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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.

Biden Administration’s Objections to $778 Billion National Defense Authorization Act is Roadmap to Defense Policy

While strongly supporting enactment of a National Defense Authorization Act, the Biden Administration took exception to several aspects including funding platforms that cannot be properly modernized, wanting to merge Trump’s Space Force into the Air National Guard instead of an expensive stand-alone, and wanting funding to close Guantanamo. It also addresses Afghanistan and Israel, among others, and is generally a statement of Biden’s defense policy © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While “strongly supporting” enactment of a National Defense Authorization Act, the Biden Administration took exception to several aspects including funding platforms that cannot be properly modernized, wanting to merge Trump’s Space Force into the Air National Guard instead of an expensive stand-alone, and wanting funding to close Guantanamo. It also addresses Afghanistan and Israel, among others, and is generally a statement of Biden’s defense policy.

The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to set an appropriate and responsible level of defense spending to support the security of the Nation.  At the same time, the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to provide appropriate resources for non-security investments and security investments outside the Department of Defense (DOD).”

Senator Bernie Sanders said he would vote against the $778 billion reauthorization bill as hypocrisy, when too many in Congress say the nation can’t afford universal health care and pre-K, while allocating $37 billion more than Trump’s last budget, even though the war in Afghanistan is over (where is the “peace dividend”?)

This is a bill that has us spending more money on the military than the next 12 nations combined and more money in real inflation-adjusted dollars than we did during the height of the Cold War or during the wars in Vietnam and Korea,” Sanders declared.

“This is a bill giving an obscene amount of money to an agency – the Department of Defense – with hundreds of billions of dollars of cost overruns and which remains the only federal agency that hasn’t been able to pass an independent audit in decades.

“On top of that, it is likely that Senate leadership will attach a so-called ‘competitiveness bill’ that includes $52 billion in corporate welfare, no strings attached money for a handful of extremely profitable microchip companies” for a combined $1 trillion bill, Sanders stated.

Biden would more or less agree on much of Sanders’ issues:

Here is the Statement of Administration Policy Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
S. 2792 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022

(Sen. Reed, D-RI, and Sen. Inhofe, R-OK)

The Administration strongly supports enactment of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for a 61st consecutive year and is grateful for the strong, bipartisan work this year by the Senate Armed Services Committee on behalf of America’s national defense. 

The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to set an appropriate and responsible level of defense spending to support the security of the Nation.  At the same time, the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to provide appropriate resources for non-security investments and security investments outside the Department of Defense (DOD).  A strong economy is critical to ensuring that our Nation is positioned for strategic competition, and investments in diplomacy, development, and economic statecraft enhance the effectiveness of national defense spending and promote national security.

The Administration opposes the direction to add funding for platforms and systems that cannot be affordably modernized given the need to eliminate wasteful spending and prioritize survivable, and resilient forces that credibly deter advanced threats.  Our national security interests require forces that can fight across the spectrum of conflict.

The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to address its concerns, a number of which are outlined below.  The Administration also looks forward to reviewing the classified annex to the committee report and working with Congress to address any concerns about classified programs.

Optimizing Program Investments and Modernization.  The Administration strongly opposes restoration of funding to systems that limit DOD’s ability to divest or retire lower priority platforms not relevant to tomorrow’s battlefield.  The President’s Budget divests or retires vulnerable and costly platforms that no longer meet mission or security needs, and reinvests those savings in transformational, innovative assets that match the dynamic threat landscape and advance the capabilities of the force of the future.  The Administration strongly opposes language that would limit decommissioning or inactivation of battle force ships before the end of their expected service life (section 135) and retiring A-10 aircraft (section 143).  The Administration also strongly opposes language that would establish minimum inventory requirements of systems such as tactical airlift and fighter aircraft (sections 141 and 142) and would authorize unrequested funding for Expeditionary Fast Transport ships.  Such provisions would limit the Department’s flexibility to prioritize resource investment, delay modernization of capabilities, and impede implementation of the emergent National Defense Strategy. 

Afghanistan Security Forces Fund.  Section 1213 provides authorities no longer needed following the collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).  Therefore, the Administration strongly urges the Senate to adopt the language in the House bill to enable the responsible termination of the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) by authorizing the use of ASFF for costs associated with the termination of support to the ANDSF.  The termination will involve, at a minimum, closing out several hundred contracts and, in many cases, negotiating financial settlements with the contractors, developing a full accounting for all ASFF-funded equipment and supplies that are outside Afghanistan, and assessing amounts and the use of appropriations for potential contract settlement costs and the cost of transporting and storing ASFF-funded materiel for purposes of treating it as DOD stocks.  More analysis is necessary to develop prudent estimates of these costs and of timelines for completing these actions.

Recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military (IRC).  The Administration commends the determined and bipartisan effort reflected by the bill to advance the shared goal of Congress and the Administration to make real and sustainable progress on the prevention of and response to sexual assault and other related crimes, and improve support for survivors.

The Administration supports effective implementation of the IRC’s recommendations focused on accountability, improving prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support and has developed and instituted a phased implementation plan to build the foundation and infrastructure necessary to do so sustainably.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to clarify Sec. 530B, to allow for alignment with the Department of Defense’s ongoing implementation strategy. Additionally, some of the IRC’s recommendations – such as 4.2 b, which relates to services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs – are beyond the authority of the Secretary of Defense to implement unilaterally. 

The Administration is committed to executing military justice reform, and welcomes efforts by Congress to enact legislation that supports core aspects of the IRC’s recommendations for accountability, namely: that the decision to prosecute special victim crimes (including, but not limited to: sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence) be made by Special Victim Prosecutors (SVPs) within a fully professionalized judge advocate organization; that SVPs have the requisite litigation experience and specialized training to be able to work with victims of these complex, interpersonal crimes; and that each Military Department establish an Office of the Special Victim Prosecutor (OSVP) that can operate with independence from the command reporting structure and under the direction of the Secretary of the Military Department, without intervening authority.  The Administration believes that each Secretary of a Military Department should have discretion to determine the director of the OSVP, who may be a Senior Executive Service civilian, best suited to carry out the mission of the Office as determined by that Secretary. 

To ensure effective reform, the Administration recommends the date prescribed by section 552, so that adequate time is provided to issue necessary implementing regulations, identify and hire appropriately qualified personnel, train both new and existing personnel, and then place them in newly created positions.

Additionally, effective reform will require an increase in the resources committed to the system.  Accordingly, the Administration objects to section 564, which would require implementation of the military justice reforms using otherwise-authorized personnel and resources.  The Administration will work with Congress to determine the appropriate resource level needed to ensure effective implementation of the revised military justice system. 

In addition to these recommendations from the IRC, the Administration urges Congress to enable military protective orders (MPOs) to be given full faith and credit, and enact legislation that would provide DOD and the Services sufficient time to assess and implement this change.

Limitation on Modifications to Sexual Assault Reporting Procedures.  The Administration strongly objects to section 566, which would prohibit the Secretary of Defense from amending section 4 of enclosure 4 of DOD Instruction 6495.02, relating to Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Procedures, “or otherwise prescribe any regulations or guidance relating to the treatment and handling of unrestricted and restricted reports of sexual assault, until 30 days after notifying the congressional defense committees of the proposed amendment or modification.”  This provision could delay potential needed updates to DOD’s sexual assault regulations.  The administration is committed to working with Congress in a transparent way on these important matters, but must maintain flexibility to amend internal policies when needed.

Air and Space National Guard.  The Administration does not oppose section 902, which would rename the Air National Guard as the Air and Space National Guard.  This provision would avoid the significant administrative expenses associated with establishing a stand-alone Space National Guard, so DOD can prioritize the development of new space capabilities.  The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on alternative Space Force concepts that are efficient, effective, and appropriate for space missions.

DOD Contractor Professional Training Material Disclosure Requirements.  The Administration strongly opposes section 818, which would require all DOD contractors to post online or, if they lack an online presence, submit in paper to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment all diversity, equal opportunity, equity, inclusion, or tolerance training materials or internal policies related to these subjects.  This provision would require the disclosure of intellectual property and proprietary information.  Furthermore, the provision would be a barrier to entry, especially for small businesses or companies contracting with the Department for the first time.  This provision, therefore, would limit the number of entities willing or able to do business with the Department at a time when access to talent, technology, and innovation is a critical determinant of the U.S.’s ability to compete.

Limitations on Use of Funds in the National Defense Sealift (NDS) Fund.  The Administration strongly objects to the removal of funding for used sealift vessels.  The Administration also urges support for the necessary relief to recapitalize the sealift fleet with used vessels by removing existing statutory limitations.  The Administration strongly encourages Congress to remove the statutory cap on the number of used sealift vessels DOD can procure and to remove the statutory link between the use of NDS funding for the purchase of used vessels and the requirement to procure new construction vessels.  This will allow the Administration to recapitalize the sealift fleet, with all used ship conversions taking place in U.S. shipyards, for a fraction of the cost of procuring new vessels.

Basic Needs Allowance for Low-Income Regular Members.  The Administration supports a basic needs allowance.  The Administration needs a more comprehensive data analysis to determine the inclusion or exclusion of basic allowance for housing when considering the calculation of a basic needs allowance.  Using this analysis, the Administration would like to work with Congress to develop an appropriate calculation for targeting recipients of a basic needs allowance.

