus on housing types that have traditionally been difficult to finance using existing Federal financing but have the potential to boost supply and density in supply-constrained communities. The Budget also includes grants to advance and reward state and local jurisdictions’ efforts to remove barriers to affordable housing development. It also includes modifying Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to better incentivize new unit production, and funding for the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to support financing of new construction and substantial rehabilitation that creates net new units of affordable rental and for sale housing.
     
  • Accelerates Efforts to Move More Goods Faster through American Ports and Waterways. The Budget continues support for the historic levels of Federal investment to modernize America’s port and waterway infrastructure provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It includes $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program to strengthen maritime freight capacity, as well as $1.7 billion in spending for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to facilitate safe, reliable, and environmentally sustainable navigation at coastal ports. 
  • Strengthens the Nation’s Supply Chains through Domestic Manufacturing. To help ignite a resurgence of American manufacturing and strengthen domestic supply chains, the Budget provides $372 million, an increase of $206 million over the 2021 enacted level, for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) manufacturing programs to launch two additional Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in 2023 and continue support for the two institutes funded in 2022. The Budget includes a $125 million increase for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to make America’s small and medium manufacturers more competitive. The Budget also invests $200 million for a new Solar Manufacturing to build domestic capacity in solar energy supply chains while moving away from imported products.
  • Expands Access to Registered Apprenticeships and Equips Workers with Skills They Need to Obtain High-Quality Jobs. The Budget invests $303 million, a $118 million increase above the 2021 enacted level, to expand Registered Apprenticeship opportunities in high growth fields, such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care, and transportation, while increasing access for historically underrepresented groups, including people of color and women. In addition, the Budget invests $100 million to help community colleges work with the public workforce development system and employers to design and deliver high-quality workforce training programs. The Budget also provides $100 million for a new Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness program, which will support training programs focused on growing industries, enabling disadvantaged workers to enter on-ramps to middle class jobs, and creating the skilled workforce the economy needs to thrive.
  • Fosters Competitive and Productive Markets and Targets Corporate Concentration. The Budget reflects the Administration’s commitment to vigorous marketplace competition through robust enforcement of antitrust law by including historic increases of $88 million for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (ATR) and $139 million for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

 
Restoring American Leadership and Confronting Global Threats
 

  • Supports United States’ European Allies and Partners. The Budget includes $6.9 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and countering Russian aggression to support Ukraine, the United States’ strong partnerships with NATO allies, and other European partner states by bolstering funding to enhance the capabilities and readiness of U.S. Forces, NATO allies, and regional partners in the face of Russian aggression.
  • Defends Freedom Globally. To support American leadership in defending democracy, freedom, and security worldwide, the Budget includes nearly $1.8 billion for the State Department and USAID to support a free and open, connected, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific Region and the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and $400 million for the Countering the People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund. In addition, the Budget provides nearly $1 billion in assistance to Ukraine for State Department, USAID, and Department of Defense to counter Russian malign influence and to meet emerging needs related to security, energy, cyber security issues, disinformation, macroeconomic stabilization, and civil society resilience.
     
  • Promotes Integrated Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific and Globally. The Budget proposes $773 billion for the Department of Defense. To sustain and strengthen deterrence, the Budget prioritizes China as the Department’s pacing challenge. DOD’s 2023 Pacific Deterrence Initiative highlights some of the key investments the Department is making that are focused on strengthening deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region. DOD is building the concepts, capabilities, and posture necessary to meet these challenges, working in concert with the interagency and our allies and partners to ensure our deterrence is integrated across domains, theaters, and the spectrum of conflict.
  • Renews America’s Leadership in International Institutions. The Budget continues the Administration’s efforts to lead through international organizations by meeting the Nation’s commitments to fully fund U.S. contributions and to pay United Nations peacekeeping dues on time and in full. The Budget also provides $1.4 billion for the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). This investment restores the United States’ historical role as the largest World Bank donor to support the development of low- and middle-income countries, which benefits the American people by increasing global stability, mitigating climate and health risks, and developing new markets for U.S exports.
  • Advances Equity and Equality Globally. The Budget provides $2.6 billion to advance gender equity and equality across a broad range of sectors. This includes $200 million for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund to advance the economic security of women and girls. This total also includes funding to strengthen the participation of women in conflict prevention, resolution, and recovery through the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Act.
  • Advances American Leadership in Global Health, Including Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness. The Budget includes $10.6 billion to bolster U.S. leadership in addressing global health and health security challenges. Within this total, the Budget supports a $2 billion contribution to the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment, for an intended pledge of $6 billion over three years, to save lives and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and to support the Global Fund’s expanding response to COVID-19 and global health strengthening. This total also includes $1 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to future infections disease outbreaks, including the continued expansion of Global Health Security Agenda capacity-building programs and a multilateral financial intermediary fund for health security and pandemic preparedness

 
Strengthening America’s Public Health & Advancing Cures for Cancer and Other Diseases
 

  • Prepares for Future Pandemics and Other Biological Threats. In addition to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States must catalyze advances in science, technology, and core capabilities to prepare for future biological threats. The Budget makes transformative investments in pandemic preparedness across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—$81.7 billion available over five years—to enable an agile, coordinated, and comprehensive public health response to protect American lives, families, and the economy.
     
  • Builds Advanced Public Health Systems and Capacity. The Budget includes $9.9 billion to build capacity at CDC and state and local levels to improve the core immunization program, expand public health infrastructure in States and Territories, strengthen the public health workforce, support efforts to modernize public health data collection, increase capacity for forecasting and analyzing future outbreaks, including at the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, and conduct studies on Long COVID to inform diagnosis and treatment options.
     
  • Transforms Mental Health Care. The United States faces a mental health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget proposes reforms to health coverage and invests in the behavioral health workforce. It provides sustained and increased funding for community-based centers and clinics, and mental health staff in schools, makes historic investments in youth mental health and suicide prevention programs, and strengthens access to crisis services by building out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and crisis services infrastructure. These resources will help build system capacity, connect more Americans to care, and create a system of support to improve mental health for all.
  • Advances Maternal Health and Health Equity. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with an unacceptably high mortality rate for Black and American Indian and Alaska Native women. The Budget includes $470 million to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates, expand maternal health initiatives in rural communities, implement implicit bias training for healthcare providers, create pregnancy medical home projects, and address the highest rates of perinatal disparities. The Budget also expands maternal and other health initiatives in rural communities to improve access to high-quality care.
  • Accelerates Innovation through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H)The Budget proposes a major investment of $5 billion for ARPA-H, significantly increasing direct Federal research and development (R&D) spending in health to improve the health of all Americans. With an initial focus on cancer and other diseases such as diabetes and dementia, this major investment will drive transformational innovation in health technologies and speed the application and implementation of health breakthroughs.

 
Taking Historic Steps to Combat the Climate Crisis and Advance Environmental Justice
 

  • Invests in Clean Energy Infrastructure and Innovation. The Budget invests $3.3 billion to support clean energy projects that will create good paying jobs, continue to cut to cost of clean energy, and drive progress toward President Biden’s climate goals. Investments include $502 million to weatherize and retrofit low-income homes, including $100 million for a new LIHEAP Advantage pilot to electrify and decarbonize low-income homes, and $260 million to support energy efficiency improvements to USDA-assisted multifamily homes. In addition, the Budget provides $150 million to electrify Tribal homes and transition Tribal colleges and universities to renewable energy, and $80 million for a new Grid Deployment Office to build the grid of the future.
  • Strengthens Climate Resilience. The Budget provides more than $18 billion for climate resilience and adaptation programs across the Federal Government. These critical investments will reduce the risk of damages from floods and storms, restore the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems, and make HUD-assisted multifamily homes more climate resilient. In line with President Biden’s commitment to ensure the American’s fighting wildfires earn $15 an hour, the Budget includes $1.8 billion in the Forest Service and Department of the Interior to strengthen the Federal firefighting workforce, increase capacity, and improve firefighter compensation.
  • Advances Equity and Environmental Justice. The Budget provides historic support for underserved communities, and advances the President’s Justice40 commitment to ensure 40 percent of the benefits of Federal investments in climate and clean energy reach disadvantaged communities. The Budget includes $1.45 billion to bolster the EPA’s environment justice efforts that will help create good-paying jobs, clean up pollution, implement Justice40, advance racial equity, and secure environmental justice for communities that too often have been left behind
     
  • Achieves the President’s Historic Climate Pledge. The Budget includes over $11 billion in international climate finance, meeting the President’s pledge to quadruple international climate finance a year early. This funding will accelerate the global energy transition to net zero emissions by 2050; help developing countries build resilience to the growing impacts of climate change, including through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience and other programs; and support the implementation of the President’s Plan to Conserve Global Forests. Among these critical investments are $1.6 billion for the Green Climate Fund, a critical multilateral tool for financing climate adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries and support for a $3.2 billion loan to the Clean Technology Fund to finance clean energy projects in developing countries.
     

