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National Govt & Politics
Federal deficit soars by $205 billion in November
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Federal deficit soars by $205 billion in November

Federal deficit soars by $205 billion in November
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Federal deficit soars by $205 billion in November

After starting the 2019 fiscal year with $100 billion in red ink, Uncle Sam added more than double that in the month of November, as the Treasury Department reported Thursday that the federal government ran a deficit last month of $204.9 billion, leaving the deficit at over $300 billion just two months into the new fiscal year.

"The deficit has never been this high when the economy was this strong," said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a watchdog group which has repeatedly complained about the lack of action in Congress and the White House about rising deficits.

"Rarely have deficits risen when the economy is booming. And never in modern U.S. history have deficits been so high outside of a war or recession," the group said on Thursday.

Compared to a year ago, the deficit for October and November of 2018 was $104 billion more than in 2017. White House budget experts have predicted the 2019 deficit could come close to $1 trillion, the highest since 2012.

Looking at November 2018 and November 2017, revenues were down slightly from a year ago, as the feds brought in almost $206 billion last month, compared to $208 billion in 2017.

Spending was up sharply, at almost $411 billion in November, compared to $347 billion a year ago.

One area where more revenue came in to the feds in November was in tariffs and customs duties, as Uncle Sam took in $5.5 billion; that figure was $3.2 billion a year ago.

But even if those numbers continue up - as President Trump has predicted with his aggressive trade actions - it won't come close to filling a growing tide of red ink.

The latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office are close to what the White House has been predicting - a budget deficit which will come close to $1 trillion this year - but the CBO believes the deficit will go over $1 trillion after that, for a number of years.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

In a new report released hours before the updated deficit figures, the CBO again offered up a number of options to reduce the deficit, making the case that something must change.

"Since 2007, federal debt held by the public has more than doubled in relation to the size of the economy, and it will keep growing significantly if the large annual budget deficits projected under current law come to pass," the CBO wrote.