Prohibition on Missile Defense Agency Production of Satellites and Ground Systems Associated with Operation of Such Satellites.  The Administration strongly objects to section 1510, which would prohibit the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) from authorizing or obligating funding for a program of record for the production of satellites, with an associated limitation of funds. Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) On-Orbit Prototype Demonstration phase began in January 2021 with contracts awarded to two industry teams.  This program supports unique missile defense requirements to provide fire-control quality tracking data on hypersonic and ballistic missile threats for engagement by missile defense weapons, and is a critical element of the Missile Defense System kill-chain.  Enacting section 1510 would delay delivery of this capability to the warfighter.  Also, consistent with congressional direction, the Secretary of Defense has certified the Director of MDA as the responsible agent for developing the HBTSS capability.

Modification of United States-Israel Operations-Technology Cooperation within the United States-Israel Defense Acquisition Advisory Group.  While the Administration strongly supports strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Administration strongly opposes section 1271, which would make the United States-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group (OTWG) mandatory.  DOD has developed draft Terms of Reference for such a group and is finalizing negotiations with Israel.  However, enactment of section 1271 would eliminate the flexibility the Administration needs to ensure that the terms, membership, and focus of the OTWG are in the U.S. interest.

Enhancement of Recusal for Conflicts of Personal Interest Requirements for Department of Defense Officers and Employees.  The Administration is committed to preventing conflicts of interest, but is concerned that section 1103 lacks any mechanism for the Secretary of Defense to grant a waiver or authorization to authorize participation when it is in the best interests of the Government.  Section 1103 needs to be aligned with existing ethics rules because it introduces new terms, broader standards, and requires the Department to further screen all DOD personnel from participating in “covered matters” involving clients and competitors of an employee’s former employer for four years.  Section 1103 would significantly extend the time and resources needed to make decisions and limit DOD’s ability to hire qualified personnel.

Missile Defense Radar in Hawaii.  The Administration opposes added funding for the Homeland Defense Radar – Hawaii (HDR-H).  The Department had planned to field HDR-H, the Pacific Radar, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), and the Long Range Discrimination Radar by the mid-2020s as a system of systems to improve homeland ballistic missile defense.  The Pacific Radar has been delayed indefinitely due to stalled negotiations with the host nation, and the RKV program has been cancelled.  Hawaii is currently defended against missile threats to the same extent as the rest of the United States, and DOD is currently investing in other capabilities, such as the Next Generation Interceptor, which will support the long-term defense of Hawaii.

Reprioritization of Military Construction Funding to Unrequested Projects.  The Administration opposes section 4601, which would realign military construction funding authorization from priority projects to other projects not included in the President’s Budget.  Contrary to the Administration’s fiscally responsible policy to fully fund projects, the bill proposes to fund 14 military construction projects incrementally, effectively creating an unfunded obligation of almost $1 billion to complete these projects.

Alignment of Close Combat Lethality Task Force.  The Administration strongly opposes section 905, which would prevent implementation of the Secretary of Defense’s decision to realign the Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF) to the Secretary of the Army, effective October 1, 2021.  Section 905 would prevent the alignment of the CCLTF with the organization best positioned to identify, test, develop, demonstrate, and integrate new close combat capabilities, capacity that is already built into the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence.  Importantly, the CCLTF will remain a joint organization, with a Tri-Service board governing the work of the CCLTF.

Prohibition on Support for Offensive Military Operations Against the Houthis in Yemen.  The Administration opposes section 1272 because it is unnecessary; the Administration already has ceased support for Saudi-led coalition offensive operations in Yemen.  In addition, because DOD does not have the lead for humanitarian aid delivery, the Secretary of Defense is not the appropriate official to provide the requested report.

Prohibition on Reduction of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles of the United States.  The Administration objects to section 1543, which would restrict the President and the Department of Defense from reducing the number of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles below 400.  The Administration objects to this restriction while the force structure is under review as part of the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).  This language would constrain the President’s ability to propose the nuclear force he determines is necessary.

Significant New Foreign Policy Provisions.  The Administration is concerned that the bill includes certain sections—specifically 1011, 1201, 1205, 1207, 1208, 1209, 1211, 1242, and 1275—that would require DOD engagement in, analysis of, or reporting on significant foreign policy issues without including sufficient means for the Secretary of State to provide input and ensure that foreign assistance is carried out in a manner consistent with foreign policy priorities.

Coordination Between United States Cyber Command and Private Sector.  The Administration opposes section 1604, as this provision’s relationship to section 1642(b) of the FY 2019 NDAA is unclear. The Secretary of Defense’s authority to “make arrangements with private sector entities, on a voluntary basis” under section 1642(b) is scoped to the four top nation-state threats.  In contrast, section 1604 is not similarly scoped, is not tied to existing authorities, is arguably duplicative, lacks appropriate coordination with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and may prohibit internal U.S Government information sharing.