Expanding Economic Opportunity, Advancing Equity, and Strengthening our Democracy

  • Makes Historic Investments in K-12 Schools and Education Beyond High School. The Budget more than doubles funding for Title I compared to the 2021 enacted level through a combination of discretionary and mandatory funding. This substantial funding, which serves 25 million students in nearly 90 percent of school districts across America, is a major step toward fulfilling the President’s commitment to addressing long-standing funding disparities between under-resourced schools—which disproportionately serve students of color—and their wealthier counterparts. The Budget increases support for children with disabilities by providing a $3.3 billion increase for IDEA Grants to States – the largest two-year increase ever for the program. The budget also doubles funding for IDEA Grants for Infants and Families and proposes to reforms to increase equitable access to early intervention services with a proven record for improving academic and developmental outcomes. The Budget also provides $1 billion in sustainable funding to help schools increase the number of school counselors, psychologists, social workers and other health professionals. The Budget provides an additional $438 million for Full Service Community Schools, ramping up the mental health and wraparound supports in schools for students and their families. The Budget proposes to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029, beginning with a historic $2,175 increase over the 2021-2022 school year, thereby expanding access and helping nearly 6.7 million students afford college.
     
  • Advances Child and Family Well-Being in the Child Welfare System. The Budget proposes to expand and incentivize the use of evidence-based foster care prevention services to keep families safely together and to reduce the number of children entering foster care, while also targeting resources to reduce the overrepresentation of children and families of color in the child welfare system. For children who do need to be placed into foster care, the Budget provides States with support to place more children with relatives or other adults who have an existing emotional bond with the child and fewer children in group homes and institutions while also providing additional funding to improve the educational outcomes of foster youth and support youth who age out of care without a permanent caregiver.
  • Guarantees Adequate and Stable Funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The Budget significantly increases IHS’s funding over time, and shifts it from discretionary to mandatory funding. For the first year of the proposal, the Budget includes $9.1 billion in mandatory funding, an increase of $2.9 billion above 2021. After that, IHS funding would automatically grow to keep pace with healthcare costs and population growth and gradually close longstanding service and facility shortfalls. Providing IHS stable and predictable funding will improve access to high quality healthcare, rectify historical underfunding of the Indian Health system, eliminate existing facilities backlogs, address health inequities, and modernize IHS’ electronic health record system.

Protects Our Elections and the Right to Vote. As our democracy faces threats across the country—and to provide state and local election officials with a predictable funding stream for critical capital investments and increased staffing and services—the Budget proposes $10 billion in new elections assistance funding to be allocated over ten years. The Budget also proposes to fund an expansion of U.S. Postal Service delivery capacity in underserved areas and support for vote-by-mail, including making ballots postage-free and reducing the cost of other election-related mail for jurisdictions and voters.

Top 10 Programs in Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act That You May Not Have Heard About

Wildfires continue to plague the West. Some 4.5 million homes are at risk of wildfire. The bipartisan infrastructure bill invests $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House provided this fact sheet of “Top 10 Programs” in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

  1. Weatherization: Two-thirds of low-income U.S. households have high energy burdens, meaning they spend more than 6 percent of their income on utility bills. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
     
  2. Wildfires: One estimate found that 4.5 million homes in the United States are at risk of wildfire. The bill invests $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources.
     
  3. Floods: The cost of flood damage was approximately $17 billion annually in the last decade, and is expected to increase significantly due climate-related extreme weather and rising sea levels. The bill invests $12 billion in flood mitigation, including funding for FEMA flood mitigation grants, making infrastructure investments to increase coastal resilience, and improving mapping and data so that households and businesses can better protect themselves from future flood events.
     
  4. Brownfields and superfund: 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $5 billion in addressing legacy pollution at these sites, creating good-paying union jobs and advancing economic and environmental justice.
     
  5. Natural gas wells and coal mines: In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites, including orphan wells and abandoned land mines, are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. The deal invests $16 billion in creating good-paying union jobs capping these wells and mines.
     
  6. Pipeline safety: More than 20,000 miles of cast iron pipelines—much of which was installed in the 1800’s and early 1900’s—transports natural gas underneath communities in the U.S. This infrastructure, which is prone to leaks and fugitive methane emissions, is mostly located in disadvantaged areas including older cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, New York, and St. Louis.  Since 2010, the U.S. has experienced thousands of pipeline incidents, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths, tens of thousands of evacuations, and more than $4 billion in damages. The bill includes $1 billion for the “Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant Program” to modernize natural gas distribution pipelines, reducing incidents and fatalities, and avoiding economic losses.
     
  7. Battery manufacturing: Today, the U.S. relies heavily on importing advanced battery components from abroad, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities that threaten to disrupt the availability and cost of these technologies, as well as the workforce that manufactures them. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $6B to spur U.S. advanced battery processing, manufacturing, and recycling, creating good-paying jobs and enabling American manufacturers to win the 21st century.  
     
  8. Safe Streets: Over 36,000 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, including over 6,200 pedestrians and about 850 bicyclists. The United States has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the industrialized world, double the rate in Canada and quadruple that in Europe. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes $5 billion for a first-of-its kind “Safe Streets for All” program to fund state and local “vision zero” plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for the most vulnerable of roadways users.
     
  9. Transit station ADA program: More than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, nearly 1,000 transit stations are still not fully accessible, which prevents millions of older Americans and individuals with disabilities from fully enjoying public transit. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total of $2 billion for transit ADA, including $1.75 billion for All Stations Accessibility and $250 million for Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities. These programs will remove barriers to transportation service and expand transportation mobility options for Americans across the country.
     
  10. Cybersecurity: The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems, critical infrastructure, and American businesses underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest about $2 billion to modernize and secure federal, state, and local IT and networks; protect critical infrastructure and utilities; and support public or private entities as they respond to and recover from significant cyberattacks and breaches.

Biden Promotes $2 Trillion American Jobs Plan: ‘A once-in-a-generation investment in America to win the future’

Freight Train, rambles through Rochester New York station built 100 years ago. Two hundred years ago, trains were not considered “infrastructure” but President Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, felt it important enough to build the Intercontinental Railroad which paved the way for America to become a global powerhouse. Now President Biden wants to build the infrastructure for tomorrow so that America can continue to be the global leader © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden provided the rationale for his American Jobs Plan in remarks on April 7, justifying the $2 trillion plan as a “once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.” While saying he was willing to hear other ideas and compromise on such things as raising the corporate tax rate to 28% (still lower than 35% rate up until 2017), doing nothing is “not an option.” Here is an edited transcript of his remarks:

Last weekend, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I announced my plan to rebuild what I refer to as the “backbone of America” through the American Jobs Plan. 
 
It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges; it’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America unlike anything we’ve done since we built the Interstate Highway System and won the Space Race decades ago.
 
It’s the single largest investment in American jobs since World War Two, and it’s a plan that puts millions of Americans to work to fix what’s broken in our country: tens of thousands of miles of roads and highways, thousands of bridges in desperate need of repair.
 
But it also is a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow — not just yesterday; tomorrow — for American jobs, for American competitiveness.
 
Last week, I said that once Congress is back from recess, I’d get to work right away because we have no time to lose.  So here we are. 
 
Democrats, Republicans will have ideas about what they like and what they don’t like about our plan.  That’s — that’s a good thing.  That’s the American way.  That’s the way democracy works.  Debate is welcome.  Compromise is inevitable.  Changes are certain. 
 
In the next few weeks, the Vice President and I will be meeting with Republicans and Democrats to hear from everyone.  And we’ll be listening.  We’ll be open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations. 
 
But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing.  Inaction simply is not an option. 
 
Now, since I announced this plan, I’ve heard from my Republican friends say that it’s — many of them say it’s too big.  They say, “Why not focus on traditional infrastructure, fix what we’ve already got — the roads and the highways that exist and the bridges?”
 
I’m happy to have that debate.  But I’d like to tell you my view.  We are America.  We don’t just fix for today; we build for tomorrow. 
 
Two hundred years ago, trains weren’t “traditional” infrastructure either until America made a choice to lay down tracks across the country.  Highways weren’t “traditional” infrastructure until we allowed ourselves to imagine that roads could connect our nation across state lines.
 
The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs, and it’s evolving again today.
 