But there has been little appetite in recent years among Republicans in the Congress to make dramatic changes - either in spending or revenues to change the direction of the deficit.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • They reportedly claimed their 3-month-old was born with a heart condition when deputies were called to the family’s Paulding County, Georgia, home about a year ago. The newborn was unconscious when deputies arrived, and later died at the hospital.  But an autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found a different cause of death, according to Sgt. Ashley Henson with the Paulding Sheriff’s Office. The baby girl, whose name was not released, died from blunt force trauma to the head, the autopsy concluded. Now the child’s parents, Tanya Atkinson, 26, and Jason Andrew Gromer, 37, have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated battery. They were being held without bond late Monday, jail records indicated. >> Read more trending news  Deputies were called to their Hiram home shortly after 7 a.m. May 10, 2018, Henson said. The baby was taken to WellStar Paulding Hospital but did not survive.  “Initially, it was believed that the heart issue was the cause of death,” Henson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The investigation continued, though, concluding with the the autopsy determining the death was a homicide.  In September, Gromer created a GoFundMe page to raise money for an attorney, saying that their other children were removed from his home after the baby’s death. A photo showed a small baby in a pink sleeper.  “I am broken and my family is broken too,” Gromer wrote. “There is no police report or an autopsy. But yet they continue to hold my family in custody. I am never one to ask for help but here I am ... with a broken heart a broken family asking for help.”  Gromer last posted on the page in September. Late Monday, the page had been removed.
  • Brenda Jackson, the mother of Dale Earnhardt Jr. has died at the age of 65. Jackson was the daughter of NASCAR fabricator Robert Gee, who built cars for several drivers including the late Dale Earnhardt.  Jackson married Earnhardt in 1972, had two children. Dale Jr. and his sister Kelley remained with their mother when the couple separated and  Earnhardt chased a career in NASCAR.  Jackson was a staunch supporter of her son's decision to retire from full-time racing because of concussions, and was a  tireless supporter of The Dale Jr. Foundation and other charitable efforts.  She is survived by her husband, two children, a stepdaughter, six grandchildren and two brothers.
  • The wife of a Missouri Ku Klux Klan leader was sentenced to life in prison Friday after admitting she fatally shot her husband two years ago, cleaned up the crime scene with her son’s help and then disposed of the body. Malissa Ann Ancona, 46, of Leadwood, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and abandonment of a corpse in the death of 51-year-old Frank Ancona Jr., according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Frank Ancona was the imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the newspaper reported.  Her son, Paul Jinkerson Jr., 26, of Belgrade, faces the same charges as his mother, the newspaper reported.  “I fired both shots that killed my husband,” Malissa Ancona told the judge, according to the Post-Dispatch.  Eric Barnhart, the attorney representing Jinkerson, told the newspaper he expects Malissa Ancona’s admission to help his client at his trial, set to begin May 6.  >> Read more trending news St. Francois County prosecutor Melissa Gilliam asked Malissa Ancona to clarify her role in her husband’s death, the Post-Dispatch said. She told Gilliam her son was involved in the aftermath -- cleaning blood from the bedroom walls, getting rid of bloody bedding and dumping Frank Ancona’s body about 20 miles away near Belgrade -- but that she acted alone in the shooting.  Malissa Ancona initially reported her husband missing, but later told police her son fatally shot her husband while he slept on Feb. 9, 2017. According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Frank Ancona’s car was found abandoned in a remote part of the county by a U.S. Forest Service employee.   The Riverfront Times reported that a pile of burned clothes was found nearby.  Frank Ancona’s body was found two days after the slaying on the bank of the Big River, the Sheriff’s Office reported. He had been shot twice in the head, once with a 9 mm handgun and once with a shotgun, according to The New York Times.  A family who went to the river on a fishing trip made the gruesome discovery.  Frank Ancona’s father, Frank Ancona Sr., told the judge Friday that he had to identify the body of his only son, who he said had “no face left” after the murder. According to the Post-Dispatch, the defendant’s former father-in-law described her as a “terrible wife” and a “piece of (expletive).” He often asked his son, “Why, why do you stay with her?” the grieving father told the judge. According to Malissa Ancona’s Facebook page, the couple was married since 2010.  Ancona Jr. had decided to leave the marriage prior to his death, authorities said. Malissa Ancona told investigators upon her arrest that her son killed his stepfather after he requested a divorce.  The Riverfront Times reported that investigators found bloody clothes at Jinkerson’s home, as well as blood in his car. Surveillance footage from a gas station near the river and the wooded road where Frank Ancona’s car was found showed mother and son driving by, one driving Frank Ancona’s Ford Fusion and the other, Jinkerson’s Chevy Impala. The camera showed them passing by again a short time later. That time, both were in the Impala, the newspaper reported.  When a search warrant was executed at the Ancona home, investigators found blood on the bedroom ceiling and soaked into the couple’s mattress, the Riverfront Times said.  The guns used in the attack were found in the river near Frank Ancona’s body and in a pond in St. Francois County -- where Malissa Ancona said they would be.  Malissa Ancona maintained that Jinkerson pulled the trigger -- and agreed to testify against her son -- until last September, when she wrote a letter to Judge Wendy Wexler Horn in which she confessed to the slaying. According to the Post-Dispatch, Malissa Ancona wrote that she wanted to “let the court know now that he did not pull the trigger, (I DiD).” She wrote that she was “under the influence” when she spoke to detectives following her husband’s death. The Riverfront Times reported that Malissa Ancona was addicted to prescription pain pills.  Frank Ancona’s ex-wife, Kellie Ancona, described him as “very, very kindhearted” and a good father and grandfather. His daughter, Carolyn Ancona, wept when talking about her father.  “He didn’t deserve this. No one deserves this,” she said, according to the Post-Dispatch.  Before his death, Frank Ancona led a branch of the Ku Klux Klan that the Southern Poverty Law Center has defined as a hate group. As of last year, the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan still had chapters in Florida and South Dakota, the SPLC website says.  The Post-Dispatch reported that a since-suspended Twitter account in Malissa Ancona’s name contained links to the Klan group and described her as a member.  According to a 2014 federal court filing, Frank Ancona described the group as “comprised of white Christian patriots, people who care about their nation and their race.” He and his group had sued the small city of Desloge, Missouri, after city officials tried to keep the group members from handing out leaflets to drivers stopped at intersections. The Klan group was represented by the ACLU of Missouri.  “We do not commit acts of violence, and we believe in perpetuating our race,” Frank Ancona said in his description. “We believe in having children and grandchildren, white ones․ We believe in the Constitution as it was originally written by our forefathers that founded this nation.” Frank Ancona told the New York Times in an interview published a week before he was slain that he had been a Klan member for more than 30 years. He said he formed the Traditionalist American Knights in 2009.  He and his group made news in the days before his death because of fliers the group distributed overnight in neighborhoods in Maine. He told the New York Times he did not understand why anyone was afraid of the Klan.  “If you follow the doctrine of the Klan, it is a positive Christian organization that brings benefits to people,” Frank Ancona told the newspaper. “I don’t focus on the negative history.” During the 2014 protests following the fatal police shooting of Ferguson teen Michael Brown, however, Frank Ancona and his group passed out leaflets in which they vowed to use lethal force against protesters. The fliers, one of which was obtained by MSNBC, read, “Attention: To the terrorists masquerading as ‘peaceful protesters! You have awakened a sleeping giant.” As Missouri awaited a grand jury decision on whether the officer who killed Brown, Darren Wilson, would be criminally charged, Frank Ancona told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that the Klan would not tolerate violence during the protests.  “It’s a bit ironic for you to talk about how bad violence is when you’re telling people that you’re going to arm yourself and shoot,” Hayes responded. “You’re advising people of what the law is for being able to shoot someone. That seems, I think, to everyone seeing this like incitement. It seems like you are attempting to bring about the exact same thing you’re saying that you are against.” Frank Ancona disagreed, saying it was aimed at people making “terroristic threats” and informing them that the people of Missouri have the legal right to protect themselves from attackers.  “It’s basically educating them on that law and letting them know what their options are,” he said. “You know, you don’t have to sit back and let somebody throw a Molotov cocktail at you and just sit there and take it. There’s remedies under the law.” Around that same time frame, Frank Ancona sat down for an interview with a member of the hacker group Anonymous, which later claimed to have hacked Ancona’s Klan group’s files and released what it said was his personal information.  In his New York Times interview the week before he was killed, Frank Ancona said the only part of the Klan doctrine he believed people might see as a negative was the group’s policy against the mixing of races.  “We need to preserve the white race because we are the ones who keep civilization civilized,” he said. 
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn on Monday, The Associated Press and other media outlets reported. >> Read more trending news  The move was an effort by the Democratic-led House to bring in a key member of Donald Trump’s staff who had direct knowledge of President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the Russia probe, CNN reported, citing an anonymous source. Nadler authorized subpoenas earlier this month for McGahn and four other White House officials as part of a probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power charges, according to CNN.  The House Judiciary Chair issued a statement on the subpoena on Twitter Monday evening. “Following the scheduled testimony of Attorney General William Barr on May 2, 2019, and the expected testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which we have requested, the Committee has now asked for documents from Mr. McGahn by May 7, and to hear from him in public on May 21,” the statement said. “Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described int he Mueller report. His testimony will help shed further light on the President’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others to do the same.” The subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee can be read below:
  • Sanford Police arrested a carjacking suspect who tried “hiding” in a lake early Monday morning. On Facebook, the department said at around 1:45 a.m., officers were called about a carjacking near the intersection of Country Club Drive and Jefferson Boulevard. The suspect, later identified as Monterrious Burton, jumped into a truck and tried to drive away.  The owner had been working on the truck and was still inside when Burton jumped in.  Police said Burton tried pulling the owner out the truck.  The two of them started fighting when the owner’s wife tried to help him.  Burton hit her and then ran away. When officers arrived, Burton ran to a lake where the K9 unit tracked him.  His shoes were found in the water.  The K9 Athos then located Burton, who was “hiding” under the water.  He surrendered and was taken into custody without incident. Sanford Police released a video of the K9 tracking Burton to the lake and giving himself up: (Facebook post) (Tweet)