Pilot Program on Public-Private Partnerships with Internet Ecosystem Companies to Detect and Disrupt Adversary Cyber Operations.  The Administration opposes section 1605, which would require the Secretary of Defense to initiate a pilot program to use public-private partnerships to facilitate detection and disruption of malicious cyber activity on private sector infrastructure.  Many of the authorized activities would be achieved more effectively through existing federal activities, such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative and several Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement programs. Establishing a separate pilot program led by DOD would further complicate federal efforts to collaborate with the private sector, including “internet ecosystem companies,” in a unified, coordinated manner.

Safe Drinking Water Act Amendment on Cybersecurity.  The Administration urges support for the requested amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act to enhance cybersecurity and resilience requirements for drinking water systems.  Recent incidents show that cyber-attacks and malicious cyber activity against drinking water systems can disrupt and endanger our critical water infrastructure’s ability to provide safe and reliable drinking water, and put the health and lives of our citizens at risk. 

Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.  The Administration strongly objects to sections 1031, 1032, and 1033, which would extend the prohibitions on the use of funds to: transfer Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (GTMO) detainees to the United States (1031); construct or modify facilities in the United States to house transferred GTMO detainees (1032); and transfer GTMO detainees to certain countries (1033).  These provisions would interfere with the President’s ability to determine the appropriate disposition of GTMO detainees and to make important foreign policy and national security determinations regarding whether and under what circumstances to transfer detainees to the custody or effective control of foreign countries.

Constitutional Concerns.  Certain provisions of the bill, such as section 1232, raise constitutional concerns.  The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to address this and other constitutional concerns.

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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© 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

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

VP Pence Tells Club for Growth: ‘This is Our Moment’

Vice President Mike Pence at the opulent Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, tells the Club for Growth: “This is our moment.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Except for the cuts to the State Department which has some Republicans howling, the rest of Trump’s “America First” anti-American budget are the things the Conservatives have been fantasizing about but never had the guts to do because of the ramifications. Now they have someone who is putting himself out there who doesn’t bother considering the impacts on ordinary people. 

This is as much Ryan’s budget  as Trump’s, which likely will also enact massive tax cuts, paid for by slashing benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, further  exacerbating the inequality in wealth, political power and justice  in this country that strains the limits to what this Democracy can sustain. 

“This is our moment,” Vice President Mike Pence gleefully told the Club for Growth at the posh Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach. 

Here are highlights from his speech–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

For the first time in a decade, thanks to your hard work, we have a pro-growth House, we have a pro-growth Senate, and we have a pro-growth President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And President Donald Trump I believe has laid out an agenda that is renewing the American spirit in ways that we haven’t seen since the days of Ronald Reagan.

This is our moment.  This is the time. And my friends, this is our chance to prove that our answers are still the right answers for America.  (Applause.)

More freedom.  Lower taxes.  Less regulation and smaller government.  History will attest that when America builds on this foundation, we reach heights that once seemed unreachable.

And that is the foundation of this administration.  President Trump’s vision is to unleash growth in America like never before, and the good news is:  It’s already happening.

On Day One, President Trump went straight to work rolling back the reams of red tape.  He instructed every bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before imposing any new red tape on the American people and on American free enterprise.  (Applause.)

He’s already taken action to put the Keystone and Dakota pipelines on the path to approval, creating tens of thousands of American jobs and protecting our American energy future.  (Applause.)

And just this past Monday, President Trump set into motion a plan to reorganize the executive branch — and that includes identifying and eliminating federal agencies that, frankly, we just plain don’t need anymore.

It’s leadership like that — you can applaud that if you like.  (Applause.)   It’s leadership like this that’s getting government out of the way of the American people and of American job creators. 

Businesses are already reacting to President Trump’s vision and his renewed optimism and investment.  And they’re investing in America in ways that are lifting and creating jobs.

Last month alone the economy added 235,000 jobs.  Construction and manufacturing are booming once again.  Business leaders and American consumers haven’t been this confident in years — and by some measures, in more than a decade.

Folks, the era of slow growth is over; a new era of American growth has begun.  (Applause.)

You know and I know that economic growth begins with fiscal responsibility.  I see my friend Senator Pat Toomey over there.  We fought together in the House, shoulder to shoulder for fiscal restraint.  And I know how enthusiastic he and the other great conservatives like Senator Mike Lee and others in the room are that just two days ago, President Donald Trump released the most conservative budget since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office.  (Applause.)

Our vision is simple.  We want a government that will keep Americans safe and that leaves us free to do what the American people do best.  That’s why our budget first and foremost gives our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources they need to complete their mission, protect our families, and come home safe to theirs.  We’re rebuilding the American military under this Trump budget.  (Applause.)