We need to start seeing infrastructures through its effect on the lives of working people in America.  What is the foundation today that they need to carve out their place in the middle class to make it — to live, to go to work, to raise their families with dignity, to ensure that good jobs will be there for their kids, no matter who they are or what ZIP Code they live in? 
 
That’s what infrastructure means in the 21st century.  It still depends on roads and bridges, ports and airports, rail and mass transit, but it also depends on having reliable, high-speed Internet in every home.  Because today’s high-speed Internet is infrastructure. 
 
It depends on the electric grid — a grid that won’t collapse in a winter storm or be compromised by hackers at home or abroad.  It depends on investing in “Made in America” goods from every American community, including those that have historically been left out — Black, Latino, Asian American, Native Americans, rural communities.
 
Talk to folks around the country about what really makes up the foundation of a good economy.  Ask a teacher or a childcare worker if having clean drinking water — non-contaminated drinking water in our schools, in our childcare centers is part of that foundation — when we know that the lead in our pipes slows a child’s development when they drink that water. 
 
Ask the entrepreneur whose small business was destroyed by the second 100-year flood in the last 10 years in Iowa — or wildfires in the West that burned 5 million acres last year, an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.  More fires than ever.  Or the devastating damage — seeing more frequent and more intense hurricanes and storms on the East and Gulf Coasts.
 
Ask all those farmers and small-business owners and homeowners whether investing in clean energy to fight the effects of climate change is part of infrastructure. 
 
Ask folks in rural America, where more than 35 percent of the people lack a reliable, high-speed Internet, limiting their ability to conduct business or engage in remote learning for their schools.  Ask them whether investing in Internet access will lead to better jobs in town, new markets for farmers, and better opportunities for their kids. 
 
And I’m serious about this.  Ask the moms and dads in the “sandwich generation” — the folks carrying enormous personal and financial strains trying to raise their children and care for their parents — their elderly parents or members of their families with a disability.  Ask them what sort of infrastructure they need to build a little better life, to be able to breathe a little bit.
 
It’s expanded services for seniors.  It’s homecare workers, who go in and cook their meal, help them get around and live independently in their home, allowing them to stay in their homes — and I might add, saving Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
 
It’s better wages and benefits and opportunities for caregivers, who are disproportionately women, women of color, and immigrants.  Or ask our wounded warriors and military families.
 
To my Republican colleagues in Congress, shouldn’t we modernize VA hospitals, update them?  Many of them are more than 50 years old.
 
How about the estimated 450,000 post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, who, when they make that emergency call — or their husband, wife, son, daughter makes that call to the VA hospital — “Dad needs help, we have to bring him in.”  And they hear, “You have to wait.  We don’t have room now.  Come back.  Call me back in 8 days, 10 days, 12 days.”
 
Look at more suicides in the military than people getting shot.  Is it really your position, my friends, that our veterans don’t deserve the most modern facilities?  We could catch that cancer diagnosis quicker, with access to better roads, cleaner water, high-speed Internet that delivers information faster and more of it.
 
Above all, infrastructure is about meeting the needs of a nation and putting Americans to work and being able to do and get paid for doing — having good jobs.  Plumbers and pipefitters replacing those, literally, thousands of miles of — of dangerous lead pipes.  They’re still out there.
 
Everybody remembers what happened in Flint.  There’s hundreds of Flints all across America.  How many of you know, when you send your child to school, the fountain they’re drinking out of is not fed by a lead pipe?  How many of you know the school your child is in still has asbestos in the walls and lacks the ventilation?  Is that not infrastructure? 
 
Line workers and electricians laying transmission lines for a modern grid, providing over 500,000 charging stations on the highways we are going to build to accommodate electric vehicles so we can own the future. 
 
Construction workers and engineers building modern hospital — modern hospitals and homes for American families.  Healthcare workers, steelworkers, folks who work in the cutting-edge labs.  Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created by our American Jobs Plan can be filled by people who don’t have a college degree.  Seventy-five percent don’t need an associate’s degree.

As I said last week, this is a blue-collar blueprint for increasing opportunity for the American people.  It also includes the biggest investment in non-defense research and development on record.

I promise you — this is not part of my speech — but I promise you, you’re all going to be reporting over the next six to eight months how China and the rest of the world is racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future, attempting to own the future.  The technology, quantum computing, investing significant amounts of money and dealing with cancer and Alzheimer’s — that’s the infrastructure of a nation. 

There’s a new book out about how our — we’ve fallen behind.  America is no longer the leader of the world because we’re not investing.  It used to be we invested almost 2.7 percent of our GDP in infrastructure.  Now it’s about 0.7 percent.  When we were investing in it, we were the leader in the world. 

I don’t know why we don’t get this.  One of the only — a few major economies in the world whose public investment in research and development has declined as a percentage of GDP in the last 25 years — declined: the United States of America — that led the world.

Why does this matter?  Investing in research and development help lead to lithium batteries, LED technology, the Internet itself.  It helped lead to vaccine breakthroughs that are helping us beat COVID-19; to the Human Genome Project, which has led to breakthroughs in how we understand and fight cancer and other diseases. 

Government — meaning, the taxpayers — funded this research.  Government. 

When we stop investing in research, we stop investing in the jobs of the future, and we give up leading the world.And when we do invest in research, what we’re really doing is raising the bar on what we can imagine.

Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas, or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane. 

Imagine your children growing up to work in innovation, good-paying jobs in fields that haven’t even been invented yet, like the parents of every computer programmer, every graphic designer, every renewable energy worker once did — imagined. 

We invest today so that these jobs will be here in America tomorrow, so America can lead the world that is — as it’s historically done.

That’s why I brought back scientists into the White House.  We need to think. 

Look, do we think the rest of world is waiting around?  “We’re not going to make those kinds of investments,” the rest of the world is saying.  Take a look.  Do you think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure or in research and development?  I promise you, they are not waiting, but they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep pace. 

You’ve heard me say it before: I think this generation is going to be marked by the competition between democracies and autocracies, because the world is changing so rapidly.  The autocrats are betting on democracy not being able to generate the kind of unity needed to make decisions to get in that race.  We can’t afford to prove them right.  We have to show the world — and much more importantly, we have to show ourselves — that democracy works; that we can come together on the big things.  It’s the United States of America for God’s sake. 

Of course, building the infrastructure of tomorrow requires major investments today. 

As I said last week, I’m open to ideas about how to pay for this plan, with one exception: I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year.  If others have ideas out there on how to pay for this investment without violating that rule, they should come forward. 

There’s all kinds of opportunities.  Just list all the tax breaks that I find difficult to explain: wealthy deductions, $360 billion if you cap them; top rate of 39 percent, which it used to be for a hundred — for years, all the way to the Bush administration; almost a quarter of a trillion dollars, corporate minimum tax; and the fossil fuel giveaways at $40 billion, et cetera.  I could go on. 

But let me tell you what I proposed, how to do it.  We’re going to raise the corporate tax rate.  It was 35 percent for the longest time, which was too high.  Barack and I thought it was too high during our administration.  We all agreed five years ago that it should come down somewhat, but the previous administration reduced it all the way down to 21 percent. 

What I’m proposing is that we meet in the middle: 28 percent.  Twenty-eight percent — we’ll still have lower corporate rates than any time between World War Two and 2017.  It will generate over a trillion dollars in taxes over 15 years. 

A new, independent study put out last week found that at least 55 of our largest corporations use the various loopholes to pay zero federal income tax in 2020.  It’s just not fair.  It’s not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers.

We’re going to — we’re going to try to put an end to this.  Not fleece them — 28 percent.  If you’re a mom, a dad, a cop, firefighter, police officer, et cetera, you’re paying close to that in your income tax. 

I’ve also proposed a global minimum tax, which is being proposed around the world for U.S. corporations, of 21 percent.  Let me tell you that means.  It means that companies aren’t going to be able to hide their income in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, in tax havens.  We’re going to also eliminate deductions used by corporations for offshoring jobs and shifting assets overseas.  They offshore the jobs, shift the assets overseas, and then don’t have to pay taxes on all they make there. 

And we’ll significantly ramp up IRS enforcement against corporations and the super wealthy who either failed to report their income or underreported.  Estimated, that would raise tens of billions of dollars.  It adds up to more than what I proposed in just 15 years.  It’s honest.  It’s fair.  It’s fiscally responsible.  And it pays for what we need and reduces the debt over the long haul. 

And, by the way, I didn’t hear any of our friends, who are criticizing this plan, say that the corporate tax cut, which added $2 trillion to the debt — the Trump tax cut, $2 trillion — $1.9 trillion in debt — wasn’t paid for, the vast majority of which went to the top 1 percent of the wage earners.  I didn’t hear anybody hollering in this recovery — the so-called — before I became President — this “K-shaped” recovery, where billionaires made $300 billion more dollars during this period.  Where’s the outrage there?

