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National Govt & Politics
Deep in the details of the Trump 2018 budget plan
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Deep in the details of the Trump 2018 budget plan

Deep in the details of the Trump 2018 budget plan
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Deep in the details of the Trump 2018 budget plan

While some of the plans proposed in President Donald Trump's $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 seem unlikely to be approved by the Congress, the document sets out a unique road map of how the Trump Administration views a variety of functions within the federal government, and what items the White House would like to get rid of - big and small.

Here are eight things you might have missed in the fine print of the 2018 Trump budget:

1. An effort to close down excess military bases. The Trump budget includes a provision to start a round of military base closures in 2021, an idea that is sure to draw strong opposition, despite clear evidence that the military has too much overhead and infrastructure. Lawmakers have routinely rejected such efforts in recent years, with some still simmering about the impact of past base closure rounds - especially the last one in 2005. "The Department of Defense (DOD) has approximately 20 percent excess infrastructure capacity across all Military Departments," the budget argues. While it may make sense to some, the odds are probably stacked against this provision in the Congress.

2. End funding for public broadcasting. For a number of years, Republicans have pushed to reduce the amount of money that the feds put into public broadcasting, and President Trump's plan would do away with almost all the $484 million being spent this year on such activities, leaving $30 million to wind down operations. The White House argues that PBS and NPR "could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members." As with the effort to close down military bases, the odds would seem to be against this - but Congress will have the final say.

3. When is a Medicaid cut not a Medicaid cut? I have always tried to be very careful about using the term "cut" - because too often, there are not budget cuts, but just reductions in the level of increase in a program. Let's look at Medicaid in the President's 2018 budget as an example:

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

If you look at this graphic, you will see how the President's budget would save $610 billion by reforming Medicaid. The second set of figures is the "baseline" for Medicaid - where spending would go without any changes. That says $408 billion would be spent on Medicaid in 2018, ending up at $688 billion in 2027. The bottom graphic is the Trump proposal, which has Medicaid at $404 billion in 2018 and $524 billion in 2027. "There's not cuts at all," said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). "It's a matter of slowing the growth rate." Yes, the Trump plan would spend less money than current built-in automatic growth rate, but the overall amount still goes up over the ten year budget.

4. But those are real cuts at CDC and NIH. One of the areas with some of the strongest bipartisan support is on medical research at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. And so, when the numbers came in on Tuesday, there was a bipartisan negative reaction on cuts to NIH and CDC. NIH funding would be reduced by from $31.8 billion to $25.9 billion. CDC's budget would go down $1.2 billion, a 17 percent cut. It's a pretty good bet that lawmakers will not approve those cuts suggested by the President. The former head of the CDC expressed his displeasure:

5. Still few details on funding infrastructure plan. For months, the President and his top aides have talked about a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to build new roads and bridges in the United States. There was a fact sheet released by the White House, setting out some ideas, like rolling back regulations on how infrastructure projects are developed, but no new pot of money to fund $200 billion in seed money. "Providing more federal funding, on its own, is not the solution to our infrastructure challenges," the White House noted. One of the few ideas offered was to allow states to levy tolls on interstate highways, and allow private companies to run rest areas. The Trump plan reduces spending from the highway trust fund by $95 billion over ten years.

Jamie Dupree
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budget18

Jamie Dupree

6. Farm country not pleased with Trump budget details. If you had an infrared heat detector just off the Senate floor today, you might have seen the steam coming from the ears of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Speaking with reporters, Roberts - well known for his dry wit - suggested the White House needs to make its budget writers count to 60 multiple times every day - to remind them that 60 votes would be needed for major farm policy spending changes. The Trump plan would save $38 billion over 10 years by limiting crop insurance subsidies and eligibility, streamlining conservation programs and more. Outside groups quickly made their voices heard on the proposed changes as well. It is hard to imagine these plans becoming law.

7. Legal Services Corporation again on the chopping block. One of the first debates that I distinctly remember from my first summer on Capitol Hill in 1980 was an effort to cut money from the non-profit Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal aid to low income Americans. The LSC budget is $384 million for this year, and under the Trump plan, would be cut down to around $30 million, to allow for operations to be terminated. Again, this is another budget cut that seems unlikely to be approved, as GOP lawmakers, like Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), are already saying they oppose such a plan.