But also at the President’s direction, our budget offsets $54 billion in military spending with government spending cuts –a 31 percent cut at the E.P.A.  (Applause.)  Double-digit reductions in no fewer than 10 federal departments.  (Applause.)

And, folks, The Washington Post actually ran a headline this week saying, they quote, “historic contraction of the federal workforce.”  (Laughter.)  They meant it as a warning, we took it as a compliment.  (Applause.)

We’re going to end the waste, the fraud, the abuse in D.C and make sure that the American taxpayer gets the best bang for their buck.  I got to tell you this businessman who has become President of the United States believes in sharpened pencils.  And he’s been sharpening his pencils ever since the morning after Election Day.

But beyond the budget, we’re going to keep slashing all the job-killing regulations and rein in unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.  I want to commend the members of Congress for sending those congressional review act bills.  We’re going to keep rolling back regulation every chance we get so that this economy can’t be crippled by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. sitting behind the comfort of their metal desks.  (Applause.)

We’ve heard from businesses large and small, all across America that red tape is strangling their ability to create jobs, and to grow and thrive.  That’s why we’re working to get government off their back.

We’re going to keep working with the Congress to repeal the last-minute mandates rushed through by the last administration.  And, frankly, we’re taking a hard look at every regulation on the books — including, as President Trump said on Wednesday, the CAFE rule that is holding back the American automotive industry will now no longer stand in the way of economic prosperity and growth.  (Applause.)

We’re making sure federal agencies fast-track projects and permits and don’t slow-walk them.  And we’re going to roll back Dodd-Frank so that American businesses have access to the best financial system in the world.  (Applause.)

And with this Cabinet — and how about this Cabinet? (Applause.)   With this Cabinet, President Trump has picked men and women who know that bureaucrats don’t create jobs, businesses do.

The bottom line is that our agenda of more freedom and less regulation is going to usher in growth and opportunity and prosperity in this country like never before.  And it’s the vision that the Club for Growth has been about advancing since the very beginning of this organization.

If you still have any doubt, there’s also something else I want you to know.  We’re going to have the biggest tax reform and reduction in a generation in America before this year is out.  (Applause.)

Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  It’s going to be pro-growth, pro-savings, and pro-hardworking Americans keeping more of their hard-earned dollar.

We’re going to simplify the tax code working with members of the House and Senate who are gathered here, and we’re going to have lower rates across the board.

We’re going to make American businesses competitive again by slashing one of the highest corporate rates in the developed world and letting American companies bring the money back from overseas so they can invest in American and create American jobs with a lower business rate.  (Applause.)

And not only that, and I promise to you working with members of Congress, we’re going to repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes when we repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)

My friends, the Obamacare nightmare is about to end.  Now, I don’t have to remind people here at the Club for Growth why this failed law has to go.  You all have seen the headlines, and you know the facts.  You’ve lived them in many places all over the country — skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, mandates, higher taxes.  The truth is the American people can’t afford Obamacare, and it’s time we no longer ask them to put up with it.  (Applause.)

In his joint address to Congress two weeks ago, the President outlined his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.  And we’re working with members of Congress to advance that plan.

Make no mistake about it:  Our plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom.  It ends Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates by eliminating their penalties by the time the whole plan is unfurled.  It repeals the taxes I just mentioned right out of the gate.  It expands health savings accounts.  It enacts the biggest reform in Medicaid since the creation of that program in 1965.

These are the kind of solutions that conservatives like us have been talking about for years. And they’re now within our reach.  And let me be blunt:  We need your help to get this plan passed.  The House is set to vote next week on the beginning of this process.  It’s called the American Health Care Act, and it is a crucial step towards fulfilling our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works.

Now I know that there have been concerns expressed with the bill as it currently stands.  And just know that the President and I are and our entire administration are listening.   We’re working with members of Congress to improve the bill and to make this bill even better than it already is..

 

And we’re working with every single [Republican] member of Congress — the Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus, the Senate Steering Committee, and all the lawmakers here tonight, just to name a few.   Thanks to their input, we’ve actually added a number of great amendments just in the last 24 hours.

Beginning with, we’re going to stop more states from expanding Medicaid by ceasing the expansion for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare immediately.  (Applause.)

Because of the voices of conservatives in Congress, we’re going to be amending the Ho bill to give states the option for a Medicaid in a block grant in its entirety so states can reform Medicaid in the way that they see fit.  (Applause.)

And thanks to the leadership and the collaboration of many of the great conservatives in this room, we’re going to have an amendment to allow states to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults on Medicaid so we can ensure the program is there for people who actually need it. [So if you’ve lost your job, were laid off, your company goes bankrupt, you are doomed.] (Applause.)