I’m not trying to punish anybody.  But damn it, maybe it’s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced. 

Let me close by saying this: Whatever partisan divisions there are around other issues, there don’t have to be around this one.  The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future.  These aren’t Republican bridges, Democratic airports, Republican hospitals, or a Democratic power grid. Think of the transcontinental railroad, Interstate Highway System, or the Space Race.  We’re one nation, united and connected.

As I said last week, I’m going to bring Republicans to the White House.  I invite them to come.  We’ll have good-faith negotiations.  And any Republican who wants to get this done, I invite.  I invite them.  We have to get this — things done.

We’re at an inflection point in American democracy.  This is a moment where we prove whether or not democracy can deliver.  Whether it can lay the foundation for an economy built from the bottom up and the middle out, not trickle-down economics from the very top.  Whether it can lay a good foundation for good jobs in a 21st century economy.

I tell the kids — the young people who work for me and to all my kids — when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years.  We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds — supersonic speeds.  Be able to, figuratively, if you may — if we decided to do it, traverse the world in about an hour, travel 21,000 miles an hour.  So much is changing.  We have got to lead it. 

I believe democracy can come through when the American people come together.  We saw it in the American Rescue Plan.  We’re seeing it with the Jobs Plan.  And the American Rescue Plan, which got so badly criticized — how many of my Republican colleagues have you seen gone on your stations or your newspapers and say, “Boy, people in my state really like it”?  Because it would be improper having permission.  The number of Republicans and Democrats who were hesitant and have called me saying, “God, this really works.”

Overwhelming majority of the American people — Democrats, Republics, and independents — support infrastructure investments that meets the moment.

So, I urge the Congress: Listen to your constituents and, together, we can lay a foundation for an economy that works for everyone and allows America to remain the world leader.  When we do that, I believe, as I said last week, that in 50 years from now, when people look back, they’ll say this was the moment, together, that we won America’s future.  I really believe that.

Thank you all.  And God bless you.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, are you willing to go lower than the 28 percent corporate tax rate?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m willing to listen to that.  I’m willing to — I’m wide open to, but we’ve got to pay for this.  We got to pay.  There’s many other ways we can do it, but I’m willing to negotiate that.

I’ve come — I’ve come forward with the best, most rational way — in my view, the fairest way, to pay for it.  But there are many other ways as well, and I’m open.

Q    Will you have failed on your promise of bipartisanship if you don’t get Republicans on board with this plan?  Your first plan passed along party lines.

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, what I said was I would try to work with my friends on the other side.  There are things we’re working on together — some of which we’ve passed and some we will pass.

But the last plan I laid out what was available, what I was suggesting, and how I’d deal with it.  And a bipartisan group came to see me.  And then a Republican group came to see me.  And they started off at $600 billion, and that was it.

If they come forward with a plan that did the bulk of it and it was a billion — three or four, two or three — that allowed me to have pieces of all that was in there, I would have been — I would’ve been prepared to compromise, but they didn’t.  They didn’t move an inch.  Not an inch.

But, for example, I am dealing with a bipartisan group that came to see me.  Now it’s about — what? — three, four weeks ago when they came about computer chips and about — and they said, “Look, we have to have our own supply.  We have to work together.”  We’re working on that.  Chuck Schumer and, I think, McConnell are about to introduce a bill along those lines.

So I’m prepared to work.  I really am.  But to automatically say that the only thing that’s infrastructure is a highway, a bridge, or whatever — that’s just not rational.  It really isn’t.

I think the vast majority of Americans think everything from the sewer pipes, to the — to the — the sewer facilities, to the water pipes — I think they’re infrastructure.

Anyway.  Thank you all so very much.

Climate Disasters Should Force Re-think of Trump (‘Cheater-in-Chief’) Tax Plan

How will the nation fund the recovery from the increasingly devastating climate disasters? The lates record-breaking climate catastrophes, Harvey and Irma, should cause re-thinking of the investment in climate action and Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthiest © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Hurricane Harvey had just devastated Texas, the worst natural disaster up until two weeks later when the entire state of Florida was about to be destroyed by Hurricane Irma, as whole Caribbean island nations as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico had their infrastructure utterly decimated. And Hurricane Jose was on Irma’s tail. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Oregon were being consumed by record wildfires. Congress had authorized $15 billion toward Hurricane Harvey relief and to replenish the nearly depleted funds of FEMA.

Indeed, in North Dakota on September 6, as Hurricane Irma was barreling toward Florida, Trump, the Tax-Cheat-in-Chief, gave an incoherent speech touting his tax plan that began with his incredulity in discovering that North Dakota was undergoing a massive drought.

“I just said to the governor, I didn’t know you had droughts this far north.  Guess what?  You have them.  But we’re working hard on it and it’ll disappear.  It will all go away,” Trump said.

Accuweather is projecting the cost of Harvey and Irma alone at $290 billion, or 1.5% of total GDP, which would erase the growth of the economy through year-end, according to Dr. Joel N. Myers, president and chairman.

That’s also more than one-fourth of the $1 trillion that Trump proposed for a 10-year infrastructure plan. Where will the money come from? And if all infrastructure spending has to be directed to Texas and Florida, where does that leave the rest of the country? Not to mention the $1 billion Trump is demanding as down payment on a $70 billion border wall.

Does this get you thinking that Trump and his administration, especially EPA Administrator and shill for the oil industry Scott Pruitt, should rethink their self-serving notion of climate change denial (self-serving because it is used to fuel their argument that they can overturn environmental regulations on the massively profitable fossil fuel industry)? Of course not.

But it should also cause them to rethink their totally corrupt plan for tax reform which is intended to starve the federal government of funds, balloon the budget deficit and national debt, all to shift more of wealth to the already fabulously wealthy. Especially when so many people have lost their businesses and jobs, which will certainly impact tax revenues.

Let’s just consider for a moment what taxes are supposed to be for. And yes, a considerable amount goes to pay for interest on bonds, but bonds are what are used to pay for infrastructure – they represent an investment in the future. And as we are considering how to replace the destroyed and decimated infrastructure, why not build back with sustainability in mind.

Just as in his speech declaring his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement (forged with US leadership and signed by 195 countries), Trump, who took a $900 million tax deduction on his failed Atlantic City casino and probably has never paid 40% tax in his life,lies to rationalize his tax plan, beginning with the lie that the US is the highest taxed nation in the world (not true) and that workers wages will increase if only shareholders and CEOs and the wealthiest 1% could keep an even greater percentage of their money (history shows the opposite).  (See New York Times, The False Promises in President Trump’s Tax Plan)

Remember: the wealthiest people used to be taxed at 90% – that was after World War II when the nation had to rebuild its treasury. We were able to afford the GI Bill which probably did more to create a middle class than anything since the New Deal. Now the wealthiest pay something between 35 to 40% – except that they don’t.

Trump (and Ryan) want to give a $170,000 annual windfall to the wealthiest Americans, while crumbs ($700) to the middle class who will lose the only tax deductions they can use.  $170,000 times four years worth mean in terms of free money (from tax-paying schnooks) is a lot of dough to invest in politicians and policy with a spectacular return: policies like enabling Big Pharma Sharks to hike up life-saving drugs by 5000%; Oil Barons to make sure incentives for wind and solar energy don’t help these industries develop into competitors; real estate developers who can delight in the tax advantages that let them take a $900 million deduction and build without interfering regulations on lands that are needed to soak up flood waters and health insurance companies to raise premiums to pad profits.

Now this nation is looking at more than $290 billion just to recover from the climate disasters which are becoming more and more frequent, hitting the high density developed urban centers.

If taxes for those who have the means to pay don’t cover the cost, who does? Ryan and the Republicans love to talk about “sacrifice” but the only ones they demand sacrifices from are not the wealthiest or the corporations, but Social Security and Medicare recipients, struggling middle class kids who need to take out loans to pay for college. Their concept is to take money out of the consumer economy, which starts a downward unvirtuous cycle of economic contraction. How do we know?” Because we have seen this movie before: the Bush tax cuts. Meanwhile, median income has risen to its highest levels in 1999 (under Bill Clinton) and 2016 (under Barack Obama) and their tax-and-spending plans.

The Trump/Ryan tax “plan” requires a federal budget that slashes spending for infrastructure, for research and development, for education, for environmental protection (and of course, eradicating any mention of climate change), even slashing spending for diplomacy and foreign aid. It depends on slashing Medicaid and subsidies to keep health insurance affordable (that’s why they are so desperate to repeal Obamacare).