8. Trump wants to sell D.C. drinking water authority. Created by Congress in 1859, the Washington Aqueduct brings drinking water to Washington, D.C., and parts of the Virginia suburbs. While the drinking facilities operate under the auspices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the water customers pay for all the operation and maintenance costs, as well as any improvements. Why does the White House want to sell this? "Ownership of local water supply is best carried out by State or local government or the private sector where there are appropriate market and regulatory incentives," the budget documents state. It's not clear how the feds estimated that selling the authority would bring in $119 million for Uncle Sam.

9. Trump wants to cut a lot - but not at the White House. As I sifted through the numbers in the budget for the White House, it struck me that funding levels were pretty much all constant for the office of the President - and my colleague Patricia Murphy dug through those details and found the same thing.

If you want to read more of the details about the Trump 2018 budget, you can find those on the White House website.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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  • The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs last year to several high-profile critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. >> Read more trending news Cesar Sayoc appeared Thursday for a change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.  Sayoc pleaded not guilty in November to a slew of charges after he was identified as the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to targets including CNN, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. >> Cesar Sayoc Jr.: What we know about the man arrested for sending package bombs Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces. Authorities launched an investigation in October after pipe bombs were mailed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros. In the subsequent days, similar devices were mailed to several other prominent Trump critics, including U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. >> 2nd mail bomb to Tom Steyer recovered; suspect agrees to remain jailed, face charges in New York Authorities said Sayoc was linked to the packages after investigators found his fingerprints and DNA on some of them. Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn't indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Federal authorities and Butler Township police are investigating after an explosive device was placed inside a mailbox and detonated, according to police. >> Read more trending news  The explosive device, which police believe was a commercial-grade firework, was detonated and destroyed the mailbox sometime between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Butler Township Police Chief John Porter said in a media release. Police did not say what road the incident occurred on but described the area as a rural part of the township.  “Since tampering with a mailbox is covered under federal law, federal authorities have been notified and are participating with us in a joint investigation,” Porter said. “Our initial investigation shows there is no indication of any type of hate or bias crime at this time.”  Authorities continue to investigate.
  • The sister of a Minnesota woman accused of killing a stranger to steal her identity in Florida last year is now facing criminal charges of her own after investigators say she grew angry at her intoxicated son and ran him over with her SUV.  Cynthia Lea Grund, 58, of Salem Township, was jailed on suspicion of second-degree assault and reckless driving. Olmstead County Jail records indicate she has since been released.  >> Read more trending news Olmstead County deputies were called Monday evening to Grund’s home, where they found her 37-year-old son, identified by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as Jason Finstad, suffering from significant lower body injuries, a Sheriff’s Office news release said. The man had been run over by a vehicle.  Investigators determined that Grund had run over her son with a 2004 Ford Explorer, the news release said.  According to detectives, Finstad was very intoxicated when he began walking down the rural driveway to go to a friend’s house. His mother and stepfather no longer wanted him staying at their home.  Grund drove down the driveway to pick Finstad up and drive him to the friend’s house, the news release said. Finstad refused to get in the SUV. “Why don’t you just run me over,” he allegedly said before lying in the driveway in front of Grund’s vehicle.  “Grund then backed the vehicle up and intentionally ran over the victim,” the news release said. “Grund admitted to her actions and at one point made a comment to the effect, ‘He didn't believe I would. He has been drinking all day. We gave him a chance.’” Grund was taken into custody at the scene. >> Related story: ‘Losing Streak Lois,’ killer grandma wanted in 2 slayings nabbed near U.S.-Mexico border Finstad underwent surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester to repair damage to his pelvis. He also suffered head injuries in the incident, investigators said.  He was in fair condition as of Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported. According to the newspaper, Grund is the sister of Lois Ann Riess, 57, of Blooming Prairie, who is being held in Florida on a charge of first-degree murder in the April 5 slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, 59, of Bradenton.  Riess was arrested April 19 on Texas’ South Padre Island after a multistate string of crimes that investigators allege began with the shooting death of her husband, David Riess, 54, at their worm farm. Saturday will mark a year since David Riess’ decomposing body was found. Authorities said David Riess had been dead for several days by the time his body was discovered. The Star Tribune reported last month that a .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun found in Lois Riess’ Texas motel room matched shell casings found at the scene of her husband’s death. Dodge County investigators have turned their case over to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for review.  Lois Riess, who authorities nicknamed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, fled south to Florida -- stopping at a casino on the way. Riess’ abandoned Cadillac Escalade, which Minnesota investigators alleged she left the state in after gunning down her husband, was found in a park in Fort Myers, Florida.  Surveillance footage from a restaurant two blocks from Hutchinson’s borrowed timeshare condo showed the victim chatting with Riess at the bar on April 5, the day authorities believe she was shot to death. Hutchinson’s body was found four days later in the bathroom of the condo.  See the footage of Lois Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson below, courtesy of the Fort Myers News-Press.  Investigators believe Hutchinson was killed so Riess could assume her identity. They also believe Hutchinson was shot with the same gun that killed David Riess. According to Riess’ Florida indictment, Lois Riess stole credit cards, money, jewelry, sunglasses and other property from Hutchinson after she was killed. Surveillance footage from Hutchinson’s condo complex showed Riess walking into the parking lot, getting into Hutchinson’s Acura TL and driving away.  The indictment also alleged that Riess went to a Fort Myers bank and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the dead woman’s account before leaving town. Riess was next spotted the following day at an Ocala Hilton hotel, where she used Hutchinson’s identification to check into a room, Lee County officials said. She stayed there the nights of April 6 and 7, according to investigators.  Surveillance footage from inside and outside the hotel showed both Riess and the stolen Acura. According to the News-Press, a white straw hat Riess wore in the footage belonged to Hutchinson.  While in Ocala, Riess is accused of withdrawing another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account.  From there, Riess is accused of making her way west across the southeastern U.S., making several stops in Louisiana -- including at another casino -- before being seen driving the Acura around Corpus Christi, Texas. She attempted to get $200 from Hutchinson’s account at a gas station, but the effort failed, the News-Press reported.  Riess used her own ID to claim a $1,500 jackpot at a Louisiana casino, the newspaper reported.  Riess remained at large until April 19, when she was arrested on South Padre Island in Texas. Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose said a man recognized Riess when she walked into a restaurant on the island, located about 25 miles from the Mexican border, and looked at a menu. Riess did not stay to eat at the restaurant, identified as Dirty Al’s Seafood, but the man called police to report the sighting. A South Padre Island police officer and a federal marshal responded to the area and spotted the white Acura that had been stolen from Hutchinson at another nearby restaurant, the Sea Ranch.  Riess was taken into custody as she sat at the bar inside, eating a meal and chatting with fellow patrons. She was subsequently extradited back to Florida to face charges in Hutchinson’s homicide.   Riess was indicted June 6 in the case, according to court records. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Hutchinson’s slaying. 