Folks, I meant it when I said we’re listening.  And the President is going to continue to engage members of Congress in ways that we can improve this legislation.  We had a meeting just yesterday in the Oval Office, and I was pleased that the leadership of the Republican Study Committee endorsed the bill that’s moving through the House, and we’re grateful for their support.

And while we’re having a vigorous debate, the good news is that Republicans are in complete agreement, and we have complete consensus that Obamacare must go.  (Applause.)

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are only courting right-wing conservatives on policies that impact all Americans’ lives © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’ll continue to advance the President’s agenda, and how we work that out is going to be the result of the legislative process and administrative action.  But President Trump’s vision is very simple:  a national health-care marketplace and state-based Medicaid reform; allowing the American people to purchase health insurance across state lines the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance, and allowing states the freedom and flexibility to redesign Medicaid around the unique needs of their own people is a pathway toward a more prosperous future and better healthcare for the American people.  (Applause.)

And it’s important to remember that our healthcare plan doesn’t begin and end with the bill that’s moving through the Congress today.  I wanted to make it clear to all of you this is only one part of the President’s three-part strategy.  The other two tracks are just as important in restoring free-market principles to American health care.

At this very moment, our administration is evaluating every possible administrative action to get government out of the way and allow for state-based innovation and reform.

The name of the game is to seize the opportunity to change the regulations, and we’ve got a great team with Dr. Tom Price and Seema Verma heading up HHS and the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services to do it.

Just this past week, they both sent a letter to every single one of America’s governors saying, “a new era for federal and state Medicaid partnership” has begun — and so it has.  (Applause.) 

Under Dr. Tom Price’s leadership with Seema Verma at his side running Medicaid, we’re going to give our states the freedom and flexibility they need with Medicaid to implement the kind of reforms that will do the most good for the most vulnerable — state-based solutions, not one-size-fits-all federal solutions.  And remember that truthfully it is about improving Medicaide[sic]….

 

And we’re going to continue to partner with the Congress to pass other important healthcare reforms, including we’re going to pass medical malpractice reform at last.  (Applause.)  We’re going to allow businesses around America to participate in association health plans, and as I mentioned before, we’re going to give Americans the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines — an idea whose time has come.

Not before too long I expect we’re going to see that little lizard and Flo on television selling health insurance just the way they sell car insurance and sell life insurance.  (Laughter and applause.) 

Our three-part strategy, once enacted, we truly believe will create a dynamic national health-insurance marketplace, which is the key to making affordable, high-quality coverage accessible for every American.

Now we can’t lose sight of what’s at stake in the coming weeks. This is a momentous time.  We literally have an opportunity to begin to accomplish what everyone in this room has fought so hard to achieve for so long.  And President Trump and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you — the men and women in public life who are here, and those of you who are patrons and supporters that are present.

And know this:  When we repeal and replace Obamacare, we will also make room for even more tax relief for working families, small businesses, and family farms when we take up tax reform this spring.  (Applause.)

But health care isn’t the only place where we need your partnership.  The same goes for the rest of our pro-growth, pro-freedom agenda. 

Quite frankly, we’re counting on you.  And we know you’ll be there.  You’ve already demonstrated — many of you for many years here at Club for Growth — your dedication to the principles that we all share.  

I look around this room and I see true patriots — men and women who love this country and have been willing to devote your time and your talent and your treasure to the country’s future without any regard to whether you’d ever be acknowledged or ever get credit for it.  Those great candidates that you’ve supported over the years, and that now people the hallways of the House and the Senate serving the American people.  The debt this country owes to the men and women in this organization and throughout the conservative movement can only be repaid by keeping faith with the ideals and the principles that you have sought to advance….

 

The reason that we’re here with a pro-growth President and a pro-growth Congress on the cusp of repealing the failed policies of Obamacare is because, on the cusp of transformational tax reform, on the cusp of a whole range of reforms that will enliven this country’s economy and open doors of opportunities for millions of Americans is that year after year, all of you in this room and conservatives around America never gave up.  And I’m just here to say thanks, and to tell you to press on.

My friends, this is our moment.  Now is the time.  This is our rendezvous with destiny.  And I know we’ll meet the challenge.  It will come together.  We’ll give all of our energy, our enthusiasm, our courage, and our conviction, our passion, and our prayers.  And in that, I’m confident — I’m confident we’ll make the most of the opportunity before us.  And under President Trump’s leadership, I know we’ll get this economy moving again.  Under his leadership, I know we’ll restore opportunity and prosperity for all our people.  We’ll make the best healthcare system in the world even better with free-market principles, more jobs, higher incomes, better healthcare in a safer and more prosperous America.

In a word, my friends, with your help, and with God’s help, we’ll make America great again.  

Thank you very much.  Thanks for having me back and God bless you and God bless the United State of America.   (Applause.)