It slashes the tax rate for corporations which already do not pay the nominal 35% rate. Many highly profitable corporations – including General Electric, Pepco Holdings, PG&E Corp., Priceline and Duke Energy – paid nothing into federal coffers from 2008-2015 yet benefit from all the services the government provides including roads, public safety, an educated workforce, mass transit, a military to defend their shipping.

To get to a tax cut without obscenely increasing the national debt, the Republicans say they will get rid of “loopholes” like the mortgage credit and property taxes – that would only complete the decimation of the Middle Class and destroy any semblance of an American Dream. What would make more sense, if they really cared to “reform” the tax code and stop the income distribution from middle class to the already fabulous rich, is to take away the mortgage tax credits on 2nd, 3rd homes and such, and take away the many special deductions that real estate developers like Trump has benefited from, as well as the loopholes that let hedge fund managers shield all but a fraction of their income from taxes that wage-earners pay.

Indeed, the policies that Trump are proposing – specifically, eliminating the tax deduction for state and local property taxes – would hurt blue-states that tend to have higher state and local taxes because they tend to have higher property taxes but provide more services and get less in federal payments than they send to the government, while red-states that have low state and local taxes (and crappy schools and health care) get more from the federal government (paid for by blue states) than they send.

And what about Puerto Rico. which already was in economic disaster – having defaulted on $70 billion in debt – and basically written off by the US government. It’s infrastructure is now totally destroyed. How will it be rebuilt? Here’s what I imagine:  Trump is so transactional, I can see a foreign country (China?) with big bucks and an interest in having a foothold in the Western Hemisphere buying Puerto Rico from the US. After all, what is $100 billion or $200 billion to put the island right?

Of course Trump’s tax “reform” plan – sketched out as if on the back of an envelope without any analysis – is really all about tax cuts to the wealthiest and to corporations. As Hillary Clinton said during a debate (which she won): “trickle down economics on steroids” from the guy who took a $900 million deduction for a failed real estate deal, which taxpayers – normal working stiffs – wind up paying for.

Those who have actually analyzed the plan have said that the wealthiest people – who have done astronomically well for decades, while middle class Americans have scarcely had a salary increase in 40 years, so that the gap between rich and poor has reached Grand Canyon proportions – would get a tax windfall of $170,000 a year, while middle class families would get something like $700. Where do the 1 percenters put that extra money which they scarcely need? Well, they invest in buying politicians and influencing policy, of course.

Tax “reform” figures into the Trump obsession with repealing Obamacare and leaving 32 million people without health insurance. It figures into the administration’s dismissal of the Gateway Tunnel project so important to the New York region’s infrastructure and economy.

But now, Trump’s Republican states are being whacked with climate catastrophes, and the money has to come from somewhere.

And let’s also be reminded that the growth in the economy – first, saving the nation from plunging into another Great Depression, and now rebounding to the highest median income, lowest unemployment rate ever and highest rate of health insurance coverage while reducing the poverty rate – happened because of Obama Administration policies and would have been even more effective in terms of raising wages and living standards if the Trump Administration did not steamroll back policies, like overtime pay, parental leave, and federal minimum wage and obstruct infrastructure development and the transition to clean, renewable energy.

People remark that the devastation in their neighborhoods from these massive climate disasters is like a bomb went off. Well, in wartime, taxes are raised – that’s how the rate on the wealthiest hit 90%, to pay off the World War II debt. This is wartime. This nation has to rebuild, and sustainably, responsibly. We need to invest in 21st and 22nd century technologies, to keep the United States a global leader. Otherwise, we will cede our leverage to China which has basically embraced the American model of spreading its political ideology (nominally, “Democracy”) through capitalism (nominally “free market” as opposed to centralized control) and is literally buying up influence over Africa and Asia.

Of course, Trump’s tax plan is Paul Ryan’s tax plan (Trump never actually had a plan), and the Republicans are content to let Trump destroy the nation and end the social safety net including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and possibly embroil us in World War III, until they can get jam through the tax plan they have coveted since Reagan.

________

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Long Islanders Rally at Congressman Peter King’s Office to Save the EPA

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Dozens of concerned Long Islanders gathered outside of Congressman Peter King’s office at 1003 Park Boulevard, Massapequa Park on Thursday morning to demand that he pledge to oppose any cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Congress prepares to reconvene.

The House Appropriations Committee has approved slashing the EPA’s budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, undermining its ability to protect Long Island’s water, air, and climate. The entire House is set to vote on the proposal in September.

“We hope that Rep. Peter King, having lived through Superstorm Sandy, and seeing the current devastation of Hurricane Harvey and other recent hurricanes, will oppose any cuts to funding for the Environmental Protection Agency,” Lisa Oldendorp, lead organizer of Move Forward Long Island, said. Long Islanders are acutely aware of the need for clean water, air, and soil. Suffolk County has the worst air quality in NY State and the toxic Grumman plume is heading south towards Massapequa.  We hope that Rep. King will oppose any and all budget cuts to the EPA.”

Destruction at Breezy Point, New York after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The Trump Administration and Congress fail to learn the lessons, reflected in policy and budgeting, that would mitigate such costly climate catastrophes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Our hope is that Peter King will uphold his commitment to protecting Long Island families from the impacts of water and air pollution by refusing to accept a budget that cuts any funding to the Environmental Protection Agency,” Ryan Madden, sustainability organizer with the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said. “His decision to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus is a step in the right direction in tackling the biggest crisis we face as a nation but will be meaningless if the agency tasked with protecting our natural world is dismantled.”

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Shay O’Reilly, organizing representative for the Sierra Club, stated, “The EPA budget today is already 20% smaller than it was in 2010. Rep. King must listen to his constituents and stand up for the health and well-being of communities in his district by voting against any budget that cuts funding to the EPA.”

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Margaret Maher, a volunteer with Food & Water Watch and a constituent of Rep. King’s, said: The five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, and the devastation in Texas, are a reminder of the tragic reality of climate change. Long Islanders need the EPA to protect our water, air and climate. Representative King must draw a line in the sand against any cuts to the EPA budget.”

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Texas Catastrophe Points to Need to Prioritize Climate Action, Re-Prioritize Federal Budget (Mother Nature Can Be A Real Bitch)

The climate catastrophe in Texas should be a wake-up call to prod Trump Administration, Scott Pruitt of the EPA and Congress to prioritize climate action, not a border wall, in the federal budget © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

With Harvey reaping its terror and Hurricane Irma warming up for its debut, Texas’ climate catastrophe is the latest example of how tragically foolish it is to invest billions to combat ISIS (hardly an existential threat), $70 billion to build a wall along the Mexico border, $1 trillion to rebuild the nuclear weapons arsenal, yet deny the reality of climate change with the attendant costs in the multi-billions of every single one of these climate catastrophes – the cost to the Treasury and taxpayers to rebuild infrastructure, to pay for public health consequences, to lose the productivity of the workforce.

“This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather, stated. “AccuWeather has raised its estimate of the impact to the nation’s gross national produce, or GDP, to $190 billion or a full one percent, which exceeds totals of economic impact of Katrina and Sandy combined. The GDP is $19 trillion currently. Business leaders and the Federal Reserve, major banks, insurance companies, etc. should begin to factor in the negative impact this catastrophe will have on business, corporate earnings and employment. The disaster is just beginning in certain areas. Parts of Houston, the United States’ fourth largest city will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mold, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood.”

Meanwhile, around the globe there are even greater flooding disasters –1,200 have died so far and 900,000 homes destroyed in floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, taking with it farms and crops that will lead to the next climate catastrophe, famine.

Now Congress will soon take up a budget that proposes to slash the EPA into nothing (Scott Pruitt has already scrubbed any research and mention of climate change from the website and is doing his level best to stop any data collection), cuts to FEMA that was already $25 billion in debt before Harvey, cuts to Health & Human Services and every other social safety net. But Trump threatens to shut down government if he doesn’t get nearly $2 billion (a downpayment on $70 billion) for his border wall with Mexico.

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Which has posed more of a national security threat to Americans? Climate disasters or ISIS? The wrong-headed approach to national security came to a head with a rally that drew about 60 people on short notice on Thursday, August 31 at the Massapequa, Long Island office of Congressman Peter King, who makes a great show of concern for protecting national security but drops the ball on the national security implications of climate change.  (See story)

You only have to compare the horrid waste of blood and treasure because of a disdain for addressing the realities of climate change to the results of the efforts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) consisting of New York State along with eight other Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states (not New Jersey because Governor Chris Christie thought it would better position him to become the GOP presidential candidate if he withdrew from RGGI and denied the reality of climate change). Founded in 2005, the RGGI, the nation’s first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, is updating its goal to lower carbon pollution by reducing the cap on power plant emissions an additional 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. With this change, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65% below the 2009 starting level.