Washington Insider

  • Frustrated by opposition on some college campuses to conservative speakers, President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order which threatens to take away federal research grant money from colleges and universities, if those schools don't guarantee First Amendment protections for those who want to speak on campus. 'We're dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,' President Trump said in a White House ceremony on Thursday. Flanked by conservative activists who have run afoul of protests at college and university campuses, Mr. Trump made clear that he wants new opportunities for their voices to be heard. 'Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech,' the President added. 'This order is part of the Trump Administration’s administrative and legislative efforts to support a focus on student outcomes and improve transparency, accountability, and affordability in postsecondary education,' the White House said in a statement. The President had raised this matter earlier in the month, during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington, D.C. It was not immediately clear how the Thursday signing would change the current landscape governing money being sent to schools by the feds, as there are already requirements to uphold the First Amendment. In a morning conference call with reporters, a senior administration official refused to give any hints about how the requirement would be enforced differently going forward. 'I won't get into implementation details,' the official said, repeatedly deflecting questions in a Thursday conference call with reporters about how the plan would work.  'But schools are already supposed to be following these rules,' as the official said 'the goal of the order is to promote free speech more broadly across college campuses.' The plan drew immediate fire from the President's critics. 'President Trump’s concept of free speech is speech that he agrees with, which is, in fact, the antithesis of what the First Amendment seeks to protect,' said Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers union.