Washington Insider

  • Monday brought yet another annual warning from the trustees in charge of America's major government retirement programs that action is needed by Congress to alter the financial trajectory of Social Security and Medicare, otherwise those programs will face a financial shortfall which could require dramatic cuts in benefits in the future. 'Medicare still faces a substantial financial shortfall that will need to be addressed with further legislation,' the Medicare trustees wrote in their annual report. 'The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes,' the Social Security report states. The bottom line is not new - neither Medicare nor Social Security has enough money to indefinitely keep paying current benefits to the millions of Americans who use those two programs. 'Social Security will pay out more than it takes in next year and every year going forward,' said Michael Peterson, head of the Peterson Foundation, a federal budget watchdog group. 'That’s the definition of unsustainable.' 'Medicare will go insolvent in 2026, Social Security in 2035,' said Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). 'Refusing to address this will cause automatic cuts to these programs.' If Social Security were to reach that point of insolvency - and Congress did nothing about it - then the latest estimate is that benefits would be paid out at only 77 percent, a 23 percent reduction. Medicare and Social Security are not dealt with on a yearly basis by the Congress in terms of the budget - as they are on automatic pilot, unless lawmakers proactively take action to change the amount paid out in benefits, or brought in from revenues. 'Implementing changes sooner rather than later would allow more generations to share in the needed revenue increases or reductions in scheduled benefits,' the Social Security report noted. Like many fiscal situations within the federal budget, there are three fairly basic ways to deal with Medicare and Social Security: 1) Reduce the amount spent by the programs in terms of benefits. 2) Increase the amount of tax revenues brought in for the programs. 3) A combination of 1) and 2). One option which has drawn some attention in recent years on the Social Security side is forcing more wealthy income earners to pay a larger share of payroll taxes into the system, in order to help bring in more revenues. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax ends once an individual earns $132,9000 in 2019 - that amount is indexed, and creeps up each year. One plan would have it phase out at the current level, and then kick back in at a higher level of income, like $500,000 or $1 million, in order to bring in more revenues.. But votes on matters like expanding the payroll tax to bring in more resources to pay benefits - or raising the retirement age, slowing the yearly increase in Social Security benefits, or making some Medicare recipients pay more for health care - those type of proposals are considered politically toxic by many, too easily demagogued by both parties. “This report highlights the need for serious-minded legislators to partner with the Administration on commonsense, bipartisan reforms that will lower costs and eliminate fraud and abuse, preserving the program for future generations,” the White House said in a statement. But while politicians on all sides say the right things, there has not been a serious legislative effort on the matter in years. 'Why wait to until drastic changes are needed to avert insolvency in these programs?' asked Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. 'The time for action is now.