RGGI has already contributed to a 50% percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from affected power plants in New York, and a 90% reduction in coal-fired power generation in the state. To date, New York has generated more than $1 billion in RGGI proceeds, which are applied to fund energy efficiency, clean energy and emission reduction programs.

RGGI continues to exceed expectations and has provided more than $2 billion in regional economic benefits and $5.7 billion in public health benefits while reducing emissions in excess of the declining cap’s requirements. Analysis by Abt Associates – found participating member states had 16,000 avoided respiratory illnesses, as many as 390 avoided heart attacks, and 300 to 830 avoided deaths by reducing pollution. The health benefits in New York alone are estimated to have exceeded $1.7 billion in avoided costs and other economic benefits.

And contrary to the lie that clean, renewable energy and sustainable development will hurt the economy and increase consumer costs, the economies of RGGI states are outpacing the rest of the country and regional electricity prices have fallen even as prices in other states have increased. So even as the RGGI states reduced their carbon emissions by 16% more than other states, they are experiencing 3.6% more in economic growth. Each of the three-year control periods contributed approximately 4,500 job years to New York’s economy and 14,000 to 16,000 job years region-wide.

Meanwhile, New York consumers who have participated in RGGI-supported projects through December 2016 will realize $3.7 billion in cumulative energy bill savings over the lifetime of the projects, according to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

New York is actively promoting clean energy innovation through its Reforming the Energy Vision strategy and initiatives. Additionally, programs including the Clean Energy Fund, $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative, $1 billion NY Green Bank, $40 million NY-Prize competition for community microgrids, and others, ensure that progress toward reducing emissions will be accelerated.

New York has devised a host of programs to incentivize local projects aimed at developing clean, renewable energy and sustainability. Most recently, NYSERDA has developed a Solar PILOT Toolkit to assist municipalities in negotiating payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreements for solar projects larger than 1 MW, including community solar projects.

How ironic is the climate catastrophe in Texas, the leading proponent of fossil fuels and opponent of programs incentivizing the transition to clean, renewable energy (and the localized independence that wind, solar and geothermal bring), that Harvey has damaged its oil refining infrastructure, which is already resulting in higher gas prices, not to mention taxpayer money that will be channeled to rebuild the devastation. None of those private, profit-making companies which have gouged and inflicted public health horrors should get funding from taxpayers.

Now Texas will be coming to Congress for billions in aid.

Congress should pass a law: no federal help for states that deny climate change (Florida and North Carolina actually have legislation banning the use of the term) and therefore do nothing to mitigate the consequences, and which deny altogether the concept of a federal, “one nation” government to collect taxes and provide services on behalf of all. Texas, which has cheered the notion of secession, continually supports policies intended to shrink the federal government to a size it can be flushed down a toilet, including dismantling the Environmental Protection Administration and ending environmental regulations. So let them see what that actually means. Let’s also be reminded the Texas’ Republican delegation obstructed federal aid to New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.

Destruction at Breezy Point, New York after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Texas Congressmen voted against giving aid, now will seek tens of billions to rebuild after Harvey. But the Trump Administration and Congress fail to learn the lessons, reflected in policy and budgeting, that would mitigate such costly climate catastrophes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Too harsh? The climate deniers are dooming the entire nation and the planet to such tragic, devastating and costly climate catastrophes. Hundreds of thousands of Texans will emerge from Harvey with their homes, retirement, college funds decimated, very possibly their jobs flushed away along with the floodwaters. Tens of thousands will become climate refugees – just a small fraction of the estimated 200 million worldwide who will be forced to flee flooded coasts as sea levels continue to rise, and storms continue to ravage.

But, since Trump is so keen to dish out taxpayer billions to those he considers his base (one wonders what would happen if and when California is hit with an earthquake), Congress should impose conditions on the billions that will be sent to Texas to rebuild its infrastructure and housing: Texas should do what every other community has done that underwent such devastation: rebuild and transition to clean, renewable energy sources and sustainable, climate-friendly, low-carbon emitting structures.

Congress, which Trump just dared to defy on his tax “reform” (that is, giveaway to the wealthiest 1% and corporations while starving federal government of funding), should make sure that EPA has the people and resources it needs, that climate action is a priority, that the Interior Department does not give away Americans’ legacy (and property) for environment-destroying development, that FEMA and Housing & Human Services (now in the command of a man who dismisses poverty and bad things that happen to some dereliction of personal responsibility) are properly funded and staffed.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump Budget is Criminal; Ryan & Republicans are Accomplices

Donald Trump delivers his joint address to Congress, as Mike Pence and Paul Ryan cheer him on. Trump’s 2018 budget may be unbelievably cruel and callous, but it mimics the principles that Ryan and the Republicans have been crusading for © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

It doesn’t matter that Trump’s preposterously named “A New Foundation for American Greatness” budget is “dead on arrival” according to even staunch Republican, Texas Senator John Cornyn. Much of it is the long-time wet dream of Paul Ryan and Republicans whose singular ambition has been to destroy the New Deal, Square Deal, Great Society. They would eliminate the minimum wage, child labor laws, food and product safety, Clean Air & Water protections, Social Security and Medicare and most notably Medicaid, sell off national parks and monuments to mining and oil and gas industrialists. And this is before taking into account tax “reform” that would take $2 trillion out of the national budget to put into the pockets of the wealthiest and corporations, so they have even more extra pocket change to spend on political campaigns.

Indeed, the Trump budget is everything that the Republicans have been dying to do, but didn’t dare. But Trump doesn’t care. He has shown that it really isn’t hard atall to cut the budget when you really don’t care what the numbers represent,when you have no clue and no interest.

The Trump Budget is built on “Trumponomics, as Office of Management and Budget Director Mike Mulvaney proudly exclaimed, “It’s a taxpayer-first budget, going line by line through the budget, trying to put yourself in the shoes of the people who are paying for those lines….What Trumponomics is and what this budget is a part of is an effort to get to sustained 3 percent economic growth in this country again..And by the way, we do not believe that that is something fanciful.”

Indeed, this is a “tough love” approach to force malingerers off things like food stamps – it’s not non-living wages paid by companies pocketing record profits that keep workers below the poverty line that’s the problem.

“Getting people back to work. Create an environment where people more comfortable staying at …We no longer measure compassion by the number of programs or number of people on programs. We measure success by how many get off programs and have success in lives.”

But the figures don’t actually add up.

Economists from across the spectrum say that the math that underlies the main selling point for Trump’s budget, that it will “balance the budget” in 10 years, is a crock. It doesn’t take into account the $1 trillion or so in tax cuts that will go entirely to the wealthiest and to corporations that Trump sketched out; it assumes a 3% rate of annual economic growth, which would mean 50% more economic activity, which everyone says is beyond pie-in-the-sky; and it actually double-counts $2 trillion, prompting headlines like this one from Slate, “Donald Trump’s budget is based on a hilarious accounting fraud” and “The dumb accounting error at the heart of Trump’s budget “ from Vox.

Health care a right, not a privilege? Trump’s budget projects a 28.3% DROP in spending for health services, $2 trillion less spending, over a 10-year period – despite the aging and increase in population. This includes a 27% decrease in spending for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (imagine another Ebola, Zika or Swine Flu outbreak); 25% drop in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (even as Trumpcare will no longer include mental health or addiction), 25% less spending for research and training, including 25% cut for the National Institutes of Health (no interest in finding therapies or cures for Zika,  Alzheimers or “orphan” diseases that wouldn’t be profitable enough for Big Pharma); 40% cut for the Food & Drug Administration (let Big Pharma do what they will); 15% drop in food safety and inspection; 17% cut to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 16% cut in already strapped Occupation and Mine Safety and Health spending even as he overturned regulations.

$1.4 trillion gap in infrastructure spending to repair decaying roads, bridges airports? Trump would cut Transportation spending by 25% cut (65% cut to National Infrastructure Investments; 50% cut to air transportation which is already woefully in need of upgrades); 28% cut to Education, Training, Employment and Social Services.

His cuts to environmental protection – on top of slashing regulations that give communities a fighting chance to protect their air, water and public health – amount to Hague Tribunal level of war criminality for what he will do to the planet, let alone our communities. The allocation is cut 27.1% – $132 billion worth – including a 34% cut in Pollution control and abatement, 42% cut in Regulatory, enforcement and research programs, 37% cut in Hazardous substance superfund ($330 million less in 2018).