NYS Governor Cuomo Blasts Trump Budget Proposal: ‘Dangerous, Reckless, Contemptuous of American Values’

New York State governor Andrew Cuomo reacting to Trump’s budget blueprint: “Enacting this bill would mark a fundamental transformation in what America stands for, and what role our country plays in the world.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In no uncertain terms, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo blasted Donald Trump’s proposed budget as “dangerous, reckless, and contemptuous of American values. It should be rejected by Congress out of hand. The proposal undermines policies and positions that have been cherished and defended by men and women of both parties, some for more than a century. It leaves behind the most vulnerable among us, and puts our environment, our infrastructure, and our future at risk.”

In a statement issued, Governor Cuomo said:

“The proposal takes a wrecking ball to the federal agencies that provide crucial support and relief to New Yorkers. Among other senseless cuts, major reductions at the Department of Transportation would remove critical funding for the Gateway Tunnel project between New York and New Jersey and other transportation upgrades throughout New York. This budget cuts National Institute of Health funding for life-saving research happening in New York and across the country. And by calling for the dissolution of the National Endowment for the Arts, it takes aim at one of the engines of America’s cultural heritage.

“It also entirely defunds the Clean Power Plan and guts funding for the EPA, withdrawing support that is essential to protecting New York’s clean water and environmental resources. At the same time, the proposal cuts vital funds to our farmers and rural communities and hampers our ability to respond to extreme weather events that have wreaked destruction across New York. 

“Finally, the Administration’s budget slashes $6 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, eliminating Community Development Block Grants that have transformed affordable housing for New Yorkers in need. As a former Secretary of the HUD, I have firsthand knowledge of the crucial services the Department provides and the real, tangible harm these cuts will impose on vulnerable, hard-working Americans in New York and across the nation.

“Despite the reckless cuts to critical programs, the Administration is also contemplating providing more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. In short, Washington’s message to those who can’t afford heat at the dead of winter, those struggling to provide an education for their child; and to commuters forced to sit through hours of traffic on a daily commute to work is that they don’t matter.  Essentially, this proposal lacks the most basic American values of compassion and care.

“Enacting this bill would mark a fundamental transformation in what America stands for, and what role our country plays in the world. We have always maintained a strong military, but we have always offered the world more than arms. The Lady in the Harbor does not brandish her fist at the world; she raises a light.

“New York will always stand up for the principles that have made America a beacon around the world for centuries.  I will continue to work with New York’s congressional delegation to fight to ensure that every New Yorker has the opportunity to succeed and that we are investing in the programs that will ensure a bright future for generations to come. We still believe in e pluribus unum.”

Trump’s ‘America First, A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again’ is Window into Warped Vision, Values

Donald Trump shows how he intends to monetize “America First” plan by shifting resources from foreign aid, diplomacy, climate action and public education into military hardware and a border wall, reflecting “hard power, not soft power,” says OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, who says he built the budget blueprint straight out of Trump’s campaign speeches. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The budget blueprint to fund the federal government being proposed by the Trump Administration was created straight from Donald Trump’s campaign speeches, and would reflect “hard power, not soft power,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said during a press briefing to which a limited number of reporters were able to listen in by phone but not participate in asking questions.

The budget increases defense spending by $54 billion (10%), and lavishes spending on border patrol and building a wall, while slashing the budgets of the State Department by 28% and Environmental Protection Agency by 31% (eliminating 3000 jobs), and cutting out altogether funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and spending on the arts and humanities, as well as Meals on Wheels and $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program that supported affordable housing.

While it is unlikely that this budget proposal will actually get passed – any responsible Congressman or Senator will decry the cuts to programs that benefit their communities and constituents, while weakening the United States influence in global geopolitics, it reveals so starkly Trump’s values and priorities and fleshes out what his vision of “Make America Great Again” really means. And, as the New York Times noted, “In Trump’s Plan, Some Parts of America Are More First than Others.”

These are Mulvaney’s comments:

“This is an America First Budget. I wrote it using the President’s own words. I went through his speeches, articles, talked to him. I wanted to know his policies and turned into numbers. He is an America’s First candidate, this is an America First budget – more money on defense, $54 B; more for security at then border; for enforcing the laws on the books; for private and public school choice.

“I wanted to do that without adding to the  $488 budget deficit – so there are dollar for dollar decreases.

“Because we punched up $54 billion for defense, we will cut $54 billion elsewhere. This  accomplishes his priorities without adding to the deficit.

“The reductions are where you would expect from a president who ran on America First: the State Department. EPA. Many agencies, as he tries to frame government by efficiencies, will go after programs.

“If he said it on the campaign, it’s in the budget.

“We worked closely with the Defense department – that it funds their needs, but in a responsible fashion in terms of what they could spend this year. Defense [General Mattis] said this is what is needed this year, and they could spend effectively. We are not throwing money after problem. This was done in a responsible fashion.

“As for reductions: there are dramatic reductions in the State Department – that is not a commentary on the president’s policy on the State Department, but what’s in their budget:

“Foreign aid line items happen to fall within State department function. We are spending less overseas and more at home. When implemented, we will reduce foreign aid – but if the item had been in the Department of Education, you  would see the cut there, if impacting Energy, you  would see it  there. More items [slated to be cut] fall under the State Department, which will see a fairly significant, 28% reduction.”

Asked about how this budget does not lower the budget deficit or the national debt, he acknowledged that there will still be a budget deficit.

“The commentary on deficits is that he wanted to accomplish all these things – defense, immigration, law enforcement, without adding to the deficit. Previous administrations had priorities and borrowed.

About the cuts to EPA, Mulvaney said, “We absolutely believe – as in the State Department – the core functions of EPA can be satisfied with this budget” even with cuts of one-third the budget and 3000 jobs.

“Ordinarily, a president’s budget says you will take this budget and make cuts there. We’ve given tremendous amount of flexibility within agencies. I can’t say about job reductions, that will be up to [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt.

“The actual budget blueprint which will hit the highlights – funding for agency, bullet points as to where to bump up or lower spending. You won’t see a spread sheet line by line – it will be up to agencies to implement.

Part of 2017 supplemental Trump is seeking, Mulvaney said, includes “$30 billion for defense and the border, including $1.5 billion for the wall this year. There are proposed reductions for 2017 also. More spending for defense, border enforcement, reductions elsewhere, money for the wall.”

Asked whether the administration is mindful of the “potential risk of reducing foreign aid,” Mulvaney said, “This is a hard power budget, not a soft power budget. That was done intentionally. The president very clearly wants to send message to adversaries and allies that this is a hard power president. We are moving money from soft power to hard power – that’s what adversaries, allies can expect.

“I implement the president’s policy. He decides what he wants to do.”

Since this is “an America First budget, which he campaigned on,” how does the budget fulfill his promise on the campaign trail to fix cities? How is Housing & Urban Development (HUD) affected?

“One of the other things he said was to go after waste, programs that don’t work, and a lot of those are in HUD – spent a lot in HUD without a lot to show for it. A lot of programs we cannot justify their existence for.

“But don’t discount the infrastructure program. That was done intentionally – Department of Transportation. Line item reductions. We are moving programs out of inefficient programs and hold money for efficient.

“We are moving money around in HUD. I spoke to [HUD Secretary Ben] Carson, who, if he came to president and said look, you gave me this pot of money, I want to move out of these programs and into new ones, he would have tremendous flexibility.”

As to how much money Trump intends to spend on building the wall across the southern border, he said, “We haven’t decided – haven’t settled on construction types, where to start. Funding provides for some pilot pieces, different kinds of barriers, different kinds of places, as we find most the most cost-efficient, safest, most effective border protection. $1.5 b allows us to start, $2.6 billion in 2018 – as we get to a full budget in May we will also start seeing projections out 10 years.

Asked how tax cuts factor in, Mulvaney said, “This is not a tax policy document. This is a spending budget. $1 trillion of the budget is discretionary. If we spend a discretionary dollar somewhere, we take a dollar from somewhere else. This blueprint stays within those lanes.

Asked where the $1.5 billion for the wall is coming from, he said, “We didn’t say we need $1.5 billion for the wall, so let’s reduce education. We dealt with it more holistically. We went looking for the most inefficient, wasteful, indefensible programs in other areas.”

As for federal workforce reductions, he said, “There is a great deal of discretion to [cabinet] secretaries.”

Asked whether the budget proposal assumes the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, he said, “This is ancillary to ACA. Generally no. That would be reflected in the larger budget in May.”

What about funding for curing diseases, exploring other planets?

“NASA reduced 1% – a lot of programs in there are increased in line with the president’s priorities – exploring other planets. He changed one of the missions – the moon, Saturn – I can’t remember the details. The general response is consistent: space exploration is a priority.”

“Curing disease – a young woman was at the Joint Congressional address who had an orphan disease, which means it is so rare, it doesn’t encourage free market response. Our budget preserves the ability to do that.” [The budget proposal cuts funding to the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, or 20%.]

As for enforcing the Paris Agreement, the Clean Power Plan, CAFE Standards, Mulvaney said, “You can expect reductions in EPA that line up with the president’s view on global warming and efficiency. To the extent there are reductions, that would be one of the places.” 

See details from New York Times: 

Pentagon Grows, While E.P.A. and State Dept. Shrink in Trump’s Budget

See also: 

NYS Governor Cuomo Blasts Trump Budget Proposal: ‘Dangerous, Reckless, Contemptuous of American Values’

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