Trump would end funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts—“saving” over $100 million in 2018. He cuts out $129 million in funding for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement. He cuts out $233 million in 2018 for the EPA’s Research & Development (ie. climate change science). It eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, $347 million worth in 2018; and ends funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay, amounting to $427 million in 2018.

Trump would cut General Science, Space & Technology spending by 14.7%, including 18.9% cut to General Science and basic research.

International Affairs would be cut nearly in half, including 26% cut in spending for Global Health programs; 74% cut in Refugee programs; 66% percent cut in International Disaster Assistance, 83% cut in “other” development and humanitarian assistance.”

(See the New York Times, “How Trump’s Budget Would Affect Every Part of Government”).

Setting aside for a moment that Trump and his billionaire friends don’t actually pay their fare share of taxes, nor do many profitable American companies which have stashed $2 trillion in offshore accounts, the Republicans’ approach is what Hillary Clinton correctly observed, “trickle down economics on steroids.” It didn’t work with Reagan or George W. Bush. And this is even worse.

No matter: the extremity of Trump’s proposed budget, the callousness of it, will give cover to Ryan and the House Republicans and make anything they do seem “moderate”, even “compassionate.” So they cut Medicaid by $600 billion instead of $866 billion and call it a “win” for the little people; they cut the State Department by 20% instead of 30% and pat themselves on the head; they cut the EPA by 25% instead of 31%.

 

Here’s what Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) wrote: “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says that Donald Trump’s new budget is ‘right on the target.’ That’s all you need to know about just how devastating Trump’s budget will be for working families in Massachusetts and across this country.

“It’s obscene:

  • $5 billion in cuts to public education
  • $73 billion in cuts to Social Security
  • $191 billion in cuts to food stamps
  • $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid (and that’s in addition to the $880 billion the House Republicans are slashing in their so-called “health care” bill)

“Those are just a few of the highlights. What else gets cut? Money for children’s health care, money to combat the opioid epidemic, money for medical research, money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and so much more.

“This budget is ‘right on the target’ only if the target is to sucker-punch kids, seniors, the poor and the sick. If the Republicans make good on this budget, they could deliver the final blow to America’s working families.

We don’t build a future by ripping health care away from tens of millions of people. We don’t build a future by starving education, by letting our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, and by shutting down the big pipeline of medical and scientific research in this country.

“We build a future by making the investments in ourselves and all of our people – so the next kid can get ahead, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. We’ve done this before in our country, and we can do it again.

”Budgets aren’t just about dollars and cents. Budgets are about our values, and this budget is morally bankrupt,” Warren wrote.

Trump and the Republicans would cut out all the things that have “made America great,” and a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, not to mention the main tools for spreading democracy and human rights across the globe (through capitalist investment, which is what China and Russia are now doing).

This is the midst of an actually strong economy, near “full employment” and as we keep hearing, a record stock market.

The Trump budget is the essence of everything that Trump is doing to weaken the US as an economic power, a world power, and its ability to be a moral leader, that Reaganesque “beacon on a hill” of political righteousness.

As we marked Memorial Day this past weekend, a New York Times book review of “The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost,” by Cathal J. Nolan, pointed out that “Generally, one side, usually the one with a smaller economy and population, becomes exhausted, and gives up. Talk about élan and audacity all you like, he counsels, but what wins wars is demography and economic strength.” That is to say, winning a war is more a matter of “hearts and minds” vs. “bombs and brigades” as we have been seeing in America’s longest wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Everything that Trump has done so far (putting aside the fact that he is an illegitimate occupier of the Oval Office by selling out to an adversary government), will weaken the US as an economic power, a world power, and its ability to be a moral leader, that Reaganesque “beacon on a hill” of political righteousness.

Indeed, Trump, who cozied up to the Saudis while hectoring NATO allies and the G7, on his “epic” overseas trip, came back declaring “a home run”, while Germany’s Angela Merkel told Europe,  “We can no longer depend on the US or UK. We are on our own.”

New York State, along with other “blue” states like California, already send way more income tax money to Washington than we get back while the “red” states, which so pride themselves in low state taxes and low wages get far more than they send. Like tenants with a legal fight against their landlord, I would propose that New Yorkers collect their federal income tax money in an escrow account, to pay for services that should be paid by the federal government, such as police and security protection (which Trump is threatening to cut to New York and other states that don’t cooperate in his roundup of undocumented individuals), environmental restoration, health care for those whose subsidies have been eliminated, public schools, infrastructure repair, food stamps and school lunch program.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

OMB Mulvaney: Budget Deal Averting Govt Shutdown Proves Trump’s Leadership (While Trump Heaps Praise on Dictators, Calls for End to Filibuster)

200,000 in the Peoples Climate March encircled the White House on April 29 calling for a transition from fossil fuel to clean energy. OMB Director Mike Mulvaney is proud that the budget deal denies Democrats a “win” of tax credits for renewable energy © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

It was very important to the Trump Administration to dampen any victory dance the Democrats might be doing in terms of the budget deal that forestalled a government shutdown. Demonstrating so clearly that it the aim is to insure widening partisanship and hostility, this morning, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said during a briefing call to clarify what is in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017.

The budget deal averting a government shutdown proves Trump’s leadership, Mulvaney said. Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Trump said a government shutdown in September would be a good thing to “end the mess” that is Congress, unless the Republicans end the filibuster that gives the minority party any say whatsoever.

This comes as Trump heaps praise and admiration on autocrats, dictators and plutocrats, like cheering Erdogan’s sweeping powers won in a tainted referendum in Turkey; North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, who, Trump said, he admired for consolidating his power at the young age of 26 or 27 (by assassinating his relatives), Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who is responsible for some 10,000 extrajudicial killings, and of course Vlad Putin, who he admires as a strong leader (who has assassinated opponents and journalists).

Trump’s answer?

Meanwhile, it was very important to Trump that Democrats not be shown as winning anything in the budget deal that averted a shutdown.

“Democrats are trying to take a win,” Mulvaney said in the briefing call. “The American people won and the president negotiated that victory for them. They know the truth of what’s in the bill. They know the deal the president cut. Some are scared to death knowing what’s in the bill.”

The briefing lasted but a few minutes because the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight couldn’t manage shutting off patriotic music – starting with Stars & Stripes Forever and moving to “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” like the soundtrack to a July 4 fireworks show, that grew in volume and overwhelmed the call.

Mulvaney didn’t want to take many questions anyway, but during the 10 minute ramble, made sure everyone knew that the budget deal was a big win for the President, and a defeat for Democrats who wanted a government shutdown in order to show Trump couldn’t lead. The deal denied the Dems that.

Most importantly, he noted, the deal broke the parity deal that Obama had brokered when Republicans threatened to shut down government over the budget: that every dollar increase or cut in defense had to be matched with a dollar increase for domestic programs.

This deal allocates $4 to $5 for defense versus every $1 increase for domestic programs – in all, $21 billion more for defense. Mulvaney is very proud of that.

Also, $1.522 billion more for the Department of Homeland Security, for border security, on top of $18.5 billion, “the largest overall increase in DHS in last 10 years.”

As for the wall – because Democrats are hailing the fact that not a dollar in the budget is allocated to build the wall that Mexico was going to pay for.

What can/cannot be done, Mulvaney said, would be shown during a 1:30 press briefing, but suggested that the money the administration has gotten out of the budget, will go toward the border, whether a real or virtual wall, “in terms of the boundary between the US and Mexico.

“We’re looking at tremendous increases in technology along the border, maintenance, replacing gates and bridges – part of reason Obama administration had difficulty, the infrastructure not there – will move immediately.”

And what was spent on domestic programs – like preserving health care for miners – were on Trump’s list anyway.

And school choice – the budget provides for three years authorization.

“More money for defense, border security, education – the same things as we introduced in March – those were priorities of incoming administration,” he boasted.

Mulvaney is very proud of what the Democrats didn’t get, like not getting renewed tax credits for renewable energy – wind and solar. He’s very proud.

He deflected Democrats’ victory dance over saving funding for Planned Parenthood, noting that Trump “already signed an Executive Order allowing states not to fund clinics that deal with abortion, and defunded Planned Parenthood as part of the health care bill. Make no mistake, this administration is committed to pro-life – at every turn we fight the pro-life battle. This budget agreement stays true to that.”

He’s proud that there is no Obamacare bailout in the budget agreement.

“Democrats are claiming they got that. It’s not in the bill. Nothing in this bill obligates us to make any Obamacare payments. We’ve had several talks with folks on the hill [about defunding Obamacare] – there are no commitments in this bill.”

He’s also very proud that there is no new money for Puerto Rico. Democrats, he said, “wanted a bunch to bail out Puerto Rico.” The only money for Puerto Rico are the unexpended funds from the previous bill.  “There is no new money for Puerto Rico, no bailout, no additions to the deficit.

And Democrats “failed miserably to turn back Second Amendment protections,” he crowed.

“What Democrats didn’t get – what many of them, many of their base – they wanted a shutdown, to make this president look like he couldn’t govern, didn’t know what he is doing, and he beat them at the highest level,” he said with a spiteful tone. “They wanted to make him seem not reasonable. Government is functioning. He is proving he can bring this town together – lead in a sound fashion. That scares many. It’s why they are overreacting and claiming victory.

“Democrats can take credit, but they didn’t get a penny for any one of their pet projects.”

Despite what Mulvaney said about how avoiding a government shutdown demonstrated Trump’s leadership, Trump earlier that morning had opined that a government shutdown in September would be a good thing, to fix what he called a “mess” in Congress, and also called for the Senate to end the filibuster so that the Republicans could sweep their agenda through.

In two successive tweets, Trump stated, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We…. either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

New Yorkers Among Multitudes in Cities Around the World Marching for Science on Earth Day

Science is Golden. Marchers for Science pass in front of Trump International Hotel, NYC © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Tens of thousands of people in Washington DC and 600 cities around the world on Earth Day, April 22, joined in the first-ever global March for Science, co-organized by the Earth Day Network.

“We’ve just lived through the three hottest years on record, and yet, we continue to see policymakers politicize climate change, roll it back, and ignore it,” stated Kishore Hari, one of the March for Science organizers. “We need to show policymakers that we will not be complacent as they make cuts to life-saving scientific research. That’s why it’s important for us to show up in big numbers and prove that we will not let science be ignored.

“Scientific discovery and innovation are a critical part of our nation and our future — science extends our lives, protects our planet, puts food on our table, contributes to the economy, and allows us to communicate and collaborate with people around the world,” said Caroline Weinberg, National Co-Chair, March for Science. “Despite this fact, science and scientists, and evidence based policies are under attack. Policymakers threaten our present and future by ignoring scientific evidence when crafting policy, threatening scientific advancement through budget cuts, and limiting the public’s knowledge by silencing scientists. On April 22, scientists and science supporters will unite worldwide to protest these actions. Thousands of people in almost 500 cities around the world will march together in support of science’s role in society and policy and to ensure our future.”

March for Science, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The March for Science is an unprecedented call to action for everyone who knows that science is essential to public health, global and economic security, and the livelihood of communities around the world,” said Christine McEntee, Executive Director & CEO, American Geophysical Union. “This moment is bigger than the scientific community. It is truly an important moment for all people, not just scientists, to make a strong statement in support of policy that is informed by evidence-based science, and to promote the free and open exchange of ideas, innovation and discovery, diversity and inclusion, and to stand up for the people and programs who make it possible.”

Here in New York City, some 20,000 joined the march which extended from Central Park West down to Times Square, with the loudest cheers and jeers recorded as the marchers passed by the Trump International Hotel across from the entrance to Central Park.

“This is what intelligence looks like.” They chanted.

“Hey hey what do you say, let’s all save the EPA.”

Grab ‘em by the Data © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs were hand-drawn but heart-felt: “Data, Not Deceit.” “Make America Smart Again.” “Science, Saving Humanity Since 1612.” “Science, not Silence” “Science is like Magic but Real.”

“You Can’t Spell Existence Without Science.”  “A Planet is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

“Don’t Acid Rain on My Parade.” “More Science. Less Fear.”

Indeed, at the rally that preceded the march, several speakers – including scientists and science teachers – thanked the science community for saving their life.

Some of the public school speakers at the March for Science, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Several pre-teen girls and boys from the city’s public schools extolled the value of science education, of science that has made America the great innovator in the world, responsible for the Internet, driverless cars and manned spaceflight, and lectured the government officials on the importance of funding education and innovation.

“The progress we have made would not have happened without science,” one said. “Einstein. Tesla. Anything created came from science. Our parents, our doctors use science. Medicine was created by science. Everything is Science.”

“Science is everything that happens in this world” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Lily Beshell, a young girl straining on a crate to reach the microphone, who proudly declared herself to be one of the “black girls who code,” said, “Science is everything that happens in this world – even when you drop a pencil. That may not be so exciting, but if you think how the pencil drops – by gravity. “

Ferdinand, representing the STEM Teachers of NYC and one of 150 marching today, said he is a prostate cancer survivor whose life was saved by science. “Learning how to do science is important for all kids – they gain knowledge and power over their lives. They use evidence, not opinion or heresay or authority, to decide how to think about the world.”

An 18-year old, working in stem cell research at the Centers for Excellence in Youth Education program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said he had developed a passion for mitigating the effect of global climate change, “the greatest threat, and I hope to be part of the solution.

Here, thanks to Science © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Hundreds of years ago, it was believed that evil spirits and bad air caused sickness. Today we now know disease is caused by microbes and we have developed cures.”

Debbie Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture – also a cancer survivor – teaches scientific principles through creating things, like the massive puppets built out of toxic, polluting Styrofoam plates that were used to convince the City Council to ban them from school lunches.

Teaching through doing: Debbie Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture, has kids create giant puppets out of cafeteria styrofoam to demonstrate public health hazard of environmental pollution © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We need science to show how environmental protection is linked to public health. We need the US EPA to protect our health, NOAA, NASA, we need publicly funded science for basic survival. Climate crises are affecting us, especially kids. Science is fundamental to a healthy democracy, a healthy planet for all.”

Ross Cagen, a professor at Mount Sinai working on next-gen cancer therapies, said, “We are part of the greatest scientific community the world has ever seen. We value knowledge, discovery, facts [rolling cheers through the crowd for “facts”]; use evidence to make basic decisions, we value diversity.

“In a world where standing up for scientific evidence is suddenly a political act, curing disease is losing its standing as a priority…. Let’s march.”

“These are scary times. I feel your anxiety, concerns. As scientists, we never wanted to merge science and politics. But that is happening to us.

“For parents with cancer scared for themselves and their children, science offers hope. The American population lives 30 years longer than years ago because of science…. We need courage to stand against those who would destroy our freedoms.

“In a world where standing up for scientific evidence is suddenly a political act, curing disease is losing its standing as a priority…. Let’s march.”

New York City March for Science organizers: Let the force be with you © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And to the strains of Star Wars, and an invocation, “May the force be with you,” they set off down Broadway.

The New York City march was one of several hundred around the world in a global effort to push back against a political climate that has become increasingly hostile toward sound, evidence-based science and its value to society. The flagship event took place on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Organizers have partnered with over 170 organizations to make an impact throughout the world, including Earth Day Network, American Geophysical Union, National Science Teachers Association, and Carnegie Science. (A full list of partner organizations can be found here.)

“Make America Smart Again” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are thrilled by the outpouring of support from museums, aquaria, scientific societies, NGOs, universities, religious groups and citizen science organizations,” said Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Co-Director of Partnerships, March for Science. “This grassroots movement — with 198 partner organizations (and counting!) — represents a broad, diverse, and inclusive coalition in support of science and evidence-based policy making.”

“An ethical science is meaningful to us all and its role in our communities, our homes and policy making should be protected and celebrated,” said Kristian Aloma, Director, March for Science Chicago. “Chicago is a science city, and we look forward to joining communities throughout the world marching in support of science that can help answer the important questions that affect us all.”

Fact: We Are Made of Stars. Your Science Today. Our Jobs Tomorrow. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Defending science, innovation, and discovery is an absolute must in every community throughout the world,” said Claudio Paganini, Organizer, March for Science Berlin. “We are proud to join each of the marches on April 22 to say in one, unified, global voice that science is essential to our futures.”

More information is at www.marchforscience.com.

Trump Earth Day Message Fails to Mention Climate Change

I’m not a Zoologist but I know that’s a Cheatah © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As if to confirm the protesters’ worst fears, Trump released a statement for Earth Day which did not mention Climate Change, but did emphasize prioritizing the economy over environment.

“Our Nation is blessed with abundant natural resources and awe-inspiring beauty.  Americans are rightly grateful for these God-given gifts and have an obligation to safeguard them for future generations.  My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.

“Real News. Lying President.” New Yorkers March for Science © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Economic growth enhances environmental protection.  We can and must protect our environment without harming America’s working families.  That is why my Administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment.

Dump responsibly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection.  My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.  As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.

“This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our Nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home,” Trump’s statement read.

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